Designer Interviews

A new zine!

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We were so excited to take delivery of our latest zine last week, our 5th time self publishing a compliation of interviews, tutorials and other fun stuff from our designers and friends!

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This time we used exclusive images from our Naoshi window display on the front and back covers which looked amazing! Inside we interviewed Naoshi, along with old friends Meomi (creator of CBeebies Octonauts) and Sophie King who is doing a mini exhibition in the Hannah Zakari Shoppe over August.

Hannah Zakari zine 2017 intro page meomi quachi illustrations hannah zakari zine 2017 naoshi interview page Hannah Zakari zine 2017 sophie king embroidery interview page

Our pals, collaborators and inspirationists (it’s a word!) I Am Acrylic made us a very special fun holiday decision maker with all roads leading to Edinburgh (where else would you go?!).

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The zine also featured illustrations and poetry from some of our favourite artists, but you’ll need to get your hands on one to see what they are! Here’s one last sneak peek…

hz zine 5 out of office aimee lockwood illustration

It’s always brilliant fun putting together a zine and getting to know our designers even better. I think this is a good one one, colourful, happy and interesting!

If you live outside Edinburgh and would like a copy of the zine, email us at hannahzakari@gmail.com using the title ‘HZ Zine 2017’ with your name and address and we’ll post one to you free of charge!

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Designer Interviews – Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes

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We’re in awe of Sally Mcadam: as well as being a full time doctor, she manages to find time to make the beautiful jewellery and accessories in her Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes range! We’ve just received a delivery of new HOYFC pin badges, so Aimee interviewed Sally to find out more about the process and inspiration behind them.

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How long have you been designing jewellery and accessories? And what got you started?

I started making jewellery at university, initially just charm bracelets and necklaces using beads I bought from ebay. I began to get frustrated as I couldn’t make items look the way I wanted them to so I looked into other methods of jewellery making and came across laser cutting. I taught myself to use a vector program called Inkscape (which you can download for free!) and with a lot of trial and error and furious googling I made my first laser cut necklace. I was so excited about it that I continued to design and make increasingly complex pieces and I’ve now been making jewellery for around 10 years.

More recently, I decided to design some enamel pin badges as I felt the blocks of colour and clear lines would fit in well with my brand and give customers the opportunity to buy smaller and more affordable pieces from my online store. They have been a massive hit and I now sell more pin badges than anything else in my shop! I’ve also branched out into designing patches, tote bags, snapback caps, notebooks, stickers and even washi tape. I love drawing new things so I’ve always got new products popping up.

img_0393What does an average working day look like for you?

As well as running HOYFC I have a full time job working as a doctor in a hospital. This means I don’t really have an “average” working day as I work a lot of long days, weekends and night shifts – I work hard to manage my time. If I’m working a normal 9-5 day I’ll get up and go to work at my day job and when I come home in the evening I’ll pack up my orders, answer my emails, work on new designs, make jewellery, do my accounts, etc. I usually go to the post office once a week looking like Santa with a giant bag of mail.

You draw a lot from pop culture, like television and gaming, for your work. What’s been the best thing you’ve seen or played lately?

I don’t have as much time as I would like to for gaming any more as I dedicate most of my spare time to HOYFC, but I did manage to watch Stranger Things on Netflix and it was incredible! I loved it so much that I designed a range of pins, patches, badges and stickers based around it and my customers seem to be enjoying them which is super great.

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Would you describe yourself as a bit of a geek?

I’d like to think I’m really cool, but in reality I probably am a bit of a geek. I’d rather stay in and watch sci fi films than go out dancing and I’d rather go roller skating than to the pub – I think this is reflected in some of my products, especially the “Too Tired To Party” pin badge and balloon packs I designed recently.

Do you have any favourite pieces in your collection right now?

I really like the rainbow screen printed t-shirts and tote bags I have in right now that say “I’m Not Sorry About Your Fragile Masculinity“. The sentiment rings true for most of my customers and the pastel coloured rainbow screen printing looks beautiful!

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Are there any other designers or artists who are inspiring you at the moment?

I’m in love with Big Bud Press’  new retro style collection and the awesome clothing range they’ve introduced recently. Designosaur have just brought out some amazing dinosaur socks and I have some major sock envy!

Do you have any advice for designers just starting out?

Organise your time, do your tax return as early as possible, (or even better, get an accountant to do it) and most importantly have fun!

What’s your favourite dinosaur?

I love a stegosaurus, I think they’re underrated. Team Steg!

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Our thanks to Sally for talking to us – you can buy our full Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes range on the Hannah Zakari webshoppe now!

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Designer Interviews – Robbie Porter

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Robbie Porter‘s unique brand of humorous, thoughtful illustration always brings a smile to our faces here in the shoppe. Here he talks to Aimee about his life as an illustrator, his inspirations, and his quest for the ultimate hangover cure!

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You describe your work as “ideas led” – what does that mean for you? And where do your ideas come from?

I hope it means that there is a somewhat thoughtful concept behind the illustrations. I’m usually trying to communicate something, whether it’s silly or serious my aim is to make work that’s both playful and meaningful.

In terms of where the ideas come from I don’t think there is a big secret really, I wish great ideas just popped into my head but usually it’s just about painful perseverance. Waiting for a great idea is the best way to get nothing done – or at least that’s my excuse for all the terrible work I’ve made over the years.

What does an average working day look like for you?

Sadly I’m not a morning person, I’ve developed quite a bad habit of watching a half hour comedy show every morning when I wake up, it’s the only way I can stop myself from falling back to sleep.

I’m usually at my desk by around 10ish, I’ll start by answering all the emails that I forgot about the day before and try to clear any boring stuff out of the way as quickly as possible. By midday I’d hope to be getting down to some drawing, that’s when I’ll start ignoring emails and just try to get my head down.

I used to work late into the night but recently I’ve tried to adhere to a more traditional routine, I’ll stop working around 6:30 to cook dinner, I love cooking and find it a great way to separate the day from the evening. Afterwards it’s time for movies & reading or friends & drinking.

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Do you listen to music while you work? What kind?

Definitely, sometimes I think that’s the main reason why I became an illustrator – I get to spend all my time in the company of my favourite musicians. When I have to concentrate I’ll listen to stuff like; Nils Frahm, Bon Iver, Fever Ray, Beach Boys… and when I’m done concentrating I’ll listen to something a bit more upbeat, I’m always partial to a bit of Kanye.

Also, like all illustrators, I listen to a lot of podcasts, recently I’ve been enjoying the Adam Buxton Podcast, I think he’s the person who most easily puts a smile on my face. I also listen to Radio 4 which deeply offends my teenage self, but because I work from home it’s nice to listen to talking as well as music sometimes.

Are there any other designers or illustrators you’d say you’ve been
particularly inspired by?

When I was really little I was completely obsessed with the comic Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson, I think I related to Calvin and how much he lived inside his own head, I got wrapped up in his world and found it so imaginative, smart & funny. When I got a bit older and my mum would drag me around art galleries I was always attracted to Surrealism and in particular Magritte, something about the simplicity and absurdity fascinated me. Later, when I was at art school and the idea of being an illustrator started percolating, I discovered the work of Craig Frazier, the way he conceptualises complex subjects into strong, simple images blew me away. I often remind myself of a quote by him that says “good illustration should go from the eye to the mind then the heart.”

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You moved from Scotland to London – how’s life in the city? Is there anything you miss about living up north?

I really love London, it’s the first place that’s felt like home other than Edinburgh. I think there’s a bit of a myth that London is an unfriendly & foreboding place but I find it incredibly sociable, open and fun. The only obvious problem is the cost of living.

The thing I miss most about Edinburgh is being able to walk anywhere in 30 minutes, it’s so rare for me to travel anywhere now without hopping on a bus or tube.

One of our favourite designs by you features a man walking a dinosaur – have you ever had any exotic pets?

Nothing exotic sadly, but a countless number of poor wee hamsters.

As well as designing cards and accessories, you’ve worked for some pretty prestigious clients as an illustrator. Which side of your business do you enjoy more, if either?

I really like both, and they sort of compliment one another. With client work the challenge is visually interpreting someone else’s words and sometimes the subject matter can be quite dry, it’s up to you to find a way of making it interesting or fun. The goal for me is to make something that not only fits the brief but also has some personality in it too. When designing products you have a lot more freedom in what you create and it’s easier to be experimental and silly. In the end though, both processes are about trying to make something personal that hopefully relates to an audience.

Do you have any tips for aspiring illustrators?

Make a lot of work. I really think that’s the most important thing.

rplumberWhat’s next on the horizon for you? Are you working on anything at the
moment?

I’m doing some client work for Esquire, it’s about what to do before & after a boozy night to reduce the likelihood of a hangover – I have terrible hangovers so it’s nice to work on something that I could actually benefit from.

I’m also thinking about trying out some new products like wrapping paper, mugs and possibly plant pots – if I can figure out how to make them.

Thanks to Robbie for giving us this glimpse into his working life! His range of illustrated cards, pins and patches is available now on the Hannah Zakari Webshoppe.

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Designer Interviews – Custom Made

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Custom Made’s eclectic range of jewellery is always a customer favourite in the HZ shoppe, so its designer Anna Butler was a natural choice for our next Designer Interview!

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Aimee talked to Anna about her process and her inspirations, and received some wise words for aspiring designers.

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How did you get Custom Made started, and do you have any advice for other people who want to start their own business?

I started Custom Made when I decided to leave my job as a Menswear Designer. I had always wanted to work for myself so decided to make the leap. I was lucky because I worked freelance as a designer for a couple of years also so I could balance that with growing the business.

There comes a time when you need to make the leap to just the business though if you want it to grow. I think that pretty much becomes apparent when the time comes. It did for me, and talking to pal that also run small businesses I think it’s pretty common. Advice? Well, you need to really believe in and have a passion for what you are making/selling. Believe me its bloody hard work. There will be times when you feel like giving up BUT you just have to keep on going. NEVER GIVE UP!

Also now there are so many good resources for info on selling, wholesale, making social media work. So much more information than when I started Custom Made. At the end of the day though working things out for yourself are very gratifying.

Oh and I cannot stress enough KEEP ON TOP OF YOUR ACCOUNTS. If you are discovering at the end of the year you haven’t made any money its too late to do anything about it. Know what’s gone into your bank account and out on a daily basis. As soon as I started doing that by business flourished.

Also cost your products correctly. Never ever be a busy fool.

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Can you tell us a bit about your manufacturing process?

All Custom Made products are made/assembled in the studio. I have an industrial sewing machine and overlocker. All our purses and clutches are designed, pattern cut, cut, made and finished in the studio. With the jewellery, lots of our items are constructed using laser cut acrylic and metals stampings. I design all the jewellery pieces, they are cut by a laser cutter and then assembled in the studio. I have just added a new big long assembly desk. It’s great to work at and my cat has her bed at one end so when I’m alone in the studio I still have company! Spending time making jewellery is a great way to spend the day.

How do you come up with ideas for new designs?

I always find this question really hard to answer as it’s different for each product and collection. With the laser cut acrylic jewellery I spend a lot of time making shapes in illustrator and playing with colour. As I said I use cut acrylic shapes and metal stampings. I usually print out sheets of shapes I have drawn and lay metal pieces over them. I am very inspired by colour and shape and spend lots of time playing with both.

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Are there any other designers or artists you find particularly inspiring?

I really love Scout Editions. Everything about their work is beautiful. Beautiful colours, and beautiful artwork and products.

Do you have a favourite item in the Custom Made collection?

My current favourite is the Curve Necklace. They are so simple but the contrasting colours in each makes them. They are also very satisfying to make! They have also been super popular so I’m very happy. I still, after all this time love that fact that I make products and people buy them and wear them. It still blows my mind and makes me happy.

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What does the future hold for you and Custom Made? Do you have any exciting plans lined up?

I’m always on the look out for exciting projects and events. There are a few things in the pipeline that I cant really talk about at the moment. But I just want to keep doing what I do and just keep making Custom Made better. Every day is a school day.

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Our thanks to Anna for sharing an insight into her beautiful designs!

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Designer Interviews – Laura Berger

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Laura Berger is definitely one of our most loved designers. Girls walk around the HZ Shoppe looking at the jewellery while their boyfriends stand and chuckle at the cards occasionally running up to them with a silly grin on their face to show what cheeky nugget of Laura’s imagination they’ve found!

In this latest of our designer interviews, Vicky talks to Laura about what makes her tick and if she really uses her bottom as a drum…

Laura Berger

Describe a typical day…

Most days I get up around 9 and coffee is first and foremost.  I like to drink a first cup sitting in my little meditation / plant space in my living room because there’s good sun in there if the sun is out and I associate that space with good feelings, so it feels like a nice start.  Then I usually plod through some tasks that coffee is helpful with, like emailing and such.  After that, for the last year or so it’s been anywhere between 10-15 hours working most days.  That could include painting, animating, designing paper goods, packaging paper goods, packaging online orders, ordering supplies, updating sites and social media, googling tech forums to try to fix something that’s broken, weeping gently, making little ceramics… a whole slew of options there. Painting and designing is really time consuming, but it’s also what I like the best of course, so the hours fly by when I’m working.  Lately I’m really into the George Michael station on Pandora.  I try to get some yoga or a walk snuck in there somewhere.  And a late dinner with my man pal or a friend sometimes.  I usually have an adult reward when I’m done working so I can delineate the end of my day — like a glass of wine or something — on my back porch if it’s warm enough.  I have a beautiful alley view.  So basically my day is structured around beverage enjoyment, I guess.  I do fun things too, I swear.  And I always take Sundays off.

Do you have any rituals to help you get inspired when facing a creative block?

The best way for me to clear a creative block is to put it all down and walk away and stop thinking about any of it.  Travel is the ultimate best way.  But even something as simple as going for a walk or just taking a shower can help.  Grasping and stress kills all ideas.  Stress is bad and dumb.  I get the most ideas when I’m doing something completely unrelated to working or something sort of meditative — like long-distance driving, or looking out a plane window, or just sitting and staring at the ceiling and not thinking.  If I let go, everything comes.  Easier said than done, of course.

Work In Progress Laura Berger

 

How much of your work is based on your real life … Have you actually used a butt to play the drums and thrown a pyjama party?

Ha!  um… who hasn’t? Right?  Well, I certainly hope we are all drumming some butts anyway.  They have excellent acoustics.

I mean I guess it’s all from my life in a sense — thoughts that pop up or maybe experiences I have had or want to have.  I really like to be ridiculous.  It is a very lucky thing that I found a person who will put up with my insanity.

Laura Berger Workspace

Do you have any advice for people wanting to start their own business in the creative world?

Make work obsessively because it’s all practice and it will help not only to improve technically, but I think making lots of work also helps to psychologically work through our experiences, influences, and ideas and really get clear on who we are.  Which then means our own voice can gain clarity and a personal style can start to develop and find its way.   I think if you’re being honest in your work — if you’re really being you —  people will connect with it because it will inherently be unique.  And we’re so fortunate right now with the ability to share our work with people all over the world via social media and the web, so of course you have to make sure to hustle that stuff a little too.

What has been your favourite adventure so far?

Our trip to Japan a couple of years ago was pretty awesome.  I love it there.  

You have such a great sense of humour in your work! Has it ever gotten you into trouble?

Thank you! And yes!  I always got in trouble in school for talking too much.  I was a pro prank phone caller among my friends, back in the prehistoric times before Caller ID was invented.  This is why this solitary work life is super challenging for me.  I’m a talker.

Work In Progress Laura Berger

If you were reincarnated, what do you think you’d come back as and why?

I hope I will come back as a small fluffy animal.  I don’t care what kind.  It just seems really nice to be small and fluffy and sleep a lot and get petted. And if I’m an animal then I don’t have to go through gym class again.  I was awful at it.

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Thank you so much to Laura and Vicky and stay tuned for more designer interviews coming soon!

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Designer Interviews – One We Made Earlier

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Next up in our new series of designer interviews are husband and wife duo Emma and Rob Orchardson of One We Made Earlier.

The couple design and create bold and beautiful statement jewellery with strong clean lines and a playful geometric theme. Their necklaces are striking art pieces and always gather lots of attention in the HZ shoppe.

Anna spoke to Emma from One We Made Earlier to find out more about the duo’s makings and inspirations behind the brand.

Teo Necklace

What inspired you to start your own jewellery brand?

In a way we didn’t really make the decision to start a jewellery brand at all – it was just the direction that our experimentation ended up taking!

Having worked independently in the worlds of fine art and design, my husband Rob and I decided to pull together our common interests and collaborate on a project. We started to experiment with some different materials and shapes and then after making our first few necklaces for friends and receiving some positive feedback and support, we decided to make more necklaces using our signature rope and various other interesting materials, initially wooden shapes and balls.

Can you describe One We Made Earlier for us?

One We Made Earlier produce contemporary accessories. We work with a wide range of design stores and boutiques both in the UK and much further afield.

We love combining unusual and unexpected materials such as corian – a material mainly used for kitchen worktops with cork or shiny resin balls to compose balanced and minimal designs which have impact when worn or even hung on the wall.

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What is it like working as a creative duo?

It is good – but life is a juggle!

I work in One We Made Earlier full-time whilst also looking after our two young children who are at primary school. Rob also continues his work making sculptures in the world of contemporary art alongside cutting shapes for necklaces in the studio! We recently moved into a very local studio together which has helped our work/life balance a lot!

We tend to work unconventional hours to get everything done – I work school hours and then again in the evening. Somehow it works, but it can be crazy if we have a lot of orders on!

What are your main inspirations?

Inspiration stems from many sources and is often influenced by exhibitions we are visiting, books we are reading, things we have noticed in daily life in London or places we have been. Some of our foundational sources of inspiration include Memphis use of colour and pattern, the boldness of Constructivist design, Bauhaus simplicity and futurist stage set designs.

Can you tell us a little about the design process behind the development of your collections?

Our design process is very playful and experimental. If we have found a new surface we like, Rob will cut it into various shapes and we will play around with different compositions of shapes until something works well for both of us. From one design, another often emerges organically.

Having worked with existing surfaces for a while such as corian, we are now interested in developing some of our own surfaces, casting and creating our own shapes for future collections.

Otto Necklace

What advice would you give someone interested in getting into the jewellery design business?

I guess it is easy to imagine you would be sitting at a bench making things all day every day. Of course there are many, many hours spent doing that (in our case cutting and sanding!) but there are so many other aspects to running a business to keep on top of in order to keep the business alive and build your brand.

Social media is key these days and also taking part in events where you can meet customers face to face, gather feedback on your work and see what else is happening in the design world around you.

Any collaborations with other creatives currently in the pipeline?

Potentially, yes…Watch this space!

And lastly, what’s next? What is your vision for the future of One We Made Earlier?

As I mentioned before, we are currently experimenting with making our own surfaces for new necklaces. We are also considering other product lines.

We will be taking part in Designjunction at London Design Festival again in September, so come and visit us there!

Thanks to both Anna and Emma from One We Made Earlier. It is fantastic to know more about what inspires our designers to make such beautiful jewellery!

Stay tuned for more designer interviews coming soon!

 

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Designer Interviews – Après Ski

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Next in line in our new series of Designer interviews is Lucía Vergara of Spanish brand Après Ski. Launched in 2009, Après Ski ties vintage and modern pieces together to create original and unique accessories. Her newest collection has just arrived here at the HZ shoppe and we absolutely love all of it, can we have one of everything please?!

Anna speaks to Lucía where she reveals a little of her creative process behind Après Ski and shares some advice for anyone thinking of starting their own jewellery line.

Hey Lucía, so what inspired you to start Après Ski?

The name Après Ski refers to the “après ski” (after skiing) aesthetic of the 1950s, which was the original source of inspiration for the brand. It also has a meaning in the sense of accomplishment that follows a completed task or after making an effort, in that way those precious moments of relax are a reward and a source of happiness, a bit like my accessories I hope.

Can you describe Après Ski for us?

Before starting my own brand I worked for three years developing Lydia Delgado’s accessories collections, after meeting her by chance in the store I was working at. During that time I also collaborated with other brands like Ailanto. But after that time I wanted to develop a more personal project where I would have complete freedom to create my own pieces. It was a very natural process because I had been making my own accessories for a while and also made some for my friends on request.

What would you say are your main inspirations?

I am inspired by pastel colours, geometric shapes, nature, avant-garde art movements and “poor” materials. Everything that inspires me is clearly reflected in my work.

Can you tell us a little about your design process behind the development of your collections?

My creative process is very organic. Since I don’t have an education in design I started with learning the basic principles of artistic education. I’m always on the lookout for materials everywhere I go so I have piles of materials, once I have a concept I want to develop I follow my instincts arranging pieces by textures and colours and making up shapes. I always have a lot of fun creating these compositions in such an intuitive way. It’s a bit like mixing painting and collage and it works great for me to put my ideas down, since I don’t sketch.

What advice would you give someone interested in getting into the jewellery design business?

The best anyone can do is to stay true to themselves and be who they really are, without letting other people’s opinions or judgements affect the way they feel or think. I believe it’s very important to find something you are good at and try to do it in your own personal way.

Are you currently working on any new collaborations with other creatives?

Right from the start of the Après Ski I always knew I wanted to collaborate with artists and to associate with all this creative people, so the idea of the collaborative packaging series was there right from the start. The last collaborations have been with Lolo y Sosaku, Charlotte Trounce and Robbie Whitehead.

And lastly, what’s next??

My plans so far are learning not to plan, haha! Make an effort to be able to live in the present. My goals for the brand are learning to manage it better and being able to have a permanent in-house team. I would love to be able to have the time to design and experiment more.

As for my dreams for the future, I have too many to list they range from being a ceramist to having a big house with a garden.

Thanks to Anna and Lucía for taking the time to chat to us about the wonderful Après Ski. You can shop their current collection on Hannah Zakari, right *here*!

We hope that you are enjoying this new series of designer interviews and maybe they will inspire you to start your own line of jewellery or creative venture!

Stay tuned for the next one coming soon!

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Designer Interviews – One + Eight

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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!

Sea Urchins & Drift wood (B&W)

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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Festive DIY Decoration Ideas with Clare Nicolson

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We featured HZ designer Clare Nicolson’s bijou London studio apartment in our Zine and blog last year. Recently she has moved into a new London home and has been busy turning her new rented place into a design-lover’s dream (her pegboard kitchen is my favourite idea so far), all of which is documented on her new blog. We thought we’d share some of her recent festive DIY ideas she’s used in her home as they’re right up our street, being very colourful and cute yet classy!

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Clare’s having a colourful white Christmas this year, with this fun tree.

 

Clare  loves Christmas, but doesn’t always love the traditional red and green colour combo and is not the biggest fan of the endless glitter and foil the high street is trying to get us to fill our homes with every year. Therefore this year, she decided to make a minimal, wintry wall hanging to decorate her living space featuring natural pine cones and the metal of the season – copper.

 

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Clare’s wintery DIY wall-hanging.

These are the things you’ll need to make the wallhanging.  See Clare’s blog for a full step by step guide to making one of your own.

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Tools of the trade.

 

We love this mdf Chrismtas tree adorned with cute, colourful ornaments.

Clare made this Christmas tree alternative using some 6mm MDF, leftover paint, wooden hooks and her favourite decorations. The wooden triangle measures 120cm wide x 140cm high. Most timber yards/DIY stores can cut this for you, but if you want to downsize the tree you could create the same look with cutting the same shape out of mount board / cardboard.

Clare has chosen a lovely pastel blue shade for her wooden tree and decorated with cute colourful ornaments and tiny bauble trimming reminscent of pom-poms.

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Clare’s DIY MDF Christmas Tree.

 

If you like Clare’s Christmas styling ideas have a look at her pastel-coloured world on Instagram and check out her blog.

 

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A peek into Clare’s Instagram world full of sugary-sweet pastels.

Ho ho ho!

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Birthday Zine Interviews Pt 6: I Am Acrylic

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We’ve been having lots of fun these last few weeks, celebrating our 10th birthday and interviewing our zine contributors! Latest on the list is I Am Acrylic who we were lucky enough to hang out with in Edinburgh a few weeks ago. Again we asked them 10 questions and this is what they answered…

Brendan and Ruth - I Am Acrylic
Brendan and Ruth – I Am Acrylic

Did you have a childhood career ambition?

Ruth: Long distance lorry driver.

Brendan: I wanted to be a robot that turned into a car.

If you could go on holiday anywhere tomorrow where would it be?

R & B: We’d go straight back to Edinburgh (having just had the best holiday there!)

What is the best place to visit in the town/city you live? London:

R: The Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Road via Columbia Road Flower market on a Sunday.

B: Mama Thai, best place for lunch and just round the corner from us on Toynbee Street.

Tell us one thing we’d never know about you?

R: I’ve done a loop-the-loop in a glider – twice!

B: I buy my shirts from BHS Children’s school uniform dept.

What’s the best joke you know?

R: What did the cat get when she ate a ball of wool? Mittens!

B: My nephew sent me the best joke for my birthday: Why did the cow cross the road? To get to the udder side! (see attached photo)

Toby's joke.
Toby’s joke.

If you weren’t doing this for a living what would you like to do?

R: I’d be a super sleuth…a bit like Jessica Fletcher (you know…..her from Murder She Wrote)

B: I’d be a robot that turned into a car!

What music/radio etc do you listen to when you’re working?

R: BBC Radio 6music B: Talk Sport – or my spotify playlist: http://open.spotify.com/user/bwyfan/starred

Who is your biggest artistic inspiration?

R: It changes all the time between various members of my family and famous artists and designers…currently my uncle who made my favourite ever wooden dolls.

B: Chris Burden (An American artist working in performance, sculpture, and installation art)

Ruth's Uncle is her current biggest artisitic inspiration.
Ruth’s favourite wooden dolls, made by her uncle.

Do you have a favourite feel good film of all time. What is it?

R: Desperately Seeking Susan ranks very highly as a favourite film.

B: Die Hard

Desperately Seeking Susan
Desperately Seeking Susan

Do you have a favourite quote or phrase?

R: Suck it up and stop crying!

B: Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker (you know…..it’s from Die Hard)

Coming soon we’ll have our very own version of I Am Acrylic’s zine contribution – a mechanical HZ world! You really don’t want to miss it!

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