In this new series of blog posts I’m excited to introduce one of our latest designers, design duo Susie and Jeanette of One+Eight. Those of you who have been in to the shop lately might have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of these beautiful ceramic jewellery pieces packaged in the cutest little glass bottles. However, you really would be lucky since our first delivery arrived just in time for xmas and unsurprisingly sold out super fast!
Our lovely Vicky Viola spoke to Susie from One+Eight about her inspirations and creative processes…
Tell us a bit about your backgrounds. Have you always been creative?
Ever since I was a little girl I have (frustratingly for my parents) been very specific about the way I like things to look… my clothes, accessories, the way my room was decorated! No real surprise then, that in my twenties I moved into the retail trade and then buying. I was living in London and working in product development, mostly for large companies, which was fast paced and fun, but for me, not manageable when children came along. After a few hazy years of babies and toddlers I took a pottery course and things slowly spiraled! I re-found my passion for making. My retail experience has been invaluable when trying to navigate the process of setting up a small business. Don’t get me wrong, this is an ongoing process and a lot of the time we still feel like we are winging it!
We know you’re both self taught ceramicists. What made you decide to start working with porcelain?
I’m all into clean lines & simplicity and I love white and grey. ……. No fussiness or clutter, my friends joke that I would live in a white box if I could (maybe with a little hint of grey! ) Possibly, this is why the beautiful and delicate nature of porcelain really appeals to me, with its the crisp white finish and smooth surface. Not an easy choice when you are first starting out. Porcelain is a difficult material to work with as it has a tendency to bend and curve in ways you can’t control. You wouldn’t believe how many pieces I have to throw away when developing a new range! Each piece needs 3 firings and it is a roller coaster of highs and lows as each time you open the kiln the excitement as to how the pieces have come out, will they look as beautiful as they are in my head???? OMG not always. There have been many epic failures but what I can say is that I have learnt from all of them!
Tell us a little about where you get your inspiration from for your beautiful line of jewellery.
The jewellery is a reflection of all the things I love; Unique, quirky and just a little bit different. Hopefully this comes out in my designs.
Nature and my local environment play a huge role in the creative process. Our studio is in a rural part of Devon, nestled in the rolling hills but also not far from the coast. I am an outdoors kinda girl. The fresh air helps me order my thoughts and the natural form is evident in many of my designs, leaves, stones and most definitely drift wood, …… My latest fascination is casting (using molds to shape the clay). I have been using this technique to create little porcelain sea urchins in, grey and white obviously! Oh yes, and pebbles are my new thing. Somehow they will be incorporated into a design!
Do you have any advice for people looking to start their own online business?
Don’t! Only joking. I love what I do and wouldn’t change it for the world but had I known how challenging it is to turn a passion into a business I would have thought about it more before leaping in! Late nights and uncertainty are inevitable and an element of calculated risk is necessary if you want to grow
My top 5 tips are;
1.Write a business plan. How are you going to finance your business?
What are your sales channels going to be? Who is your customer? How long will it take to get a return on your investment? We did not start out this way, we just made a few things and started selling, which was very exciting but as we grew I realized that we did not have the information we needed and I went back and wrote a business plan!!
2 . The minefield of social media: Don’t try to do everything. Find couple that work for you and focus on them. We focus on Pinterest, Instagram and facebook and are just starting blogging.
3. Be realistic about your time. What can you really achieve in the time you have available to dedicate to your business? I have 3 children and a husband who travels a lot for his job. My hours in the day are limited but I do work late into the night!
4. Get smart with your camera. If you are selling online, photos are king! Getting the photography right has been one of our major challenges. We did not have the finances to pay a professional photographer to do all our imagery, so with a lot of trial and error we have done our own. Ps. Use a consistent background so when you put your images online they sit well together.
5. Be focused; Who is your customer? Get to know them and focus any online marketing at that group. This has been a challenge for us and we are still working on it! We sell to stores and online so we have had to navigate both channels.
6. Never worry about things not working out. See failure as a learning experience. I heard it said once that. ……a good business person must have a least one failure behind them. Relate this in any way you wish!!!
If you weren’t doing this for a living, what would you like to do?
Eek, a difficult one, as I love what I do, but I will let you into a little secret. I have a degree in Biology and have always wanted to work in the medical field. Didn’t quite make the grade though!
What do you listen to when you are working together?
The children squabble, ted talks, bit of radio 4, jazz, reggae and the occasional bit of cheesy pop with my 6 year old (which I secretly love, shh). An eclectic mix really!
If you could choose to live in any era, which one would it be and why?
Love this question but I had to think hard about it as there have been so many cool and interesting eras. Can I be cheeky and plump for two?
The 1950’s, as I have, for a long time been inspired by the beautiful dresses and accessories ladies wore during this decade. I have a collection of scarves, hats and bags, a number of which are 50’s vintage pieces.
Now. Each one of us has the ability to shape our lives in any way we choose. Technology allows us to turn a creative dream into a business. We can work anywhere at any time. It has given me the flexibility to be a Mum and run a business!!
Thank you to Vicky, Susie and One+Eight! It’s great to get a peek into the process of running a small creative business and I hope you’ll join us for more designer interviews to come…
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