[Behind the Scenes] IndieBerries

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[Image credit: ©Jo Crawford Photography]

Hey folks – how y’all doing today? (sorry I had to do that while I’m out here in Memphis!) I hope you’re all doing just fine this week and not too bogged down with work etc. We are now into our second week of our Big American Road trip which has been a real blast so far and I’m already quite tempted to move out here….particularly in Memphis.

Anywaaaaaaaay….I’m excited to share with you this month’s ‘Behind the Scenes’ featured designer who is none other than the fun and quirky South-African, Ché of IndieBerries! I first met Ché on the ‘Photohunt‘ event last year, which she co-runs with fellow creatives LuLu and Bobbie. It’s a fantastic fun bloggers-networking, scavenger hunt, team-building kind of affair where its all revolved around photography. I had so much fun the first time that it didn’t take me long to sign up to their next one earlier this year (still havent put those photos up on here – woops!) Anyhoo, this girl is super cool, witty, insanely creative and entrepreneurial…..and if you don’t already stalk her on IG, you’ll find she’s a complete yoga enthusiast too. But it’s the creative side I love the most, particularly her cartoons you find all over her blog and of course the greeting cards she makes out of them too. So without further adieu, let me introduce you to this girl….and you can then go check her out!!

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1. Tell us a little about yourself. Have you always wanted to be a illustrator/designer?

I’m Ché from South Africa – I’ve been living in London for just over a year! I have always loved drawing and doodling and as far back as I can remember I’ve always carried around pencils and notebooks to jot down ideas and draw wild cartoons.

2. How did you come about setting up indieBerries? What is the story behind your business and the name? I started blogging when I was teaching English in South Korea 3 years ago, as a creative outlet. My most popular and eagerly shared posts are the cartoon posts I illustrate – so it seemed the next logical step to offer a product line that incorporates the illustrations that people have come to love. I picked the name indieBerries because I wanted something fun, fresh and randomly quirky!

3. What five words best describe you and your style of work? quirky, creative, funny, random, unique.

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4. I absolutely love your style of work especially the cartoons you have on your blog – it’s just so insanely hilarious and quirky, I don’t ever recall NOT chuckling at them (in a good way that is!) So, what’s the main source of inspiration behind your work? Did this style of work come naturally or did you feel you needed a niche of some kind? Doodling has always been a natural thing for me – I love telling stories in this form, because (although it takes me way longer to draw one frame than to write one sentence) there is something that you can convey with images than you can’t in words. I take inspiration from the daily life happenings around me. Warren, the husband – is a great muse!

5. How would you describe your design process and/or technique used, and what part of it do you like the most? I have a very carefree approach to illustrating! I use my Wacom tablet to draw straight into photoshop and edit as I go along. My favourite part is adding colour and shading to images – because it really makes them come alive! Of course, my absolute favourite is seeing the reaction of people who I share the finished products with!

 

6. How long would it normally take to create your final product; from inception to completion? It depends entirely on what it is I’m working on. For a greeting card, if I get a good idea I can usually mock one up in a hour or two. For bespoke illustrated posters of couples it can be anything from three to five hours. I have a book project that I’m working on – which is literally taking me years!

7. Is there any craft/art medium that you haven’t tried but want to? If so, do tell us why? Ooooh, there are SO many craft things I would love to get more involved with – especially wearable accessories – so sewing, jewelry making – things like that! I love making things with my hands!

8. As an illustrator, would you say it’s been difficult breaking through into what is a booming and competitive creative industry? If so, what are the kind of challenges you face/d? So tough! Especially moving from South Africa to London which is a place that is already really saturated with amazing creative individuals. It’s been difficult in the beginning to build up a network here – but I feel like I’m slowly getting there!

 MbM_indieBerries_09[Image credit: ©Jo Crawford Photography]

9. What would be your ‘top three tips’ for like-minded individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this creative field or want to switch career paths but are afraid to do so?

  • JUST DO IT.
  • SERIOUSLY, stop waiting for everything to be perfect, JUST DO IT.
  • Refer to point 1.

10. What would you say is the best part part of your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business or something you run on the side? The best part of my business is that I get to create the things I love. I live to create and I wouldn’t be “ME” without it. I love that I am building my own brand, my own company, being my own boss. It is a full time business more like 8am – 11pm (and then also in many insomniac hours).

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11. Of your current range of work, what ‘piece’ or ‘collection’ would you pick out as your favourite? I love my little Love Vouchers and the “If this was the Eighties, I’d make you a mix tape” card! My wedding guestbooks are also always SO much fun for me to create because I LOVE being part of a couple’s story as they prepare for one of the most incredible days of their lives!

12. When you’re not in a design mode, what else do you enjoy doing – any other hobbies or past time favourites? I’m basically in design mode ALL the time! Otherwise I have started yoga recently and am absolutely LOVING it! I also love playing around with anything hands-on-crafty: crocheting, art journaling, gift wrapping etc. You will NOT find me in the kitchen.

13. What are your favourite bedside book/s or blog/s at the moment? I’m currently reading The Touch which Lulu (from Berrydiaries) lent me and I’m really enjoying it! She has also lent me The One Thing – a motivational type book and I’ve found it so good!

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14. Name three things you just could not live without? Warren, pen + paper, Washi tape.

15. Are there any illustrators, artists, designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or you think are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who?I love the work and style of Edward Monkton for it’s random quirkiness. I also love Emily McDowell’s typography and her take on everyday life things. Harold’s Planet is also one I look out for – just because it’s so cute!

16. And finally, what do you have in store for indieBerries this year? Are there any events we should take note of too? I would like to have my first draft of my “datebook” ready for print by the end of the year. It’s the first time I’ve tackled a project so big – so holding thumbs! I would like to have my card range stocked in a few more shops in the UK. I have also been asked to be a guest speaker at The Ruby Orchard Workshop in South Africa in October.

Wowzer – this girl! So much energy and vision. Thanks a million Ché for agreeing to let me interview and feature you on Made by Molu. I’m pretty certain you have an amazing future ahead of you and I wish you all the best for it!

And for all you lovely readers and followers, Ché is kindly offering a 20% discount off all orders you make on her Etsy shop but it is ONLY live for three days as it ends on the 3rd of July! So, what are you waiting for then??? Hop on over and grab yourselves some awesome stuff!! Add the discount code  madebymolu at checkout!!

Enjoy! x x x

 

 

[All Image credit: ©indieBerries, unless otherwise indicated]

[Behind the Scenes] Louise Wright Illustrations

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‘Afternoon folks! I hope you’re having a lovely start to the week.

Well, I’m delighted to start my comeback series of posts for this month with my ‘Behind the Scenes‘ interviews and this month we have the lovely illustrator Louise Wright; the amazing talent behind all the super cute animal-inspired illustrations you will find on anything from tea towels to mugs. I first stumbled across Louise’s work (as well as meet the lovely lady herself who I chatted to for a while intrigued about the story behind that print!) at the Crafty Fox Autumn markets last year in Brixton….as you can see from that link, I did also fall in love with her ‘Elephant and Penguin’ print which now takes pride on my little gallery wall in our bedroom. There’s a sense of warmth and innocence in her work that almost makes you go back to those nostalgic happy childhood days…..I’m not exactly sure how best to describe it but all I know is it puts a huge smile on my face every time I look at her print hanging on my wall. It makes me feel warm, fuzzy and happy! :)

Anyway, without further adieu, let me introduce you to this delightful Derbyshire-based illustrator who has been such a pleasure to interview! Here’s what she has to say….

 

[1] Hi Louise, tell us a little about yourself. Have you always wanted to be an illustrator/designer? Hello, I’m a freelance illustrator based in Derby. I didn’t always want to be an illustrator, when I was younger I wanted to be a writer, but as time went on I became less and less academic and much more drawn to the art side of learning. I still very much would love to write for children but something in my brain has switched onto drawing only at the moment and the stories don’t flow as easily, so I’m not forcing it, it’ll come back on its own :)

[2] How did you come about setting up Louise Wright Design? What is the story behind your business? Well, after graduating university with a first class honors in illustration I came out into the world full of hope, which was quickly crushed. After lots of rejections I found myself in an office job crying at lunchtime because I was so unhappy and I pretty much stopped drawing altogether…I gave myself a bit of a kick up the bum eventually and joined a local studio to do some screen printing; no pressure, just a little bit of fun, and a way to get messy and interact with other arty folks again. This turned out to be a step in the right direction and I began to enjoy my artwork again and got excited about printing onto various surfaces – tea towels and tote bags. People at the studio began to take an interest and started asking if they could buy them from me! From there I’ve spent a lot of time building my business and my brand, I started out selling at small craft fairs, and supplying shops on a Sale or Return basis after getting a grant from Prince’s Trust.  It hasn’t been easy but it’s been an incredible journey so far.

MbM_LOUISE-WRIGHT_1 [Image credit: ©Holly Booth Photography]

[3] What five words best describe you and your style of work? Quirky, fun, busy, cute, foxy!

[4] The ‘elephant and penguin’ print I bought off you at the Crafty Fox autumn markets last year is still one of my favourites. What’s the main source of inspiration behind your work?  Ah I’m so glad to hear!! :) When I’m working on pieces like that I like to create a narrative in my head, and often I don’t share this with customers because everyone interprets them in different ways and I think it’s so beautiful that something I created can bring so much imagination and joy to people. I love animals and being outdoors, and I find that heavily comes through into my work. I basically draw things that make me happy and hope they make other people happy to :)

MbM_LOUISE-WRIGHT_quote_[5] How would you describe your design process and/or technique used, and what part of it do you like the most? My process has changed SO MUCH over just the last year, I now work much more digitally and although I create the sketches by hand I do lots of the work from there in Photoshop, there is nothing more pleasing then getting my paints out and making a mess though!!!

[6] How long would it normally take to create your final product; from inception to completion? It varies, sometimes it can take me days to get an idea to surface and then I’ll faff around with it and we might not see a product for months. That being said, for the spring fair,  I designed 5 mugs and got them printed up super quick…..I think we had about a week and a half from start to finish on those!

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 [Image credit: ©Holly Booth Photography]

[7] Is there any craft/art medium that you haven’t tried but want to? If so, do tell us why?There are loads! I would love to be better at sewing and try to sew some of my own clothes! I could then just pick out amazing fabrics and it would be so much fun stitching it all up into all kinds of clothes. And  I’d look amazing all the time….right? ;)

[8] As a designer-maker, would you say it’s been difficult breaking through into what is a booming and competitive creative industry? If so, what are the kind of challenges you face/d?This is a tough one, I think what I’ve found harder and much more prominent was starting my business in the recession. People haven’t had the money to splurge on treats so I figure if I can do okay through that what harm is a little healthy competition?

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[9] What would be your ‘top three tips’ for like-minded individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this creative field or want to switch career paths but afraid to do so? hmm, I guess first of all….

  • totally check and see if you can get any help from the Prince’s Trust, they are absolutely fab and can help you hit the ground running with your business.
  • Don’t listen to that little voice in your head screaming ‘ butttt it’s not ready yet!!’ and miss out on opportunities, bite the bullet and just go with what you have, because you can work on something forever and still feel like it’s not ready yet!
  • Start small and grow naturally. Only do what you are comfortable with – you are in charge now, and if you don’t feel happy about something you don’t have to do it :)

[10] What would you say is the best part of your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business or something you run on the side? The best part of my business is the fact that I get to work on things that I want to work on; if I want to draw a fox, then gosh darn it, I’ll draw a fox! I can take lunch whenever I want, and I can plan things the way that I want too, which is really amazing! My business is full-time now. I wish I could say it were 9-5 but really it’s much more like 24/7 as there are things I don’t do out of office hours but I really do work my bum off for my business. Part of my new years resolutions this year was to take more short breaks during the year so I don’t burn out – which I’m pleased to say I am doing.

MbM_LOUISE-WRIGHT_5MbM_LOUISE-WRIGHT_10  [Image credit: ©Holly Booth Photography]

[11] Of your current range of work, what ‘piece’ or ‘collection’ would you pick out as your favourite? Ohh, this is hard!! I REALLY like my octopus mug, he makes me so happy, I’ve been doodling this octopus for years so it’s nice to finally have him alive and on a product!

[12] When you’re not in a design mode, what else do you enjoy doing – any other hobbies or past time favourites? Hehe, well I love playing video games, reading and getting myself outside into the countryside somewhere where there are no other people around for miles! And nothing gets better than meeting friends for a good natter over some cake (and wine!)

[13] What are your favorite bedside book/s or blog/s at the moment? I’m loving reading Moyo Magazine on my tablet while I’m in bed, but that doesn’t replace a real book! II thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ by John Green recently, so much so that I’m working my way through his other books now….so yea, I’m currently reading the fabulous ‘Paper Towns’.

[14] Name three things you just could not live without? Tea, music, cake!

MbM_LOUISE-WRIGHT_4 [Image credit: ©Holly Booth Photography]

[15] Are there any illustrators, artists, designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or you think are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? Oh so many! I love the work of Holly Betton who runs ‘Death By Tea‘ – I have quite a few of her mugs already and they are my favorites….. plus she is lovely too! I’ve also been having an attack from the brilliance of Emma Yarlett’s illustrations for picture books, I had to buy all the ones she had done…obviously.

[16] And finally, what do you have in store for Louise Wright Design this year? Are there any events we should take note of too? Well I’ve done my first two trade fairs early on the year (Spring Fair & BCTF) so they were my biggies really. From here on in I’ll be at local events around the Derbyshire area which you can keep up with via my Events page on my website :) I do have loads of other things I want to achieve this year; new products up my sleeve and developing my illustration work further being the big two. This year is just going by so fast!! So, the best thing is to stay tuned via my Facebook page or Twitter for all the latest news and gossip!

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Got to love that last quote!

Okay, so now do you feel that warm, fuzzy and happy feeling I’m talking about?? I mean, aren’t they simply the cutest little drawings? :)

Well, if you like her work just as much as I do……then here’s a treat I have in store for you! I’m sooooooooooooooo excited to tell you that Louise and I have decided to offer, exclusively to all you lovely readers/followers, 20% off ANY of her work that you find on her Etsy store.To redeem your discount, simple enter MADEBYMOLU at checkout where it says ‘Apply shop coupon code‘ and then proceed with the next stage.

This special offer is only valid for the month (ends 30th of June) so if you’d like to treat yourself then now is your chance to get your paws on any of her goodies!!

Thank you, once again, Louise for giving me a huge chunk out of your busy time to share with us your story and for the amazing offer to all my readers. There’s been some really inspiring and insightful things for us all to take note of and I know we’ll all be looking forward to seeing all the wonderful new creations you have coming up! Good luck and all the very best, lovely!

Have a wonderful and fun month of June, folks!! xxx

[Behind the Scenes]: Meet Pauline of BENU Jewellery

MBM_PAULINE-BENU_MainHey hey hey! How’s it going folks? I’m sorry I’ve been quiet all week last week but I’m back with a bang with this month’s ‘Behind the Scenes’ Interview. I’m really REALLY pleased to introduce to you this talented lady and her awesome work. Pauline Hagan, a London-based designer, is the face behind BENU who creates these funky, electric and colourful leather jewellery. I first came across her geometric necklaces at the We Make London pop-up shop last summer and it was only later that year was I finally able to put a face to these amazing designs when I was introduced to Pauline by both Viktorija and Sabine at one of our rendezvous over sushi, bento boxes and plum wine! ;) It’s comes as no surprise to you all at how much I LOVE my statement necklaces particularly with a soft spot for leather and geometry, so her jewellery are right up my street……and her strikingly beautiful pieces are all designed, hand cut and put together by Pauline herself! Anyway, I shall quit rambling and let you in on the interview I had with Pauline so that you get to see how fabulous she is yourself!

  1. Tell us a little about yourself, and what made you decide into wanting to become a designer? I’m Pauline, I’m half French, half British and currently living in London. I started designing leather jewellery about two years ago, when I realised that my day job wasn’t exciting or creative enough. I knew I wanted to start a project of my own – so began experimenting with different crafts, materials and techniques
  2. How did you come about setting up? What made you take up jewellery making, specialising in leather jewellery and accessories? And is there a story behind the name? I happened to spot a few leather jewellery tutorials online and came across a market trader selling beautiful, thick leather offcuts in all possible colours (including a lovely gold with a perfect shine). I brought a bag full of offcuts home and it all stems from there. Leather is very easy to manipulate and perfect for those who are particularly impatient – a little idea can go a long way and is easy and quick to materialise.The name BENU is a product of my other half’s imagination. He’s from Prague, and Czechs are renowned for coming up with diminutives and little nicknames for their family and friends. It won’t mean much to the outside world, but it’s short, simple and, hopefully, memorable!MBM_PAULINE-BENU_11
  3. What five words best describe you and your style of work? Eye-catching, fun, bright, creative, colourful.
  4. It was your geometric bib necklace in blue and gold that first caught my eye at the We Make London Pop Up Boutique. In fact, I absolutely love your geometric range (I cannot wait to purchase!) What’s the main source of inspiration behind your work? Thanks for your kind words! I find my inspiration all over the place – the colour of a flower or the shape of a building might spark an idea. I try to observe and inspect what surrounds me and think about what I can repurpose, how I can recycle an idea – could I use the way bricks slot together as a pattern? Could I cut petals out of leather? The ideas come to me when I’m walking around, just about to go to sleep, when I’m at work or whilst I’m in the midst of creating another piece of jewellery. 885699_476343669081930_1517067540_o
  5. How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? It’s difficult for me to imagine a finished necklace or pair of earrings, so I’ll start with a focus, something that’s inspired me and will then take it from there. It could be a particular shape (triangles for example), two colours that marry well (gold & electric blue) or a particular material or shape (yarn or embroidery thread). I do a lot of experimenting and embark on a mini creative journey – the results of which usually pleasantly surprise me! The part I enjoy the most is the satisfaction, once I’ve finished the journey, of having a finished piece – and seeing how I can develop it further. For example this multicoloured petals necklace lead me to create this tiny pink petals necklace and this colourful drops necklace. One little idea can go a long way!
  6. How long would it normally take to create your final product; from inception to completion? It would really depend on the piece. At times the process can be very fast, if I’m particularly excited about an idea of have something quite specific in mind – a couple of hours perhaps. Sometimes ideas take a lot longer to evolve and I’ll work on them for hours or days. Although I have noticed that the longer I spend on a piece, the less likely I am to be happy with it. In terms of actually making a necklace or pair of earrings once they’ve already been designed, it’ll usually take me 1-2 hours. MBM_PAULINE-BENU_4 MBM_PAULINE-BENU_3 MBM_PAULINE-BENU_2
  7. Is there any craft/art medium that you haven’t tried but want to? And why? One of my resolutions this year is to try out new crafts, techniques and mediums – you never really know what you’re capable of so I think it’s always important to continue digging and exploring. If there’s a craft out that’s going to make me happy (and they usually do!), I want to discover it! I’ve started calligraphy and have been experimenting with watercolours – which has been very exciting and has pushed me to think out of the box. Next on the list are testing watery silk paints, painting on glass, screen-printing and linocut.
  8. As a designer-maker, would you say it’s been difficult breaking through into what is a booming and competitive creative industry? If so, what are the kind of challenges you face/d? It can’t say I found it difficult to break into the creative industry, but I think the toughest part was the build up to the launch of BENU (Etsy shop and social media) – and not knowing what the response might be. When you’ve been preparing something for so long and have no clue how it’s likely to be received, it can be worrying. However it was all a lot easier than I’d anticipated. Hard work really pays off and shines through – and I got so much support at the beginning from family and friends, which gave me a wonderful boost. The craft community is also extremely friendly and supportive and it really helps to bump into people who are going through similar experiences and challenges.
  9. What would be your ‘top three tips‘ for like-minded individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this creative field or want to switch career paths but afraid to do so? Firstly, if you haven’t yet found your ‘niche’, experiment. Get inspiration via Pinterest, craft blogs and tutorials, and give it a shot. In my case, I very rarely get a light bulb moment, it’s always a process I go through, starting with just one focus point (technique, material, colour, shape). The best bit is that it can go so many ways – you never know where your creativity will take you. Secondly, just go for it. It’s all tremendously daunting but try to bounce your ideas off friends/ family, build up your confidence and determination and get it out there.You won’t regret it! Lastly, do a lot of research and always keep an eye on other successful creatives and designers: how they’re making their products, how they’re photographing them, expanding their range of products, through what mediums or channels they’re selling them, how they’re doing their own marketing, etc.
  10. MBM_PAULINE-BENU_6MBM_PAULINE-BENU_5MBM_PAULINE-BENU_8MBM_PAULINE-BENU_9What would you say is the best part of your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business or something you run on the side?I work full-time in a design agency as a project manager and run BENU on the side, in my spare time. The very best bit of it is the sheer personal satisfaction you get out of it – it’s my own little project, I make all the decisions, I can take it wherever I want to take it, and it makes me very excited about the future. The other side of it is the lovely feedback I get from my customers. 
  11. Of your current range of work, what ‘piece’ or ‘collection’ would you pick out as your favourite? I think that my favourite pieces will always be the first set I designed, with the very first gold & electric blue leather offcuts I bought – this necklace, this other necklace and these earrings. These designs are what triggered everything else.
  12. When you’re not in a design mode, what else do you enjoy doing – any other hobbies or past time favourites? When I’m not designing jewellery I love experimenting with other crafts and techniques. Other than that, I love the theatre and music, and am planning to get back to my guitar & singing (which I left to one side to get all dusty & rusty whilst I concentrated on my jewellery!). MBM_PAULINE-BENU_cover
  13. What are your favourite bedside book/s or blog/s at the moment? I always have a few books on the go at the one time, which is frustrating but I can’t seem to discipline myself – Catch 22 (Joseph Heller) and If nobody speaks of remarkable things (Jon McGregor) at the moment. My favourite blogs are designlovefest and A Pair and a Spare, both run by incredibly creative, crafty and business-minded women. I get a lot of inspiration from both.
  14. Name three things you just could not live without? Definitely the people in my life, the place(s) I call home & all of my craft supplies and materials.  MBM_PAULINE-BENU_quote_2WEB
  15. Are there any illustrators, artists, designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or you think are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? As always – the lovely Viktorija from And Smile and Sabine from S-Gerth Design – who are both so creative, determined and brilliant at what they do. A few other creatives I admire: Jonna Saarinen, Floti, DDSLL, SketchInc, leahgoren, Butterscotch Beesting, An Astrid Endeavor, amongst many others!
  16. And finally, what do you have in store for BENU this year? Are there any events we should take note of too? Last year was very intense as I’d decided to try out as many things as possible – online selling, markets, new stockists, cooperating with bloggers, etc. As fun as it was, it was a little too stressful with a busy full-time job to go to as well. I’ve decided this year that I’ll focus on the made to order side of things (online selling) as well as exploring and designing new pieces (hopefully in a more organised and collection-based way than previously). That means no events or markets this year (yet!) but stay tuned for some exciting new designs! MBM_PAULINE-BENU_13MBM_PAULINE-BENU_packaging

Thank you ever so much Pauline for taking the time out to be interviewed and for the amazing photos you provided too! I’m sure all my readers will now see what all the rage is about and agree with me when I say that I can’t wait to see what else is in store for BENU. But firstly, I must get round to treating myself to one of your necklaces soon! :D All the best and I look forward to catching up real soon…..hopefully sushi and plum wine again! ;)

So there you have it folks……if you’d like to follow all of Pauline’s beautiful creations, you can find her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram….and of course, if you’re looking to purchase any of her pieces you can find them on her Etsy store. Happy window shopping!!! :D xx

 

[Image credit: ©Benu Jewellery]

[Behind the Scenes]: Meet Charlotte Bezzant

Charlotte-Bezzant_01-WebWell folks, this is the first of my ‘Behind the Scenes’ series of interviews for 2014 and I’m delighted to be kicking it off with London-based jewellery designer, Charlotte Bezzant. I honestly can’t recall how and when exactly I stumbled upon Charlotte’s work but I do know it was her Polar bear collar clip/brooch that I spotted early last year that got me following her on twitter and swooning over her stunning pieces of jeweller (those rings are to die for!). After graduating in fashion, Charlotte moved on to work with silver and semi-precious stones – first as a hobby, before taking it on as a full-time profession. There’s real honesty in her work and the attention to detail in her design process only further highlights the beauty in her craftsmanship. She often seeks inspiration from nature, her everyday surroundings and her travels; the most popular of them being her ‘Artic’ collection after her trip out there! What I admire most about Charlotte (and like many of the designers I’ve featured on MbM) is the ability to turn her passion into a viable business especially after a long stint in a non-creative and stifling industry….which only goes to show that if you believe in yourself and have courage, you can make anything work. It’s not an easy thing to do so which is why I find people like Charlotte, truly inspiring. So it’s been a pleasure interviewing her and here’s what she had to say!

  1. Tell us a little about yourself and what made you decide into wanting to become a designer? My name is Charlotte, and I am the designer and maker for my own little jewellery business Charlotte Bezzant Jewellery. My dad is an architect and my mum studied three-dimensional design, so creativity is in my blood and I always knew I would follow a creative path. When I left school, I studied for a degree in Fashion. I had no plans to be a jewellery designer.
  2. How did you come about setting up Charlotte Bezzant Jewellery? What made you decide on taking up jewellery making, specialising in silver jewellery?  When I graduated, I was offered a non creative job in the fashion industry, so I started going to an evening class in jewellery making, just for fun. I did courses on and off for years. When I had my second child, I started going one morning a week, and had a very talented silversmith as my tutor. It was her encouragement that started me selling my work.
  3. What five words best describe you and your style of work? That’s tricky. I think… Simple, pretty and occasionally covetable? Does that count as five – lol.
  4. I think it was your polar bear collar clip from the ‘Arctic animals’ collection that first caught my eye. What’s the main source of inspiration behind your work? I was really lucky to go on an amazing trip to the Arctic to see the Northern lights. The scenery, the whiteness, the sparking snow and ice, had a deep impact on me. (Although I didn’t see any polar bears!)  Other than that I get inspired by all sorts of things. I sometimes worry that I have varying sources of inspiration, and my work might not look cohesive, but I only design things which I love, and it all seems to hang together somehow.
  5. Charlotte-Bezzant_04-WebCharlotte-Bezzant_05-WebCharlotte-Bezzant_07-WebHow would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? I have a sketchbook, that I draw and write in. I might stick in pictures that inspire me. Sometimes I might not come back to an idea for months, but if it’s made it into the book, it will more often than not end up as a piece of jewellery one day. I also like to cast found items in solid silver. I have been an avid collector of all sorts of tiny things for years, so I think it’s an extension of that. I love the idea of immortalising something like a little shell or button in silver, so it becomes so precious.
  6. How long would it normally take to create your final product; from inception to completion? Sometimes months(!) but the process could be very quick. It just depends how inspired I am. I find it tricky when I am commissioned to make something that is not quite me, and can get a bit of artistic block. I plan to solve that one going forward, by only taking on things that feel just right.
  7. Is there any craft/art medium that you haven’t tried but want to? And why? I think like most makers, I love to try all different mediums, so there is not much that I haven’t had a play with, from crocheting to stone carving. One thing I haven’t tried is blacksmithing, but I have been seriously tempted to take a course. 
  8. As a designer-maker, would you say it’s been difficult breaking through into what is a booming and competitive creative industry? If so, what are the kind of challenges you face/d? I think I have been immensely lucky, as I don’t feel it has been hard, but I feel I am only on the bottom rung of the ladder and there is a long way up left to go.
  9. What would be your ‘top three tips’ for like-minded individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this creative field or want to switch career paths but afraid to do so? 1) If you wait until you’re ready, you could be waiting the rest of your life. 2) Nothing ventured nothing gained. 3) What’s the worst that can happen? Charlotte-Bezzant_14-Web
  10. What would you say is the best part part of your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business or something you run on the side? Apart from bringing up two boys, it is my only job. It is full-time, but I fit it around school hours and school holidays. I love designing and making, so it makes me very happy. I’m often answering queries, or writing my blog into the small hours, but because I love it, it does not feel like work.
  11. Of your current range of work, what ‘piece’ or ‘collection’ would you pick out as your favourite? I think it would probably be my Arctic Twig bangle, as it takes me right back to picking the twig in the Arctic Circle at minus 28 degrees. Brrrrrr.Charlotte-Bezzant_06-WebCharlotte-Bezzant_03-WebCharlotte-Bezzant_02-Web
  12. When you’re not in a design mode, what else do you enjoy doing – any other hobbies or past time favourites? I love the great outdoors in any form, I have a veg plot and chickens that keep me busy in the garden, and boys that keep me busy the rest of the time. I run and have a few marathons under my belt. Oh, and I love a good rummage at a car boot sale!
  13. What are your favourite bedside book/s or blog/s at the moment? I love checking in to blog Attic24. It is the absolute opposite of my working day. It’s full of colour and green hills, plus intermittent cakes. Lucy’s style is relaxed and laid back, and I find it a very easy read with lots of lovely pictures.
  14. Name three things you just could not live without? My boys, my parents, food. Charlotte-Bezzant_Quote-Web
  15. Are there any illustrators, artists, designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or you think are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? I’m in love with Ruth Tomlinson’s jewellery, and if you asked me to swap my business with anyone else’s that would be the one. Her rings are utterly gorgeous. When I saw them in the flesh they were smaller and more delicate than I had imagined from the photos. Perhaps I better start saving up?
  16. And finally, what do you have in store for Charlotte Bezzant Jewellery this year? Are there any events we should take note of too? I haven’t made too many plans for the year ahead, applications for shows later in the year are only just going in, but I have been thinking of enlisting a graphic designer to help me with my branding. I also built my website myself, and I keep thinking it could do with looking a tad more professional. One step I have taken is to enrol on a course to improve my photography, and i would love to learn some new specialist stone setting skills this year. There’s always something to do. I’m looking forward to some new designs emerging, and generally I’m hoping for more steady growth this year. There is only one of me, and I don’t want to find that I am compromising on quality and personal service by expanding too fast, those last two things are very, very important to me.

Well there you have it folks. Aren’t her pieces stunning? That Aquamarine ring is probably going to have to go on my wish list too! Anyway, I just want to thank Charlotte for taking the time out to share her story with us on here, which I’m sure you’ll agree is truly inspirational, especially juggling work and family life. If you’d like to follow more of her work, you can find Charlotte on Facebook, Twitter, Etsy and on her blog. And she’s available for private commissions so drop her a line if you’re looking for something truly unique and special!! Perhaps, a ‘something blue’ for a wedding? Or a gift for a special milestone? ;)

Thanks again and remember to stay inspired! xx

[Image Credit: ©Charlotte Bezzant]

[Behind the scenes] And Interview with S-Gerth Designs

S-Gerth-Designs_Web-01I have been really fortunate to have cross paths with some amazingly talented people within the creative community in London this year, and many (if not all!) of whom I find are genuinely wonderful and really inspiring! So, on that note, I’m delighted to introduce you to this month’s featured designer and small business, the lovely Sabine of S¯Gerth Designs! I first met Sabine, through Viktorija (of And Smile), at the Crafty Fox talks held at the Collective Hub in Camden back in August and within minutes of chatting, I learnt that she was the creative genius behind the beautiful handmade leather coin purse I had been drooling over since spotting Viktorija with it earlier in the year! Like the rest of her products, what I love about this purse, is the sheer simplicity in its design – driven by clean lines and geometry – and the way in which it is beautifully and cleverly constructed….oh and that hint of colour along the edges…..a reflection of quality craftsmanship, really! What I also find appealing about her high quality leather products is that they are all made from off cuts, sourced from suppliers in London, that would normally have gone to waste – an ecological approach to design making each piece even more unique! Fabulous, isn’t it? She’s definitely one to look out for!! Well, I shall quit rambling on and let you read my recent interview with Sabine on the story behind her business:

Hello Sabine! Tell us a little about yourself and what made you decide into wanting to become a designer? I was born in Hamburg / Germany. My school career wasn’t extremely successful but I always loved making things. So after my Abitur (equivalent to A-Levels) I went on to study Communications Design with a focus on Graphic & Typography, but once completing my degree in that I decided to follow my dream in Fashion and did a Masters Degree in Fashion Design in Berlin. After graduating, I did a few internships and worked as an Accessories Designer for 3.5 years.

How did you come about setting up S¯Gerth? And what determined the brand name and range? To have my own label just happened, I never really planned it. But I guess it started with a bit of a shock as my dad died 2.5 years ago and I had to go to Germany quit a bit to sort everything out, which eventually made me take a year off from everything. When I finally got back to London I needed a creative project so my partner and I came up with a gallery project which we held in the bin shed that was in front of our flat and called it “limited space”. As most of it was Darren’s work, I felt the need to create something of my own work to showcase so started making a little range of things like few croched necklaces and small leather coin purses to put on display. I got really good feedback and took this as a push to open an Etsy shop and sell at a few markets. The name is obviously my own family name and Initial.

What five words best describe you and your style of work? Simplicity, practicality, colourplay, accentuated, geometric

S-Gerth-Designs_Web-04I absolutely LOVE your products since I first set eyes on your leather coin purse with the pink edges! What’s the main source of inspiration behind your work? What made you decide in making these lush leather products? I take inspiration from everything I see; I especially love vintage things and all sorts of graphics. For instance, the coin purse you so kindly praised (Thank you!) is based on origami folding and an old purse I once saw! Once you are able to develop the idea, the more and more ideas pop up and you end up with a range of products!

How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? Normally I scribble ideas down on little scraps of paper (unfortunately these get everywhere – should be a bit more German and organize them better, ha-ha!). I revisit the ones that I still like, after looking at them a few times will develop into a pattern and a toile and then change and change until I am happy with it! The nicest thing of the whole process is to hold a finished product in your hands and then, of course, the very nice comments and reactions from my customers!

How long would it normally take to create your final product; from inception to completion? Oh that is very difficult to say as it completely differs each time…can take a day, a week or moths to develop, some ideas get lost!S-Gerth-Designs_Web-02 S-Gerth-Designs_Web-03S-Gerth-Designs_Web-07

Is there any craft/art medium that you haven’t tried but want to? And why? There are hundreds of things I like to try, but there is a knitting machine waiting for me at my partner’s Dad’s place for when we might have a little more space…..I get absolutely excited at the thought of trying it out someday!

Would you say it’s been difficult breaking through into what is a booming and competitive creative industry? If so, what are the kind of challenges you have faced? Yes, it is quite difficult – I don’t think I have had a full break-through yet myself, but it is very rewarding so far. Surviving the first year was a big challenge, but I did it and feel a bit more confident now. Promoting my work and approaching new shops is always a bit daunting, but once you have done it you feel great about it!

What would be your ‘top three tips’ for like-minded individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this creative field? Not sure I am the right person to ask for advice as I am still in baby shoes myself, but what I can say based on my experience so far, is that being persistent and positive about what you are doing, as well as being open towards any opportunity, helps a lot! S-Gerth-Designs_Web-05

What would you say is the best part part of your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business or something you run on the side? The best part is being my own boss and making my own schedule, so I can decide myself when to take an hour off or even a day. It is my full time profession since a bit more than 1 year. It is difficult to stop working, so it is very rarely a 9-5 job! Very often I work quite late in the evening, but the workload varies, really. With Christmas round the corner, it gets quite crazy but I like that though.

S-Gerth-Designs_Web-08Of your current range of work, what ‘piece’ or ‘collection’ would you pick out as your favourite? I use almost all of my products and obviously like them all, but I recently picked out a new wallet in black with teal edges and love it to bits!

When you’re not in a design mode, what else do you enjoy doing – any other hobbies or past time favourites? One of my favorite things is going to car boot sales and charity shops. I am a passionate bargain hunter, if I may say so myself! ;) Otherwise I do love cycling. If find it the most convenient transport around London but that may depend on the distance though as I have an old bike with no gears!! Oh and before this became my full time job, I had started learning tap dance, which was brilliant! Right now, it’s hard to find the time and the money for that but so hope to get back into it again soon!

S-Gerth-Designs_Web-QUOTEWhat are your favourite bedside book/s or blog/s at the moment? First and foremost I wish I would read more, as I really enjoy it but these days, I’m not sure where the time disappears to!! I love Margaret Atwoods books; my two favourite ones are ‘Oryx and Crake’ and ‘The Year of the Flood’ – the last one of this trilogy just came out which is on my Christmas wish list so hopefully it will end up on my bedside table!

Name three things you just could not live without? I believe I could live without most things but the tree things that make my life much better are: my bike, chocolate and kissing ;)

Are there any illustrators, artists, designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or you think are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? Oh, I met and know a lot of very talented people; a lot of them are friends from the markets, so now I have to pick a few? Well, there is the lovely Viktorija from And Smile, Helen from Mr.Peebles, Jonty and Sascha from Hampsonwoods and Jane Sarre but I could list so many more!!

S-Gerth-Designs_Web-06What would we expect from S¯Gerth in the future? You have been busy with a few craft fairs recently like Broadway Market, Thames Festival and Crafty Fox…..are there any more this year, that we should know of? I hope that S¯Gerth will grow to produce a wider range of items. I am planning to make a few bigger bags in addition to the small accessories and extending the unisex and mens range. If you would like to visit me, I have a stall at the Broadway Market in Hackney every Saturday. Also, for this winter season, I will be showcasing at the Dalston Christmas market on the 1st of December and the Crafty fox on the 8th of December. And in addition to that…..(biggest and most exciting news) I will also be participating in the Handmade in Britain Christmas Arcade at Somerset house, starting from mid November! So hopefully see you at one or more of these events!

Wowee – that is one busy lady! Aren’t her products amazing? (I totally forgot to mention my other favourite piece; the nifty little key holder!!) Anyway, a big THANK YOU to Sabine for taking the time out to share your story and for providing all the fabulous photos – I think it’s wonderful for folk to see how much heart, soul, effort and hard graft goes into each and every bespoke product that is beautifully made! Good luck with all your future endeavours but I think you have a very promising future, If I may say so myself! :) So folks, please do check out her lovely Etsy shop for a more handmade leather accessories….and if you’re based in London (or visiting this season) then I cannot recommend highly enough to drop by at any of those aforementioned markets and events, even to say ‘hello’ (she really is so lovely!). With Christmas round the corner, what better excuse!! Otherwise, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram to keep in the loop of her whereabouts and creations! ;)

[Image credit: Sabine Gerth and Cara Bermighmam]

[Behind the scenes] The Little Posy Print Company

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There’s been a little break over the summer with my monthly ‘behind the scenes’ interviews having had the big Birthday Giveway (Candice Wren Pashmina) in August and my Etsy shop launch in September. So I’m delighted to be back by introducing you the talented lady behind The Little Posey Print Company, whose work I came across at the first Etsy UK Wedding Event in London back in May. Portsmouth-based illustrator and designer, Claire Lefevre, set up her own design and print studio Design@No.11 in 2010 that offered branding and identity services which she took on as a full-time job in 2011. Shortly after that, and stemming from her own DIY experiences of her wedding, The Little Posy Print Company was established to specialise in personalised bespoke wedding stationery and accessories. I have to say this lady is truly inspirational – not only was I ‘WOWed’ by her creations but for the brave decision she made to turn her passion into a full-time business and for her honest approach to juggling life, work and family is all very admirable. It’s not easy – there’s definitely a lot of hard graft and sacrifices behind having your own business especially with a family to look out for but if you’re heart and soul is in it and you can somehow strike a healthy balance between work and family, that’s definitely a good start to a viable business and Claire shows us exactly that! Well, here’s what Claire had to say and you’ll see what I mean!

1.Tell us a little about yourself and what made you decide into becoming an illustrator? Ever since I was little I’ve always been a bit arty, I think it’s the only thing I’ve ever really been ok at (by the age of 7 my butterfly drawings were the envy of all my friends and I was pretty proud of myself for that!) but I don’t think I assumed I would be able to make a proper living of it. It’s all a bit boring really,

2. How did you come about setting up Little Posy Print? And what is the story behind the name? I think I’ve always wanted to design for weddings, it’s such a lovely and creative and exciting time in your life and I really enjoyed DIYing my own wedding so as a bit of a distraction from my other design work I started quietly working on a small collection of designs in the hope that someone would like them and luckily for me they have so far. The name reflects my style really, a lot of my work is quite heavily influenced by floral motifs and nature in generally plus weddings are all about pretty and to be quite honest, I just like the way it sounds. I played around with trying to get the boy’s names in there but Jack and Oscar don’t really work… hopefully they will know one day that it was all started to keep their tummies full, their toybox overflowing and their Mummy happy!

3. What five words best describe you and your style of work? Folksy, organic, pretty, a little bit quirky, colourful
TLPP_10TLPP_54. I absolutely ADORE your illustrations having had a nosey at a few at Etsy’s first UK showcase and browsing through more on your lovely website ;) What’s the main source of inspiration behind your illustrations? Does it mainly come from the brides and grooms you work for? Or do you set a theme from which your clients can then pick from? Thank you! *blushes and beams* My inspiration comes from anywhere really, from photos in magazines (my studio wall is plastered with things I’ve torn out of all kinds of places) to things I see out and about. I am very inspired by colour palettes, and patterns. I have a bit of an obsession with anything a bit folksy at the moment, hearts, arrows, chevron or Aztec/tribal patterns and florals are what get me all excited and really make me geek out. When I am working on a bespoke design for my couples I absolutely love to find out all about their wedding plans and try to really get a good sense of how the day is going to pan out so that the design has more of a feeling then a theme. I love this part of the job and it makes me want to do it all over again myself.  My brides and grooms really inspire me to make something extra special and really personal for them and I love creating something really individual for every couple I work with.

5. How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? When I am designing I don’t really have a set process. A lot of designers will sketch and plan things before they start working on them but to be honest my work just kind of develops from a spark of an idea and a nice big cup of tea. When I have an idea and I feel nice and creative I will usually put an evening aside when the kids are in bed and Hubby is at work and just enjoy being creative. Having such a busy little business and dealing with the day-to-day things like emails, admin etc I think my fave bit is when I get to just create something for the pure enjoyment, with no deadline and no perimeters and hope that someone somewhere likes it. That and the tea and biscuits/cakes that fuel my creative juices!
TLPP_2TLPP_9TLPP_36. How long would it normally take to create your final product; from inception to completion? How long is a piece of string? It really depends on how detailed the brief is and how complicated the artwork is… sorry, that’s a useless answer!

7. Is there any craft/art medium besides illustration that you haven’t tried but want to? And why? I would love to learn to knit because I think it’s cute but I just never seem to have the time and I know if I taught myself then I’d want to do it all the time and I’d never get any work done!

8. Would you say it’s been difficult breaking through into what is a booming and competitive creative industry? If so, what are the kind of challenges you faced? It has taken a while for me to get to the point where I am, about a year, and I am nowhere near where I really want to be yet! I spent quite a lot of time researching the industry and deciding where I wanted to place myself in the market because it is a BIG market. I developed my first collection while at the same time as trying to keep up with my business branding design work so that I was still bringing pennies in so it was quite slow going on top of being a mummy as well, but I took the time to try and just make some connections with other designers in the industry and make some lovely friends who have given me some really fab advice on things. I think the challenges are trying to stay fresh and one step ahead of the game in terms of trends and also aiming your product at the right kind of bride. It definitely hasn’t happened over night but so far it’s been worth the hard work!

TLPP_139. I admire how you juggle both family life and work. What would be your ‘top three tips‘ for like-minded individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this creative field? Eeek, I’m not sure I manage to juggle family life and work all the time haha! There are times when everything seems to be piling up, the emails, the washing, the mess in the playroom, just everything. What I try and do when that happens is take a deep breath, give my boys a big cuddle, and then have a cup of tea and make myself a list and a little plan for the next few days/week. Lists and plans are fabulous things, even if they invariably go out of the window when Oscar has an attack of the terrible twos, Jack suddenly lets me know he has homework due tomorrow and I get new enquiries in at the same time. But they give me a bit of clarity and make things seem not so overwhelming. I think my top three tips would be : 1) Make lists and always put something at the top of the list that you have already done, that way you can cross it off straight away and you feel super productive. 2) Remember why you started a home run business in the first place… to be at home. Yes you will have to work your little bum off and there are times when I’m still working at 1 am but don’t forget to enjoy the lovely times with your family and then come back to your work feeling refreshed, creative and inspired. Don’t hole up in your office/studio 24/7: Working from home can be quite lonely, it’s very easy to sit in your pjs and never leave the house and get sucked into a vacuum of uncreativity and you end up getting nothing done, and anything you do produce is invariably a bit crap and not your best work. Everyone goes through it and when it happens the best thing to do it go out, leave the computer/paintbrushes/pencils whatever at home and go and go and find some inspiration or creative ammo somewhere else.  DON’T FEEL GUILTY IF YOU AREN’T WORKING ALL DAY EVERY DAY. You need to feed that creativity and seeing new and exciting things is the best way to do that.
TLPP_Quote-110. What would you say is the best part of your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business or something you run on the side?  The best part of it is being able to work with some lovely couples to give them exactly what they want for their special day, I love hearing about all their plans, all the excitement that goes into the planning and all the special personal touches that makes it all about them. I really try to reflect that in my work as much as I can. It is definitely a full-time job, which starts in the morning as soon as I wake up, checking emails on my phone while making breakfasts/school lunches and then once the oldest one is off to school it’s back to the computer for a bit to do some work before playtime with my little one. Once he’s all worn out I have a few more hours of properly getting some designing done before 3.15 rolls around and it’s time to pick the big one up. Then it’s Mummy time for a bit, if it’s nice we go to the park, do the dinner, bath, bed routine and then once they are all tucked up in bed I am back at it in the evening answering more emails, doing more designing and sometimes if I’m being a bit naughty, a bit of light Pinterest-ing for inspiration.

11. Of your current range of work, what ‘piece’ or ‘collection’ would you pick out as your favourite? I think it’s either my ‘Petals and Stripes’ collection, which is very popular, or my Victorian Floral because it is a twist on quite classic invites with it’s sharp acid colours and quirky font combinations.
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12. When you’re not in a design mode, what else do you enjoy doing? I love just enjoying life really, spending time with my family and friends, having a seaside adventures with the hubby and our boys and just finding inspiration in having fun. When I can

13. What are your favourite bedside book/s or blog/s at the moment? I am a total Pinterest addict so it’s normally a quick flick through that before bed. I love reading but I try to keep books for holidays otherwise I would never get any work done. Once I’m into a book that I can’t put down I lose myself for days and that is not good for business… so best not to put the temptation in my way!

14. Name three things you just could not live without? That is easy (and a bit soppy) Tom, Jack and Oscar! TLPP_6

15. Are there any illustrators, artists, designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or you think are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? I absolutely love the look and feel of Katie Daisy’s work, it’s absolutely beautiful and has so much energy to itI would love to have the talent and patience that she does to create such gorgeous things. Someone who has been a massive inspiration to me is the lovely Angie from Artwork by Angie. Like me she started out doing graphic design for small businesses and then her business evolved to cover  other bits. Her style is so recognisable and gorgeous and fun and her range of greeting cards, wrapping paper and illustration prints are just amazing. She has been lovely whenever I have needed a little bit of help or reassurance or just needed to ask the opinion of a fellow designer. I would eventually love to be able to be able to offer cards, gift wrap etc, but that may be a while off.. World domination one step at a time!

16. What would we expect from Little Posy Print in the future? And can we find your work at any craft + design events this year? Oooh there are lots of things I’d love to do, it’s just finding the time! I’d love to branch out into everyday (but still a bit special) stationery items for my shops. I could spend thousands of pounds on pretty notebooks, writing paper and organisational tools so I’d love to include something like that in my range soon… watch this space! In the meantime, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter or on Etsy!

 

Claire – you’re a super hero and your journey to where you are now is inspirational and somewhat reassuring to those in similar boats or stewing of setting up on their own. There’s a lot of things you’ve mentioned that certainley resonate with my own views and feelings about venutring into the the unknown, that is, starting your own business. Thanks again for sparing us some of your time to give us a glimpse into what goes behind Little Posy Print Company and for sharing such great advice. I look forward to seeing many more of your exciting creations! xx

 

[Behind the scenes] And Smile

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This month’s featured illustrator and designer is the lovely Viktorija of And Smile – if you haven’t come across her work before then you’re bound to have on here via my post on We Make London’s first Camden market or on my Facebook page , Twitter or Instagram! She’s the remarkable talent behind those cute and whimsical illustrative brooches, earrings and greeting cards…..and as you’ve probably guessed right – I’m a huge fan of her goodies (I think I have like 7 pieces already!) which you’ll find on my blazers and coats depending on my mood ;) My most recent purchase was Mr. Jacques who I bought to wear out to Paris in August ;) Anyway, a few weeks after my first order through her Etsy store, I had the delightful chance of meeting her at the Camden Markets. We had a good ol’ natter that afternoon in the miserably cold weather and soon became buddies on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram! Anyway, here’s what she has to say:

1. Hello!! Tell us a little about yourself and what drew you into becoming a designer-maker? My name is Viktorija and I was born and bred in Latvia. I’ve always loved to draw and make things with my hands so when I had to choose a career path I decided to study Illustration and came to UK to do that. I fell in love with the country and after graduating from uni I moved to the fabulous city of London! I never thought of becoming a designer-maker, it just happened naturally, somehow.

2. How did you come about setting up And Smile? And what is the story behind the name? One of my friends was setting up a pop-up shop of up-cycled furniture and handmade home wares in Hampstead Heath and asked if he could sell some of my prints. I was incredibly happy and very inspired from that which led me to update my little Etsy shop (that had been empty for couple of years!). After the prints I added some postcards, and after that came brooches and found myself unable to stop making and listing things on there. I was thinking long and hard (words don’t come easy to me) about the name and finally came up with And Smile – it’s pretty much is what it says on the tin! I would love people to smile when they see, wear and use my little goodies!

3. What five words best describe you and your style of work? I think (or I would like to think) that these five words are: cute, quirky, fun, (a little) weird and happy.

4. I absolutely adore your work having bought a few goodies already (yep, I’m a die-hard fan!) What’s the main source of inspiration for your illustrations? Thank you! So glad to know you like the goodies! My main source of inspiration would be imaginary friends, little animals dressed up in tweed jackets, the amazing city of London where you can find everything and anything you want to know, see, hear, feel or taste! _IHC4163e-WEB _IHC4184e-WEB

5. How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? usually have a vague idea of want I want to create and then I live with it for a while. It slowly grows and develops in my head and then I try to put it into sketches and see where it takes me from there! Whether the item becomes a new brooch or a series of postcards (or something else) I decide along the way.

6. How long would one your products take from inception to completion? It’s a really hard question. Sometimes I’m really slow and it would take me couple of months to nurture the idea and find the right way to produce it and then other times I could create it in couple of days! Or I have an overload of ideas and I would do all in couple of hours from coming up with an idea to executing it! AndSmile_QuoteWEB

7. Is there any craft/art medium besides illustrations that you haven’t tried but want to? And why? I would love to know more about different printing methods (like wood print, letterpress and screen printing). I did some basic screen printing and lino cuts but I am fascinated by traditional methods and would love to try them at some point.

8. You seem to be doing extremely well with orders coming in 24/7 in what is a booming craft and design industry! Would you say it’s been difficult breaking into this competitive world? Haha, you are very kind to say so. I think my brooches and cards were lucky enough to find new owners and I’m extremely happy about it! It is competitive world but every single designer-maker is doing something unique and different and by offering more choice we (craft and design industry) are more likely to attract people with different tastes. I really hope it works that way and we can change the world (in a long perspective of course!). …..And I didn’t answer your question (oops). As to breaking in into this competitive world, I am not too sure whether I broke into it but I see it more of a journey of hard work, dedication and creativity.

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9. What would be your ‘top three tips’ for like-minded creative individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this field? Three tips would be: Enjoy what you do, make sure you take time off and be nice to people!

10. What would you say is the best part of your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business or something you run on the side? I enjoy all parts of it, creating, packing, selling. But of course I love when people get back to me saying that they love the product (I especially love the photos they send!). I enjoy working on personal commissions be it a portrait, print, brooch or designing wedding invitations. I am always on a look for exciting things to draw/make and try. It’s something I run on the side but pretty much 9-22! I’m very bad at taking time off or knowing when to stop working (I do procrastinate as well, don’t worry!). Recently I quit my part-time day job (with no back up plan) and from beginning of July it will be my full-time business, along with illustration. So I will be available for commissions and collaborations.

11. Of your current range of work, what piece would you pick out as your favourite? It’s hard to say as all my creations are equal to me but if I have to choose it would be Mr. Jacques and Frida brooches, I wear them the most! il_fullxfull.417781250_5u4t-WEB _IHC8435e-WEB il_fullxfull.394940033_oxh9-WEB

12. When you’re not in ‘designer-maker’ mode, what else do you enjoy doing? I love finding new or revisiting well known book stores, stationery stores, galleries and parks. I love eating and cooking, walking around London and discovering new places.

13. What are your favourite bedside book/s or blog/s at the moment? I am about to read Great Gatsby, I haven’t seen the film and looking forward to read the book and watch the film. :) I’m always following what’s happening on It’s Nice That – they are endless source of inspiration.

14. Name three things you just could not live without? I definitely would be able to live without those things but I would be a little sadder without them: Washi tapes, Instagram and avocado.

15. Are there any designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? I love all the creations from these three super talented ladies!
Pauline from https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BenuShop
Jonna from https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jonnasaarinen
Sabine from https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SGerthDesigns

16. What would we expect from And Smile in the future? And can we find you at any craft + design events this year? You can expect a lot more original drawings, prints and new brooches of course! I will be at Camden Lock market on 5th and 19th of July with We Make London. And more, I will post the dates and places on my Facebook page.

Thank you Viktorija for taking your time out to share your story with us and for the amazing photos provided by Maksim Kalanep! (FYI – I’m super envious of that great workspace of yours!!) It really is inspiring to hear more about yourself and the journey you’ve made to be where you are in this industry! I look forward to seeing more of your super fabulous work and of course catching up over some fun summer cocktails later in July! :D So there you have it folks – you must visit Viktorija’s Etsy shop or even pop along to the We Make London’s Camden markets held every 1st and 3rd Friday of the months, if you’re in London! Otherwise do follow her on facebook, twitter or instagram for more of her creative antics! xx
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[Behind The Scenes]: The Fox in The Attic

COVER-PIC_WEBThis month’s featured designer-maker is the super talented and the lovely Michelle of The Fox In The Attic! Now, for those of you who may not have come across her work before, she’s the creative genius behind her gorgeous hand-embroidered plush animal cushions famously known for her bunnies and monkeys that you see featured on Etsy a lot, as well other blogs and recently in the January issue of Mollie Makes! I have had the wonderful opportunity to get to know her through the infamous virtual craft world and recently got further acquainted, chatting about craft, blogs and Etsy over a few delicious glasses of wine! :) Her hand-embroidery and workmanship is simply meticulous where each and every piece is beautifully crafted. Having been a recipient of her cheeky ‘Bunting Monkey’ (you’ll see the image below!) earlier this year, I can assure you, this is one talented lady to keep an eye out for! And with a busy day job and a wedding to plan, I absolutely respect and admire how she finds the time to design, sew and churn out all those orders she receives through her Etsy shop during her spare time! So without further adieu, here’s my interview with her:

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  1. Tell us a little about yourself and what drew you into becoming a designer-maker? My name is Michelle, and I was born and grew up in a small town in South Africa.  My creative mother was and still is a very big inspiration to me. I grew up with her always painting, making and restoring things. She started her own handmade business that became very successful, so I know it is possible to succeed.  I studied Graphic Design at college, and later became interested in illustration and painting.  A few years ago the idea of creating my own embroidered creations literally popped into my head.  I bought needles, thread, fabric and a sewing-machine and never looked back!
  2. How did you come about setting up Fox in the Attic? And what is the story behind the quirky name? I love foxes, owls, hares, squirrels and all types of woodland animals and I knew I wanted the word ‘fox’ somewhere in the name, and the first idea I came up with was Velvet Fox.  But after some more thought, the phrase The Fox in the Attic just popped into my head and my mind was made up. I always think of old attics as creative spaces where people write, paint or make things.
  3. What five words best describe you and your style of work? My style of work I would describe as naïve, delicate, quirky, colourful, tactile. thefoxintheattic10-WEB thefoxintheattic4-WEB thefoxintheattic2-WEB thefoxintheattic5-WEB
  4. What’s the main source of inspiration for your creations? My inspirations come from all over the place.  I love going to exhibitions, luckily we live in London so there are many exhibitions and galleries to visit. My favourite artists include Van Gogh, Kahlo and Gauguin. Nature is a central well-spring of inspiration, along with looking at nature illustrations and paintings from the past and present.  Trees, flowers, botanical plants, insects, animals all find their eventual expression somewhere in The Fox In The Attic, along with historic pattern and architecture and a whole host of other varied sources.
  5. I LOVE how you keep the art of hand embroidery alive. How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? I have a little dairy/notebook that I carry with me, all my ideas and little doodles start here. I usually focus on themes or seasons, like spring or Easter. After that, I create one prototype of an item to see if the shape and design works. If I am unsure, feedback from Etsy, Facebook or Instagram can help me.  The part of the process I enjoy most is definitely the positive feedback I receive from customers who are delighted with the finished product.  I especially like when I hear that young children have formed tight bonds with the animals and cushions I have made!
  6. How long would one of your products take to make from inception to completion? A difficult question… Designing and coming up with new ideas can take anything from a few minutes to a few days. Once I have the templates in place and I know what fabric and colours I will be using, I could probably make about 3 – 4 toys a day, depending on the amount of embroidery. The embroidery is the most time consuming. thefoxintheattic9-WEB thefoxintheattic3-WEB thefoxintheattic8-WEB
  7. Is there any craft/art medium besides sewing that you haven’t tried but want to? And why? The idea of illustrating children’s stories appeals to me hugely, and I’m sure that one day I will give it a go. I would also love to do screen-printing. I make my own stamps and absolutely love printing on fabric, so definitely something I want to try in the future. I would like to combine printing and embroidery on my items.
  8. There’s been a huge boom in craft and design in the last few years but you seem to be doing extremely well with orders coming in 24/7! Would you say it’s been difficult breaking into this competitive world? On the one hand, the sheer number of people starting up shops and being creative has provided massive competition, it is true; but on the other hand, the tool of the internet has given people like me a great opportunity to sell hand-made products quickly and easily all around the world. It is difficult, but there is no short-cut for hard work and perseverance. thefoxintheattic12-WEB the-fox-in-the-attic_quote
  9. What would be your ‘top three tips’ for like-minded creative individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this field? I think the most important thing is to believe in your own product, make sure that it is an expression of who you are, don’t be afraid to ask for help and never give up no matter how tough it gets.
  10. What do you like most about your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business? The Fox in the Attic is not strictly speaking a full-time business at the moment (even though it sometimes feels like one!), but I fully intend it to be very soon! I think that being at home, working in my own space and for myself would be the best thing about my business.
  11. Of your current range of work, what piece would you say is your favourite? I think my bunnies will always be my favourite, as a bunny was the first toy I made. thefoxintheattic11-WEB
  12. When you’re not in ‘designer-maker’ mode, what else do you enjoy doing? Cooking, and particularly baking, is a huge passion of mine.  I enjoy learning how to make different types of bread, and my husband-to-be enjoys any new cakes I like to try out.  Reading biographies of historical characters is also something I massively enjoy, from Shakespeare to Queen Elizabeth I to Byron and Dickens.  I also love visiting National Trust and Heritage sites and gardens of all sorts, as well as hiking and rambling in the countryside.  Visiting pubs with friends is also unbeatable.
  13. What are your favourite book/s or blog/s at the moment? At the moment I am reading yet another biography of one of Henry VIII’s wives, this time about Jane Seymour. The whole Tudor period in history I find endlessly fascinating. Before this I was reading a Charles Dickens biography, and before that one about the romantic poet Byron.
  14. Are there any designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? Very difficult! There are so many, but here are a few designers on Etsy that I love: Willow & Quail, The Bocket Store, Petitacosa, Anna Wiscombe.
  15. What would we expect from Fox in the Attic in the future? More creations, more animals, and more embroidery.  I’m also hoping to get my products placed in more high profile locations.  Watch this space!
  16. Finally, where can we find more of your wonderful creations? And can we find you at any craft + design events this year? Unfortunately there are no plans for any craft & design events this year, but you can find me at my Etsy Shop, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterestthefoxintheattic-13-WEB

So that’s it from the lovely Michelle – thanks sooooo much for sparing some time from your rather hectic schedule for me! Not that you need much, but here’s wishing you all the best on the business front and best of luck for the BIG DAY! Looking forward to seeing more of your fabulous work. Well folks….hope you like what you see and if you’re looking for something bespoke for a new baby, birthday gift, baby shower or just fancy treating yourself to these cute critters then you know where to find Michelle! You will not be disappointed – fact! :) Enjoy!! xx

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[Behind the scenes]: Handmade by Maeve

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Well, I’ve had the delightful opportunity to be the recipient to not one, but two of Maeve’s lovely creations – her whimsical plush monster toy (you’ll spot him in one of my earlier blogpost here) and her felt shamrock brooches (that travelled across sea and land to many St. Patrick’s Day revellers – see image below)…..so I just knew I had to interview her! :) Maeve Murphy is not only a lovely mutual friend of ours but also the creative brains behind Handmade by Maeve. After graduating in Textiles from GMIT, Galway she went on to study a masters in Cultural Policy & Arts Management at UCD, Dublin and like several of us, she busied herself in making textile creations on the side, many of them being personalised gifts for friends and family. Having received a lot of praise and interest in her work, she finally went about setting up Handmade by Maeve and began selling her wonderful and fun creations across the globe; from Bunting to Yoga Mat Bags to bespoke plush critters! So anyway, here’s what she had to say………..

  1. Tell us a little about yourself and what drew you into becoming a designer-maker? Growing up in the West of Ireland I wanted to be everything, from a Pathologist to a Musician. My Mother was very creative and let me use her sewing machine from a very young age. She also painted so I think I got the creative bug from her.
  2. How did you come about setting up Handmade by Maeve? I did textiles in College so I was always creating things. My boyfriend saw the little creatures I was making for friends and family and encouraged me to start making more and selling to strangers.
  3. What five words best describe you and your style of work? Quirky, electric, caring, genuine, and bright!handmadebymaeve critters WEB
  4. I’m a huge fan of your whimsical little creatures (proud owner of one!) so, what’s the main source of inspiration for these creations? I literally tap into the inner child in me and let that come to the surface when I start sketching. My last creature (Theodore the Moon Bug) was inspired from lyrics of a Sufjan Stevens song where he mentioned the word space.
  5. How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? I like brainstorming in my notebook. I love looking back at all my scribbles, they can sometimes inspire new ideas if I look at them at a later stage. It’s nearly like a visual diary of the creative chaos that goes on inside my head! notebook WEBamara2 WEBamara1 WEB
  6. Is there any craft/art medium besides sewing that you haven’t tried but want to? And why? Having attended Art College I was lucky enough to taste all the disciplines. But I’d love to bring more print into my work.
  7. There’s been a huge boom in craft and design in the last few years. Would you say it’s been difficult breaking into this competitive world? I’m still working full-time in the Music Industry while working on Handmade by Maeve on the side, so to be honest, I feel I’m still threading on the side of this competitive world!
  8. What do you like most about your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business? With a  full-time day job, Handmade by Maeve work is usually done during my evenings and weekends. All the pieces I make, I love. I love how there are parts of me, something I’ve created that’s dotted around the world and that people like them enough to buy them.pair WEB
  9. Of your current range of work, what piece would you say is your favourite? Everything I make, I love and I’m proud to put my name to it. I’d say my Cloud range – I think they speak a thousand words just sitting there on a shelf. I feel they are a gift for any occasion be it for new babies, girlfriends or just friends.
  10. What would be your ‘top three tips’ for like-minded creative individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this field? I honestly don’t feel like I can answer this question yet. I feel it’s early days for me and I’m not really in a position to be giving people advise just yet if that make sense? I would however say that you have to be pretty hard-working, willing to put in the hours and only make and sell products you’re proud to carry your name on them.
  11. When you’re not in ‘designer-maker’ mode, what else do you enjoy doing? My boyfriend, myself and our miniature Jack Russell, Winne have a VW Camper Van called Amadeus. I’ve made everything from curtains to cushions for it and we try to take it out whenever we can….. rain, hail or shine……mainly rain in this Irish weather! Con and Winnie in the Van
  12. What are your favourite book/s or blog/s at the moment? I’m not reading any books at the moment but I do usually read fantasy. Blogs wise, my favourite ones are yours (Made by Molu) and Bazaar.
  13. Are there any designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? I find Aisling, the magic fingers behind Bazaar really inspiring (you can find her on Facebook too). I love following her progress as she carves out a new life for herself in establishing Bazaar in another country.
  14. What would we expect from Handmade by Maeve in the future? I’ve got SO many ideas in the pipeline, I just don’t have the time at the moment. But I hope to have more time in the future so definitely keep an eye on my Facebook page or twitter for news and updates.
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  15. Finally, where can we find more of your wonderful creations? Will you be at any craft + design markets or events this year? I’ve nothing lined up at the moment but if I’m appearing at anything I always keep my followers updated on my Facebook page or twitter, otherwise you’ll find all my work on my Etsy shop!

A HUGE ‘thank you’ to Maeve for taking the time out to answer all my questions and for providing me with lots of lovely photos to pick from! There’s a bright future for this talented gal from County Mayo and I for one cannot wait to keep an eye out for that! Good luck missus and I look forward to many more of your creations!! :) xx

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[Behind the scenes] Tobyboo

DSC_0837 WEBMeet Tina Crawford, the wonderful, quirky, fun and talented designer-maker  behind the fabulous homeware and accessories that is Tobyboo – named after her little boy Toby. You probably have seen (or even bought) many of her finest pieces at places like House of Frasers, Museum of London, Not On The High Street, Etsy and many more. What I love about Tina’s work, a signature element to her design that distinguishes from the others, is her lovely free hand embroidered illustrations! I first bumped into her at the Made in Clerkenwell event back in November last year (see my blogpost here) where both her and her work made a great big lasting impression on me! And what’s even more admirable is how she’s made herself known in this competitive industry after facing a few obstacles of her own. Anyway, if you haven’t as yet come across any of her work…..well then here’s a glimpse into her work and what goes on behind the scenes of her creations!

  1. Tell us a little about yourself – Have you always wanted to be an illustrator/designer-maker? Oddly, when I was 15 I wanted to either be an artist of some sort or work in television… the first job I had was making the makes on children’s BBC art program SMart!
  2. How did you come about setting up Tobyboo? After years of working in television I became suddenly ill and was sent home never to be able to do ‘that’ sort of job again. Housebound and sometimes bed bound to stop myself from going bonkers I started making handbags which went really well. Our son Toby was born in 2007 after years of struggling and well, a sudden surge of baby gifts lead to the start of Tobyboo – named after our little Boo. IMG_1899 WEB 2
  3. What five words best describe you and your style of work? Ooh can I use other persons descriptions? Fluid, unique, nostalgic yet contemporary (yes I know that’s cheating a bit) and well, British
  4. What’s the main source of inspiration for your creations? So far I’ve not looked very far, pretty much looking into my childhood has given me both Oranges and Lemons (a collection based on the verse) and Wish You Were Here which bore out of a childhood holiday that – lets just say – wasn’t sun, beach huts and bunting!
  5. How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? My process for me is very organic and to most others an unpredictable risk – well I suppose it is. I don’t draw before I sew, my illustrations are all free embroideries – my sketchbook? scraps of fabric on the floor I literally draw with the needle. To be honest I don’t see the point in drawing before, why bother to sew it – its the sewing that creates fluid lines and mistakes that add charm. Some designers draw and sew over the top – what’s the point! DSC_0807 WEB DSC_0827 WEBtobyboo quote.2
  6. Is there any craft/art medium you haven’t tried but want to? And why? Er…. I can’t think. During art foundation (before my degree) you get to try pretty much everything. My degree was jewellery.
  7. There’s been a huge boom in craft and design in the last few years – would you say it’s been difficult breaking into this competitive world? My need is because I have to – I have illnesses which mean that I can’t go into full time ‘normal’ work so its frustrating competing. I would love to have this as a luxurious hobby because making money from it is so so hard but it’s one of the only ways I can earn a living.
  8. What do you like most about your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business? Full time doesn’t describe it! Theres no switching off I work though the night sometimes till 3am which with a sewing machine is slightly noisy. I love creating a design and seeing what it turns into, and when it does get onto a shop shelf its a great feeling!
  9. When you’re not in ‘designer-maker’ mode, what else do you enjoy doing? My husband and five year old do get some time with me! We tend to make the most of London – museums get a lot of visits from us. tobyboo oranges & lemons cushion 2 WEB
  10. Have you any tips for like-minded creative individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this field? Try to apply what you like and get employed by someone! It’s a jungle out there! I sort of think that but really – go for it, if it’s what you want to do you’ll regret not at least trying it. Get business advice; I did the Doug Richards School for Creative Start ups, joined Craft Central and make the most of the 1-2-1 mentor sessions and see an advisor at The East London Small Business Centre – I’d be lost without them.
  11. Are there any designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? Eloise from Hidenseek I found on Etsy, she’s an incredible illustrator and was the first to tell me to go for it. I love Yas-Ming ceramics and have been lucky enough to be along side them at recent trade events. 
  12. Of your current work, what piece would you say is your favourite? I really love the Gull ‘n’ Chips china pieces and the platter is probably my favourite – I think the stitching comes out so well on china. But I’m most proud of the work that I created for the Museum of London’s exhibition; Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men – it’s a fantastic exhibition which is on till April and well worth the visit. tobyboo quote
  13. What would we expect from Tobyboo in the future? Hopefully a lot more, my designs have been taken on by other companies so there’s a large melamine collection – my fingers are crossed for more of this and collaborations.
  14. Finally, where can we find more of your wonderful creations? And can we find you at any craft + design events this year? My pieces have been taken by Somerset House, the Museum of London and House of Fraser there are new stockists in Ireland and Switzerland from this year too! The one thing about expanding and going into retail is that there’s less time for markets so 2013 seems to be the first year not doing any.

A massive ‘thank you’ to Tina for taking the time out from what is clearly a very busy schedule! Please do have look through her online shop or keep up to date on where you’d find her next by following her on Facebook or Twitter! Also, note this in your diaries: Tobyboo will be hosting a pop up shop at Craft Central, Clerkenwell Green for one week only starting  April 8th!!!xx

 

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