Mari Richards: Playing with Pins

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  • Everyone uses Pinterest in their own special way, and we were fascinated by Mari Richards, who is a toy designer, artist, mom, and part-time professor. Not only does she have an interesting background, her boards will draw you into her curious world.


    Hi Mari! First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

    What I do is such a hodgepodge, it might take a minute! I’ve been a toy designer since 1998, working in the industry designing infant toys, kids plush, puppets, dolls, illustration, and pattern. After working in-house for years, I finally turned to freelance (and blogging) in 2009 when my daughter was born. You can see some of work at mr design. I’m also an adjunct faculty at local art colleges here in Minneapolis, which is so invigorating. And I started my blog, Small for Big, to help me horde all of my favorite design finds. I like to focus on kids design, but I keep that category nice and broad to include anything that’s colorful, playful, quirky and inspirational to me. I’m a huge creative geek, whether it’s fine art, knitting, watercolors with my 3.5 year old daughter, or playing my piano. The trick is finding the time to keep me inspired!

    Your profile tells us that you’re a Toy Designer, Artist, Part-Time Professor, Mom, all-around Creative Type, & Design Blogger. Tell us your secret, how do you juggle it all and how does Pinterest fit into your day?

    Ooph! I ask myself that question all the time. It’s a complicated mix, but I’ve found I really love having all the variety in my life, I’m much happier and more grounded now than when I worked full-time. I’m fortunate that all of those titles (well, except the Mom one) are kind of part-time. So I try to focus my energies on whatever deadline is currently underway – my freelance projects usually take priority. I would say “balance” is not a place I stay in long, but instead I swing from one area to the other as the need arises! I’m very, very, very thankful that my daughter still likes naptime.

    Pinterest gives me my quiet restful moments in the day – it brings me creative calm, inspiration, and a chance to take a couple minutes to connect with something visually in the middle of all of my chaos. Thank god for the new Pinterest iPad app!

    There is a lot of interesting pins in your “Inspiration” board. Can you take us behind the scene of this board–why you created it, what inspires you, and how you use it?

    On any given day I have several creative projects jostling for space inside my head – freelance ideas, personal creative projects, DIY posts for the blog, future inspirations, artistic goals, etc. So my inspiration board is a highlight of where my creative head is at at any given moment. I fill it with color ideas, character inspiration, artistic techniques, visual solutions, and DIY inspirations. I’ve thought about separating the ideas into individual inspiration boards, but I really like seeing all the overlaps. It’s probably my favorite board – and the most personal to me, because I can see it changing over time as the ideas in my head morph and grow too.

    What advice do you have for moms getting started in the blogging world?

    Keep going! It’s hard, and in the beginning when no one is reading or visiting it can be frustrating, but find your niche, get involved with other bloggers (some bigger than you, some smaller than you!) and enjoy the process. Do it for yourself, not for anyone else. My blog is a labor of love, and after 3 years, I can’t imagine not doing it. But, it’s not the thing that pays the bigger bills, and it may never be! Also, I’d definitely recommend hanging out in several Alt Summit classes online to get some pointers and meet other bloggers.

    Do you have any favorite Pinners you follow? Share us the goods!

    I have some favorites, definitely. Celina Bailey from Petit a Petit and Family is probably number one, sometimes I swear I could just repin every single thing she posts. Coos Ahhs, of the blog Coos and Ahhs, is always inspirational with a Euro twist. Victoria Hudgens from A Subtle Revelry shares lots of beautiful party and décor finds. And, for all of my crazy food-allergy recipes, Chocolate-Covered Katie’s one and only board is a must!

    Thanks for the pinterview, Mari! It’s always nice to be reminded of the little inspirations we encounter each day. Happy pinning!