Creative Mama: Lissa Snapp from Barnacle Bags


Welcome to the Creative Mama series, where I chat with fellow mamas about their creative journey, the ins and outs of their craft, and how they manage the endless juggle of life, art, work and mothering. The idea behind the Creative Mama interviews is to gather stories from creative women who inspire me – women who are trying to carve space and time for their passions, often with small children at their feet; women who are juggling life and work and family and self, while trying to remember to laugh and seek joy through it all. My hope in sharing these stories is to create a sacred space for mothers and mothers-to-be – so you may feel connected, creative and confident, and ultimately inspired to follow your own dreams.

I first stumbled upon Lissa’s blog while searching for a handmade leather tote bag and I instantly fell in love with her idyllic lifestyle on Lopez Island, living in a small cabin with her partner and young son.

Lissa designs and sews a range of bags through her business Barnacle Bags and spends the rest of her time caring for Owynn, wandering their property, tending to the garden and chickens, and cooking in her gorgeous cabin kitchen.

You must pop over and visit her blog or follow her on Instagram (@lissasnapp) – for a city girl like me, I just can’t get enough of the beautiful scenes of everyday life surrounded by nature. I’m now constantly dreaming of my very own remote cabin, complete with its own green house and outdoor bath!

I hope you love reading the following interview with Lissa – the way she freely allows herself to have time away from mothering to work on her own creative passions is incredibly inspiring, and she has lots of wonderful advice and insight into running a business with a small babe.

Enjoy! x


Tell us a little about yourself… who are you, how many children do you have, what part of the world do you live in, what do you do?

Hello, my name is Lissa! I live on a small island off the coast of Washington State with my partner Alex and our eighteen month old son Owynn Grey. I have a small business designing and sewing bags known as Barnacle Bags.

Can you please tell us a little about your creative background and the journey that led you to creating Barnacle Bags?

I started Barnacle Bags in early 2010. I had never used a sewing machine before that and was gifted an old machine from a friend’s father that winter. I used that machine for about 2 years before upgrading. I started out sewing organic cotton drawstring backpacks because I was riding my bike a lot at the time and needed a simple pack for putting groceries in. That summer I began selling my cotton rucksacks at our local farmers market and then found Etsy. Slowly over time my business began growing. I began using new materials like waxed cotton canvas and leather which really changed the look of my bags. In 2011 I was featured on Etsy and that is really when it began to grow.

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Did you face any challenges in establishing yourself creatively and starting your own business?

In the beginning I worked all the time, like 24/7, on Barnacle Bags. I barely had time to socialize and was just totally inspired by other Etsy sellers who had quit their day jobs and I dreamed to be like them. Within about a year of starting Barnacle Bags I too was working full-time on my business. Of course there were hard parts but I never really felt down about it. If I would have a slow month in the shop it can be hard, but then I work harder, like on new designs or take new photos of my bags to update the look of my shop. In the beginning there was just so much to learn from the craft to selling on the internet to blogging to marketing and so on… I was just too busy to take the time to feel challenged. I completely fell in love with being my own boss and have not looked back. 

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Describe your workspace and your work process. What does a typical day for you look like, from when you wake up to when you go to sleep at night?

Well, days are quite different for me now since I have a babe around. But a typical work week is now 4 days a week… We wake around 7:30. Alex makes a fire in our wood stove, I hop in the shower to refresh myself from the common sleepless nights (we co-sleep and Owynn still nurses throughout the night, hoping to change that soon but it will take time). Then Alex usually cooks a breakfast with eggs from our chickens, I dress Owynn, read him some books and then we all eat breakfast together. Then Alex is off to work around 9. I go out and feed the chickens with Owynn or tidy up the house for a bit and wait for one of Owynn’s amazing babysitters or grandmas to come watch him until about 2 in the afternoon. So I head over to the studio from 10-2. It is a building about 500 feet from our cabin which Alex built while I was pregnant. So I go in there, enjoy the peace for a moment, I respond to some emails and then quickly get to work sewing my bags. I usually listen to the news, music, or podcasts… I am loving the Woolful podcasts at the moment. It helps to keep me moving to have some good tunes or stories on. So then around 2 I head back to the house, meet up with Owynn, I eat lunch, after sometimes we go to the beach or just hang around the property. Around 4 I start prepping for dinner and then sometimes when Alex gets home around 4:30 I will head back into the studio for a bit before we have dinner around 7. After dinner we spend some more time outside and then get ready for bed. Owynn takes his bath and by 9 he is asleep and from about 9-11 I work on the computer, talk with Alex or just fall asleep soon after Owynn and start the whole day over again.

studio shots

I love seeing your photos on Instagram and your blog of your gorgeous son Owynn and also snippets of your work and studio. How do you balance running your own business from home with motherhood?

It is really hard. I feel blessed that I do not have to leave my child all day long but working from home has its challenges. I took about 6 months off when Owynn was born and I had no idea how much time and energy my new little baby would take. I thought I could be working again from home when Owynn was about 3 months old and I was so wrong. Those first 6 months are such a precious time and important time for the baby and mom to bond so I fully wanted to be there and present for it all. By 6 months though I was missing my work and freedom. I was ready to slowly start getting back to work. I am still trying to figure out how to balance it all and honestly will probably forever be. I just try and really be present in whatever I am doing whether I am playing with my son or working on my bags. But it is hard… sometimes I go to the beach with Owynn and am sketching out ideas for my bags, or sometimes I will be cutting out fabric and wondering how Owynn is. I think it is the hardest part of being a mum but also being self employed… the work and thoughts never really end.


Barnacle Bags was already a successful business before you welcomed Owynn into your family. Did motherhood change your approach to your creativity and your work?

Yes, definitely. I changed many things. I am not taking on custom orders, I stopped making rucksacks for awhile as they took too long to make, I have changed my work flow around a lot so things are more streamlined, I am not making every bag to order – instead I have stock and if it runs out then it says “sold out” until I make that style again. Most of these changes I had been meaning to do for awhile but I just have such limited time in the studio these days I was pushed to make these changes faster then planned. Also, I have hired a friend once a week to cut and pin my bags which has been super helpful.


In running your own business from home do you struggle to carve time just for you? What do you do to “switch off”?

Ha, that does not exist anymore. As soon as Owynn is being watched I switch to the Barnacle Bags side of my brain but taking a hot bath or walk in the woods does the trick these days.


What inspires you?

Hmm… so many things. I am inspired all the time. Walking on the beach, people watching while in the city and seeing how they are using their bag, seeing all the amazingly talented makers out there through the internet. At night while falling sleep I often dream up bag designs. 

Where do you turn to for a confidence boost or guidance?

Alex, friends, family and Etsy friends. Everyone in my life is so supportive of my business, it is really amazing. I think all my friends have at least purchased two of my bags. It is so important to have supportive people around you!


Is there anything you’re currently working on or looking forward to that you’d like to share?

Yes, I am working on a new zippered tote bag design and will be making rucksacks again this summer! Also I think in the Fall I will be making a backpack design for kids!

Lastly, do you have any words of wisdom to share for mothers who might be looking to work from home or start a small creative business of their own?

Just do it! It is hard, but I highly suggest doing it if you have the desire. I think, as a mom, taking time to keep your own identity and passions alive is so important to be a good mother. Of course being a mom is my number one job but I do not think I would be a very good mom if I was not running my own business and putting my creative energy into something I love. Look for help and find a good friend or sitter so you can have time alone each week to work on your business.



I’m currently reading… Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

The most delicious thing I ate recently was… homemade quiche baked by my mom

I’m dreaming of… how our little cabin will look after Alex finishes the bedroom addition

On a typical Saturday morning you’ll find me… cooking up waffles with my sweeties

If I could travel anywhere tomorrow I’d… ahh that is hard – there are so many places around the world I would love to go but I think a road trip along the west coast of the US and camping along the way sounds pretty fun right now!


Where can we find you?




Creative Mama: Jodi Wilson from Practising Simplicity {+ giveaway}


Welcome to the first interview in a new series I hope will be a regular feature in this space: the Creative Mama series, where I chat with fellow mamas about their creative journey, the ins and outs of their craft, and how they manage the endless juggle of life, art, work and mothering.

Creativity and motherhood have captivated me ever since I myself became a mama to my little girl Everly three years ago. After the first intense 12 months of mothering had past and I’d found a bit of a rhythm to our days, I longed for a creative outlet. My life before motherhood was busy, filled with working full-time in communications and marketing, whilst also working on my own creative projects at night and on weekends. Now I had this little girl to love and care for 24/7, I could not comprehend how I could possibly combine motherhood with creativity as I knew it.

I looked everywhere for inspiration. In my search I discovered there were many women out there, just like me, trying to find their purpose. Trying to carve space and time for their passions, often with small children at their feet. Juggling life and work and family and self, while trying to remember to laugh and seek joy through it all. These women inspired me to follow my dreams, and so The Violet Journal was born.

Today, I share the stories of these creative women in the hopes you too may feel inspired to live your dreams.


So, without further do, let me welcome you to our first creative mama in this series – Jodi Wilson.

Jodi is a mama, writer and photographer who writes and creates over at her popular blog Practising Simplicity. You may also know Jodi from her weekly portrait series, The 52 Project, where bloggers all over the world join in each Sunday to take part in documenting childhood.

I first stumbled upon Jodi’s blog when she was pregnant with her second child and was instantly drawn to her beautiful words, stunning photography, and her honest depictions of motherhood and family life. Jodi has since built her blog into an online tome on simplicity, parenting, home and seasonal living and, for me personally, has been a constant inspiration in following my passions and combining creativity with motherhood.

Well, let’s get into it, shall we?


Tell us a little about yourself … who are you, how many children do you have, what part of the world do you live in, what do you do?

Who am I? Hmmm, that’s a loaded question! I’m not really sure I can answer that right now (I’ll blame late-pregnancy for my blank mind) but to answer your other questions – I have two children: Che (7) and Poet (3) and come late-Feb/early-March we will welcome our third babe into the world. As well as being a mum I’m a writer, photographer, yoga teacher and blogger. We live in a little beach cottage on the NSW Central Coast (about 1.5 hours from Sydney).


Can you tell us a bit about your creative background and the journey that has led you to where you are today?

Becoming a mum was the catalyst for most of the work I do now; strange but true.

I studied journalism at UTS and soon after graduating I landed a freelance gig with Hardie Grant Publishers, writing for their bridal magazine and completing a book on Australian bridal fashion. At the time I was working in a bookshop and started attending yoga classes just before my 21st birthday. Months later I started studying yoga and working as a teaching apprentice….I figured the balance between teaching yoga and writing freelance would be a good one – and it was.

My first yoga teacher introduced me to her son about a year after I attended my first class. Four months after our first meeting we moved in together and soon after we found out we were pregnant.

Che was born in September 2007 and come February 2008 I started teaching pre-natal yoga classes. I wasn’t writing at all at the time but felt the need to spark my creative side once again. That’s when I discovered blogging and my humble little online journal was born – Che & Fidel (a little boy and his teddy). Fast forward seven years and my blog – now PS – is, well, bigger than I ever imagined it could be. I’ve spent years moulding it to become something that inspires me to push myself as a writer and photographer (it should be noted that my photos were diabolical before I started blogging….thanks to blogging I now take photos on a professional level).

I still write freelance for a number of publications (most of which are still bridal).


Describe your workspace. 

My work space is my home space. I don’t really have a dedicated area where I work although I do spend significant hours typing at the dining table.

You work from home and have two young children (and another on the way!), and your partner is also a freelance creative. How do you balance family life with your respective creative careers?

The thing about working freelance in the creative field is that there’s no guarantees, very little plans and everything is last minute. This goes against my very being but I have learned to accept it and, essentially, go with the flow. Daniel and I spend a lot of time with the children so whilst we may not have a lot of money, we get so much quality family time. It all makes sense for us and consider the opportunities we do have to be a blessing.

mothersdayThe motherhood journey is often confronting in the way it changes us – both externally and within. Did you experience any identity shifts or challenges (perhaps depression/anxiety) after having your children? How has motherhood changed your approach to your creativity and your work?

I’m challenged by motherhood every day but within the challenge is profound moments of gratitude, clarity, understanding and immeasurable love. It is beyond what I ever thought it would be… so much richer, deeper… so much more complicated.

I’ve definitely experienced anxiety as a mother and being a work from home mum is often very challenging. That said, it’s been my biggest inspiration as a creative.

Did you face, or still do face, any challenges in establishing yourself creatively? (Self-doubt, fear, time, energy?)

I experience all those things on a weekly basis but I think I am getting better at approaching them with perspective.


What inspires you?

In the past few years simplicity has inspired me in the most profound ways. A lot of my overwhelm as a mother has lifted since I put the steps in place to declutter and simplify. It may sound far-fetched and perhaps a little cliche but getting rid of the excess and unnecessary has helped me realise what’s important. And on a practical (and environmental) level, I have simplified the home so much so that life is calmer and happier. I spend less time cleaning and more time being. It’s one of the most rewarding journeys I have ever experienced and it’s been so satisfying to come to the realisation that I don’t need things to make me happy.

Just last week Daniel realised that the rubbish bin that we used to fill to overflowing is now only a quarter to half-full every week. Simplicity has inspired conscious living; so much so that we buy what we need, use what we have and have very little waste to throw away.

We still have a way to go but we’re incredibly inspired to continue learning and experiencing simplicity and mindful living.

Where do you turn to for a confidence boost or guidance?

I find that spending so much time online can really make me question my creative ability and worth. That said, I’m getting much better at recognising when I need to switch off and tune out. Stepping away from all the chatter of the internet really puts things into perspective for me and I seem to return with a clear head and calm mind. Daniel is always a fantastic confidant when it comes to boosting my confidence and having a good discussion about creativity, doubt and future endeavours. It helps that he’s a creative himself – he gets it. But then, sometimes turning to another creative muma does the world of good. I met my friend, Claire, through blogging and we chat on the phone a few times a week (sometimes more). We’re very similar; self-confessed perfectionists who struggle with bringing our grand projects to life amidst the inevitable busyness and unpredictability of motherhood. 


Do you have any words of wisdom to share for women who might be looking to work from home or start a small creative business of their own?

Working when you have small children is never easy – the same goes for working from home. Be prepared for a constant juggle; you’re pulled from one task to the next and it’s most definitely not a 9-5 job (more like a rise at 5am – work till 7 – get the children ready for the day (school) – do the school run – perhaps return home to a quiet house or embark on a day that involves setting up projects for your preschooler while you attempt to reply to email and get jobs done – put a load of washing on – marvel at how quickly the time is ticking by – school pick-up – afternoon tea – dinner prep – dinner, bath, bed – a few more hours work etc etc.

That said, creativity isn’t something that you can just switch on and off to fit with the needs of your family… but I’ve learned to get better at it – out of necessity.

One of the most amazing books I have ever read is The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood… a series of interviews with creative Australian mothers in which they document and detail the endless juggle of motherhood and art. I think the key to embarking on a creative job as a mother is to never strive for balance – because it is almost unattainable. The sooner you accept that it’s a constant juggle, the easier and smoother the journey will be. 


I’m currently reading… The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

The most delicious thing I ate recently was… organic peaches with natural yoghurt

I’m dreaming of… meeting this new baby of mine

On a typical Saturday morning you’ll find me… pottering around the house

If I could travel anywhere tomorrow I’d… choose to stay home….it feels good to be there right now


Where can we find you?





Thank you so much Jodi for your insight and wisdom – it’s been a delight to have you here!




Jodi has kindly offered to giveaway a copy of her new book Practising Simplicity (pictured above) to one lucky reader.

The book is a collection of Jodi’s favourite blog posts from the past few years compiled into five chapters: seasons, motherhood, yoga, living less distracted and the simple home, peppered throughout with her stunning photography, and packaged into a beautiful hardcover keepsake.

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment below (please remember to include your email). For additional entries, you can share on Facebook/Instagram/your own blog. Please leave a separate comment for each entry below.

This giveaway is open to Australian residents only. Winner will be chosen at random and will be announced in this post on Friday 6th March at 8.30pm AEST and also contacted via email.

Good luck! x

The winner is Emma from Two Little Pirates! Congratulations Emma! Happy reading x

Image credits: Top image of Jodi by Luisa Brimble; Jodi and Poet by Luisa Brimble; Jodi and Che by Tim Coulson. All other images by Jodi Wilson.

10 tips for travelling with young children


When we told friends and family and strangers we were about to travel around Europe for two months with our three year old daughter, we were met with many “Are you crazy?!” expressions of horror. One even said, sarcastically: “Good luck!”. Others wondered the point as “she wouldn’t remember anything anyway”.

Well, back on the other side (still sane and in one piece), I’m here to tell you our trip was amazing! Our daughter Everly coped surprisingly well with the long haul flights and airport transfers (let’s just erase that moment from our memory where we almost missed our plane in Dubai and ran through the airport crying, shall we?!) and she had an absolute blast exploring Europe with us. Six months later, she still raves about the Eiffel Tower and crêpes in Paris, the “beautiful water” in Amsterdam, and the playgrounds and ice-cream in Berlin. A few times a week she will ask to look at the photos of our travels, and she’ll often sigh and say, “Mummy, can we go see the Eiffel Tower again?”. Ahh, a girl after my own heart!

Travelling with kids does not have to be a hair-pulling adventure. With a little bit of pre-planning and positive thinking, your child will have a wonderful holiday – and you will too!

Here are a few tips I learnt travelling internationally with a three year old:

  1. Find family friendly accommodation. Look no further than Airbnb!* At around the same price of a room in a hotel we stayed in beautiful apartments in amazing locations with fully stocked kitchens and a washing machine. In Amsterdam and Berlin our apartments belonged to families so there was a separate bedroom with a child’s bed and loads of toys and books, which Everly loved. The plus side of Airbnb is the host – they’ve often lived in the location for years and will leave you lovely letters full to the brim with recommendations of family friendly cafés, restaurants and shops, as well as fun things to see and do.
  2. Research locations. Find a location that is family friendly, yet still placed well to the majority of sites you want to explore. Again, Airbnb is useful here, as they have comprehensive neighbourhood guides for many major cities. Failing that, a quick Google search will usually give you the main family friendly suburbs in any major city or region. Choose to stay a little outside the city centre as there will be usually be more playgrounds and parks for down-time, plus quiet streets at night to ensure a restful sleep.  The last thing you want to discover is your hotel sits above a bowling alley slash nightclub with music blaring until 4am! (True story! Luckily this happened to us pre-children!)
  3. Stay longer lengths of time in fewer places. Gone are the days where you can zoom from one city to the next, be out exploring from sun up to sun down, and cram as many tourist sites as humanly possible into one day. Travelling with children requires moving at a slower pace than usual, so you will need to allow extra days in each location. The purpose of our family Europe trip was to truly immerse ourselves in each city – we stayed for three weeks in Paris, one-and-a-half weeks in Provence in Southern France, a week in Amsterdam and two weeks in Berlin. On our last European holiday, when it was just my husband and I, we visited 10 cities/regions in six weeks. I think this would be manageable – just – with kids in tow. Unless you are travelling on the road in a campervan, aim for a minimum of 5-7 nights in each location.
  4. Leave the toys at home. It only creates extra luggage to haul around! Pack one favourite toy, such as a teddy or doll, plus some basic art & craft supplies: an A4 sketchbook, textas and crayons, stickers, scissors, a glue stick and a small tub of playdough. Extra supplies can always be purchased from supermarkets and stores once you’re there, and you will be spending most days outside exploring anyway. Booking family accommodation through Airbnb also means your child will have hours of fun with new toys in each location. Important: Remember your child’s favourite sleep items. Everly loves to sleep with her teddy, blankie and her favourite crystals, so these were a must-pack!
  5. Relax the rules. Everly rarely watches TV at home (we no longer own a TV and only watch selected shows and movies on our computer), but we relaxed the rules while we were away. She watched a lot of Play School episodes and Mary Poppins on the long-haul flight, and also watched back-to-back Play School episodes on a tablet when we had long train rides between cities. We also ate a lot more treat foods like cake, pastries and ice-cream (hellloooo, chocolate éclairs!), but made sure to balance it out with regular healthy, home-cooked meals.
  6. Book accommodation with a full kitchen. Eating out at every meal with children is a logistical nightmare! Having a fully stocked kitchen at your fingertips allows you to cook a hearty breakfast each morning to start the day off right, and return in the evening to prepare a simple dinner. We often packed sandwiches for lunch, or used our restaurant budget at lunch-time. We rarely ate out for dinner as most European eateries don’t open again for dinner until 7-8pm in the summer and we were usually way too tired after a busy day exploring. We love visiting farmers markets to stock up on fresh, regional and in-season produce – for me, this beats dinner out at a restaurant anytime! It also allows you to get wholesome, nutritious food into your kid’s belly instead of resorting to hot chips every night. Use the first day in each new location to familiarise yourself with the local shops, the nearest bakery/butcher/fresh fruit & veg store (and supermarket for toiletries). Plan ahead and research where farmers markets are and on what day of the week. If you’re staying an extended period of time, write a rough menu plan and do one big shop – then you’re not spending your entire holiday aimlessly wandering the aisles.
  7. Make time for free play. In between visits to tourist sites and general exploring, stop-off at a nearby playground or park so your child can play freely (hooray for Google maps!). I found Everly was quite content exploring with us, knowing we would soon be stopping for a play or giving her some one-on-one attention before continuing on. In Berlin, our accommodation was around the corner from two playgrounds and an organic ice-cream shop – we quickly began a lovely ritual of a playground visit and a scoop of gelati at the end of each day on our way back to the apartment, and this is still one of Everly’s fondest memories (and mine!). As a general rule, minimise tourist sites to one per day; they are often over-crowded and busy and can be extremely overwhelming for children. Write a list of the places you wish to visit, circle the absolute must-do’s, then scatter them throughout your stay. You may not be able to tick everything off the list, but you’ll all be happier and more rested as a result!
  8. Allow for regular naps and rest periods. Before we left on our trip Everly was still having a nap most days; I admit, I did panic a little wondering how she would cope! While we were away, we loosely planned our days so she could have a nap every second or third day. (Everly will not nap anywhere but in her bed, so you’re in luck if you have a child who’ll nod off in the stroller!) If she was due for a nap but we really needed to be out all day (say, to take advantage of beautiful weather), we made sure we were back in our apartment by late afternoon so she could have an early dinner and bed-time to catch up on sleep. For children who don’t nap, never underestimate a couple of hours resting in your accommodation every third day to restore energy levels (great for Mum and Dad, too!).
  9. Pack plenty of snacks and water. Pack snacks for the plane – nuts, crackers, dried fruit – in snack containers (I use and love these), then stock up on supplies at each location so you always have snacks on hand. Perfect to tide your child over while finding a place to eat for lunch, or when the food takes forever to come out to the table. (The last thing anyone needs is a starving child having a hunger meltdown in a busy restaurant!) A stainless steel drink bottle for each member of the family, filled with water before leaving your apartment for the day, is essential and it will save you lots of time and money (not to mention the environment!) buying bottled water.
  10. Go with the flow and have fun! Travelling with – or without kids – requires patience, going with the flow, and thinking on your feet. It’s inevitable; things will go wrong, whether it’s a delayed flight, hopping on the wrong bus or train, unexpected weather, or a child who decides they need to go to the bathroom at the top of the Eiffel Tower (yes, this happened!). Embrace the crazy and laugh! You can tell everyone the hilarious story when you return home.

So tell me, do you have any travelling with kids stories to tell? I’d love to hear them!


*This post is not sponsored by Airbnb – I just think they’re awesome!

Hello + Welcome!


It all started with a violet journal.

Well, truth be told, it started two years ago, as a little seed, an idea, that slowly began to grow. But the journal was where I delved deeper into my spirituality, where I went within to discover what my true self yearned for, what my passions were, and what my purpose in life is. I discovered all I’ve ever wanted to do is write. But for many reasons, and many life events, I’ve often held back, too afraid to write about the topics I really wanted to write about. Too scared to share the parts of me I have always hidden.

I’m not entirely sure yet what The Violet Journal will be. I want to write about life, about motherhood, about travel and creativity. I want to share stories from other creative women about their life, their home, their family, their work. I want you – you, out there! – to feel inspired, connected and creative. I’m ready to trust, to let the words flow, and to let this space grow organically in its own time.

Aside from writing, I also love photography and capturing moments in my day – you can find my life in squares on Instagram. I’d also love to chat with you on Facebook.

I’m so ready for this journey. I do hope you will follow along with me.

Jess x