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What Would They Know? Kallista Bolton of Homegrown & Handmade

by | Favor Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

I must admit that I’m just a little bit envious of Kallista of Homegrown & Handmade living in the country in an olive grove, surrounded by country views and the country lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean that Kallista is idle – it’s all bustling activity, fulfilling orders of her handmade products – from making the most of locally grown seasonal produce, to fulfilling orders for bunting, gardening gloves, cookie mixes, quilts and more. But in between, there’s time to stop and take in the pleasures of sun bleached grass, olive trees and the passion of making a top quality product that fulfills a life long dream.

How did Homegrown & Handmade come to be – as a business?

Homegrown & Handmade came to be as a business when we moved to our 10 acre olive grove farm near Boddington late 2009. I was home in full mother mode with only 1 of my 3 little boys off my hands at school and work options in the country are limited. With my background in business and marketing I just couldn’t resist attempting to do something enterprising with the oil from the olive grove we now found ourselves unexpected owners of. Just what, I had no idea yet.

Was handmade creativity always a part of your life?

Yes, I learnt to sew and cook watching over my mother’s shoulder who was an expert at both, out of necessity. Making things from scratch is just a natural thing for us to do.

Chilli Infused Olive Oil

You now live on an olive farm. How has this ‘change of scenery’ inspired your creativity?

The rural setting I live in is natural, ungroomed and a little harsh in summer. It causes me to create the opposite in elegant, restrained, simple, clean styled pieces that have enough chic to counterbalance that wild messy in my orbit. I seem to imagine all my pieces will be used in the same setting as I live in – but of course this isn’t the case !

Are all your edible products created along organic and bio-dynamic principles as much as possible?

Yes, for sure. I wouldn’t regard myself as a purist but its important to me be conscious of what we ingest and the health of our natural environment. Additionally, I really value high nutrient payload in the foods I consume so of course my customers are assured the same standard in my edibles.

How do you dream up new things to make? 

Each has their own inspiration story but the gold flecked olive oil was originally created as a regional produce line under my olive oil brand Squashed Olive. Boddington, (the area when our farm is) is home to what will be the largest gold mine in the southern hemisphere, so it was designed to be an edible local souvenir and is sold locally labeled “Boddington Liquid Gold”. Of course it has lots of other applications especially a petite version for the wedding market.

Olive Oil

Where do you source the raw ingredients for your products? 

Yes all the olive oil is grown by me here in our 88 tree grove, if I’m running low, I buy extra from my nearby neighbours to blend with mine. The raw honey is from a local apiarist who has hives amidst wild gum tree groves all around our district. My cookie ingredients are mostly sourced from an organic wholesaler in Perth and the fruit for jams is either local homegrown or sourced externally depending upon season.

What are some of the products you particularly love to make? 

I absolutely adore making my 23 carat gold flecked olive oil bombonieres and wedding bunting. Although the gold oil is a painstaking intricate hand process, I take the quality of each bottle very seriously, as if it’s for my own wedding. Every piece (even if the order is for hundreds) is carefully hand crafted checking for beauty as I make, as if I was gifting it to my own guests.


Mint Infused Raw Honey

Are your products seasonal – e.g. your honey or olive oil, marmalade? 

Only the honey is seasonal, I don’t like to supply it for winter weddings as the cold triggers it to crystallize and solidify in the jar. Everything else is all year round. All the edibles have about a 1 year + shelf life after being made. I book in orders into a production queue trying to defer production as late as possible but do like to have goods in the bride’s hand a month before wedding, just for contingency so everyone can relax.

Are you able to do special orders for bridal couples e.g. jams/marmalades with a special flavouring, herbal sprigs in honey for example?

Unfortunately not really, each product has taken a degree of mastery to perfect and reach a consistent standard. Attempting something new without a long lead time can be risky and given it’s food, it’s pretty serious business that has no room for mistakes. If I release a new product it is only after it has been trialed over a period of time and we are confident of the way it behaves. I dabble with rose petal infused honey but its often hard to ensure a consistent flavour infusion and there is water in the fresh leaves which can result in a volatile shelf life.

You also offer ‘bake at home’ cookie mixes both gluten free and non gluten free. Would you explain what your philosophy is behind these and what goes into them?

Aaaah, my cookies. These were my first real take-off product. The cookies are powerfully nutritious recipes I came up with to serve my own 3 little boys. My husband said “these are so good you could sell them”, so I did – I took them to the local community markets and they just took off. With all the other products I soon had in the pipeline I diverged into bagging up the ingredients as a “Bake at Home” cookie mix for more economical price and fresher product as once baked have a short shelf life. Every cookie has to be absolutely delicious but every ingredient is carefully thought out to provide a high nutrient offering as well as good diversification of ingredients and organic where possible. So a variety of wholefood flours, seeds, chocolates, lavender, dried berries, fresh picked fruit etc etc. The 7 original cookie mixes are still so very popular but I am so busy with other areas of my business, they have had to wait in the sidelines for expansion for a while. They are best seen in my online cookie shop

Cookie mixes

What other products do you offer?

Lots. Apart from the bonbonierres, gorgeous gardening gloves and kneeling pads, baby quilts, wedding and children’s bunting, cake toppers, a big variety of gift olive oils, framed pieces, honey gifts and cookie mixes. So many plans for more if I can ever catch up with orders !

How long does it take for you to prepare and send an order?

Depends on the size and product, but the average wedding order is around 120 pieces so usually 4 – 7 days to make once all the detailed careful packing is complete. Shipping transit takes around 7 working days unless it’s Express Post, 3-4 days. Just on the making – if it’s a chilli oil, well the chilli takes 4 weeks to infuse spice into my olive oil, as does my mint herbal honey, then a week for bottling and labeling etc. The jams are made by my girlfriend who is a jam expert – but she is a midwife so we need to book that in with plenty of flexibility for an unpredictable work schedule.


Wedding bunting

What aspect of your business do you love the most?

I love the direct connection collaborating with clients. I love the feeling of progress that comes via constantly refining my products and methods for quality. I love how engaged and accountable I feel to my clients because they have chosen to spend their precious funds with me. I love the commitment and connection I make to every order and the satisfaction I feel completing, knowing I’ve done the very the best I possibly could for them, as if it was my own wedding ! I could go on….

What do you love about your country life right now?

Absolutely everything. I grew up in Sydney but have had a love of horses and riding since I was a small child. Although I enjoy aspects of city life, to me it was never spiritually sustainable. I always found deep peace and connection in the country and growing up dreamt of a life like I have now, wondering how I would ever create it. My life here is simple, humble, peaceful, connected and immensely private. My family of 3 boys and husband live in a ragged little white weatherboard cottage with no immediate neighbors and a 9km drive to town. I refer to it as my Happy Bubble.

Dark Chocolate Infused Raspberry Conserve

A weekend on the farm involves………

Depends on the temperature of the season ! But typically at the moment some grounds and tractor work, housekeeping/renovating, horse play, boys on bikes, sticks and fort building. Noise, tears, dogs and balls, movies, mooching, puzzles, kayak or swim at local river hole, dam or town pool. Often some overtime work for catchup or urgent orders, but my most favourite over summer – lining up our 5 banana beds for a calm evening dinner outside looking out at our stunning view. Happy bubble.

Thank you Kallista for sharing your story. To find out more about Homegrown & Handmade visit the website.

All images courtesy of Homegrown & Handmade.

A Guide To Wedding Dress Shopping For The Dazed & Confused

by | Fashion Wisdom, Wisdom


PQ Fashions


Image via Anna Campbell Boutique Launch

Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now you need to find the perfect dress – and you have no idea where to start.

There are lots of ads in magazines, websites, blogs, but do any of them tell you what really happens when you go wedding dress shopping?

As someone who works in the industry, I’m here to give you a guide to wedding dress shopping so that it’s as easy as possible!

Bridal boutiques

Bridal boutiques are a great start for the bride who isn’t quite sure what she’s looking for. Most bridal boutiques cater to all tastes and carry a wide range of styles ranging from puffy princess gowns to romantic bohemian.

What will happen:

First, you need to make an appointment with the boutique. Most boutiques only allow for up to two guests to bring along (bridesmaids/mum/sister) with you to help you choose the right dress. You will be given little tags while you browse, and you should clip them onto the dresses that catch your fancy. When you are ready, the helpful assistants will bring the dresses to you to try on. You can pick about half a dozen different shapes and styles, to try and determine which shapes suits you the best. You may be asked to pay a deposit to try on the really delicate dresses.


If you fall in love with one of the dresses, the assistants will then take your size and order the closest dress size. The order time is generally 6-10 months, but allow yourself at least 3 extra months for shipping delays, and alterations.

Tip:  Dress in something comfortable and easy to change in and out of. Try not to put on too much makeup or fake tan, because you may be liable for cleaning costs if you get the dresses dirty.


Perhaps you’ve spent hours pouring over fashion magazines and admiring the beautiful wedding dresses at celebrity weddings.   Or maybe you have your heart set on a unique dress made just for you. If either of these sound like you, then your first stop should be to make an appointment with a specialised wedding dress designer. In Australia, designers such as J’Aton Couture and Steven Khalil have become celebrities, thanks to social media and celebrity endorsement and of course, their stunning designs. But there are also many local award winning designers who will help you design and make a dress.

What will happen:

First, make an appointment with the designer. Bring along some pictures of designs you like, and fabric ideas. The designer will ask you lots of questions regarding your style, look at your body shape and what your dream dress would look like. He or she may do up a sketch, incorporating your ideas and their design flare. Once your dream dress has been sketched and finalised, you will also get to choose your fabric. The designer may have fabric at their studio, or you may visit a designer fabric store together. Some designers even opt to make a toile (using calico fabric to make a dummy dress) before using your chosen fabric. There will be usually 3-5 fittings before the dress is completed.


Tips: Bargain. Some designers may be willing to change the price if the design is simple and you are an easy going bride.

Local dressmakers

Not everyone can afford designer dresses. When you already know exactly what you want, (eg Grace Kelly’s wedding dress) the best person to visit is a reputable dressmaker.

What will happen:

Make an appointment with your dressmaker and bring along the design of the dress you want. The dressmaker will help you with choosing the best fabric at local and designer fabric stores, and help you complete the design to make it suit you and the chosen fabric. There may be 2-4 fittings, and the completion time is around 2-3 months.


Tip: get a complete quote first and make sure there are no hidden charges later. Be clear about what you want and make sure the dressmaker is on the same page as you, to prevent getting a dress that is completely different to what you imagined.

Online shopping

There are now hundreds of websites promising good quality dresses at cheap prices and quick delivery times. I have seen a couple of success stories, but most of the time, they are disasters and end in tears. Just google “mail order wedding dresses”, and you will find hundreds of disaster dresses that did not live up to their promise. Most brides spend more to alter the dress than what they actually paid for it.


Tip: If you are going to order via the internet, make sure it is a reputable brand, with genuine testimonials. It’s best if you know someone who has ordered from them and has had success.

Swirl divider

Ms Gingham says: I love this comprehensive outline of pros and cons. It makes it all much clearer!

About Clare of PQ Fashions: Growing up being the daughter of a dressmaker, I am never far from beautiful fabrics and gowns. In all of my school and uni holidays, I would be in mum’s shop playing with fabrics, helping by unpicking stitches, and hand sewing sequins for customers. Tired of being a pharmacist, I began doing managing and marketing for PQ Fashions (mum’s business) full time from Feb 2011.

What Would They Know? Sarah Elliott of The Print Fairy

by | Stationery Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

 Invitations that are designed with flair and a unique touch? Invitations printed on birch, cherry or mahogany wood? Innovative designs? Sarah of The Print Fairy has all these and more in her extensive range of stationery. From letterpress to gold foiling and floral designs, Sarah applies her fairy’s dust to  sprinkle some magic on her designs. And apart from being excited by designing stationery – what does this Print Fairy believe in? New season shopping days, true love and listening to your Mum’s advice – and we love that!!

Why did you start your business The Print Fairy?

The Print Fairy evolved from a desire to create a business for myself and after successfully working on the look and style of a few weddings in my spare time, I realised there was a real need for a style overhaul in the wedding invitation industry. I turned that passion into building my website, and 8 years later here we are going from strength to strength.

What is your background in design?

I have built my 14 year career off the back of a design degree majoring in Textiles and Graphic design and from working for a couple of other design companies in both New Zealand and Australia.

What is it that you particularly love about designing wedding stationery?

I have always loved colour and pattern and how the combination of these two elements play such an important role in our everyday life through fashion, interiors and lifestyle. Working with type, colour schemes and textures everyday has always been part of my job description and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of my favourite things is when a customer will request an obscure colour combination that we haven’t done before. It just transforms the design and makes even our most popular designs feel totally new and fresh. I feel we have a great standing in the market now and a solid understanding of our customer taste. We know we’re creating what our customers want to use as a part of their styling and our work plays a major role in setting the vibe for the wedding.

My Sweet Love invitations – image by Urban Safari

Do you have signature design style?

Absolutely we do. It’s bold colour, adventurous fonts and on-trend design and layout. If you want an invitation with frilly lace and embellishments you might be looking a while on our site to find something that fits this description!

How often do you come up with new designs for your stationery range?

We are always creating new designs, every week we will come up with something new. Not everything makes it to the online store, so we are quite ruthless with our design process. We are always changing the online store around, just like in a real boutique, we like to mix it up and also change the colours with each season.

What is the starting point for designing a custom invitation suite – and how long does this take to finished product?

Most customers who are after a custom design come to us because they love our style but want something unique to them and their big day. They already have a strong idea of what they are after so we are really here to pull it all together for them and make that vision a reality on paper. From the initial concept to sending to print, it can take around 1-2 weeks. All of our print methods do take different lengths of time as they are all sent off to our specialist printers around the country.

How should a couple approach you about this?

For those who really don’t know what they are after in a custom design, we suggest to do a bit of research on good old Pinterest and send us any images you like of colour combo’s, flowers, bridesmaid dresses, venue styling etc… so we get a feel for the overall look and theme you’re trying to achieve for your wedding. From here we will suggest font types, suitable card stocks, what print medium will best suit your style. We are happy to have lengthy phone conversations regarding the style of invitations and all of the options. We do strongly suggest to any potential customers to purchase one of our sample packs tailored to the type of invite you are after. We have so many different options, it’s always best to choose to see the full sample pack, that way you won’t miss out on something you may not have originally thought of doing.


Birch wood cocktail board – image by Love Note Photography

You offer many different styles of invitation – e.g. invitations printed on wood, letterpress, metallic foil and more. Do you see more wedding stationery being made with these techniques because couples want something really unique?

Our wood invitations are incredibly popular. Yes they are unique, they are the perfect mix of rustic-contemporary which makes them perfect for just about any sort of wedding theme. We have the best suited designs and largest offering for this style of product. As one of the very first companies to do timber invites in Australia, we know the product and we do it very well! We are sending our timber invitations all over the world as it seems they are so unique.

How are wooden invitations packaged to be sent to our guests?

Your wood invites will be delivered to you wrapped and packed securely in bulk for you to place inside the supplied envelopes. The wood itself is no thicker than a standard 300gsm card invitation. It actually travels better through the postal service than a card stock invite as it can’t crease like paper/ card does.

Can you please describe an invitation design that might suit:

  • A rustic styled wedding
  • Our Brand new succulent design in either wood or card stock, or any from our White on Kraft range which is very unique white ink on heavy Kraft board. Or our popular Down the Aisle design is gorgeous for a hit of rustic in neutral browns and white.

White on Kraft range  – image by Urban Safari

– A secret garden wedding

Our delightful ‘In Bloom’ watercolour floral invitation. A gorgeous mix of pretty meets modern. Or go for one of our printed reverse designs in antique rose to add interest to your wedding invite package, seen here with My Sweet Love in charcoal.

In Bloom watercolour invitation – image by Urban Safari

– An urban wedding

Our extremely elegant and contemporary ‘Hello Lover’ Letterpress design in black and white, it oozes sophisticated glam.

Hello Lover letterpress invitation – image by Urban Safari

If we love one of your signature designs but want a different font can we request this?

Yes you can choose a different font. We have literally hundreds in our font library, but we have spent many hours perfecting the look of each of our designs based around the fonts we have chosen to be the best fit. Often when a different font is requested it makes the design off-balance and the customer wonders why it doesn’t look like it does on the website when they see their proof. It’s fine to play around with a few different looks at design proof stage though.

Do you see any new trends happening in colour and design for weddings in 2015, which is reflected in the stationery?

Metallic foiling is getting huge again and not just on white card, we are seeing foiling incorporated in lots of unusual ways. We are investigating some new top-secret techniques right now.

The rustic-floral trend is booming and I don’t see it going away any time soon and we have it covered right throughout all our range offerings.

We are also looking into some laser-cut and three-dimensional pieces to take it to the next level.

Invitation with gold foiling – image by Urban Safari

What books are on your beside table right now?

No books, I’ve never been a huge reader, I’m far more entertained by visuals and creatively put together type, images and layout. So I do have the very latest Australian interiors magazines to keep myself on-top of colours and pattern and my iPhone for news, blogs, trends and social media.

Do you have other creative interests that you are passionate about?

I do actually love to paint on canvas. I have a passion for bold and colourful abstract art which I have dotted around my house, but I do think it’s time I picked up the paintbrush myself again.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

With running my own business and also raising 2 young daughters, I rarely get any time to myself. We have also just recently purchased an old 1950’s period home that we are renovating and needs some serious TLC. My husband and I now can’t remember what we used to do in our spare time! But when I do get time to sneak off, it’s usually hanging with the fab girlfriends I have in my life, eating, drinking and laughing the day/night away.

Thank you Sarah for sharing your story with us. To find out more about The Print Fairy visit the website.

Headshot by Kate of Urban Safari

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