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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blog Interview #20

One of my favourite destinations when blog hopping is a little gem called Nostalgia at the Stone House. Today we talk with it's creator, Niki.
Tell us a little bit about yourself ...
I was born in Hertfordshire in the UK, during the 60’s. I left school at 16, as it wasn’t for me, but I went on to study at college for my D.A.T.E.C. Diploma in Retail Display and Design, where I flourished! I was awarded the Clements Bowl as the best student and afterwards was offered a job with the John Lewis Department Stores. I have been married to the same man for over 24 years – we met when I was 16 (he was 17) and I was married at 19! After only 10 months of marriage, we left Hertfordshire to make a new life in the west country, where we have lived with our three gorgeous daughters, ages 21, 19 and 15, ever since. Whilst bringing up my children, I would sew (rag dolls mostly) to sell at local craft fairs, and I also supplied shops. Over the years my style has developed and I now use only antique/vintage fabrics, lace and embellishments to make my wares, which I sell via my on-line shop.

Why did you decide to blog?
I started my blog nearly three years ago now. At that time I had recently closed my little vintage shop (a physical one, not an on-line one!) which I trialled for one year. I found that it was too much of a tie and couldn’t balance/juggle it with family life. I still needed to earn some money, as selling my vintage and handmade goods was my only form of income; so I decided to carry on with the on-line side of my business only. After closing my shop things became very quiet and I needed to find those like-minded women that I knew where out there in the world! Blogging seemed the ideal way to try to find them. At that time there were far less bloggers on the www and it took a long time to build up links and interest, but it slowly evolved…so basically, my blog was set up as a way of promoting my small business, but what I wasn’t expecting was to gain friends and so much inspiration from all the lovely ladies (and a few men!) out there!

What is the name of your blog, and why did you decide on that name?
I named my blog ‘NOSTALGIA AT THE STONE HOUSE’. This was the name that I had used for my vintage shop (and the on-line one.) The shop was in an annex on the side of our house which just happens to be called The Stone House! The ‘nostalgia’ bit came from the things I love to stock in my shop, and that furnish our home – I love pieces that tell a story of the past and have the scars of years of use and enjoyment. Whilst selling at fairs, my customers would often pick up an item and say ‘Oh, my Gran had one of these’. I loved that - They
had an instant bond with the item, as it held nostalgic memories for them.

What date did you blog for the very first time, and what did you talk about in your first post?
My very first post (written by a very nervous newbie!) was on 26th June 2006 and was entitled ‘Vintage Girl’. I basically wrote a brief post about me and what makes me tick. ie; my love of my family (and our chickens!), vintage everything(!) and French Brocante, my collections, my enjoyment of sewing, our home, and a passion for gardening.

Do you prefer to blog with words or pictures or both?
I definitely prefer to blog with photos rather than words. If truth be told, I struggle with words (as I mentioned, I left school at 16 which didn’t help) – plus I am generally a very shy/private person. (And I have a blog??!!) I am an extremely visual/artistic person though and am always looking for the beauty in everything. Taking photographs for my blog is something I really do enjoy and love to share.

Tell us about friendships you’ve established through blogging.
I have met some lovely ladies through blogging! For some reason, there seems to be a lot of us down here in the SW of England or within travelling distance. Some I’ve met face to face privately, and some I bump into regularly at antique fairs and flea markets. In fact, this weekend sees the second ‘Vintage and Handmade Fair’ at Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire. The stall holders are predominately blogging ladies and I’m thrilled to be included in the line up. It’s going to be such fun to spend a day with these like-minded and talented girls, some I shall be meeting for the first time, while others I have known for some time. (A few were friends before Blogger came along!)

Did you design your blog or did you have it professionally done?
I designed my blog mostly by myself, but I am also blessed to have a very clever hubby who has his own IT business. In the past I have asked him if something is possible and he is usually able to help me achieve what I’m looking for. Also, my daughters have helped me in the past creating blog banners. I love adding extra photos and interesting snippets to my side bar – as I said, I am a very visual person and love extra eye-candy!

Have you ever been featured in Artful Blogging?

L But I have been in some UK publications.

What does your "About Me" read?
At the moment it reads: I live near Bath, Somerset in the UK, with my husband and our 3 daughters-ages 21, 19 and 15. I like to decorate our home with vintage/antique finds from flea markets. I also love to sew; over the years I have used acres of vintage fabrics for my hand crafted goods! My blog is a light-hearted account of the things I get up to in my nostalgic world.

What feature do you like the most about your blog?

I think I like the column of photos on my side bar the best. They serve as a reminder of some of the items I have handmade over the years. I am always humbled when someone chooses to buy something I’ve made – it’s an immensely rewarding side to my business.

Is there anything on your blog you’d like to change? Why?
If I could struggle less with the written word, then that would be something I would love to change! I do try to push myself though and I’m sure I am improving over the years! At the end of the day,
my blog features my style of writing and I’m not forcing anyone to read it! ;-)) But thanks for putting up with my typos and general grammar mistakes!

Do you ever blog when you don’t "feel like it" ~ and if so, why do you?
It would be rare that I would blog if I didn’t feel like it…I added the badge ‘Blogging Without Obligation’ some time ago. My regular readers know that I don’t always post every day and they seem to check in now and then, or have me on their ‘Follow’ list. I have said that my blog is ‘light-hearted’ so I don’t want to burden them with my problems if I’m having an off-day – best not to post!

What themes would best describe your blog?
I try to make my blog visually pleasing - Also colourful, pretty, nostalgic whenever possible, simple and concise. I often talk about items I’ve created, thrifted treasures, our home and its d├ęcor, flowers blooming in our garden at any particular time, and days out and about in the SW of England. Making a home comfortable, without spending a fortune (often as little as possible, whenever possible!) is really important to me too, which I do like to relay within a post. Nothing particularly personal though.

What is your blogger count at, at this precise moment?
I am actually thinking of deleting my blog counter. I don’t like the undercurrent of competition that seems to occur sometimes in Blogland. Blogging should be fun, not a popularity contest. I added it in the first place to be sure that I was getting some traffic…no one wants to be talking to themselves, but I guess its sat there ever since…yes, it will be going soon!

Do you have any interesting directions you want to take your blog in, in the future?

Apart from removing my blog counter? I had thought about doing a few ‘How to’ posts, showing anyone interested how to make simple crafted items. I would love to write a craft book in the future and this could be a way to gauge interest.

Do you sell your artwork through your blog?
Yes, I do sell my art work through my blog. It has been the best form of advertising and promotion that I could have chosen for my on-line shop. In fact, I believe that most of my customers are non-bloggers and use my blog in conjunction with my website, as an additional feature, a little like a magazine to dip into for articles. I also wrote a self-published book entitled ‘Living with Nostalgia’ last year, and have sold many copies through linking to the publishers on my blog’s side bar.

Is there anything else you would like to say?
I would love to tell my readers that they are all very special to me! I am flattered that my blog receives any interest at all! Working from home means I don’t have the luxury of conversation! It also means that I lead a very ordinary life! Knowing that there is a world of like-minded women out there, just a few clicks of my mouse away, is comforting. I am often in awe as to how often some ladies manage to leave comments and do sometimes feel guilty for not being able to return the compliment, but with my business revolving around my PC so much, I have to be strong and switch it off at the end of the day sometimes! (Or my posterior will soon be the size of a house!) I admit to lurking, when I have a few minutes to spare – there are so many blogs out there now, compared to when I first started, with new ones joining my blog roll weekly…Being a Blogger can be all-consuming, but its not something I would want to change in a hurry!

I hope everyone will check out Niki's blog:
Nostalgia at the Stone House.


Heidi said...

Still enjoying all your interviews! Love Niki's blog!

Niki Fretwell said...

Hi Dawn,
Many thanks again for featuring my interview on your lovely blog. It made a change for me to talk about myself - not something I usually do very much! I look forward to reading your future interviews from other bloggers out there.

Have a lovely weekend,

Sherry said...

I must definitely check out Niki's sounds does Niki.

As for not feeling comfortable about writing...from what I read in this interview I think Niki is much better at expressing herself than she realizes!

And I concur wholeheartedly...these are our blogs and how we speak, how we think and how we write is "ours" and always must remain that way. Being true to ourselves is one of the most important aspects of our lives.

Sue said...

What a lovely interview with Niki.

Sue xx

Suzy's Vintage Attic said...

Very good interview. It was interesting to learn a few new things about Niki. Niki's blog is the first one I have ever followed. I love her style and ideas.
A good read, thank you!
Isabelle x

Teena Vallerine said...

Ooh That was a treat! Always nice to see Niki's pictures! Eye candy indeed! t.x

Debbies-English-Treasures said...

In my opinnion, Nikki`s blog is the best out there!
Everyday I must stop at her blog!!!
She is my source of inspiration...
Not only because of her creativity, but also because of how nice, warm and genuine she always comes across...
L.O.V.E, Debbie Moss

Brenda said...

BEAUTIFUL!!! Thanks so much for sharing! Such inspiration!