Meet the Maker – Carina Envoldsen-Harris of Polka & Bloom

Chloe Tate

Today in our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re getting to know Carina Envoldsen-Harris, the creative genius and business maven behind contemporary folk embroidery brand Polka & Bloom!


Meet the Maker – Carina Envoldson-Harris of Polka & Bloom


LBC: What inspired you to take your leap as an entrepreneur?

Carina: The company I worked for went bust in late 2008 and I found myself without a job at the start of 2009. I had been toying with the idea of selling embroidery patterns, so I decided to give it a go while looking for a new job.


LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?

Carina: To be honest, I didn’t have a vision or a plan for my business; it just sort of happened. I thought I might like to write a book at some point and I had the opportunity to do that in 2011 (Stitched Blooms was published in 2013). Things have developed organically, but right now I’m at a point where I feel like I want to sit down and think about how I want to move things forward.


LBC: How would you describe what you create?

Carina: Happy, folk art inspired embroidery patterns with a colourful contemporary feel.


Meet the Maker – Carina Envoldson-Harris of Polka & Bloom


LBC: Where can we find your products?

Carina: Physical products, like my book on my website, Polka & Bloom. My patterns are available in my shops on Payhip and Etsy.


LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.

Carina: Most days I will walk Blake the dog, have a tidy around the house and then get to work by around 9am. What I’m working on varies: sometimes I have a lot of embroidery to do; other times I’m at my desk, working on patterns on the computer. Or I’m getting messy drafting new patterns in my sketchbook.

I’ll work until noon, then have my lunch break. During my break I’ll check Instagram and email. Sometimes I’ll read a book or magazine for a little bit. Then it’s back to work for another few hours.

Around 3pm I go for a walk with Blake unless the weather is against us. When we come back, he gets his dinner, I check social media and then I get started with dinner for the humans and things like washing up or doing laundry.

In the evening I’ll do a bit more embroidery, sketching or maybe some research, while (sort of) watching TV with my husband.


LBC: What are 3 things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

Carina: 1) Are you passionate about “your thing?” You will need that passion to get you through working long days and maybe having to skip fun things like hanging out with family because you’re working, or not having a proper holiday because you’re too busy or don’t have the money.

2) Be realistic. There will be times where you won’t be feeling the passion for your thing (when you’re swamped with orders or burning the midnight oil or panicking because you think you are going to miss an important deadline). You won’t love every minute, and that’s ok.

3) It’s not about you. Yes, your “thing” comes from you, but if you want it to be a business you have to keep in mind how it will serve your customers. How will your thing make a difference (big or small) in their lives?


LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?

Carina: I take a break, if possible. It can be a long break, where I walk the dog, or a short break where I put on some upbeat music. Singing along or dancing to the music can give a great boost of energy!

Doodling in my sketchbook or making lists. Just writing everything down everything that’s floating around in my head, big or small.

And if it’s really bad, I’m a fan of taking a nap. Sometimes you just have to switch off completely to be able to see things more clearly.


Meet the Maker – Carina Envoldson-Harris of Polka & Bloom


LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.

Carina: Saying yes to things that are a bit scary. Although I didn’t go looking for the opportunities I mention here, I am really happy that I decided to take on these challenges, they have been great learning experiences.

In 2011 I was commissioned to do some designs and samples for DMC (a well known brand of embroidery thread) for their TNNA (The National Needle Arts Association) stand. That was a big job at the time, with a fairly short deadline. So I learnt a lot about managing time for a project like that.

That experience was really helpful when I was offered a book deal. That’s an even bigger project! Writing a book was a great learning experience. Writing a craft book is unlikely to make you a millionaire, but it will help get your work in front of people who may not have seen it otherwise.

When I was offered the book deal, I decided to get an agent and that has been a really good decision. My agent, Kate McKean, is awesome. She helps mainly with book related things, of course, but she can advise on other things, too.


LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?

Carina: The work I do is all done by me. Everything, big or small. I like that I have touched (physically or digitally) everything that my customers buy from me.

It can be a bit overwhelming at times. Especially when I have a lot of embroidery to do, for a book for example. The stitching (and sometimes re-stitching) takes the time it takes, it can’t be hurried or the quality will suffer. So I have become quite good at what I think of as triage, prioritizing tasks or ruthlessly cutting them out if they aren’t really necessary.

At times everything will be pared down to the absolute minimum. For example, only working on the computer two days a week, and no falling down the internet rabbit hole!


LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you contribute to that you’re particularly passionate about?

Carina: Through Kiva, I lend money to small businesses who can’t otherwise get a loan. These are usually in third world countries. I usually lend to women because I believe that big changes can happen in the community when women are in control of their own lives. I love getting notifications of loan repayments because that means the person I’ve lent money to is doing well enough to pay it pack and that is so awesome. It really inspires me.

I’m also a vegan, so I try to encourage others to try cruelty-free food. I don’t want to preach veganism – I don’t think that’s a good way to change people’s minds. Instead, I try to be an example of how this way of life doesn’t mean you have to go without or all you eat is tofu and kale. Searching for #veganjunkfood on Instagram shows there’s plenty of fun to be had. 🙂


Meet the Maker – Carina Envoldson-Harris of Polka & Bloom


LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?

Carina: 1) For making my patterns, I couldn’t do it without Gimp, Inkscape and PagePlus.

2) Google products like Gmail, Keep and Drive help me organize all the things.

3) My sketchbook. It may not seem as business-y, but it’s where all the product development happens! 🙂


LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If you blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company? 

Carina: I really don’t know! Right now I’m at a point where I’m making decisions about how I want to move forward, so there may be some changes to my business. But it’s not unlikely that I’ll have written 1-2 more books and produced kits with my patterns. Possibly some other products, too.


LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…

Carina: REM, female singer-songwriters like Orla Gartland and Gabrielle Aplin. Italian and French pop and a bit of Green Day. Oh, and ABBA.


LBC: Tell me a few of places on your travel “bucket list.”

Carina: 1) Rome – although I’ve been there several times, I’ll never be done with The Eternal City.

2) New York.

3) Stockholm.


LBC: What’s your best recipe? 

Carina: My vegan naan bread recipe. Yum.


Thank you, Carina, for sharing your talent with us!  We absolutely love your work and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for Polka & Bloom! We’re cheering you on…


Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!


About the Author

Chloe Tate

Once described as “relentlessly cheerful,” Chloe is a lover of all things colorful and practically every fruit known to man. She lives in Atlanta and divides her time between supporting Lucky Break clients, keeping shop at a local artisan market, and event planning for business conferences. She’s also working on the launch of her skincare line while finishing her degree in Organizational & Leadership Studies. True story: Chloe shares 50% of Lela’s DNA and is poised to inherit her obscenely large shoe collection.

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