Hey there Indie readers, Laura here!
Just thought I would check in with you all in the lead up to Christmas - in the midst of working hard I have suddenly realised that it's that time of year again!
Christmas is fast approaching - there is shopping to be done! Indie has some fantastic ideas for Chrissie gifts for those creative people in your life. Object has some FANTASTIC ideas too!!
In my last post I introduced you to our retail store Collect. If you have not visited us before, then now's the time.
We have so many ideas for Christmas gifts - it's a one stop shop!
Let's start with some stocking filler ideas shall we? Bison offers ceramic vases, bowls and pourers in beautiful colours and sizes. (At the moment I own 3 pieces, but hoping to have more after the 25th!) Also, we have a range of Tjanpi baskets - funky woven pieces by Tjanpi desert weavers, Indigenous woman with an eye for detail. (Don't tell my Mum, but she's getting one of these!) We also have gorgeous items by Honor Freeman - her Warp and Weft series of ceramics are so popular, and there are more or her items coming in for Christmas!
In jewellery, we have so many pieces to choose from. We have Dick + Dora jewellery, which includes the cute ABC brooches made from Tasmanian wood. We also have the iconic 'Bowling Arm' bracelet - these are bracelets made from actual cricket balls, and are rolling out the door fast!
For those special people, we also stock exquisite jewellery from Australia's leading jewellers. There are rings, necklaces, brooches and earrings that would tantalise any tastebuds - I am definitely hoping to add to my ever growing jewellery collection!
As you know, in our gallery right now we are showing the Liz Williamson Living Treasures exhibition. For those people who would love to own their own Liz Williamson original, we have a selected range of Liz's "Woven in Asia" series, which are just sumptuous.
You don't have to go far for stationery either - we have a range of Christmas cards and tags by Poppies for Grace that you will fall in love with.
Collect is happy to gift wrap your purchases, with our original and funky gift wrap and ribbon. Waking up to a Collect package under the tree would be all your wishes come true (or mine at least!)
Have a delicious, decadent and delightful Christmas - I will see you again in the New Year!!
Your Objector, Laura
(don't forget where we are! 417 Bourke Sreet, Surry Hills, 2010)
I've admired Dearne Herrenberg's jewellery designs for a long time - she has a real flair for mixing colours & textures to create truly individual pieces. Dearne has recently launched her Etsy store at www.mainichi.etsy.com and I thought it was time to delve a little deeper...
I 1. I know you began your career as an interior designer. What initially drew you to interior design?
M Design was a means to providing me with a much needed creative outlet that would also give me a "qualification" at the end of years of study. It was just a matter of choosing what design path to take that would eventually also allow me to work for myself in a home based business.
I 2. When did you start creating your jewellery pieces? Was it a hobby for long before you launched Mainichi Design?
M I used to make jewellery as a teenager from all sorts of scraps that my Dad had lying around in his workshop – coloured electrical cable was a favourite, as well as the eighties staples like paperclips and zippers. I also used to make earrings by cutting up the plastic from Coca Cola bottles when they had the black bases! Mainichi was launched in 2004 after I purchased some interesting materials to use in my creative pursuits during a holiday in Japan.
I 3. What elements of your interior design experience to you see coming to the fore in your jewellery designs? One aspect of your work that I personally LOVE is the use of colour – I imagine you've always had a way with colour?...
M The colours used in my jewellery pieces are often inspired by my interiors work and work of other interior designers and architects. I've always been intuitive with colour and loved to play around with it in my creative work.
I 4. What are some of your inspirations?
M Architecture, Fashion, Nature, Travel, Pop Culture and life in general.
I 5. What motivated you to start transforming everyday materials into wearable art?
MI was interested in exploring the idea of turning something discarded or not considered particularly "precious" into something appealing and special like a piece of jewellery to adorn the body.
I 6. How do you find & choose your materials?
M I am always on the look out for new and interesting materials. In Brisbane I like to visit Reverse Garbage and fossick around. Op shops and markets are also a good source of materials. Or just art and craft outlets…anything that looks appealing I will grab even though I may not have an immediate use for it. and I am a hoarder.
I 7. Your designs have such a tactile quality – how do you go about layering the different textures?
M Like the use of colour for me design is an intuitive thing and the layering is usually an organic process that begins with one idea and develops from there.
I 8. Who do you imagine you’re designing pieces for?
M I don't have an "end user" in mind. I would like to think the kind of people who are attracted to my work are not able to be "labeled" or "categorized" into a particular type.
I 9. You also organise what sounds like a wonderful meeting place for like-minded women – The Creative Womens' Circle. How did this come about?
M The Creative Women's Circle has unfortunately just come to a close. It has been 4 years of gathering together like minded women involved in creative industries and small business and I think it has finally run its course. It has been a fun thing to do and it’s been great to meet lots of talented and creative women.
I 10. With a young family in tow, you must be busy. How do you manage your time & what do you have planned for the future?
M I'm not the best at time management and now I have even less of it with a toddler to take care of! I make a lot of lists and try to cross things off them!
In the near future I'm planning to focus more time on my jewellery making and building my Etsy online shop.
Further down the track I would like to spend some time exploring more sculptural pieces of jewellery and work towards an exhibition at some stage, but that will be some time away yet.
I Thanks so much, Dearne, for giving us an insight into your label & process. All the best for your fast growing Etsy store, and I'll be looking forward to seeing some of your future sculptural jewellery! More of Dearne's work can be found on her web site www.mainichidesign.com and her blog www.mainichidesign.blogspot.com.
The Wonderkind Bazaar took place last Wednesday, and from the numerous photos, it seems there was plenty of wonder! Here's a snapshot of the event...
Above: Weird and wonderful softies by Nikko De Jesus, who shared a stall with fellow softie-maker & indie interviewee Julia Rose Pattenden. Both are Communication Design students from Swinburne.
Above: Photographic Coasters by Reece A Duncan (who we interviewed in our previous post) and apparel by RMIT fashion design student Karn Kulla-Ark, who was selling his sample collection of jeans, shorts and tees.
Fabric bags (above) and purses (below) by Michele Taylor who buys fabric in Japan to make into her lovely creations. They are part of her label Harper & Edie. You can see her photos of Japan as well as a selection of her products on her Flickr page.
Above: Crystal Bead Dogs by Bio Tech student Jo-Ann Lai, who makes these super cute handphone/bag accessories out of crystal accessories as her hobby.
Above: Merchandise for an animated series by The Little Slobbers (Pei Jien, Sabrina Tee, Given Seranos and Jacky Yu) Visit their blog to find out more or join their Facebook group...
Above: T-Shirt design by Karn Kulla-Ark and yellow cases by Quentin Irvine. Quentin was unable to man a stall at the Wonderkind Bazaar, but his housemate (and one of the organisers of the Bazaar) Reese Geronimo took charge.
Above: The Wonderkind Bazaar team sporting their cute parachute-printed tees. Look out for Media student Simon Ramirez, Advertising student Reese Geronimo, Journalism student Andrew Chung Wei Wen, Advertising student Mia Hood and PR student Emily Lehmann. Congrats to you all!
Lark is well known for handmade childrens toys, clothes and gifts, & certainly well-loved by many! Combining sweet vintage graphics with the cutest of handmade products, and with an ethical approach to every part of production, Lark is a label to be admired.
We're so excited to be posting this interview with Allison Jones to coincide with the launch of the first issue of Peppermint Magazine. You'll find our little piece published on those fresh-scented* recycled pages too! (*Pages not actually peppermint-scented.)
We have another treat for you - our little indie store is stocked full of gorgeous Lark handmade goodies, from guilt-free cupcakes & doughnuts, to vintage storybook mirrors & magnets guaranteed to bring back happy memories. Strike while the iron is hot & before our cupboard is bare! indie store products are ordered especially to accompany a selection of our feature interviews. We have just a handful of handmade Lark goodness, so don't be slow! (Don't forget to take a look at the Anna Laura badges & Meringue wristlets while you're there...)
I 1. How did Lark get started?
LARK I rented a room above my son’s crèche, in a big old Victorian house, filled it with all the things that inspire me, and spent every spare moment in there for six months thinking about how I could turn my obsession with vintage design and craft into a business.
I 2. With stockists thoughout the UK & Australia, is it a big challenge to manage it all from Daylesford (Victoria)?
LARK No, actually Daylesford is the perfect place to run a small business from – all the facilities I need (school, post office, shops, coffee) are within 5 minutes walk! And we are part of a really small, close community, so whenever we need to travel for business meetings or trade fairs, there are friends on hand to help with childcare and look after our home and pets.
I 3. What inspires you & influences your designs? (Your own little ones?)
LARK I'm a collector – since my teenage years I've hunted down vintage textiles, fabrics, old children's books, vintage signs and packaging. This is where my visual inspiration comes from – my ideas for new products come from my memories of my own childhood, as I was lucky enough to be given mainly home-made clothes and toys, and I still think they are better than mass-produced products.
I 4. Social & environmental issues are obviously close to your heart. How has this influenced Lark's manufacturing & materials?
LARK Ethical production is an essential part of Lark - whenever I come up with a new product idea, it wont go into production until I can find materials and suppliers that I feel comfortable working with. We have recently started to work with Windarring, an organization for adults with disabilities near my home, which means that for the first time in 4 years I can finally hand over the production of some of our badges and mirrors!
I 5. The Knitted Toys are perhaps the most recognisable of the Lark lineup – tell us about working with the women who do the knitting!
LARK It's been a long, complicated, often frustrating journey, but ultimately very rewarding. I would recommend fair trade manufacture to anyone with a craft business. The women in Bangladesh who knit my products have incredible skills and they benefit directly from our association – as well as fair pay for their labour, they have the opportunity to work with their children nearby and they receive training and career opportunities. Any profits that are made are used to fund much-needed facilities like schools and midwifery centres.
I 6. Which products are your personal favourites?
LARK The pocket mirrors made with vintage storybook pages were one of the first products I designed back in the 'room above the creche' days and I still love them – every piece is a mini and unique artwork that you can carry about in your handbag!
I 7. Do you see the market expanding for handmade & vintage products?
LARK Absolutely – it's become clear that mass-production, whether it be food, clothing or children's toys, is neither desirable nor sustainable, so I think that people will increasingly value products that are hand-made, fair trade, recycled or pre-loved.
I 8. The "gifts to make" are a fun way to introduce kids to craft, and Miss Buttons is adorable! (Miss Buttons is the creation of Melbourne designer Angela White.) Have you heard many entertaining tales of Miss Buttons making process? Does the Lark online store stock many labels other than Lark itself?
LARK My partner and I have recently launched 'Lark and Friends', a small collective of indie designers from the UK and Australia with a similar ethos to Lark. We sell on behalf of the collective to retailers and via our larkmade.com.au web shop. Angela was the first person to join us - I adore Miss Buttons and she has a huge fan club. There is a customer gallery on the Sew Your Own website and it's fantastic to see the photos and notice how children have customised their kits to make every doll unique to them.
I 9. The Lark online store is full of handmade treasures. Is the online store a popular way of ordering products, or do you think most people seek out a local stockist?
LARK I think that most buyers who appreciate hand-made goods would prefer to browse in real shops (like me), but an online store is really handy when you need to buy a last-minute gift or if you are really busy with your work and/or kids!
I 10. There's a thriving online community of crafty people – both hobbyists & those with their own handmade labels. How is Lark involved?
LARK I have my own blog (http://www.the-lark.blogspot.com/) and am in touch regularly with other crafters every day, which is essential for support and inspiration – especially living in a rural area. It's also a great way for Lark to get involved in community projects – for instance the Softies for Mirabel campaign (http://flickr.com/groups/softiesformirabel/) which is raising funds for children of families affected by substance abuse in Melbourne, through craft.
LARK Yes! The new Meet Me At Mikes blog label includes the cutest pendants made with vintage swap cards, and a whole lot of other hand-made goodies. As for Lark, I was launching a new range of knitted soft toys based on vintage patterns, and many new children's accessories. Sew Your Own's Miss Buttons was joined by a gentleman friend (of the superhero variety) as well as a brand new babushka-style doll, Miss Allsorts. We received a tremendous response from retailers and are now busy packing up boxes of goodness to send all over Australia!
I 12. Where is Lark headed in the future?
LARK Wherever there are opportunities to work with awesome people to make and sell things that children (and their parents) will love and be inspired by!
Thank you so much Allison for this wonderful insight into the life of Lark! I think it's really something to turn such a passion for vintage-inspired products and responsibility for ethical & environmentally-friendly production into a thriving business. Keep up-to-date with Lark happenings through The Lark blog at www.the-lark.blogspot.com.
Peachypan designer Fee must barely be able to keep up the pace - so many of her handmade Kanzashi hair accessories have moved to the "Sold" section of her web site since last I looked! (which wasn't that long ago...) The floral pretties pictured here are so beautifully handmade and all are currently for sale at www.peachypan.com. Japanese Snowdrop (my favourite for now!) is pictured above left while Marie Antoinette is featured above right. Below are Coconut Ice (delicious, left) and Forest (right) with its sweet leaf green highlight. Each of these is listed under "Everyday Kanzashi" - most of which are AUD $8.99 each.
Gold Coast designer Fee lived in Japan for a year and it opened her eyes to an amazing culture. She discovered the world of tsumami kanzashi - tsumami referring to the pinching of fabric, and kanzashi meaning hair clip. Kanzashi masters in Japan are responsible for creating the intricate hair pieces worn by geisha and maikos (apprentice geishas). Fee adored this unique art form & learnt how to make kanzashi from buying books in Japanese (quite a challenge when you can't read the language!) and from resources on the web. She finds the process coupled with the end result inspiring, and says that with a lot of patience, persistence and practice, it's extremely rewarding!
Inspired by "Kawaii" (a Japanese word referring to all things cute) she returned to Australia & in 2007, launched her own label, Peachypan - "Cute things for you and your hair". Specialising in her signature kanzashi, and with necklaces, rings, earrings, badges, tees & stickers joining the lineup, Peachypan is all about fun-loving colours and the sweet, cute simple things in life. Fee can't think of a better way to spend her time & hopes that the label above all offers people a cute fairytale escapism.
As you can see, in addition to the "everyday kanzashi, Fee also creates "elaborate kanzashi" which are truly one-of-a-kind! They are incredibly detailed and range in price from AUD $50 to $75. The kanzashi-making process is quite complex. The first step is dying the silk. (This is perhaps Fee's favourite part - she loves colour & coming away with multicoloured stained fingers!) After the silk is dried, the huge sheets then need to be cut into tiny squares - certainly the most tedious part of the process... After that, each square is folded, origami style, into a petal. This is repeated until you have a flower. The true hair pieces worn by geisha and maikos have hundreds and hundreds of petals and would easily take up to a week to create.
Fee also creates super-cute accessories from found charms that she converts into necklaces or earrings - such as the Wishbone necklace pictured above (AUD $11.99). The sweet face on the neighbouring badge (AUD $1.99) is "Yagi", the playful black goat who also appears on Peachypan t-shirts.
Guess what? We're currently visiting Melbourne with new season samples for our own label, Non-Fiction! In addition to printed womens tees & greeting cards, we've released our first range of mens tees, totes & archival prints. I love travelling around to so many of my favourite boutiques - especially since I don't get to see the Melbourne ones all that often, but it's definitely torture resisting temptation at each stop!
We're so excited about the new prints - we'd love to hear what you think & photos should appear on our web site (www.non-fiction.com.au) within a couple of weeks... Pictured above, clockwise from top left are: "Family Portrait II" womens t-shirt, "Bowerbird" tote, "Satellite" mens t-shirt & "Inka" greeting card (from the Family Portrait series). Hope you like them!
P.S. If there are retailers who stock Australian designers reading, we'd love to hear from you, wherever you are!
Local Perth designers will be making their mark this year with the launch of two exciting new designer markets: Made On The Left (which is on this weekend!), and Perth Upmarket (being held in September).
The lineup for both markets is looking great - there is a long list of designers who will have stalls this Saturday (12.7.2008) at Made On The Left and the lineup for Perth Upmarket is growing every day it seems!
Enthusiasm for handmade crafts & locally designed products is bubbling over in Perth. There are already lots of gorgeous retail boutiques, but up until now there has been a distinct lack of markets specifically for designers' products. It looks will be following hot on the heels of established design markets in other states such as Hope Street Markets (Sydney) & Rose Street Artists Market (Melbourne).
To get a feel for the market mood in Perth, I quizzed a selection of organisers & stallholders... I asked DARA CLEMENS (of Made On The Left):
"Made On The Left was founded by a number of Perth designers. How did you find each other & what motivated you to to launch the Made On The Left market?"
"The Made on the Left committee is made up of Sarah, Jacquie, Ali J, Rosanna and myself. We met on the Perth forum thread at Etsy.com and setting up a designer art and craft market along with a complimentary website came up in conversation. To make a long story short we came together to make it happen!
Between the 5 of us we have an amazing variety of skills and have managed to do everything from the press releases (5 different local papers and hopefully a few state ones this week), poster design (Ali J and Jacquie for graphic and Jacquie put the whole thing together), administration (forms, liaison with venue etc) and promotional distribution (leg work around town plus a whole lot of emailing).
Our motivation...I guess we all feel that Perth desperately needs more avenues in which local designers, artists and crafters can display and sell their wares. And that it would be great to have a website that brought together information from around WA, an easy link between sellers and those interested in buying either as an individual or retail."
JUSTINE BARSLEY is responsible for launching Perth Upmarket. The Market will make its debut on Sunday September 14th at the Perth Town Hall. She is looking forward to making it a regular event, so Perth shoppers are in for a treat! (You can also keep up-to-date with Upmarket happenings at their blog). Justine is also the talented work-at-home-mum behind the label Oli B Designs & makes limited edition kids wear such as the funky little bibs pictured above. I asked Justine:
"Having moved to Perth just 2 years ago, what do you think is unique about the Perth design scene? How will this be reflected in the Perth Upmarket?"
"Having only moved to Perth two years ago I have found that there are lots of creative people, but they can be a bit hard to find. What I think is unique about Perth is the diverse mix of creative people and the openness of designers to work together. Whilst there are a few quality annual events, Perth has lacked a quality market where designers can showcase their designs on a regular basis and encourage repeat business. Perth Upmarket will bring Perth's talented artists, craftspeople, designers, stylists and gourmets all under one roof."
I also asked a few of the stallholders, "What are you most looking forward to with the launch of the new markets?"
BETH WACHLA who creates the friendly, creepy faces above & below for her label The Tiny Little Girl answered:
"I'm most looking forward to meeting fellow indie designers and sharing our hard work with the lovely people of Perth. I think the markets are a sign that Perth is moving forward in having our own identity on the Australian art scene, and that’s a really great thing."
You simply can't go past felt skulls when they're this cute - I feel like jumping on a flight just to grab one for myself next weekend! I'm sure there will be many, many to choose from, but my favourites from the photos above would have to be the orange skull with white moustache hairclip and the blue pin cushion with the white sad face skull. Which ones do you like the best?
LISA MAX is a designer who will have a stall at both upcoming designer markets in Perth. She makes the gorgeous animal cushions pictured above, and answered my question as follows:
"Everything! Designing and selling things is a completely new experience for me and I am not quite sure what I'm doing yet... I'm very much looking forward to meeting other designers and craftsters to see how they work and hear about their ideas and experiences."
ALI J (Alicia Rosam) is a freelance illustrator. She creates products based on her gorgeous & very distinctive illustrations of characters with red rosy cheeks & wild crazy hair. She answered my question as follows:
"This is such a difficult question as I don't have enough fingers to contain my excitement at being able to display my work at these new events. I think what I am most looking forward to is meeting new people and finding some subjects who I can use in future illustrations. I am also looking forward to being inspired and challenged by fellow designers and proud to see how much of the public will come out and support independent handmade design."
Earlier this year, we interviewed two lovely Melbourne-based indies: Jodie Nicholson who handmakes fabric bags for her label Meringue, and Anna Laura Blanford who is well known for her felt lady badges, screenprinted handmade bags and original artworks. Along with this double interview, we have a big surprise! We asked both Jodie and Anna Laura to each create just a dozen products especially for indie art & design, taking inspiration from our site colours. I've patiently kept this interview under wraps while we prepared for the launch of the INDIE ART & DESIGN STORE and would like to announce the online arrival of twelve little felt ladies and twelve gorgeous fabric wristlets!
The idea of the indie art & design store is to promote a handful of the labels we love by stocking strictly limited numbers of selected products to accompany feature articles & interviews. There will only be a small window of opportunity for you to snap up these exclusives - so get your mouse moving to avoid disappointment! Now that's enough stalling, here's the interview...
I 1. You two have been friends for some time, often mentioning each other in your blog posts. How did you meet? Was it through your common interest in design?
M I met Anna through Etsy. I had seen her posting in the forums and through that, became a fan of her work. She left a funny comment on my blog and then I started stalking her.
AL We met via Etsy, I’m not sure on the exact details but I think it involved a common interest the products we make, design, fabric and creativity. We both had a similar sense of humor, I laughed a lot at Jodie's emails.
I 2. What is it like to have a close friend who shares similar aspirations? It must be great to have someone who really understands when things are tough & of course someone who appreciates how much it means when things are going well!
M I can't even measure how great it is to have a handful of friends on Etsy, who are all experiencing the same rollercoaster. It's definitely a support I don't take for granted because I think I'd be lost without it. Having Anna to brainstorm with and vent to is brilliant, she is also responsible for me pushing myself harder than I otherwise might have.
AL I think it is handy to have someone you can touch base with who knows what you do because they do it themselves. I often will email Jodie for advice on things, however it is not always about art and design, I emailed her today on overlocker advice, so she is really my counselor. But she gets paid much less.
I 3. Do you bounce new ideas off each other for designs & new products? Do you provide each other with constructive criticism?
M We regulary share ideas, which some might find weird given that we both make bags. Anna has a definite 'art' leaning with everything she makes, whereas I base my designs more on function first. We come at pieces from different angles, which I think balances everything out nicely.
AL I think this is something that is really valuable, because if I only asked my partner for advice nothing would get made. He has his particular styles he likes and more often than not my stuff doesn't fit into that category. I think we also offer good feedback, I know Jodie won't sugar coat things and I respect that kind of advice.
I 4. When you share market stalls, do you think customers are enticed by the wide variety of products, colours & textures on display? In this way, do you think shared stalls are beneficial in creating extra interest & maximizing sales?
M Sharing a market stall with Anna last year was physically hard work but we had so many laughs, even when we were beyond exhausted. Our stall set up changed each week and evolved into a really appealing display that gave customers loads to look at. Spending the day with someone else meant that there was always someone else to reply on, even if it was just having someone to buy you an icy pole when the mercury soared!
AL I think our stuff has a different look, so although some of the products we make are similar (as in they hold all your stuff) it hasn't been a problem in terms of us competing with one another. We did have some people who purchased from both of us at Rose Street, so I think our items work well together. I think the major benefit from sharing a stall was having someone to sit with all day. It can get lonely on your own and having someone to laugh with was always good. I looked forward to the market because I was spending my entire week mainly with 15 year olds, so it was nice to sit and eat SuperDoopers and laugh at the world with someone who isn't trying to draw a dick on your stuff.
I 5. Have market stalls helped find you new stockists? What sort of responses have you had when boutique buyers discover your labels – do you think your pairing influences them to place orders with both labels, or does it just depend on the individual?
M I actually thought I'd meet more stockists than we did, although I was really happy with the amount of stores I signed on with in the lead up to Christmas. Anna has provided me with plenty of leads and I'm still working my way through that list.
AL One stockist who had contacted me previously, contacted me again and saw my market photos on Flickr. She asked about Jodie's bags and so now both of our items are stocked there.
I 6. Do you ever combine forces & approach new boutiques together or just provide moral support for each other before/after?
M We don't really approach stores together but we do share resources and tell each other where we're at as far as short term goals go. I think both of us are now very comfortable in approaching stores, although we've both been lucky in being sought out by stores who have seen our work online or in person.
AL We did go on a drive to find possible stockists in Melbourne and we do help each other in terms of contacts and passing on details to people we know. I think within the indie community it is really important to have this kind of support, because it isn't an easy industry when you're small as you don't always have the contacts. Without it I would be way back at square one.
I 7. You both use a variety of fabrics to make wristlets, bags & pouches. Do you ever go hunting together to source materials?
M We've never actually shopped for fabric together but by sheer coincidence, we do sometimes buy exactly the same fabric. However, we use it in such different ways and it's always interesting to see how Anna has applied a fabric to her bags, that I may have used for a wristlet.
AL We have not yet had a trip to Spotlight yet. I think this would be fun. There are a lot of fabric stores in the area I have just shifted to that I previously didn't have time to go to when I was working full time. I'm looking forward to having time in the day when I can go to op-shops and fabric shops and finding some really decent fabrics to work with.
I 8. What do you each admire most about the other?
M I love that Anna is so quietly passionate about her label. She is driven to make it a success but it's more about creating art, sharing it and making a living, not about finding fortune and fame... ...although I'm sure secretly she longs to appear on Mornings with Kerry Ann.
AL Jodie is fantastic at customer service and dealing with people and she can tell it like it is. Plus she has a good sense of humor and doesn't mind it when I say things that are probably inappropriate.
I 9. How important is the online component of your businesses? As I write this, I can see you’re both about to tip over the Etsy 150 sales mark – are any celebrations planned? How do you find sites like Etsy, MadeIt, Mintd etc? Do they provide a significant percentage of your sales, or do you see them as more as a source of supplementary income & marketing with retail boutiques the main focus?
M Online selling has been important for getting noticed by retail stores. It has been a steep learning curve that has taught me far more than I ever could have learned in any class. My online sales only account for a small percentage of sales but they have played a vital part in my business.
I am looking to set up my own website shortly, with its own shopping cart but I will definitely be keeping my other online stores and moving my main store from Etsy to Dawanda. I really like the Dawanda site and the way it operates, the attitude towards members appeals to me far more than Etsy.
AL I just calculated today what my online sales are over the last six months and it is about 25% of my income. As for the 150 sales on Etsy I had not planned anything big. Maybe I could shout Jodie a cask of Lambrusco and a ride in my car, I think she would like that.
I've just started a shop on Dawanda and I really like the look of the website and the fact that it is European based. Madeit is also a great site and growing all the time, the woman who started it, Bec is really supportive and friendly as well.
I 10. In addition to maintaining your online stores, you both post regularly to your weblogs, www.meringuediary.blogspot.com and www.annalauraart.blogspot.com. Your posts feature product updates, descriptions of your process and progress, and entertaining tales of skylarking & gossip as you travel through the various designers markets & events around Melbourne. Much time is obviously dedicated to keeping us all in the loop – is it a struggle to fit it all in, or is it something you just enjoy doing? Does maintaining your blog help to keep everything in perspective?
M It was with some hesitation that I started my blog last year but now I can't imagine not having it. I've been somewhat remiss in posting for the last couple of months thanks to long working hours and illness but I can't wait to start posting regularly again.
I'm always amused to see how Anna and I post about the same event. I normally come off sounding like such a whinger by comparison!
AL When I was working full time it was hard to keep it updated. I often worry its boring and dull and I tried to keep my posts nice as I also worked as a teacher. I'm no longer teaching so I am not so worried about people finding the blog so will probably make it a little more personal. I enjoy blogging because I have a history of my work and because you can get a response from other bloggers on your work. I love reading other peoples blog as well to find out what they are making and some insight into their life. I love seeing photos of the spaces they work in and where they live. I know it is a little nosey, but I'm really interested in that side of things. I also like blogs, which are not all happy la la. People make mistakes and mess and I like to hear about that side of life and see it as well.
I 11. How do you find the indie community in Melbourne, & have you met designers in other parts of Australia either through blogs or markets etc?
M I am also good friends with Simone Walsh from Etsy. She makes the most fantastic jewellery and I've found that having both her and Anna in daily email exchanges have kept my motor running. I'd like to be more active in the Melbourne Indie community but finding the time is a battle.
AL I've meet a few people from Etsy as well as other people in the indie community. Someone who is really lovely is Lara Cameron. She makes the most amazing things and he designs are beautiful and she is so down to earth and friendly. I am sure I will be saying "I knew Lara when..." very soon and I will be rather proud of that! It is great to have a support network all over Australia, I know if I went to other Australian cities there would be people there who I could meet with and tell me the good places to visit and I like the fact that I can email people who I might not have spoken to for advice and they will always be willing to help.
I 12. Finally, please tell us some of the highlights of your design experiences so far & where each label is headed in 2008!
M November and December last year was a blur but it was so incredible. I was working more hours in my day job, the wholesale orders were rolling in, I was doing the markets with Anna and also filling online orders, it was crazy busy.
I've started this year slowly but I plan to leap into it shortly. I'm really excited about 2008 because I have so many plans. First will be my website launch, which has been a long time coming. I've also got two new handbag lines in the works and a top secret project involving buttons. Yes, buttons! My big goal for this year is taking my wholesale side to the next level both here and in the US.
AL I think highlights are having things featured in the press and online. Often running a small business you have to work really hard on the promotional side of it, so when people like Frankie, design blogs like Indie and Modish and The Age are willing to expose smaller brands like myself it is exciting and it pleases me they are willing to support smaller brands. When you are making things you need to hear people tell you what you are making is good, you get so lost in what you are making you often lose sight so when someone lets you know it looks good it motivates you to keep working.
My aim for 2008 is an exhibition. I've been making a lot more art and I would love to have a show. I would also like to do some more fabric design for my bags and learn new screenprinting techniques.
I Thank you both so much for providing us with an insight into the workings of your labels! With such gorgeous products, I'm sure we'll hear much more about Anna Laura & Meringue in the future... Current stockists for each label are listed below:
VIC: Rose Street Artist Market (Fitzroy), Meet Me at Mikes (Fitzroy), Little Salon (Fitzroy, City), Kids in Berlin (North Melbourne), Brunswick Bound (Brunswick), Lumina Textiles (East Malvern), Anomaly (Belmont), Bob Boutique (Bendigo), I Dream a Highway (Northcote)
NSW: Dragstar Clothing (Newtown), Betty Mim (Newcastle)
ACT: The Hive (Braddon)
WA: Jac Boutique (Perth)
ONLINE: indie art & design store, www.annalaura.etsy.com, www.dawanda.com/shop/annalaura, www.madeit.com.au/annalaura
ONLINE: indie art & design store, Meringue Shop on Etsy, www.dawanda.com/user/Meringue
Real World: Meringue is stocked at many boutiques (including on of our faves, Betty Mim in Cooks Hill, Newcastle) - please contact Jodie directly to locate your nearest Meringue stockist.
I know time is tight, but if you're looking for some last minute gift ideas for Mother's Day (Sunday 11th May), here are some beauties!
Aren't these prints fabulous?! I found it hard to choose which fabrics to feature... The six pictured here are, at top (L to R): Botanica ochre, Bugsey white & sand, Botanica duckegg, and below (L to R): Snow Pea latte & pigeon, Botanica red, Apollo mist.
These cushions are from the Publisher Textiles homewares range. Each cushion measures 50cm x 50cm and features a quality foam feather insert. Made with natural fabrics including cottons & linens with a contrasting backing fabric, these guys are made to be used, not just looked at! They are machine washable (gentle wash, cold water) and with so many fabric print options, there's sure to be a few that would look fantastic at your Mum's place! Cushions range from AUD $48 - $160 (most are around $88).
Publisher Textiles was established in 2002 by Mark & Rhynie Cawood. & they moved into their studio & showroom in Leichhardt, Sydney. With Mark's background in screen printing & Rhynie's in textile & fashion design, they make the perfect team for producing handmade fabrics & wallpapers. The Publisher Textiles Studio is open to the public on Saturdays from 10am - 3pm or by appointment during the week. Their homewares can also be found at the following stockists:
NSW: Made590 (Newtown), Honeybee (Newcastle)
SA: Monsoon Homewares (Glenelg), Terrace Floors & Furnishings (Eastwood)
TAS: Inside Home & Gifts (Hobart)
I spotted these gorgeous pendants in the Glamourpuss email newsletter last week & was really taken by the beautiful bird designs. "Crane Pendant" on the left is AUD $110 and "Swan Pendant" on the right is AUD $95. They are by oneofone, the first label developed by Girls Made This, which is a design cooperative striving to nurture, develop and promote creative endeavours by women in Australia. The collective is headed up by Jane Peacock, who is also the talented designer for the oneofone collection. For the new range, Jane found inspiration in the vintage imagery and objects of desire that were hidden away from reach at her nannas house - pretty ornaments, old buttons, jewels, kitsch paintings etc. Oneofone pendants are available from boutiques around Australia & New Zealand including:
QLD Artisan (Fortitude Valley), MOB Store (Brisbane City), Bessie Head (Brisbane City), Adrenalin (Southport)
NSW: Glamourpuss (Erskineville), Bracewell (Paddington), Tuchuzy (Bondi Beach), Mon Petit Chou (Potts Point), MCA Store (The Rocks), Orson & Blake (Woolahra), Mushu (Surry Hills)
VIC:Husk (Melbourne), Elizabeths (Melbourne), Latrobe Regional Gallery, Melody Nelson (Brunswick), To the Max, Phillips, Belki (Carlton North)
ACT: Cowboys & Angels (Canberra), National Gallery of Australia (Canberra)
WA: FORM (Perth), Finity, Billy + Rose (Mt Lawley), Harry + Gretal (Leederville), Sana, Eldorado (Perth)
TAS: Inside Home & Gifts (Hobart)
Ooooh, your mum will love you for these! Keep her toes toasty with these soft padded cotton scuffs by Elk Accessories, available in black or grey for AUD $35. Or perhaps she'd prefer the printed scarf on the right (AUD $85)? Made from 15% cashmere and 85% pure wool, this light winter layer scarf comes in either dark brown or dark ash grey. Elk Accessories is based in Melbourne and designed by partners Adam and Marnie. Their bi annual ranges include so many beautiful things - knits, leather & felt bags, accessories & jewellery, and always in gorgeous, calm hues (with a few dashes of brighter colour featured in necklaces & bracelets etc!).
Nancybird makes the most delightful decorative leather bags, and these tie clutches are no exception! This soft, slouchy clutch is a versatile little beast, which can be folded down to reveal fabric, tied in a bow at the back or tied around the body as shown. The wrist strap is removable too. It measures 26cm x 16cm adn is available in desert orange (left), black (right) and fudge for AUD $128.
Nancybird bags are stocked in many boutiques all around Australia & New Zealand. Since there are too many to list here, you'll have to visit www.nancybird.com/forms/stockistlist.html to track down a stockist near you!