Brown Bear Eat’s: Interview + Look Book

Happy Tuesday Inspiration Den readers! Today we were able to interview Sabrina + Hourik of Brown Bear Eats, a Cottage Food Operation based in Orange County, California. We love organic, local, allergen conscious companies and are thrilled these kinds of companies are popping up more and more. So happy to see our friends company  doing so well with their sweet treats distributed at various coffee shops and bakeries. I hope everyone enjoys my interview with Brown Bear Eats!
Screen-Shot-2014-01-06-at-9.28.23-PMBrown Bear Eat’s Website
Amber: How did brown bear start & how did you come up with the name & logo?
Sabrina: Name and logo are easy. I love animals, especially forest animals. I have personified all the people I care about into a forest animal. Making my mother a momma bear, a brown bear!
The logo was an ingenious doodle on the back of a napkin by a close family friend who was part of the early BBE brainstorming sessions.
Brown Bear Eats has actually always been around! But never as a structured and functioning business. Bear has cooked and baked for like EVERYONE, from the East Coast to the West Coast of the US. Everyone that has eaten her food has remarked that she needs to open an eatery! It took years of convincing to get the Bear to finally get on board with marketing her food, as she was uncomfortable with putting a price on her idea of love and nurturing. I graduated from college in December of 2012, and by late April 2013 we had decided to make Brown Bear Eats our new life.
Amber: What is your favorite Brown Bear dessert?
Sabrina: white chocolate chip cookie, peanut butter cookie, and the homemade hazelnut chocolate shortbread sandwich cookie.
Hourik: It’s hard to pick one, but our GF brownie is the best brownie I’ve ever had.
Amber:Why did you decide to incorporate a GF & Vegan option?
Sabrina: A few of our friends have various allergies and lifestyle choices we wanted to honor. We have an inclusive attitude in all areas of our life, our business is not be any different. We want our products to be accessible to all.
Amber: What inspires your creations?
Sabrina: everything my mom touches in the kitchen turns to perfection- the taste is off the charts, and the appearance is charming and one of a kind. Outside of my mother, possibly everything about Joan’s on Third in Los Angeles is an inspiration.
Hourik: Classic desserts. I don’t like to reinvent the wheel. I take careful note of the way things look.
Amber: Do you have any words of wisdom for any up and coming bakers/artist that are trying to pursue their dreams?
Hourik: laugh a lot. Work hard. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s not going to be hard work. Make sure you have an excellent product.
Sabrina: get a partner, preferably family! Diet Coke and naps
Amber: Where can we find brown bear eats products?
Brown Bear Eats:
For personal orders email,
Amber: Anything new in the works that you can tell our Inspiration Den readers?
Sabrina: There’s always new things in the forest as we like to call it. We love a challenge and we like to make up new recipes.
So happy to feature this mother daughter team here in The Inspiration Den! Thanks Sabrian + Hourik!

Help Make “WILD ONE”!

Happy Tuesday Inspiration Den readers! Some of you may remember when we interviewed Dianna of DAVIE ART in the Den a few months ago, I fell in love with her little characters and now they are coming to life in her new Children’s Book, WILD ONE!

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 12.33.09 PM

For the month of November, artist DAVIE will be crowdfunding to publish her children’s book, WILD ONE. Take a look at her kickstarter page and support a your local artist.

WILD ONE pushes her audience to live brave and wild lives. It acts as an art book perfect for a coffee table and a family’s nighttime ritual before their little ones fall asleep.

DAVIE has been doing art for the last 3 years. She started doing street art and her work quickly evolved into shows at galleries and a freelance business.  Her style has simple black lines and a classic aesthetic. To view DAVIE’s portfolio, visit her website!


fox reward photo WILD ONE Page WISE OWL pageFor more on Davie Art check out her Instagram & don’t forget to hashtag WILD ONE!




Instagram: @davieart  #makewildone

Melinda Hagman – Featured Artist + Look-book

I’m so excited to feature my friend Melinda Hagman in The Inspiration Den! Some of you might have recognized Melinda’s work from a previous feature/interview I did with her way back in 2011 on my old blog Jesse’s Girl . During that time Melinda was in the middle of her “Flowers” cycle. I was immediately drawn to her art, and had to share it with the blogosphere. It was around that time I got the idea for The Inspiration Den. I love the idea of sharing other artists’ points of view and what inspires them. The excerpt below is from the Jesse’s Girls post and below that is all about Melinda’s new art! Enjoy + Be Inspired!


Amber: Why did you decide to do this “flowers” project and how long are you doing it for?      

Melinda: I got the idea for the “flowers” project from a friend.  He was writing a short story once a week for the year.  It was the first week of the year and I had just painted one flower painting and the idea hit me.  So, I told my friend that I was going to steal his idea and do a flower painting once a week for the year.  It was exactly what I needed to do.  I had stopped painting after my first child was born almost eight years ago.  For the last 3 years I have been saying, “I should start painting again.”  I would do maybe one painting and then that was it.  Now I have made a promise and that I will keep.

I chose only to do “flowers” because I wanted to challenge myself.  It would be easier if I painted whatever I wanted every week; the challenge of making flowers different each week and playing with different styles and just to practice was my goal.
Today Melinda has started another series that’s by far my favorite, it’s her “Authors” series. I was able to do a short interview with Melinda, I hope your as inspired as I was!
Amber: Why did you decide to do an “Authors” series?
Melinda: I have worked at Barnes and Noble for many years and always find myself looking at the pictures of the authors. Every time I see a black and white photo of an author (especially pre 1950) I immediately want to paint it.  I had been wanting to paint Hans Fallada for a year or two before I actually did.  Once I painted him I couldn’t stop.
Amber: While painting these did you have music to inspire you and who was the most inspirational?
Melinda: It is very important to me to listen to music while painting.  For some reason I am drawn to music that is a bit melancholic.   This past year it has been a lot of This Mortal Coil, Dead Can Dance and some instrumental.  I can’t say one inspired me more than any other on this project.  However, This Mortal Coil is a major influence and inspiration for my next project.  
Amber: Any shows we should be looking forward too?
Melinda: I have a few pieces in a show “Art with an Agenda presents: love. sex. unity. respect.”  It is May 3, 2013, 6-10 the Magoski Arts Colony in Fullerton.  It’s an art exhibition in support of marriage equality. Fifty percent of the proceeds goes to Aids Walk Orange County.  

I also have paintings for sale/on display at Half off Books in Whittier.
After this month I am starting my next project which I will have a show for in October.  The details are not yet final.
To check out more of Melinda’s artwork or would like to buy a piece of her work check out her FB PAGE + Etsy Shop





Scott Coppersmith Designs

Happy Monday everyone! Today I have the opportunity to interview and showcase an amazing artist… Scott Coppersmith Designs! I have a huge respect and love for those who have the ability to maintain a green lifestyle and also appreciate the arts and those rolled into one make for some amazing work. This year I went to UNIQUE L.A., where I first stumbled upon Scott Coppersmith Designs. I was totally drawn to his work. It’s not only up-cycled materials, but also an amazing piece of decor that I’ve rarely seen in homes or stylish events. I think Scott has started a new revolution in the wedding + style world with his unique designs and am so privileged to have him in The Den!


Amber-The Inspiration Den  // Scott-Scott Coppersmith Designs                                                                                                                                                                                   

Amber: What inspired you to start designing and building Lighting + Furniture pieces out of up-cycled materials?

Scott: I used to be a builder and 2/3 of America’s landfills are construction debris. I saw it everyday and decided to do something about it                             

Amber: How do you prepare/get inspired for designing a new project?

Scott: Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. You just have to be open to it. Don’t discredit or discount things before really thinking about them. It’s a lot of brainwork but I see it as that’s what I’m getting paid for.

Amber: Out of all the pieces you’ve created is there one in particular that you love a little more than the others?                                    

Scott: They all have they’re fun bits. I usually like the latest more than any other simply bc it’s fresh and new to me, too. But I am constantly evolving my art so as I push boundaries I am more proud of each piece.  I still one of the first ones. I know I’ll always keep it. I suppose that despite it being a total price of shite it reminds me of a) where I’ve come b) how far I’ve come c) why to keep on going when I think I’ve made something crappy (sometimes you have to make 20 before there’s a good one worthy of the market).

Amber: Whose work do you relate to most? Who inspires you?

Scott: I love Banksy. Old Vegas sign dudes. Ivan earl. Chuck close. But most of my hero artists are musicians; Paul Simon, Tom Waits, the latest dj (today it’s Griz or local boys Gypsy Death Star) Andrew Matranga, old reggae, anything from New Orleans with horns and anything with solid dynamics and positivity.
When it comes to furniture I don’t go into stores. I don’t know what’s popular.  I don’t know famous furniture guys.  I don’t follow blogs, I don’t analyze what my friend have unless they’ve made it and that’s just so I can appreciate and compliment them properly. I was briefly classically trained so I know quality joinery and craftsmanship when I see it or need to utilize it. But I like being completely out of the box. I have no interest in making a big production run of trendy stuff or those that are doing just that.
Scott Coppersmith Design // Site // Pinterest // FB
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Mark Brooke Photography – Interview + Images

Meet Mark + Candice of Mark Brooke Photography!  This Husband-Wife team was one of the first photography companies to bring some hip, funky, fresh, and artsy images to the wedding world. They have taught new up and coming photographers through their seminars and workshops. If you have a love of weddings, photography, and art you’ll love Mark Brook Photography!


Amber: The Inspiration Den // Candice: Mark Brooke Photographers

Amber: What does Inspiration/being creative mean to Mark Brooke Photography? How do you find inspiration?

Candice: Inspiration can be found anywhere…. actually when we first started our business 6 years ago we promised ourselves that we would not find “inspiration” in other wedding blogs, but in everything else. We love good design… so in that we find our inspiration from a well designed work space, an art book, a random poster, to the sound of a good band. I know that might sound silly, that is always where we have pulled our inspiration from. It’s actually fun to follow Mark’s pinterest because most of his boards are filled with amazing art pieces and prints.

Amber: What has been your favorite project/event/person to photograph?

Candice: Wow, this is a hard question, I feel like it’s a trap, lol. Well… the truth is (I hope I don’t get in trouble), any wedding shot at the marvimon, smog shoppe, or an artful venue makes for some of our favorite shoots.                                                                                    We could never choose one specific couple or person but we still to this day have clients we will never forget!  Our clients have left a lasting impression on us and we feel so grateful to be in this industry

Amber: How did Mark Brooke photography get started?

Candice: Mark Brooke Photography started almost 6 years ago. Mark was shooting a little bit of fashion and bands (since he is a music major). Then a cute couple in one of the bands asked him to photograph their wedding. The funny part is we said no. LOL. I love that part of the story because the reason why we said no was because we were under the impression that if you were a wedding photographer you had to take crappy, out of focus, and lame photos. Finally we decided to cave and shoot the wedding… We LOVED IT! We brought our own artistic perspective and decided that wedding photography could be awesome! That was years ago and we could not be more happy that we are now full time wedding photographers.

Amber: Do you have any advice for the young artist/photographer just pursing their dream?

Candice: Go for it…. but know it is HARD. One of the biggest misconceptions is that photographers only work weekends, or that it’s easy to make a living as a photographer. Mark and I work very hard to continue to do what we do. If anything it’s more than a full time job. But in the end it is worth it!

Mark Brooke Photography // Website // Blog // Twitter // FB 






The Vine’s Leaf Custom Blooms

Not sure about you, but when I have fresh cut flowers in my home, in my studio, or at an event, I feel inspired. Flowers can evoke a feeling of love, happiness, and joy–especially when given to you by that special someone.

I’ve been so eager to share this sweet interview + these amazing photos. Aly’s story, from dream to reality, is an inspiration to aspiring artists, florists, or entrepreneurs. I hope you enjoy her story, and do feel free to peruse her site for more amazing arrangements.


Amber – The Inspiration Den   // Aly Morford – The Vines Leaf                                                                                                                                                                       

AmberCan you tell our readers the story of The Vine’s Leaf and the Journey it has taken to get where it is today?

Aly: My dream of being an entrepreneur started at a very young age and has never stopped growing. I always knew that I wanted to own some kind of downtown shop and be within the hustle and bustle of the people.  When I was in college, I started a college job at a busy flower shop in the heart of San Luis Obispo and fell in love from the very first moment. I kind of created my own perfect curriculum through my college experience and earned my degree at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Agricultural Business Marketing with a minor in Ornamental Horticulture, while learning everything first hand through the flower shop.  Everything about those 4 (ok, maybe 5) years in college molded my career and the path it would take.  After I graduated, I decided it was time to head back down to Southern California and start planting my roots. I dove right into the Orange County Wedding Industry with a super busy Newport Beach wedding florist and loved every second of it! I realized how much I DIDN’T know the second that I started.  You see, I was working at a flower shop, NOT a wedding florist before…two totally different things!  By day I was soaking up every bit of experience that I could and by night, I was writing my business plan for The Vine’s Leaf.  Fast forward a year later, I was signing a lease for a beautiful new shop in San Clemente…I was ELATED, my dream was coming true!  Hold on, not so fast…Three months into our lease, the economy decided to take a nose dive and was down for the count….beginnings of a very tough year.  We tried to ride it out in the retail market, but being brand new and in a very new area there was just no way to make it work.  The positive side to all of this was that despite a major lack in retail business, by wedding business was booming!  If ever there was a silver lining this was it.  We decided to close our doors to the shop and re-establish the business as “The Vine’s Leaf, Custom Blooms” specializing in weddings and events.  As hard as it was to say goodbye to the shop that I built my dreams on and put my blood, sweat and tears into (literally ALL three) it was the best move I ever made, personally, financially, and spiritually.  I have now fully immersed myself into the wedding industry and can totally focus on growing this business into exactly what I want…it’s invigorating and exciting to watch it blossom.  I love working one on one with my Bride’s, building relationships with the many fabulous wedding folks, and having the energy and resources to be fully creative again and most of all, I love the flexibility that it gives me with my family.

Amber: How do you get inspired when creating a new design?
Aly: I can be inspired by SO many things!  When I am working with a Bride, I am inspired by her personal style as well as the existing elements of where she is getting married.  I blend those two things in my mind and somehow a vision appears.  A Bride can be super feminine and soft with an ethereal feel to her, or she can be kind of funky and cool with a unique vibe to her and literally ANYTHING in between! …In my head I relate all of those things to the flowers and design and the look that we can create through them.  For me personally, natural beauty inspires me…I love designing with naturally beautiful things and pops of live color.  I love textures, I LOVE live plants and orchids everywhere.  I love the bright colors of fresh fruit in big bowls, sunlight and fresh air.  I am constantly moving things around and re-desinging every corner of my house so that it can feel “Alive”.
Amber: How does The Vine’s Leaf studio inspire your work? Do you have a favorite piece of studio decor?
Aly: My work studio is located in the back of my home, so the closest thing to me while we work is my garden and my family in the front of the house.  ..I would say that one of my FAVORITE pieces of “studio decor” is my garden.  It is filled with fruit trees, magnolias and olive trees with vegetable and wildflower gardens lining the walk out to the studio.  I will often get cuttings from the garden to use in boutonnieres and corsages. I Love it! My other favorite piece of “studio decor” would be my little girl.  I love that I get to see her periodically while we work.  She loves flowers and I love that I will get to share my art with her as she grows up.  She inspires me to be a better person in every sense of the word and that bleeds into every aspect of my life…she is my little living inspiration.
AmberDo you have a favorite color pallett or flower that you like to work with?
Aly: Right now my favorite color palette is a blend of peaches, pinks and that warm red.  I love to work with textured flowers and natural greenery.  If you made me pick a favorite flower, I don’t know that I could…I love them all so differently but so equally!!
Amber: How do you describe your work? What sets you apart from other florists?
Aly: I would describe my work as natural, organic and elegant, but also versatile.  I am able to adapt style and flowers to wherever it might be that we need them, but still staying within the overall vibe that I possess.  I have a true and deep passion for what I do and I think that people can feel that when we meet.  I love what I do and love growing in this career and I think that sets me apart.  The flowers are always going to be beautiful in themselves, the true art is in learning how to connect with the people who you get to work with.
AmberAny advice for any artists/florists just starting their company or creative journey’s?
Aly: My advice to others starting their creative journeys would be to be patient…VERY patient.  It takes a lot of hard work, time, and effort to build a creative career.  Every year is better and different from the last, but know that you will not just arrive to your perfect place right away.  You have to be willing to grow and learn at all times, otherwise you become stagnant in your journey and in life.  I would also say to try your HARDEST to not compare yourselves to other people’s journeys, which this is still something that I am trying to learn and improve on.  Everyone goes through the same ups and downs, just all at different times and maybe in different ways, we are human.  Be your true self and build your business on that, everything else will fail or fall flat, simply because it just isn’t you.  Be confident in the fact that you know that you have something PHENOMENAL to offer people!! Most importantly, I would advise to strive for balance with work and life.  To be something amazing and to keep your creativity flowing, I believe that you have to feel balanced and not burnt out on either end.  It will probably take me a long time to perfect that part, but just knowing that it is one of my main goals has helped me immensely in work and at home.
The Vines Leaf  // Site  // Twitter // FB // Pinterest // Cloud Parade Shop //










Allison Escalante – Nothing Lost

Last week I was able to sit down with singer/song writer/ worship leader Allison Escalante to discuss her first full length album, dropping January 18th! Allison’s openness and vulnerability with her music is encouraging for all artist. Enjoy the interview and hope to see you at the CD release shindig and snag a copy of her album for yourself!

Here’s a sample of one of her favorite songs from the album;  I Need Your Help

LWF: Little Woodland Friend (Amber)
AE: Allison Escalante

LWF: What is the inspiration/vision behind your album title “Nothing Lost”? 

AE: When writing this album I had decided I wanted to convey a sense of vulnerability through each song. I want to connect with people on a more intimate level, even if I don’t know them personally.  Even though my heart for this album is to be vulnerable, I still have trouble with it sometimes. I was in LA at the mastering studio the other day, and as certain songs started to play, I began feeling like the walls were closing in on me. I even stooped so low as to take my coat off and cover my head with it. Vulnerability is not easy, but I feel it’s necessary.
LWF: What do you hope to achieve through the release of this album? 

AE: I want the listener to know who I am as a person and understand that we all go through trials. A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea that worship leaders have emotions, or are weak and vulnerable. I think vulnerability is sometimes misconstrued as a form of weakness, but it can also be a way of showing strength, courage, and a valid emotion. I feel like “Nothing Lost” represents that well. 
LWF: How was the album written and did you have a vision for it prior to starting the project?
AE: I went into the project with eight songs and didn’t end up using any of them. In my everyday life, I started to notice how annoyed I was getting with passing pleasantries, and how fake I had become. .. So I threw out all of the songs and started writing from past failures, present tragedies and the types of memories you wish you could forget but secretly wanna keep. I  wrote one song in the studio, laid it down and from there the songs started flowing out. That’s where I noticed the vulnerability, loss, and emotion coming through. Through this process “Nothing Lost” was created. My songs are about real life experiences, and through those experiences there is nothing lost. There is always a hope.  
LWF: What is your favorite song on the album?
AE: I have two… The first is “We Want to Bless You” because it takes on whatever particular emotion you are feeling at that time, happy or sad.  I listened to this song in my car for 2 full days over and over again once the cello had been tracked. I literally went from being blown away by how awesome the cello sounded against the layered guitars on the instrumental part, to crying my eyes out listening to it in the evening. It somehow took on this incredibly tragic/romantic sound. My second favorite song is “I need Your Help” because it was written for a really good friend who’s wife cheated on him and then left him. This was a way for me to comfort and encourage him. 

LWF: Why are you a worship leader?
AE: I know God has blessed me with this gift and I know I’m called to usher His people into His presence through song. I take it very seriously. I’m very aware of the shape peoples hearts are in. I know they come into church broken and burdened and just want to hear God’s heart for them. I know this because I’m in the same boat. For a time, I didn’t take Leading Worship seriously. I was disgusted at my heart and how I had somehow come to the conclusion that I offered the Lord something amazing and that i somehow made things “Better”. I quickly realized how wrong I was and decided to stop being involved in music all together. I had no intention of ever picking my guitar back up again, much less singing in front of a congregation again. But God Restores! I now stand with my guitar and sing from a place of vulnerability in an attempt to encourage people who are also going through hard situations.

LWF: Any Advice to young musicians? 
AE: I think practice is a huge part of honing your craft. It’s too easy to let yourself go. Also, make sure to expand your musical interests. Don’t box yourself in. Learn other styles and genres. Don’t just do it because you know how to, but let things you don’t know influence  you. I think it’s important to be musically smart as well. There is a huge difference between a musician and an artist. Anyone can pick up a guitar and learn a few chords..  Last weekend I had the privilege of driving to the mountains with another musician to play for a group of 18- 25 year olds. We were listening to music as we drove and I sat there listening to him pick song after song apart. Initially it was slightly annoying, but as time went on I found myself incredibly interested and blessed to sit next to him and just watch. There was something musically smart about him- a definite artist. So often I don’t pay much attention to songs. I know I should, but I don’t. It was easily a car ride that changed my musical perspective.

(Photo by Robert Escalante)
Allison will be throwing a CD release shindig on 1/18, see flyer below for all the info!
For more info visit Allison’s Website