I am excited to reissue an older print image and some older pouches - I enjoy using my own archives as inspiration, I am also working on some new bag designs, lots of new things to show you.

I had recently made a huge and hard decision - j and I are no longer doing wholesale, this was so tough because I had retailers that have been with me since the beginning. and their support has helped our company grow, as you know j and I make all of the lovely goods that come out of the studio and I sure miss having my mom around, my dad will be here in a few weeks - excited about that. we are always told that we should hire more people and make more goods, slowly we will get there, but our intentions are not to make more and sell more, we are both artists and we want to spend our extra time doing other work and exploring and being more creative, if we wanted to sell to tons of shops we would be a completely different kind of company, I don't want to sit behind a computer and order things and manage makers,

we want to make things - make more sculptures, paint more, draw more - make one off pieces.... so much to explore, so we won't ever be that kind of company.

I was also thinking about a conversation I had with a younger maker and about entering this world of making, and I had said to her that she was entering at a good time and at a bad time, I'll explain.

when we started our business, we would answer our email every few days, we didn't go on the computer that often, only to check our emails, we read more magazines and books, and we would work in our studio free from outside distraction - you didn't worry about being copied, or being accused of copying, you were in your work bubble. it's was easy to have things come to you naturally - I'm sure we've all been there, where we had an idea and when we go online - that idea has already been done, I think it's also funny when you see makers trying to use their blog posts as a time stamp as to when things were made, I'm guilty of that. try to remember blogs are only a snippet of a makers journey - there is a gigantic world behind the screen.

fast forward 10 years and the world is such a different place, sure the internet is super for reaching people from all parts of the world, everyone can follow you - keep in touch with what your doing, I check my email every time it bings - and I only made it bing so that I wouldn't always check it, I remember around 2004 when the bloghesphere was at it's peak and I would check hundreds of blogs a day - craziness, I can assure you I don't do that today - I check a handfull of blogs and all of them are friends. so now you're trying to start a business and it's hard to come up with an original idea, because so much has been done, really so much, look through art history, design history, it's all there, but I would say it's how you interpret it, it's how you see the world that makes it your own, no matter how much is out there, you are still who you are and your outlook is unique to you, I really don't know where I'm going with this post, it's late and I'm tired, but if any of this makes sense and it's helpful - that's great! I guess my point is that by not doing wholesale, I can at least get back to some of the early days of having more time to explore. I love the pace that I am at now and it's funny how life can do a full circle.


  1. what a fantastic post arounna, thanks for sharing. it's inspiring - after all being creative is what is most important to so many of us, it's too bad when life and business get in the way. well done on your decision!

  2. Dear Arounna!

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us.
    I myself have suffered from the same considerations as you.
    I am a nurse and trying to start a company up on the side.
    But it's hard to run both wholesale and private trade while the job.
    I am considering, however, reversed you to drop the private trade, as my things are often custom order and therefore puts extra pressure on.
    But after reading your post today I will take my thoughts into consideration.

    Have a beautiful day


  3. What you wrote down sums it all up. I only started last year and I sadly enough have to combine it with another job for now, but I often get the question where I want to be in a few years. And the part where they expect me to say I want a billion-dollar-company never comes. For some reason they seem dissapointed. It's not always easy to convince friends/family that this is the way I want to live. The way I have to live, because I need to be able to craft and if I can make a living out of it - even it's enough to survive every month - then that's all I need.

  4. I understand and can relate to your whole post. I applaud your decision to keep things small and work within your business, it seems so right for both you and John (and your children too). You are real artists – I hope you both can always weave enough creative time into your lives, it's exciting for us Bookhou fans to see what you make next.

  5. Love the post. And I agree with you. While not nearly as big, I have always turned down wholesale. Just didn't fall into what felt right for me. And with the explosion if the Internet, it seems that everything has been done! Interpretation. Staying true to our own style is what matters.

  6. Really glad that you have the courage to make the decision not to make and sell on a mass production scale. It seems so many do this and then sell off their lovely business and it ends up becoming a ghost of its former self and the products lose something along the way.
    I am just starting out and don't want to become too big either.
    Yes your post makes a lot of sense we do become slaves to the email and computer.

  7. Good for you guys! It takes a lot of willpower to stick to what you love and not go the big business route and I'm sure I'm not the only one who's a big fan of the bookhou classics :)

  8. What an excellent post. I like it best when people are open and honest on their blogs. I so love the reason you have decided to stop doing wholesale - so wonderful that you can realise and take notice and act on it. Good good!!
    I for one can't wait to see your continued artistic journey.

  9. I identify with every word you wrote, Arounna. Even if it was late when you wrote your post, your words are lucid and heartfelt. I sometimes wish I had a gadget like a pedometer that measured every minute I waste checking and rechecking things on the computer. I just wrote a blog post a couple of days ago about balance. I think we all struggle with it. I think you and John are brave and admirable to keep adjusting your business to be true to your creative vision and hearts. (And I love the old prints--the 'flock of birds' at the top and the lovely squiggles on the green pouch.)xx

  10. This is a great post, thank you for your thoughts.

  11. There is so much to say about this post but I'll try to make short.
    You & J are clearly the best, you are so different from most makers & artists
    Play and exploration are a part of yourself, and you haven't forgotten about that
    It will follow you your life long.
    That was a tough choice to make, not everyone would have made it.
    A hundred thumbs up to this, hoorray to the most creative couple I know !!

  12. arounna and john,
    i believe both your creativity is inspiring and soothing and your pieces in my home offer such serenity. the decision both of you have made im sure will bring further happiness to your exemplary lives. i applaud and support this wonderful journey you have chosen. looking forward to seeing more bookhou. melissa

  13. Dear Arounna, I am a great fan of your work, which I first discovered in a Montréal venue (Puces Pop), and I completely approve of your decision, focusing on the creative part of your company ! By the way, I am looking forward to your next visit to Montréal... I wonder when that will be ?

  14. LOVE this post. Arounna, you and I chatted at the OOAKS and you have me some advice too about getting started as an artist/shop owner, and I have to say you are my inspiration. I want to be an artist, always, and have time to be inspired and to create and to take it all in. I'm working on my little shop all the time, and I'm in the process of adding on a second little 'wing' of it, and I'm going to refer back to this post now and then to help keep things in perspective. You're so wise!!!

  15. Hey,

    Thanks Arounna - I think you hit the nail on the head. I can't believe how much the issue of copying has been on everyone's minds, especially in the past few weeks. I have been accused of copying recently and it really hurt me tremendously and I have seen other peoples work and wondered if they got that idea from me. The problem is, as a friend recently put it, that we are all looking at the same blogs, Pinterest images etc and working within the same zeitgeist of ideas and imagery. It made me realize that I really need to branch out from my obsessive blog reading and start finding inspiration in really different things - not the easy way such as looking at what others have already done but through life experiences and the process of making and experimentation. I always felt that that is true creativity, true process. Good work comes from going through that difficult and messy process of trying different things, making mistakes and coming to your own personal creative conclusion. This work that transpires from this kind of solid process has its own aura and I think people are drawn to this. Thanks for bringing this up.

  16. I've totally been wrestling with the wholesale issue for the past few months myself. As my dear friend texted me the other day 'wholesale sucks balls'- seriously I needed to hear that, so I could start laughing about it all again. I think it's incredibly hard to keep up with all parts of the handmade business side and make enough 'profit' when your profit margin is cut right in half. Clearly we all needed shops and wholesalers to get the work out there and validate it (and there are such great, indie shops to support as well), but I think it's well worth the effort to re-think this model at some point in time. Not only do you and John have your own b & m shop to concern yourselves with, but there comes a point to which you have wonder why you are working so hard to pump out double the workload, just to make the same $. love the ramble - as for the whole copy thing- we all need to watch this TED talk about there being no copyright laws in the fashion industry and how this effects the industry at large. Really interesting read...

  17. And because you're following what's true to you, you'll be just fine. More than fine.

    I miss the days of the bubble. Being one person with already limited time to create, I really struggle to find the time to do what I love. In between managing my home life and maintaining an online presence and customer relationships, there comes a tiny window (though not every day) with which I try to fill creatively. Sometimes though I'm so worn out from all of the other stuff that the creativity doesn't come, and the window closes.

  18. This is why I love you & why I'm so happy to call you my friend :-)

  19. Well said- you are brave to do it- I go back and forth on the same issue (yes or not to wholesale) all the time. I sometimes feel so overwhelmed with images- I vow to stay off the internet (doesn't last long though!) Anyway- congratulations!

  20. I admire how lucid and true to yourself you are. A real artist. Good for you for making the (difficult) right decision for yourself and your family.

  21. As a beginner I really appreciate these very useful words... thanks for sharing your view!

  22. before i ever knew all the other things you and john do the first thing i fell in love with was your art
    I remember the first art show I saw you in, how I was too shy to say hello.
    To me you are an artist first and foremost, a friend, a teacher, a maker of beautiful, natural and sustainable things and so much more.
    I am so blessed to be able to watch you and your family evolve over time.

  23. Love seeing this perspective on wholesaling. I myself have been doing a teensy bit of it. I do small orders right now and sell to local indie shops. I have a friend who is on WholesaleCrafts.com, and her orders are still manageable enough for her to do them all herself, while I help with follow up and calling shops to make sure things are OK and to generate additional orders.

    I am trying to get decent photographs to go online with my own artworks, and look into some kind of retail presence with my things, as well as continuing the bit of wholesale I do. I do understand the feeling of double the work for the same money, as mentioned above, however, it is really nice knowing that when you make something, it is sold and you have the money in hand, as opposed to setting up at a show and not knowing for sure what will and will not sell. And, having run a physical shop myself in years gone by, that is a whole other ball of wax, with all kinds of expenses incurred that aren't there when you wholesale, at least in a small business versus something where designs are crafted and then a small army manufactures them.

    I think that your take on originality is spot on, as is your interpretation and development of your lovely pieces. Though some can be fooled, most people can sense when something is a bad knockoff as opposed to original, and those who really care about what they are buying and from whom, will continue to support those who are true artists, in every sense of the word.

    1. hi kat
      I think that doing a business that includes wholesale is a wonderful thing - we did it for a very long time
      and yes I agree that with wholesale you know exactly what to make and there's no guess work.
      I think that if you choose to do wholesale and it works for you - I think it's a great path. after all these years I just couldn't keep up. I was having less time for my own creative exploration and felt it was draining me and it was better for us to have less and to spend our extra time on the creative energy. we all take different paths and it's different for all of us and we do what works for each of us.

      thanks for visiting

  24. I think it is wonderful and that is why we love your work because it is fresh and has an organic feel. I look forward to seeing your new work. Its very exciting!

  25. Thank you for the perspective. It is so nice to understand your insight on this from experience. Hope I get there some day.

  26. I'm so happy for you and John that you are no longer doing wholesale. I always wondered how you managed it. Having time for your art and family sounds so beautiful to me. Thanks for all the inspiration :)

  27. Thanks for this post. I took it as a bit of a pep talk! Thanks for sharing so much of yourself and the maker's experience.

  28. You are so brave to take such a huge step in your career! Too many people panic at such thoughts for fear of not being able to support their family. You and John are truly an inspiration and definitely know how to prioritize the important things. Enjoy this new venture!


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