An Interview with Sonya Kanelstrand

I have been a follower of Sonya's blog since early 2011. I was surprised to find out that she started her blog in March of 2011 and has built a thriving blog community  so quickly. Sonya's Blog is an inspiring mix of eco-friendly and simple living posts, two important things in my life making it easy to be a regular reader of her blog. 

Sonya is not only a great writer and blogger, she is an amazing artist. Her Etsy shop is filled with dreamy photographs that are inspiring and creative. She is also the editor of The Studio Magazine. A magazine that is filled with a beautifully curated collection of eco-friendly art.

I am thrilled Sonya was able to take the time to share with us a little about her passion for living green and building a thriving blog community. 

1. As a long time follower of your blog, I am always inspired by the information you share about living simply and eco friendly. Could you please share why you are so passionate about this way of life.

Thank you, Valerie. Knowing that you, as a regular reader of Kanelstrand and the greatest motivator I know, find inspiration in my words is a great motivation for me!

Thanks to my family I was brought up to respect the riches of the land. My grandfather taught by example, which I believe is the only way to teach. Although he was a dentist from the city, he learned from his mother-in-law (my great grand mother) how to take care of the garden and started building upon this knowledge to reach a level of feeding 3 families with his produce. Of course, we children were always there to help in the summers.

My grandmother knitted my winter sweaters, hats and scarves and although she never requested acquiring this ability from me, there came the time when I naturally turned to knitting myself.

My mother is the perfect cook (whose mother isn't!) and we have never (believe it or not) had pre-fabricated food at home. Apart from that, she is a one-man-orchestra, basically doing everything by herself, which taught me to be a handy person myself, paying attention to detail and a perfectionist at times.

Family and surroundings play a very important role for the forming of a young mind and I grew up to become a "slow" and deliberate person, who appreciates nature and the depth of the human soul. I live simply thanks to that stable, nature-inspired foundation I was exposed to in my childhood and that is the way I feel comfortable living. I wouldn't change it for anything because it is an integral part of how I view the world.

My passion to discuss simple and eco-friendly living appeared when I realized that unlike so many people out there bragging about their eco-achievements or getting tired of being green, I actually lived a pretty simple and green life without any outer forces and norms telling me to do so. At that moment, when I compared myself to the wide world I knew I had some things to share with it.

Surreal Fine Art Photography Print Girls Room 
2. You started your blog a year ago, and have built a thriving community of readers. What did you do to build your community so quickly?

When I started the Kanelstrand blog I knew I needed it to promote my etsy business but was in the dark as to what I should write about. The only clear idea I had was that this blog would have to be successful.

I read a lot, I educate myself constantly and I give the Kanelstrand blog 150% of myself. That is the secret behind it, I am fully devoted to creating a intelligent, informational and inspiring place for anyone interested in simplifying their life or simply making it easier on the planet and themselves.

As an added bonus I have this amazing green community of readers who not only support me but also inspire me daily. And I really mean that! I am a curious person, and although I have more than 1000 GFC followers I still find time to check every new follower's blog. There is so much talent out there!

One thing I have noticed is that whatever you create with love and devotion, be it a shop, a school or a blog, it gets the power to attract like-minded people and this is what I see happening daily on the Kanelstrand blog. People drop by and if they are in the same vibe, or feel the need to take something from the vibe, they keep coming back. My job is to make them feel welcome and to keep offering amazing and thought-provoking information.

In that line of thoughts, I recently stumbled upon a precious thought by Jonathan Fields that holds in itself the secret to success: "Forget about what you want to sell. It’s not about you or it. It’s about who you serve and how you remove their pain."

Fjord Landscape Norway Photography Light Blue 
3. Your Etsy shop is filled with beautiful photos and handcrafted felted bracelets, what inspires your creative collection?

I like the line which I use so often, saying that my inspiration comes from the pine forest by the sea, in which I happen to live. I use that phrase because it is so true! My major inspiration in life, ever since I remember myself has been nature - the colors, the aromas, the sounds and shapes - they all hide so many details that still attract my attention and I keep re-discovering them with every new season, and every sunrise.

Photography, poetry, hand-work have been with me for decades and are my preferred way to express myself. I am very proud with my felted bracelets because they are unique, I had to combine crafts and invent methods in order to fulfill this dream of mine and they carry the Scandinavian spirit not only because they are made with Norwegian and Icelandic wools, here in a Norwegian forest, but because they have that emblematic simplicity about them.

The photography prints that can be found in my etsy shop are also very much Scandinavian. Most of the surreal ones are inspired by the Old Norse Mythology and the idea of Middle Earth. A curious fact about them is that they take about 24 hours of work to create, after the click of the camera shutter. The crystal clear landscapes present colorful Scandinavia in all its dreamy gorgeousness.

I love what I do!

Sun Rays in the Forest Fine Art Photography
4. You mention on you blog that you live in a pine forest by the Sea in Scandinavia. I can only imagine the view out of your window must be very inspiring. When you are working how do you keep your space inspiring?

You are right, the view is magnificent! I see the pine forest, which is frequented by a family of deers, and hundreds of birds. Because we live some 200 feet from the beach I can also hear the waves.

You got me thinking though, where exactly is my working space? As a photographer, I spend hours outside, as a nature lover I try to transfer as many activities out too. I often write or knit on the beach but my online life starts from my desk which happens to be (you) guessed it) in front of said window. I don't have much inspirational stuff on the walls, just a big calendar to keep track of my online commitments, a photo printer on the desk, and a notebook to write down ideas and schedules. With all that beauty behind the window, I can hardly get more inspired!

Do All Things With Love 8x10 Typography Print
5. How do you stay motivated on a daily basis to create and write your blog posts?

I have found out that waiting for inspiration is never helpful. That is why I like to provoke it by simple scheduling. Ever since I started my blog I have stuck to a weekly routine, which has proven lucrative and prompts my mind to be productive in the right time.

I recently opened my blog for regular contributors, all bloggers I respect and admire, who add their wisdom to the Kanelstrand experience. This big step is another great motivator for me - now it is not just me behind the blog, but I work with this talented team of writers who I want to be proud of contributing to a fabulous blog, so I am beyond motivated to keep the standard high.

But my greatest blogging motivation is the feedback I receive from my readers. The thing I like most about blogging is that it is a work in progress that has a life of its own, because there are so many minds involved. Your cleverness and originality become unimportant if you don't have an audience. That is why I thank all my readers for always being my rock!

Thank you so much Sonya, for sharing your amazing story!

Connect with Sonya ~ Blog ~ Etsy ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Google+ ~ The Studio Magazine

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  1. Fantastic interview Valerie with a fantastic person!;)

  2. Wow, great inspiration for all....thank you for sharing, sometimes you need to hear things like this to stay focused :)

  3. I've been reading along for quite a while now. Her photography is amazing!

  4. Awesome interview! I am a proud owner of two - yes TWO - of her beautiful photographs. And she is amazing!

  5. Sonya said, "I have found out that waiting for inspiration is never helpful." How true. The more you do the more there is to do and it can be enjoyable.

    Great interview picked up other tidbits and learned something new. TY!

  6. Great interview with Sonya. It's been a joy watching her blog grow.

  7. Wow, that was a fabulous interview! I too am surprised at the community she built in such a short period of time. But, it does ring true- if you show people that you truly care about them, they will come back and more will join!

  8. Her Fjord photo is stunning!

  9. What gorgeous pictures! And a very interesting interview. I love that Sonya makes everyone who visits her blog feel comfortable. The love shows. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful creator's world.

  10. Her photos are amazing! The images really increase my desire to travel to Norway and the Scandinavian region.

  11. Thank you all for your wonderful and heart-warming comments! Also, thank you Valerie, for being my inspiration all along. Blogging is so much about the interaction between all of us!

  12. Great interview! It was neat getting to see a little bit behind-the-scenes of Kanelstrand; and Sonya, your home sounds lovely! (Forest AND ocean? Take me there! ;) Thanks for sharing!


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