Featured Designer - Happinesst April 01 2016

Fiona Janssen

In my quest for new and modern cross stitch designs, I stumbled upon Happinesst, a delightful Etsy shop with a very talented owner and designer, Fiona Janssen.  Fiona was open to the idea of selling PDF versions of her designs on our website, and the rest is history!

Jen:  Where were you born and raised?

Fiona:  I was born and raised in the south of the Netherlands.  I lived my whole childhood in a town with my parents and younger sister.  I studied civil engineering and traffic engineering.  Now I live with my husband, 10 year old son and 2 bunnies in a small town in the state Noord-Brabant.  I’m not a city girl; I love the tranquility of nature and especially the mountains...unfortunately,  we don't have mountains in the Netherlands!

Jen:  How did you learn to cross stitch? Did you stitch as a girl? Any photos of your first cross stitch projects?

Fiona:  When I was a little girl I wanted to cross stitch just like my mother.  I remember I started a very cute sampler with little gnomes, but I never finished it.  I was constantly making counting mistakes, and I had to start over and over again.  I got frustrated and never touched a needle and thread again until some years ago.

Jen:  So then, how and when did you passion for cross stitching begin?

Fiona:  Since I was a little girl, I was surrounded by fabrics, needle and thread.  My mother and her two sisters were all fervent embroiders, and the oldest sister of my mom was a professional sewer.

I was never very interested in needlework or stitching, but four years ago I got knitting wool for my birthday.  Slowly I started knitting…. crocheting… sewing and stitching!

I discovered I like it very much, and it makes me forget the daily concerns.  Unfortunately my mother and her oldest sister can’t teach me anymore since they have both passed away.  It makes me more than happy that the only sister left, my godmother, teaches me everything she knows about embroidery and needlework.  And believe me, that’s a lot!  She is a great needle artist and a real professional.  My first projects were a little needle book and a pincushion.

First Cross Stitch Project - Happinesst

Jen:  So, how did Happinesst come to be? Why did you decide to start creating cross stitch designs?

Fiona:  I started Happinesst after a pretty tough period in my life.  My mother died after a long illness, and in my personal life, a few things happened whereby I got to thinking about what really matters in life.  I decided to quit my job as a traffic engineer at the government and took some time to heal and feel...feel what really makes me happy.  I discovered that I’m at my best when I create things.  The feeling of making and creating brings me a lot of satisfaction and inner peace.

During this time, I was visiting my godmother a lot, and she told me stories about my mother's childhood.  Meanwhile, she taught me how to cross stitch. When she suggested that I should design cross stitch patterns, I thought it was a crazy idea.  But, after some thinking, I decided to give it a try.  I bought software, started making designs and opened my Etsy shop.  I get great response on my patterns, and my business is still growing.  And the best of all, designing patterns doesn’t feel like work as it gives me joy every day.

Jen:  Complete this sentence. When I’m not stitching, I am….

Fiona:  Taking care of my 10 year old son or redecorating our house.  Interior design is my other passion.  I especially love Scandinavian style and like to match it with vintage and industrial items or, of course, self-made items...I’m always creating things.  Further, I like (and have :) to work out at the gym and like to try to learn to play the guitar with my son.  As much as possible, we take a break and travel around the world to discover new beautiful places.

Jen: How would you describe your cross stitch style?

Fiona:  My cross stitch style is mostly the same as my interior style and fashion style.  People always tell me that I have a special, clearly identifiable style, but it's hard for me to describe because it’s not invented...it is who I am.  I would describe it as modern, robust, beautiful matching colors and not too many frills.

Jen: Tell us about the process for designing you patterns. What are your inspirations?

Fiona:  My inspiration is everywhere. It can be not only a beautiful flower or a leaf in nature, but also a pattern in a fabric or the trends that come and go.  At the moment, for example, you see cactuses and succulents everywhere, so I decided to make some cross stitch patterns with cactuses.  Traveling also gives me a lot of inspiration.  I made a geometric bear pattern and a mountain pattern when we were traveling through the Canadian Rockies as well as a beautiful geometric ornament inspired by the tile which was in our bathroom when we were in Portugal.  I’m already looking forward to our trips to Italy and Greece later this year, which should give a lot inspiration for beautiful new patterns.  Typically, I take a picture of something that inspires me and use that as a basis to work out a pattern on my computer.  I prefer this approach instead of designing something out of the blue.

Custom orders from my customers also inspire me to develop new patterns as this keeps me in touch with what people like and want to stitch.  I have a complete set of birth samplers in my Etsy shop now only because someone asked me to design one for her.  I realized that people want to stitch for that special occasion, so I started making birth sampler patterns.

Jen:  Which of you designs is your favorite and why?

Fiona:  The geometric heart pattern in different shades of teal is my favorite. It’s designed in my favorite colors and reflects the best of what I want to be: powerful, well-balanced and a little bit romantic.

 Fiona's favorite pattern - Geometric Heart in Teal

Jen:  What is under your hoop now? Do you have any photos that you can share?

Fiona:  I’m experimenting with stitching on wood...making some small ornaments as a gift or to decorate the house.

 Stitching on Wood

Jen:  Any big plans for the rest of the year?

Fiona:  First of all, enjoying life as much as possible...spending quality time with my husband and son...taking some great trips.  For Happinesst, it means making a lot of new patterns; I have so many great ideas in my mind and not enough time to let them come out!  And there are plans to expand Happinesst with another Etsy shop.  What it is, well, that’s still secret...but it’s in needlecraft as well.

I can't wait to see what Fiona has planned!  In the meantime, you can also check out our collection of Happinesst PDF patterns at Red Thread Studio.