Friday, May 29, 2015

Connecticut Travel Finds

It's the time of year when travel plans are on the minds of most people.  Here are some Connecticut travel finds to use and inspire you this season.

Create a custom personalized interactive map for your family adventures with PaperRamma, based in Shelton.

Glitter and Bold
Hang this rustic wooden sign from Stratford-based, Glitter and Bold, that is hand painted in a modern calligraphic script to inspire your travels.

Travel anywhere with your favorite beverage in this Black Matte finish Double-Walled Mug handpainted by ChoChoArtware in Berlin.

Vanessa Pixel Studio
This vintage-inspired art print can be customized with your own destination and caption from New Haven shop, VanessaPixelStudio.

A vegan mascara great for traveling from herbanluxe, handcrafted in Milford.

The Mod Mobile
Washable Over-Easy Eco Travel Lids are elastic fabric covers that fit over your bowl of homemade salads from The Mod Mobile of Fairfield.

The Copper Fox
For the Liz Lemon in your life, a hand-stamped, light weight aluminum keychain tag from The Copper Fox in Sandy Hook.

Cinder & Salt
Heavy cotton canvas duffle helps you travel stylishly. Screen printed in Southington by Cinder & Salt.

Cyn Thomas is the illustrator, designer and pattern maker of RiverDog Prints. Her paper goods and gifts are guided by earth, animals, function, food and cocktails. You can also find Cyn canning in her kitchen, walking her dog, being outnumbered by her boys and husband or reading herself to sleep.
Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook |

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Local Love: 24 Peace

Get to know Cindy Witter, founder of apparel company, 24 Peace.

"24 Peace is going into its 4th year of business. I was laid off from my corporate retail job and decided that I wasn't going back to that world! Time to make money for myself instead of for someone else. But I also wanted to feel like I was making a difference every day.

The business is based on the legacy of my big sis, Linda, an artist and very inspirational women. She is no longer with us, but she is the strength and foundation of 24 Peace. Her artwork was the first used in the business and the concept of giving back to the artists’ community and to charity is based on the way she lived her life. I now run the business with my daughter Charlette and help from family and friends. I am a mother of three and a grandmother of seven. I wanted to create a business to make my family proud.

We collect artwork from local artists and have it hand screen printed by a local eco-friendly printer, Rachel DeCavage of Cinder & Salt. We use only the highest quality products/fashion in our line. Everything is in someway eco-friendly and supports a better earth. The comment we hear the most is 'I can't believe how soft this feels.' We pick T shirts, hoodies, yoga wear, onesies and youth clothing so that when you feel it, you're hooked! One of our most popular styles is our zip front hoodies. They are lightweight and comfortable for year round wear. Each piece is so unique because of the original artwork. We change designs often keeping our artist busy :)

We donate a portion of every sale to the artists and to charities including Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp based in CT and a group of others listed on our website.

Right now we are a mobile boutique. We attend farmers markets, fairs, fundraisers... and our line has been picked up by Whole Foods Market in Glastonbury and West Hartford. We would love to have a brick and mortar shop but the overhead and expenses make that difficult at this time, but that is our goal. We are growing by leaps and bounds and I see a bright future for us.

What we love most is that when we are vending at the many many markets and events...the other vendors are some of our biggest customers! It's a great feeling!

We have been featured on Better Connecticut. We will be attending Coventry Farmers Market, Big E, Hebron Fair, Durham Fair, Wadsworth Mansion and many other local events on our calendar. We are looking to broaden our market and have recently attended events in the Boston area and have a great response."

Find 24 Peace on


We love local businesses! 

Are you an independently-run Connecticut brick and mortar?
Get a feature by clicking here.

Know a shop that deserves a feature? Contact us at

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

DIY Seaweed Face Mask

The DIY Seaweed Face Mask Recipe is finally here!

Facial masks can be customized for your skin type very easily. I was feeling a little creasy & greasy, so I needed to whip up a firming, pore clarifying mask. This mask I would not recommend for dry skin.

I used:
  • 2 Tablespoons of coffee, from the bottom of the cup 
  • 1 tsp organic sustainable palm oil (palm oil is naturally high in vitamin e, a great option for those of us soy sensitive. If you are worried about the environmental impacts - carefully research your supplier & pay the extra for a earth friendly version) 
  • 1 tsp spirulina (yes, it's GREEN!!!) 
  • a little extra coffee to make desired consistency 
  • 2 small pinches of bentonite clay (this will refine & detox pores) 
  • a small spoon of castor oil (not recommended for dry skin, but great for wrinkles & oily skin) 
  • 2 cool black tea bags, soaked in extra coffee in fridge
And voila, laid down for 10 minutes on my yoga mat. My skin felt wonderful for about 3 days afterwards. The extra mask will last about 2 weeks in the fridge, but spirulina will get stinky!

Ingredients for DIY masks will be on PureNakedSoap, but we will not be selling completed masks because it is more cost effective to mix your own liquids in as needed.

Erin Egan of Pure Naked Soap is a mom to three girls and social worker by day, but at night she is a creator of body nourishing foods and skincare products. Diagnosed with multiple allergies, Erin makes most of her foods and all of her soaps and skincare products from scratch. Using whole ingredients that meet the needs of her body, she found that many other people were interested in simpler, truly natural soaps. Check out her selection of body friendly products!
Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Wanelo |

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Shop Spotlight: Brimmer Baby

Meet Jaclyn of Brimmer Baby, a specialty clothing shop, especially for boys.

"My name is Jaclyn and I live in Avon, CT with my husband and two sons. I am a second grade teacher turned stay-at-home-mom. We moved to Avon from Boston and have lived here for almost three years.

After having my boys I realized how many clothing options are available for girls, and how few options are available for boys. I wanted a classic, traditional look for my boys that was effortless for me and comfortable for them and Brimmer Baby was born.

The name Brimmer Baby is a symbol for where my young family began. Brimmer Street is where my husband and I lived in Beacon Hill, Boston. It will always have a special place in our hearts.

As a stay-at-home-mom, my first priority is to my family. The boys' nap time and bed time is packed with sewing, shipping, photographing samples, reviewing new fabric options, and interacting with customers through email, Facebook and Instagram."

See more of Jaclyn's work in her Etsy shop, Brimmer Baby.
or connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.


Would you like to be a featured in the Shop Spotlight?
Active Nutmeg Collective members fill out this form!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Glitter and Bold: So, You Want to Start a Kickstarter

Whether you're just starting out or looking for a boost to take your crafting business to the next level, Kickstarter is a fantastic resource to help get both exposure and funds. I won't lie or sugar coat, because if you've ever begun the process of a Kickstarter campaign you already know it's true: launching a Kickstarter is awesome and amazing and wonderful...and terrifying as hell.

What's more, there's very limited resources for advice on craft projects. Writing a book? Awesome. Making a movie? Even better. Trying to sell some mugs you painted? Good luck with that. Comparing yourself or trying to follow advice tailored to other categories (cough, cough movies) can just lead to unnecessary stress in an already stressful time. So, without further ado, here's a giant list of all the stuff you need to launch a successful craft project on Kickstarter...

Six things I wish I knew BEFORE I launched:

  1. Build up connections with popular bloggers long before you pitch your project. When I read this article the advice was great, but I was already two weeks in, and while I'd been following and reading particular blogs for awhile (in some cases, YEARS!), I had never commented or really participated in the blog in a way that made me stand out. Like a post? Comment on it! See something you can relate to? Say why! It can make a big difference when it's time to ask for crowdfunding support. 
  2. An emotional roller coaster is even worse than it sounds. Say goodbye to a good night sleep, because it's going to get REAL (and that's ok!). When you're awake at midnight thinking about all the things you COULD be doing to push your campaign, don't fret! We all did it!
  3. People will hound you and try to convince you that without paying hundreds of dollars for their service, you will fail. The first few I gave some hard eye rolls, but after my campaign hit a lull, these vultures started to get under my already stress induced, sleep deprived skin. Could these services help? Maybe. Do you need them to succeed? Not at all. Will you still get emails and messages from them months after your campaign ended with some stranger telling you how you'll fail without them (even though you already totally kicked butt)? Yup. 
  4. Your video is super important, but it's OK if it's not professional. I repeat, IT'S OK! I'm a perfectionist, so looking at the videos promoted for inspiration left me more freaked out than motivated. That being said, I used elements from other videos that I liked, and tried my darndest to make it work for me. My whole video (which can you still find here) was made entirely by yours truly and my trusty Mac. Do I have any experience with videography? Nope. Is it all I hoped and dreamed it would be? Hell no. Did I fake it til I made it? You betcha. 
  5. Start campaigning before you actually start campaigning. I made sure everyone and their mother knew my Kickstarter was launching in March, from social media to small promotional cards I handed out at craft fairs and events. If you don't already have social media accounts for your business, get those ducks in a row! Friends and family are super helpful, but there's nothing like getting hundreds of dollars from total strangers who saw an ad you ran on Facebook (true story!). 
  6. Asking people sounds weird and uncomfortable because it is. Strangers, friends, mom and dad, doesn't matter. Asking for money makes you uncomfortable. Learn to just own it and realize it's part of the ride. Get your Kickstarter spiel ready, because you're going to use it! Expect people will have no idea what you're talking about, think you're crazy for trying to make a living off of soap or sweaters or whatever it is you craft. Approach the dreaded "give me money" conversation like a two sided coin - ooze confidence and pride to convince them you're product (and you!) are worthy of their money, and emphasize the awesome things THEY get. People might shy away from words like "donate" or "give" but boy do they love STUFF. Make the "stuff" front and center and the money will roll in. 

Resources to fake it til you make it:

  • Uprinting - A great resource for business cards and general branding goodness, I used Uprinting to make up small promotional cards that I could hand out like candy on Halloween. You can design a template any way you like, but I like Fotor the best (see below).

  • Fotor - I will probably rave about Fotor a million more times on this blog. I use it for EVERYTHING photo related. For my Kickstarter campaign, this meant the cards pictured above (the first is just text and a "transparent" shape laid over my own picture; the second is text over a "white box" I snagged off of Google to give me a plain background to work with). I also used Fotor to enhance or add text to photos on my project's page.

  • MailChimp - It took some getting used to, but once I played around with the layout and templates, I used MailChimp to send out email newsletters to people who otherwise might not see my campaign. It's ok if your list isn't that big, it's still a great way to reach people! I encouraged those who signed up and received the email to forward it to everyone they know, since you never know who secretly has a thing for hand painted mugs (or whatever your craft may be).

Rewards will probably be a betch.

Coming up with good rewards is a vital part of your campaign. That being said, be kind to yourself. If you have a product that easily translates into rewards, give yourself a big hug and keep scrolling. Otherwise, I feel your pain. Mugs are my thing, but mugs take a lot of effort to paint, bake, pack, and ship. 

Kickstarter is really good about compiling backer's "Reward Survey" answers into a handy spreadsheet, but actually sorting through everything can be a bit of a mess. The above picture is what just HALF of my office looked like when I was getting rewards out. I had to tip toe for a week straight. Yikes. Take things like time commitment and space when thinking of rewards.

Shipping is another iffy item. On the one hand, shipping became my arch nemesis because I offered prints at lower rewards tiers to avoid the high shipping costs of mugs, but even then it was an easy $3 between a small envelope and shipping throughout the US. That adds up quick! On the other hand, USPS offers label printing right from your computer and picks up boxes at your house. If you've never done this before, check it out. It's AWESOME, and saved me so much aggravation.

Work your butt off, but don't let it rule you.

People aren't lying when they say Kickstarter can easily be like another full time job. Brace yourself for it, and then just try to go with the flow. Be prepared to set aside some serious Kickstarter time, but don't go to the point of giving up your sanity (well, entirely - you'll definitely lose some sanity regardless). 

Once you've reached that goal, you'll feel like you just got to the top of a mountain. I personally did a happy dance all by myself, called my mom, and then jump danced some more while my dog gave me some side eye. It was one of the proudest moments of my life because I know I poured my heart and soul into it. 

Have any questions, or even your own tips / tricks to share? Leave a comment below! 

xoxo Brittany

You can check out the original post on Brittany's blog HERE.

Stratford, CT native Brittany Morgan is the brains (and painting hands) behind Glitter & Bold. She's a glitter-loving coffee addict with a penchant for crafty things, long bus rides through foreign countries, and really big books, and who's been in the handmade business since 4th grade (no, really - her parents were even nice enough to buy it all). Contact her anytime at

Friday, May 22, 2015

Upcoming Shows with Nutmeg Collective Members

We've rounded up events and dates through the end of June for shows and markets where you can find our Nutmeg Collective members. Read on, click links and hope to see you there!

Design by Woodward Paper Co.
May 23
Get Baked May Day Market featuring Nutmeg Naturals, Milo and Molly, Queenvanna Creations, Glitter & Bold, The Leather Genie, fallenpeach, Evelyn Pelati, Cottage Wicks and Hartford Prints!

Design by Rita Rivera
May 31
Coventry May Market featuring Milo and Molly, RiverDog Prints and Solstice Handcrafted.

June 1
Heart of the City, B:Hive in Bridgeport featuring Glitter & Bold.

June 3-5
Shop Inside Union Station featuring The Tiny Wren (6/3), Hartford Prints! (6/3), Valley Vintage (6/3-5)

June 6
Farmer's Market at Ashlawn Farm Coffee featuring Nutmeg Naturals.

June 6 & 7
Jonathan Edwards Spring Festival featuring Treefort Naturals and RiverDog Prints.

Celebrate West Hartford featuring Doug Hockman Photography.

June 7
Westbrook Arts and Crafts Fair featuring Kingfisher Lane.

June 8 
Farmer's Market at Whole Foods Market on Mondays at Raymond Rd. featuring Nutmeg Naturals.

June 12 
Cromwell Farmer's Market on Fridays featuring Solstice Handcrafted.

June 13 
Parmelee Farmers' Market, Killingworth - Opening day featuring Treefort Naturals.

June 13 & 14

June 14
Tag Sale on the Green, Colchester featuring Treefort Naturals.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cheers! Connecticut's Own Wine Trail

One doesn't have to travel to Napa County, California, nor even France to enjoy a wine-tasting adventure these days. As more vineyards and breweries crop up in local American towns, everyone has a chance to sample some fine and even award-winning wines- even in this little state of Connecticut.

The Wine Trail in Connecticut spans the whole state. My husband and I've only visited a few and hope to discover more next summer. But each excursion was a pleasant surprise not only for our palates, but that of friends we towed along with us. Although Connecticut climate leans towards producing better white wines, there are many that produce wonderful reds, Cabernets, burgundies, and more to delight your taste buds and warm your senses. Here are three favorites we've come by and highly recommend to the avid wine fan:

Connecticut Valley Winery-New Hartford CT: 
We aren't fans of sweet wines, or weren't, rather, until we visited this superb vineyard. The sweet wines here are produced naturally, the fermenting process is carefully stopped to retain the sweetness of the grape rather than dumping in sugar to add sweetness. The result? Wonderful, in fact indescribably fresh, rich wines that were a crowd-pleaser with our small group of varying tastes. "Just Peachy" is a favorite.  This vineyard has a delectable wine to please everyone in the crowd.

DeGrazia Vineyards-Brookfield, CT:
This is the perfect vineyard for a fall visit. Winemaker Dr. Paul DeGrazia is known for his unique and innovative wine-making flair. We sampled some of his late harvest wines, and we highly recommend one try the ports. His pumpkin wines were a favorite- rich, full bodied with unique undertones of honey and other spices.  This vineyard offers award-winning wines that also one just won't find anywhere else.

Goveia Vineyard-Wallingford, CT:
Goveia is a wonderful vineyard to meet up with friends. It's expansive tasting room invites visitors to bring a picnic lunch, buy a bottle, and sit down with friends for a leisurely gathering. The tall windows overlook the hills of Wallingford with nary a rooftop peeking among the trees. On one of our visits we sipped their Chardonnay- a favorite with us- and watched as a storm literally rolled towards the large windows, over the vineyard and disappeared as the sun re-entered the sky. Musicians often add to this vineyards relaxing atmosphere.

All across the Connecticut landscape one can spot signs with "Connecticut Wine Trail" inscribed on them and an arrow pointing to the nearest vineyard. There is even a Wine Trail passport one can pick up at any Connecticut Vineyard with each vineyard listed in the booklet.  As you visit each winery, the owner stamps it.  After fully stamped, hand it in for a chance to win a variety of exciting prizes!  Fine wine and good company make this little Nutmeg State an award-winning crowd-pleaser!

For more information and a complete list of wineries, visit CT Wine Trail online or on Facebook.

Feeling ambitious about your winery visits?  Check out the CT Wine Trail Passport- a few lucky visitors could win big!

Written by Suzanne Urban owner of Smirking Goddess and Suzanne Urban Etsy shops. Suzanne is an illustrator, gag writer, and graphic designer. She resides in an antique home in Windsor, CT with her husband- whose Etsy shop RetroUrban debuted this Spring– and her maltipoo Pieper and house rabbit Puma.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Shop Spotlight: Flax Relax


Meet Molly and Jamie, sisters and owners of Flax Relax, from Norwalk, CT.

They created their line of heat + freeze body wraps and eye pillows in 2010. They are strong believers in the value of entrepreneurship and find owning their business incredibly satisfying and rewarding.

Molly and Jamie had the idea for Flax Relax when their grandmother, Ginny, gave them a rice filled heating pad in an old plaid print. They liked the concept of the heating pad - all-over body relief and soothing comfort at your fingertips - but they wondered, what if they could update its look and seek out the best, most effective ingredients for the filling? With help from their grandmother, Molly and Jamie learned how to sew on her old sewing machine.

After doing some research, they came up with a blend of flaxseed, wheat berry, and lavender for the filling -- all chosen for their natural and healing benefits. They also chose fun, splashy prints that contradicted the average holistic product, after finding that most heating pads on the market were lacking an element of fun and beauty.


Molly and Jamie hand-sew and hand-fill each body wrap and eye pillow. Quality and craftsmanship is important to them, as well as using the best natural ingredients. They currently sell their products in their Etsy shop and on their website, along with some retail stores and yoga studios. They are looking to expand their line, adding a handful of wellness and lifestyle products, in the coming months.

See more of Molly and Jamie's wraps and pillows in their Etsy shop, Flax Relax or on their website.


Would you like to be a featured in the Shop Spotlight?
Active Nutmeg Collective members fill out this form!

Monday, May 18, 2015

One Thing: Set Up Your Avatar.

An avatar is a small icon that represents a person's online persona.  Avatars can be a person's head shot, their logo, or any other graphic representation of that person online.  Most social media platforms have them, and when you are setting up your account, it is one of the first things you are asked to fill in.  For some, if you do not provide a photo, you are left with the stock image that the platform uses.  On Twitter, this is an egg.  You do not want to be an egg.

As a business owner, you want to make sure that you have a professional-looking avatar that represents your business- it's often the first look someone gets of you online.  Without a custom avatar, your account not only looks unused and neglected, but it gives a potential client no idea who you are.  You either want people to see you, or you want them to identify your business through your branding.

Some quick tips for businesses on social media:
  • Avatar graphics should be sharp and sized appropriately to avoid getting cut off or stretched out.
  • Graphics should be professional- ask youself: if your boss was looking at your account, would you be embarrassed by the photo?
  • Make sure the image is easily identifiable. You don't want someone wondering, "What is that?"
  • Use a consistent image over all your business-based social media accounts.  This helps with branding.
What's one thing you do to help your business?

Written by Kristen of Milo and Molly.  Kristen runs her business while staying at home with her two small children. Fueled by an endless supply of tea, she sews late into the night when the house is quiet, most often accompanied by her faithful poodle, Casey.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Gift Guide: Teacher Appreciation

We've rounded up a selection of lovely, local gift ideas for the teachers in your life, 
all from our talented Nutmeg Collective members!

Bright and useful, a laundry gift set for the eco-conscious teacher.

Pretty photo magnets to dress up your teacher's classroom from Lily Pad Prints.

Perpetual Wooden Block Calendar would be a great addition to a teacher's desk
from QueenVanna Creations

Monogram a Zippered Pouch for your favorite teacher from Milo and Molly.

A one-of-a-kind screen printed Shadow Box for a one-of-a-kind teacher from The Octopress

For the teacher who loves gardening, a Garden Tools Art Print from MSD Design.

Your teacher can show his or her Connecticut pride with this Tote Bag from Hartford Prints

A personalized Hand-Stamped Key Chain from The Copper Fox is a great gift idea. 

A pretty way to organize the little things on your teacher's desk with a set

Cyn Thomas is the illustrator, designer and pattern maker of RiverDog Prints. Her paper goods and gifts are guided by earth, animals, function, food and cocktails. You can also find Cyn canning in her kitchen, walking her dog, being outnumbered by her boys and husband or reading herself to sleep.
Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook |