Meet HelloSociety Pinterest Influencer Mari Richards from St. Paul, Minnesota! Mari is the blogger behind Small for Big, the creator of the printables website Smallful, and works as a freelance toy and product designer. Mari has a BA in Studio Art, a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance, and an MFA in Visual Studies.
“I spent 12 years working full-time as a senior toy designer, with over 30 industry designs and 400 products brought to market, before I figured out I’m happier working for myself.”
When Mari isn’t working or on Pinterest, she can be found at family movie night, reading, playing the piano, napping, researching for her websites, or making just about anything – especially with her 6-year-old daughter Wren. Mari’s passion for DIY & crafts, family, blogging, decor, and fashion has earned her over 349k Pinterest followers!
When did you start using Pinterest and what inspired you to make an account?
I started using Pinterest in the very early days – when it was still in beta. I’m a bit of a hoarder in all aspects of my life. The ability to make my vast and unorganized list of bookmarks more visual had me hooked immediately! I’m such a visual person, browsing images instead of links is much easier.
Why do you like Pinterest?
Though I love to read, I really do understand things visually first. As a designer/artist, it’s the best way for me to search for new ideas, inspiration, shopping, style. So Pinterest suits my process perfectly. I go to Pinterest before I go to Google! It’s also become a great tool to show clients what I’m capable of, and what my style looks like.
You have gained over 349k Pinterest followers! That’s truly amazing! What makes your Pinterest unique?
It really started as just a place to gather up all of my favorite things, so it’s a reflection of my personality and passions. I think it resonates with others because it’s design-driven, full of beautiful images, but still realistic. Most of what I pin are things I want to own, create, or see at some point in my life – it’s not just unattainable pictures (though I have inspiration boards too!).
I’m a collector and a curator. Pinterest allows me to gather everything in one place. Even though there’s probably no way I can do, make, become, or see all the things I pin, my optimistic side feels much closer to achieving it all by having it in my Pinterest files.
Are you from St. Paul, Minnesota originally? What do you like about it there?
I’ve lived in St. Paul, Minnesota for 18 years now and I really do love it. In the beginning I thought I’d end up in New York, or Seattle. But as I’ve grown older – and married a Minnesota man! – I’ve realized I really do love it here. The Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) are full of amazing design, art, and theater – with top quality museums and galleries too. It has a really good creative cultural heart. Plus, I’m connected with people all over the world thanks to the blog, Pinterest, etc. Thank heavens for the internet!
What are your favorite places you’ve traveled to?
I used to travel a lot – both for my former day job as a senior toy designer, and on my own. I love Hong Kong, New York, and almost every place I’ve been to in Europe. But I suppose my favorite places to explore are Paris and the Cinque Terre, in Italy. One day I’d love to see India.
What are your favorite Pinterest boards to pin onto and why?
Some of my favorite boards are: my Inspiration board, DIY boards (DIY, kids, jewelry, & fabric), and my Future Dream House board. One day I WILL have that dream house – I like to think those pins are prophetic! Inspiration and DIY boards are more obvious favorites – whenever I’m in a creative lull I’ll go back through them to gather fuel.
Your DIY board is awesome! We also love your kids decor board. Tell us more about these boards and why you made them!
The DIY board has always been about the things I want to – or wish I had time to – make on my own. Sometimes it’s also inspiration for my own projects and ideas too, I might take an idea or technique from there and twist it in my own direction.
The kids décor board is something I started to showcase all the amazing rooms I stumble onto in Pinterest and in the blogosphere. But it’s also turned into the place I store images for my daughter’s next room revamp – I’m always trying to broaden her mind so we don’t end up in a sea of Pepto pink!
What is your Pinterest aesthetic?
It’s modern, playful, irreverent at times, design-y, unique, quirky, artistic, stylish, aspirational, yet I like to think most of it is attainable in some way or another. I pin design, style, art, and creative finds that inspire me – and hopefully others too.
Tell us more about your blog Small for Big! What got you interested in starting it?
Small for Big really began the same week I was laid off and found myself at home with my 4 month old baby girl. I was a full-time designer looking for a new job, and felt that a daily blog would help me show potential freelance clients and future employers that I was still in the game, keeping up with trends and industry topics. Within the first year I realized I loved doing it just for myself and my own inspiration. Now Small for Big is a playful design blog that focuses on great kids finds, inspiration for all of us, art and illustration, and DIY. I don’t want it to be a toy blog, or a parenting blog. Instead I’m creating a design blog that focuses on playful, innovative and inspirational things.
Tell us more about Smallful. Every printable on there is so cute and unique! What’s one of your favorite printables to date?
Thank you! I’m having so much fun doing it! Smallful is only 4 months old, but the response has been amazing. It’s hard to choose a favorite – I’m only doing projects that excite me! I’m probably the most proud of the Thankful Turkey, I love its deceptive simplicity and I’m planning a series of animals like it soon. But my all-time favorites are the Magical Masks: they feel like a good reflection of me: both playful and artistic.
Tell us more about your other passions and interests!
I’m fairly certain I have way too many passions. Learning new ways to be creative is a big one. I’m always diving into a new material or method. I get bored if I don’t have a new challenge somewhere in my life. I have a lot of food allergies, so I get obsessed with finding or creating recipes I can actually eat and enjoy. The entire family loves vintage stores and antique shops, so we do that regularly. We’re finally going to get a record player (I know, we’re late to the game) so I’m starting to lose a lot of time looking for good records – especially classic jazz. I enjoy playing my beautiful grand piano and wishing I had more time to practice. I’m trying to find more time for a regular yoga practice. And of course, playing and creating with my daughter, and spending time out in the woods with her as soon as it’s warmer. (I may live in Minnesota, but I’m not a huge fan of the cold!)
What are your plans and hopes for the future?
It’s the start of a new year, and my head is full of thoughts for the future. I want to travel more with my daughter now that she’s older, find time to create art just for me and no one else, author a book or two or ten, and see Smallful grow and flourish into a mainstay for busy parents who want a quick creative fix. Day to day I’m trying harder to find the joy in the little things too. Time passes so damn fast if you’re not paying attention.
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