Chit-Chats: Natalie Brooke, Whimsy Brooke…

I “met” Natalie Brooke years ago when we both were fresh, dewy-eyed bloggers of style/fashion, all the pretty things, and in general, life! We share a love of old-timey things, creative pursuits (although she definitely pursues it more consistently than me!!), and an adoration for Audrey Hepburn. I recently caught up with her, and one of her exciting updates is that she is now an entrepreneur — a sticker and stationery extraordinaire! I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to interview her, and share her new enterprise as well as a little opportunity to get to know her better!

Tell me who you are in a nutshell!
I’m a quirky, whimsical, and creative hobbyist. I reside in Windsor, Ontario Canada, and live in a quaint historical side of the city. I absolutely love it!! As for my others loves, they are in no particular order: Audrey Hepburn, cats, vintage and retro things, stationery, Pop Funkos, cat figurines, fashion, collaging, journaling, anything pink, Doctor Who, Volkswagen Beetles and black-and-white films.

If you could have tea with any literary character, who would it be and why?
I can’t choose one – so let’s do an afternoon tea party instead and I’d invite: Alice, Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, Scarlett O’Hara, Miss Honey, and Wendy Darling! Simply, because I looked up and admired all of them at least once in my life. Fun fact: It was written under my photo in my yearbook that I wanted to be Miss Honey!

What’s the most whimsical thing you’ve ever done?
Walking through a Fairy Forest in LaSalle is quite possibly the most whimsical thing I’ve ever done. Spoiler… I gasped multiple times!

Describe your ideal creative workspace. What does it look, sound, and smell like?
My ideal creative workspace would be a cosy, yet maximalist decor style! One that a quirky, eccentric artist inhabits and enjoys! Depending on the mood and muse, the Spotify playlist changes, as well as the genres. My space is full of pops of colour and oh so many plants – giving Frida Kahlo vibes. Inside there’s a faint but sweet smell of Madagascar Vanilla.

You shared that you’ve started selling Audrey Hepburn stickers. Why Audrey specifically, and what makes her such an enduring source of inspiration/style icon for you?
I doodled and essentially designed an Audrey Hepburn sticker years ago, that I recently decided to turn into a sticker! I just fell in love with her character, story, strength, elegance and empathy mainly! She exemplifies a classiness that I don’t think we’ll ever see again in this day and age.

You’re an avid creator of collages. What’s the inspiration behind your scrapbooking and journaling?
My inspiration and eye for collaging, journaling and scrapbooking stems from where my artistic ability originally came from: my late Grandfather whom I never met. He passed of ALS and, before his death, he took up the hobby of painting. Many of his masterpieces were then gifted to friends and family! I too, want to continue this legacy, in hopes of brightening up someone’s day through the small act of art.

What are some of your favorite materials and techniques to use?
My absolute favourite materials to use are basically anything I can get my hands on. Old books, beautiful magazines, vintage paraphernalia: essentially whatever catches my eye and brings me joy and inspiration. My techniques are as follows: cutting/ripping out clippings from magazines and such, creating contrast by mapping/laying out the pieces of the collage, adding some pizazz whether it’s doodles or stars or paint splashes, etc!

Do you have a specific theme or aesthetic that you lean towards in your creative projects?
Definitely a vintage theme or aesthetic, merged with quirkiness and fashionable fun! I’m a huge fashion lover and creating these collages brings me back to my days where I interned for the fashion illustrator Jennifer Lilya!

Can you tell us about a particularly meaningful or memorable moment you’ve had related to your creative endeavors?
Essentially during my birth month, September, without fail… I’ve always had amazing opportunities happen. For example, my internship with Jennifer Lilya. She contacted me close to my birthday and asked me to be her intern. I was just starting out and was elated that she’d even ask me. It was one of the best, most fulfilling moments in my life. I had someone who believed in me and that made me feel valuable and seen. I’ve learnt so much from the opportunity and credit it all to Jennifer.

What inspired you to start selling stickers/other paraphernalia?
Well, as a self proclaimed sticker queen – seriously, I put stickers on everything! I wanted to make stickers that I felt were missing that je ne sais quoi… that weren’t already on the market. For example, my Audrey Hepburn and Glittery Geode stickers! What inspired me to start selling stickers and stationery was simply, my love for those things. Once l got into the joy of planning, a whole new world opened up, and I felt myself wanting to add my own little touch to it. As I delved in, I wanted to incorporate my own art into my spreads and I thought what better way than to make stickers?! Then, I started doing Public Relations for a Canadian sticker shop, and my love for stickers was ignited again. As I soaked up all the knowledge about running a sticker business and the like… I discovered my style of stickers and what I wanted to sell. It’s still a journey that I’m working towards, but I’ll get there!

Do you have any tips for beginners looking to start their own scrapbooking or journaling projects?
Well, my first tip is to just DIVE in! Whether it’s researching the heck out of the hobby you want to take up. Go on Pinterest, Instagram, etc! Put vision boards together! Write down lists of materials you need and such! Get yourself all hyped up, and just do it. Get creative, have fun, and remember you’re likely not going to be amazing at first… you must challenge yourself and keep working at it… as with life.

Just because it’s Earth Day… have you ever looked into or incorporated sustainable steps you’re your creative workflow (ie. sourcing items, reusing scraps, etc.)?
Great question! Does reusing beautiful and expensive magazines and ripping them up (because hey, they were collecting dust and not being used on the shelf!) count? I also like to use things I have on hand, and try really hard not to go to Michael’s for supplies. I’d rather support small businesses quite honestly. I’ve always been a pack rat so reusing things comes naturally…

What advice would you give to someone looking to turn their passion for crafting into a business?
My advice is to not let fear hold you back, because it’s False Evidence Appearing Real. I mean, I’m preaching to myself here – ‘cause boy am I scared, too! But! If we don’t try and fail, then how do we know we’ll actually succeed? Part of being passionate about something means you’ll have the determination to see it through. So, let’s do this thing! You’ve got this.

What’s a piece of advice, life and/or business-related, that has always stuck with you?
I’ll give two pieces of advice! For good ‘ole life, it’s “This too, shall pass.” and “Tomorrow’s a new day!” — these two mantras have helped me immensely over the years, just because they ground me and set my thinking straight. As the song goes, “I get knocked down, but I get up again!!!” And that in itself is inspiring, at least to me! Business related, I would say to be passionate, find your “why” and your niche. With those three you’re golden! And… never, ever, and I mean ever give up!

If you would love to put Natalie’s gorgeous stickers in your own creative pages, please send her a DM! Natalie’s online presence is currently @natalaylay.plans on Instagram, but she is working towards having an official place on the web again soon!

1 Comment

  1. Amy
    April 23, 2024 / 1:34 pm

    So lovely to read about your pursuits Natalie! And your art work is beautiful!

    Such a beautiful blog post Cathie! I always enjoy your blog!

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