Well, hello. It’s that wonderful time of the year when we start our Loving Local segment up! We had such a fun time last year meeting makers from around Victoria (BC), we just had to do it again. Everyone is so lovely, and totally up to our little venture, so we figured why not make it a yearly thing! We learn so much, and are happy to be able to pass on our own experience to friendly artisans as well.
This month, we sat down with a super lovely woman named Maria of “Maria Miller Studio”, maker of handmade notebooks. We were lucky enough to briefly meet her once before back in December 2017, when we took part in the Uptown Modern Market, when she popped by our booth.
We sat down with her at Habit Coffee in The Atrium, downtown Victoria, and got to know her a bit!
Maria is originally from Coquitlam, BC (on the lower mainland) and came to Victoria in 2008. Fun fact; we found out that she and Robyn both went to the same high school (a few years apart, but that part isn’t important, hehe)! It really is a small world.
Maria started her journey back in 2016 when she looked at a pile of paper recycling, and decided, before it went off to be recycled maybe she could do something with it herself. So she turned her pile of recycled paper into new paper! It started off as something she could do for herself, making notebooks that were hand stitched, and eco-friendly paper she could use to write on. Eventually, within about a month, her craft snowballed into her business and she started selling her notebooks to the public. And Maria Miller Studio was born!
She initially started with making paper, and she’s self taught; she scoured YouTube for “how-to” videos until she finally honed her skills. Through much trial & error, she found the process to be quite time consuming being able to find the right “recipe” for her paper making, while still keeping it eco-friendly. And being an artist first, the business side of things was a new challenge for her; but we think she’s doing great!
She started off as a photographer, and since her home based business has turned into a full-time job for her, she’s been able to use her photography skills to help her beautifully crafted notebooks shine.
She told us one of the ups she’s encountered since she started was hearing about how happy her customers have been; one girl took her small journal on an 800km month long trek! And also being able to do what she loves full time has been an amazing experience for her.
Like most makers, going through ups and downs, and having to learn new skills from scratch (whether it be self taught or taking a class) she’s happy where shes ended up and wouldn’t have done anything differently.
BUT, we have things to look forward to with Maria! Since being self taught, she’s decided now to educate herself on the art and history of papermaking, if only to expand her knowledge and be able to create new products. She’s looking forward to making new types of notebooks, such as an accordian style. Currently she has 3 styles of notebooks she creates. Two are soft cover books; one with a very simple binding stitch, and one very beautifully produced with the Japanese Stab Binding technique. And one style of hardcover notebooks.
Her favourite product incorporates all her favourite aspects of her craft; hand making paper, journal creating with a stitched binding, and being able to practise painting. It’s her Handmade recycled paper soft cover notebooks. The cover is made with handmade (by her) recycled paper, with an interior of lined recycled paper made with wind power. AND if it couldn’t get any better, 15% of the sale of each of these notebooks will go towards the Canadian Wildlife Federation! As if you didn’t already need a reason to buy a notebook, help support our Wildlife!
Maria was also took part in starting a local collective in 2017 called “Local Made by Hand”; a small collective of local artisans (including Moss & Stone, who was one of our first loving local interviewees!). She’s very thankful for the like minded people of Victoria, and the public who are so willing to support and purchase locally made products from herself, and many more amazing makers. And the makers who all wonderfully support each other!
Currently Maria strictly sells her products online on her etsy store, and at markets she vendors at.
Follow Maria Miller Studio on Instagram and check out her Etsy Store.
Keep on Loving Local!