Handmaker's Factory

A year of living with less and an interview with Courtner Carver of Project 333

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One of the great things about the online world is that you discover amazing things that you might never of otherwise heard of. Project 333 was a project I stumbled upon thanks to one of my best friends on the interwebs Peonies and Polaroids.
Put simply, Project 333 is a "minimalist fashion challenge" started by Courtney Carver that "invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months". 
To be honest, for most of my life I never really understood minimalism, I loved having "stuff", I would get very attached to things, mostly because they held some meaning or memory. My husband and I were collectors, we could happily spend a whole weekend trawling op shops and second hand stores for treasures. But when I read about Project 333 I had an almost two year old son, my house was filled with crap and furniture we were storing for other people and my wardrobe was crammed with clothes I no longer wore. I had no space, physically and mentally my life was so cluttered that I found it difficult to focus, which left me feeling frantic, frustrated and exhausted. Change your life by cleaning out your wardrobe? It sounds like utter nonsense doesn't it? What I found is that it's not so much your wardrobe that changes your life, it's really just a place to begin, but it's funny how doing something as simple as that can have such an effect on everything else.
I started almost immediately, I bagged up probably 75% of my wardrobe, a lot of things I consigned to the rag bin or gave away, but I kept two bags of clothes that I wasn't quite ready to part with. I put the few garments I had left back on their hangers or folded on the shelf and marvelled at how good it felt to have less rather than more. I began to notice over the next few months just how much having a teeny tiny wardrobe made life easier, I always had something to wear, but I had less washing to do and a tidier home. Hurrah! 
So I decided to take it a bit further, I started on the rest of the house, with each bag that went out the door I felt lighter, I pared each room back to the barest of essentials, I was ruthless. A funny thing happens when you do this, you begin to realise just how very little you actually need to live your daily life and this realisation is incredibly freeing. You become very mindful of the reasons why you buy things you don't need, what motivates you to purchase. Once you have that awareness it's really easy to just stop doing it. I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to go shopping without feeling like I need to spend money. I can look at all the beautiful things and appreciate them without needing to own them, it makes me feel just a little bit smug and so goddamn mature!
I began Project 333 in Winter 2011, after six months I noticed that the clothes I had kept (other than my denim jeans) were all really well made and of silk, wool or linen. About a quarter of those garments were items I had made myself. So, at the end of 2011, I made another resolution, as my store bought clothes wore out I committed to replacing them with something hand made. I am aiming to end up with a wardrobe that is as close to 100% handmade as it can be. 

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It's now nearly two years since I started cleaning out my wardrobe, I am astonished at how much my life has changed for the better, maybe I would have done it all without Project 333, maybe not. I just know I'm happier now because of it and Courtney Carver's project was the inspiring catalyst.
Courtney kindly agreed to answer some of my questions about Project 333 and her experience of living more with less below. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Courtney. Project 333 changed my life, I hope this post has inspired others, you can read more about it here: theproject333.com

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Courtney Carver of Project 333
• Often we only start making changes to our lives after a significant life event. What was your catalyst for beginning the process of living more with less? 
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006. Getting sick forced me to analyze what was working and what wasn't working in my life. I slowly began to make changes to simplify everything in my life, from diet to debt and everything in between.


•  Changing your life by changing your wardrobe might sound silly and superficial to the uninitiated. Can you explain why making such a small change can make such a big difference? 
Is it a feeling? More time? More space? Simplicity has a powerful way of working from the outside in. A clean counter can lead to analyzing relationships and striving to spend more time with people you love and a minimalist wardrobe demonstrates the freedom that comes from living with less. What may start as superficial or surface level invites the bigger questions.


• Starting to live more with less requires discipline, especially for those of us living in a western consumerist culture, how do you resist the temptation to spend money on things you don't need? 
It really becomes less and less challenging over time. Living with less is not a sacrifice and as soon as you experience a few of the benefits living having more time, space, money, shopping doesn't seem so appealing.


• Living more with less can often be coupled with a desire to live ethically. How do you make decisions about the things that you do buy? Does it have to be locally made for example? 
This is such a great question. When I first started dressing and living with less, my intention wasn't to be more eco-friendly, but that is exactly what happened. Consuming less is a great start but it gives you the time and space to consider each purchase and decide how it might be more meaningful. I prefer to buy locally and/or support small businesses, but I don't have any hard fast rules. I'm still learning and growing and discovering how my small actions can have a huge effect on the world.


• You have a few other projects keeping you busy, can you tell us a little about them? 
I've created my micro-business so that I can work on projects and work with people that I really care about it. I develop eBooks and courses and work with clients to help them simplify their work, execute ideas and do what they love. My latest project is a micro-course called How to Create a Meaningful Morning Routine. I'm really excited to develop more micro-courses  They involve micro-investment and mega-impact in terms of creating change and improvement in love, life and/or health when put into action.
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Myf is a tinkerer and maker of things. She owns Tinker Maker, a small business producing naturally dyed and hand made apparel, accessories and home wares from her studio in the Dandenong Ranges. www.tinkermaker.com.au

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