Hello Wonderful! An interview with the wonderful Denise Corcoran aka Thrifty By Design


Hello Wonderful!

I'd like to introduce you to another wonderful person! Today we are going to get to know 'community catalyst * crafter extraordinaire * upcycler of things' Denise Corcoran aka Thrifty By Design.  Denise has such a bright and bubbly personality and I really admire her mad crafty up cycling skills. I think you'll really enjoy this weeks Hello Wonderful! and I especially connected to what Denise had to say about friendship and ‘but’ people. 


Who are you, what do you do and where in the world are you?

My name is Denise Corcoran aka Thrifty By Design. I call myself a ’community catalyst * crafter extraordinaire * upcycler of things’. Why not! I love meeting people, making stuff and turning ‘junk’ into fabulous things. And showing other people how to create crafty items on a limited budget, in a short amount of time and with very little know-how. I’m based in North Vancouver, BC.

What do you believe in?

Group hugs, talking to strangers & the power of that first cup-o-joe in the morning. In all seriousness all those things can turn any rainy, grey day into something wonderful. The power of positive thinking & always seeing possibility has this way of proving you right. 

When do you feel your most wonderful?

I love meeting new people, getting out & about plus chilling at home making ‘stuff’. I also adore my Crafternoons (upcycling workshops)! Crafting with strangers can be such a fabulous experience. I’ve crafted with people of all ages, skill levels… The best part is when someone comes to one of my upcycling workshops and they go on about how they’re not creative or crafty. Then they try one of the projects, they make new friends and then they leave with something they’re super proud of. And most of those people tend to come back for another workshop. That’s pretty wonderful when you see someone who goes from being ‘uncrafty’ to a craft devotee in under 2 hours. Crafting & upcycling is addictive!

What is something wonderful that has happened that would have never have happened if you hadn't made a mistake or a wrong turn somewhere?

I had the worst year ever in 2009. Wow! It was a doozy. My Dad nearly died, my Mom had health issues then it ended with my partner of 11 years dumping me. But from the worst comes the best. So many great things have happened because of the hardships I endured. You realize that you need the valleys to appreciate the peaks. I’m pretty darn happy these days and it’s because of those heartaches. You survive them, dust yourself off then keep moving yourself forward. That’s a pretty wonderful thing to realize. So now I take chances, put myself out there for things, take leaps of faith because ya gotta. That’s the stuff of life. My most favourite thing for feeling wonder is traveling on my own to somewhere new. It forces you to meet people, trek around & let the adventure unfold… In the past few years I’ve gone to Berlin, Havana, New York & more by myself & they always end up being inspiring trips!

What is the earliest time in your life that you can remember experiencing wonder? When was the most recent time?

Oh man I have the worst memory EVER. It’s been proven! So earliest time experiencing wonder… Can I give one related to my crafty stuff? If yes that would be going to the Sechelt dump. That’s around the time I started upcycling and repurposing ‘junk’. You can either buy stuff from the Share Shed (I refinished many $1 chairs from the dump) or trek around the wood pile. It’s like being a kid in a candy shop… So much kewl stuff you can turn into new, funky pieces. Why buy from Ikea when you can have a one-of-a-kind item!

The most recent time was just before Xmas. I was asked to be interviewed for a segment on CBC Radio’s The Early Edition. It was about last minute DIY Xmas crafts. It was a blast! The next morning I was thinking about it and realized being on the CBC talking about my crafty, upcycling passion was on my bucket list without me realizing it. And I got to cross it off! So kewl when things just happen out of the blue and you realize just how big a deal it was to you. Those experiences are the things that fill me with wonder. You live life, you do what you do then bam! You’re on the CBC talking about it. Or making DIY ornaments on go! West Coast. That’s darn yummy icing on an already delicious cake!

Who are three wonderful people you think we need to know about. Why are they wonderful? 

My parents are pretty darn lovely. They’re fun, supportive and always there for me. I have craft dates with Dad (we’ve rewired so many thrift store lamps it’s not funny!), baking dates with Mom. Dad also lets me film insightful videos of him - he’s Irish & has tons of personality! He’s given dating advice which was hilarious since he’s been married for 45+ years.

My boyfriend Roly is the happiest, most joyful person I have ever met. He always sees possibility. He’s fun, gregarious & always talks to strangers. It took me a long time to find a partner like him. I’m in awe of how he came into my life when I least expected & was everything I could ever hope for in a partner. Funny how you get what you want but not in the way or the time you expect. And ya just gotta go for it!

My BFFs. There are two many to mention but I have friends from 20+ years ago up to friends from the past few years that just are da bomb. As I get older I tend to avoid the ‘but’ people and surround myself with likeminded souls. The ‘but’ people are the ones you tell your dreams to and they say ‘you could do that but…’ whereas these days I have BFFs that cheer me on & help move me forward. And vice versa. 


Thank you so much Denise! You can find her wonderful self and her work online at her website Facebook, TwitterInstagram and Pinterest. Want more wonderful? Check out the other interviews in the series here

Have a wonderful day!