Monday, February 14, 2011

~One Crafty Gal... interview & giveaway~

I'd like to introduce you to Michelle Matsui, a crafty mamma from Canada, who recently opened an Etsy shop called Kempton Jones, where she specialises in selling her wonderful handmade "Owlies".

This is Chesley!
I first met Michelle, whilst her and her partner (like myself and my partner also), were backpacking around Australia. We were all on a small adventure tour of the Red Centre (and awesome it was, especially sleeping under the stars in a swag, but that's a story for another day...).

So back to Michelle...

I love Michelle's profile in her shop, it reads:
"What is 'a creative life?'

When you make something instead of buying it...

When you see opportunity in spotting an abandoned chair on the side of the road...

When you re-think something for a completely new use...

When you explore different ventures; even if they frighten you a little bit."

She explains, that she's finally found 'an outlet for all the fabric stashes' in her house, and goes on to say
"I love making these owlies and hope to create more creatures to add to the menagerie. I have a very talented and patient husband and one very sweet little boy". 

 I don't know about you - but I am truly fascinated by the lives of other creative peeps (especially fellow Mums), so I asked her lots of questions...

Please describe your creative work / products:
I have a series called 'Owlies of Ontario'; they are stuffed owls. The owlies are named after small towns in Ontario that provoke a memory for me, or just sound cool, e.g. Dashwood is named after my friend’s cottage; we spent a lot of weekends up there when we were teenagers.
I have been using some great vintage and designer fabrics. I love the Echino fabrics by Etsuko Furuya; 
 a Japanese textile designer; the cotton/linen blend is so nice to work with.

I also make ToothFairy pockets! I drew the little teeth and then screen-printed them onto fabric. The inks and emulsion I use are all water soluable and the “felt” is ecospun felt; it is made from recycled plastic water bottles. I have screen-print and patch-work aprons and t-shirts for kids too.

Do you have a creative background?
I did not study design formally but have been drawing and making my whole life.
Over the years I have done pottery, print-making, sewing, weaving, illustrations, paper mache, knitting, interior design and construction renovation.

Where do you create?
Do you use the dining table or are you lucky enough to have a designated working space,
or better still a dedicated ROOM?

I dream of the day that I will have my own room but until then, the dining table is the work station.
If I need to screen print I’ll go to the studio on the weekend.

Please briefly describe a typical week in the life of Michelle Matsui!
During the day you will find me managing a graphic design company in Toronto, Canada.
 I do most of the pick ups and drop offs to pre-school of our four year old son so things get a little hectic at the end of the day. I don’t start to work on anything until well after 8. It takes me a bit to shift from day mode to designer mode; I’ll work till 1am some nights. Weekends are full of visits to friends and family, perhaps scouting some new fabric, or wool, checking out my stock in the retail stores, visiting other shops for inspiration. If I’m ramping up for a show then my weeknights are very crazy, sewing or finishing till the wee hours.
And then somewhere in there; cleaning, cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, bill paying all seem to get done. Notice how exercise is not included…ha ha.

Where do you sell your work?
~ Online etsy shop (
~ 3 retail stores in Toronto; 'Drake Hotel General Store', 'Tomorrow Never Knows' &
   'haute par Periwinkle'
~ Craft shows, shows to be confirmed
~ KraftKaravans, dates to be confirmed

I created KraftKaravan last year ( It is a traveling hand-craft emporium that comes to your home or business. I found that people want to get out to the local craft shows but never seem to find the time so we provide a way for someone to host a pop-up craft show in their home. They invite their friends, have some treats, chat, catch up and do some holiday shopping; it’s a fun twist to a ladies night and definitely a time saver for the corporate gals. Last year we did 3 home and 1 corporate event.
{My neighbour blogged us late last year}

What do you feel are the pros and the cons of selling on-line?
Selling online is the best way to reach many people. It is very convenient and payment is very easy now too. I think people will be purchasing online more and more.

It is absolutely amazing that sites like Etsy were created and that one can buy from artisans from anywhere in the world! Recently I purchased a blazer from a girl in China and a funky top from Brooklyn, New York.

However, it is very difficult to get noticed on-line through Etsy or other on-line shops.
There are so many shops that your product listing gets buried so quickly that it is hard to stay top of mind.

What and /or who most inspires you?
My son Dexter is the catalyst for a lot of my designs. When he was two and a half he asked “ Is it a weekend day today?” – I designed a t-shirt based on this sentence and added one of his face drawings.
Kids see everything, question everything, remember everything and the things they say and do are a constant source of inspiration.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about living a creative life.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Living – I would like to meet Heather Moore (Skinny laMinx). I love her artistic sensibility, colour ways, everything! Would love to find out how she balances everything, how she sets up her shop, how her shop has affected her community. Plus she lives in gorgeous Cape Town, South Africa; would love to see her home.

What would you like to achieve in 2011?
Find a better day work, KJ work and life balance - try to negotiate a 4 day work week so I could have one full week day for my own work.

Have my work be sold in another country! Aim high right?

Do you have any New Year's resolutions?
(I know, it's now a bit late for this question, but...!!)

~ Be more active on blogs, post comments etc. Always nice to get feedback!
~ Want to have a dinner party once a month; nothing fancy, pot-luck will do!
~ Keep things in perspective and enjoy the process; to not rush

What are you currently enjoying:
 * Listening to?
 The National, Aloe Black and Broken Music Box.
 * Watching?
Love Mad Men! Just saw Black Swan; wow.
 * Reading?
Florence Broadhurst - Her Secret and Extraordinary Lives; just got this for my birthday.
Uppercase Magazine; they do such a good job with content and layout.
I also love to read blogs,

Blogs I enjoy (in no particular order):

Michelle, I just have one final question,
as a fellow MUM how do you juggle all the demands of your life? 
I’m a list maker. I constantly have a list of things to do, to pay, to plan, to fix… this helps keep me on track.
I decided last year when I was trying to play with my son and sew on button eyes and not having much success with it and feeling frustrated - is that when I’m with him, I am with him. Playing, baking or whatever and not thinking about KJ work. But when it’s his bedtime, then “lights out buddy, mamma’s gotta work.” I’ve accepted that I can not do my design stuff until after hours and that helps me not stress out.

I really could not handle it all without the support of my friends, family and my other half; Dave, is totally involved, laid back and that helps us all get through the day.


~ Thanks so much Michelle, it was great to learn all about your Creative Life!
Thank you also for the generous offer of an Owlie as a giveaway prize for one lucky Jambo Chameleon reader ~.


Birr, Bowker, Omemee, Stella, Duntroon and Orono
The prize is an OWLIE of your choice from Kempton Jones on Etsy, (shipping is included).
Here are the rules:

1.Entry is open worldwide and you may enter until February 28th 2011.

2.To enter, you must firstly be a follower (new or old) of Jambo Chameleon (this blog), and secondly you must "like" Kempton Jones on facebook. Please leave a comment letting me know you have complied with those rules.

3.For additional entries please promote via Twitter, blog or Facebook etc and leave a separate comment for each.

4. Please make sure in each comment, I have a way to contact you in case you are the lucky winner!

A winner will be randomly drawn on March 1st (AEST).

 Sally xox


Congrats Kitty!! :D

kittyhugo said...

I am both a LIker of Kempton JOnes and a follower of this blog!!!
Love the OWLS!!!


  1. Hoot hoot..cute owls!

    Am a follower of your blog.

    The link to Kempton Jones' facebook page is wrong but did a search and found it and am a liker

  2. thanks for letting me know Joy - it's sorted now!
    'I was having technical difficulties!! :D

    Good luck.

  3. I am both a LIker of Kempton JOnes and a follower of this blog!!!

    Love the OWLS!!!

  4. What another great prize! A very talented lady indeed.
    I 'like' Kempton Jones and follow this blog.
    Have a great day!

  5. Helloooo!!! I follow your beautiful blog <333

    @DmstcBtNtMartha on Twitter

  6. I Love her on Facebook <3 & left her some love..

    @DmstcBtNtMartha on Twitter

  7. Tweeted!!/DmstcBtNtMartha/status/40611678601089024

    @DmstcBtNtMartha on Twitter

  8. Facebooked <3
    @DmstcBtNtMartha on Twitter

  9. I'm a follower (new) of Jambo Chameleon and I "like" Kempton Jones on facebook.

    amschotter at gmail dot com

  10. Crystal you rock! Thanks for your support and spreading the word!

  11. Good luck everyone and please keep in touch! mm