Gal Pals in Creative Biz : Rachel Ward

I’m taking this weeks interview back to Nottingham with fellow crafter and Nottingham Etsy Team member Rachel Ward who runs REW Homeware, a gorgeous shop filled with hand knitted and hand dyed cushions. I had the pleasure of first meeting Rachel at last years Bird in Borrowed Feathers market and have been totally inspired by her knitting skills ever since!

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How long have you been a creative powerhouse business for?
I started my business about 18 months ago. I have always dabbled making presents for family and having a stall at the occasional craft fair but I always found it difficult to get going with a lack of space living with parents and as a student. When I relocated to Nottingham in 2013, we bought a house and I had the luxury of a spare bedroom! I straight away knew exactly what I wanted it to be… my very own mini designer & maker studio! (Sorry partner Phil, no Playstation room for you!)

When did you decide that you wanted to take your craft & talent to the public?
Being a commercial Product Designer, I am always designing for other people. I really wanted an outlet which allowed me to design and make what I wanted. I really just wanted to pursue my own interests and (to start with) sell enough product to buy more gorgeous yarn!!

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Do you think creative businesses face greater challenges than non-creative enterprises?
I am not sure if we face greater challenges but we do certainly face different ones! There has been a lot of social media noise recently about setting the right prices for products that have been hand crafted. It can be really disappointing to hear that your item is “too expensive” or “how much!” when potential customer don’t realise the time, effort and love that we put into every single product we make. We can’t compete with high street prices or we wouldn’t make a living. I also think unlike other businesses, creative businesses are less likely hide away from the competition. I have found that other craft business who making similar products are more than happy to share experiences. I had a lovely chat with Lauren Aston the other day who also makes knitted cushions who was just lovely!!

What have been your highest highs?
I was very pleased with what I achieved last Christmas. I worked really hard on building up new and exciting stock for the Christmas fairs and it was an absolute delight to hear positive feedback from all my customers. I felt that my time spent making all the Christmas products was very worthwhile and I was so pleased I was able to invest the money I made into buying a new imac!

And what would you say are your greatest challenges?
Finding the time! (isn’t it always!) I would absolutely love to dedicate myself to REW full time but it just isn’t realistic. Sadly I have realised that having your own creative business is ALOT of REALLY tough work and at the moment, working 9-5 for a commercial design studio, earning a good wage is the sensible option for me. I always wish I had more time for REW to make it bigger and better!

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What’s the work/life balance like?
Crazy! I work full time as well as running REW Homeware so I try and squeeze every minute I can out of every day! I have had to learn to set realistic goals but still push myself to get things done. I started REW because I wanted something to enjoy in the evenings so I try not to let myself get stressed about it.

More and more of us ladies are taking up arms and going into business to make our own fortune. What do you think about the current state of women in self-employment/business?
As young women, we are faced with so many challenges and decisions; progressing with a career, saving to get on the property ladder and the big one… deciding the right time to take a break and start a family. I think making our own fortune is the ideal situation for some women as we get to make the rules. We get to choose when we work and how hard we need to work. Working for ourselves gives us options and we aren’t forced into a 9-5 role which let’s be honest, it’s ideal when you want to consider having a family. I think we will see more women turning to self – employment in an age where career progression and family life need juggling.

Paying it forward, who is your favourite female run creative business?
My gal pal Lauren Holloway owner of Maybe Mabel! She has been a huge inspiration to me over the last year and I am devastated she has just left Nottingham (Bristol, you are one lucky city!) She has worked so hard and managed to make a decent living from doing what she loves best. I just love all the fabrics she chooses especially her new Japanese collection inspired by her recent trip to Japan.

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Any advice for gals out there looking to make their creative mark?
It’s never going to be perfect first time! Just give it a go and you will learn. Don’t be too hard on yourself, if you keep trying hard enough, you will get there!

Favourite quote: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” Walt Disney

Weapon of choice: Chunky Fat British Wool (alongside my 20mm knitting needles!)

 Currently working to: I’m actually a big fan of the radio. I work in my studio in the evening so I usually listen to Annie Mac on Radio 1. If I fancy a chilled evening, then I flip over to Classic FM with a G&T! I’ve also started following Pom Pom magazine’s Podcast which I listen to monthly. (If my Boyfriend is out and I fancy a sing, I head straight for Beyonce!)

Website: https://www.etsy.com/shop/rewhomeware
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rewhomeware
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rewdesignuk
Instagram: https://instagram.com/rew_design/

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

Gal Pals in Creative Biz: Victoria Foster

Week 2 of my ‘Gal Pals in Creative Biz’ goes to Victoria Foster who runs The Aviary; a stunning illustrated and print design house selling delicately illustrated temporary tattoos, jewellery, stationery and homeware. Victoria’s talents seem never ending, so I was excited to see what answers she had for my creative biz questions!

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How long have you been a creative powerhouse business for?

Wow, that’s an amazing accolade, thank you!
I “got serious” about creating my brand and small business just under two and a half years ago.

When did you decide that you wanted to take your craft & talent to the public?

I guess like many arts graduates, I spent a good few years immersed in other people’s creative endeavours to earn a living. When my thirties started to loom, I decided the need to wake up everyday excited about going to a studio and making my own work rather than someone else’s was too strong to ignore.

Armed with a collection of new drawings and a desire to become a small part of the movement against mass-produced items, I just had to hope the public would enjoy my products as much as I enjoyed designing them.

Do you think creative businesses face greater challenges than non-creative enterprises?

To begin with, yes. Probably because creative businesses often provide items or services that aren’t initially recognised as being “useful”. Despite living in such a design-rich society, there seems to be a culture of undervaluing the creative skill base. Hands up how many of us have been asked to do work for free? Having said that, there are some amazing organisations such as The Design Trust, Cockpit Arts and Indie Retail Academy that provide us with brilliant advice and support, right?

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What have been your highest highs?

I’m not sure about highest highs, but I feel really grateful for every single sale and piece of encouraging feedback that is enabling me to lead an independent and varied life.

And what would you say are your greatest challenges?

Managing my time, managing my money, and believing in myself and abilities when the doubt creeps in.

What’s the work/life balance like?

Single-handedly running a creative business can be all consuming. I’ve made my passion my livelihood so it can be tough to step back and take time off. I haven’t mastered the perfect balance yet, that’s for sure! But I still wouldn’t swap it for a “proper” job. Hurrah for supportive loved ones!

More and more of us ladies are taking up arms and going into business to make our own fortune. What do you think about the current state of women in self-employment/business?

I think it’s a really exciting time to be a self-employed, in the creative industries at least! It’s really heartening to see so many talented women being brave and pursuing their dream jobs. It also feels as though there’s an extended support network of likeminded ladies who are all working together to create inspiring and joyful objects and experiences. That glass ceiling still needs chipping away at, but I think there are more opportunities for us girls now than ever before.

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Paying it forward, who is your favourite female run creative business?

It is so tough to pick just one! I recently met botanical illustrator, Charlotte Day. Her work is utterly exquisite and being that she’s a few years ahead of me in the drawing-for-a-living game, she was also really generous with her time and expert advice.

Any advice for gals out there looking to make their creative mark?

It’s still early days for me, but I think one of the key things is to try not to get distracted or discouraged by what other creatives are making or achieving. This can be easier said than done. You have your own way of working and your own distinctive style that will shine through if you trust it.

The Aviary - Illustration and print design house

Favourite quote: I am awful at retaining phrases and quotes, but I love the simplicity and authenticity behind two of Secret Holiday Company’s affirmation banners. ‘Be Kind’ and ‘Be Brave’. Pretty good words to live by.

Weapon of choice: Drawing is at the heart of everything I design and make so it’s got to be the 0.03 Copic Multi-liner.

Currently working to: George Fitzgerald’s, ‘Fading Love’ is on heavy rotation in the studio at the moment, along with all of Warpaint’s back catalogue, Jon Hopkin’s, ‘Late Night Tales’ mix, and if I’m stressed out by a project deadline, A Winged Victory for the Sullen’s, ‘Atomos’ sorts me right out.

Website: www.the-aviary.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/theaviarysocialclub
Twitter: www.twitter.com/VictoriasAviary
Instagram: www.instagram.com/victorias_aviary/

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

 

Gal Pals in Creative Biz : Jo Want

This September I’ve decided to celebrate all things creative biz, in particular the incredibly talented ladies I have met in my time as a small business owner. I think there is something quite magical about the creative biz community, magic that I have never experienced in my previous non-creative and huge corporation jobs, and I thought a little Q&A with some of my favourite gals would hopefully help inspire any of you other ladies who may be wanting to take the self-employed plunge!

To kick off week 1 I have the positively talented Jo Want from Hello Sunshine, answering my questions and imparting her wisdom!

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How long have you been a creative powerhouse business for?

It was 3 years back in February since I started Hello Sunshine as more than a hobby! Eeek!

When did you decide that you wanted to take your craft & talent to the public?

Hello Sunshine was officially formed in 2012 after a few years of floundering and trying to be a creative jack-of-all-trades. In my spare time I was making, drawing, painting and creating all kinds of work for friends and family (which I loved doing) but nothing seemed to gel together. It was all just a nice hobby I guess.

It wasn’t until 2011 when I decided to focus on just laser cut jewellery and illustration that everything seemed to start to come together and make sense for me. I completed my first little, official collection of jewellery and after listing it in a folksy shop I was approached by a local gallery about selling my work there too. I was shocked, thrilled and so excited by this and it gave me the confidence I needed to really push myself and believe that I could actually make Hello Sunshine a real business. That was where it all started really and has grown since then!

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 Do you think creative businesses face greater challenges than non-creative enterprises?

I think running a business, no matter what you do brings its challenges – great and small! I imagine it’s tough whatever market you compete in but personally I think it will always be challenging in a creative business because you not only have to face into people’s personal preference over style and content (not everyone is going to love your work after all!) but you’re up against mass produced products and cheap prices on the high street all the time which often feel like they undermine what you do. Saying that though, the creative community and support for each other that you see out there is so inspiring and reassuring that it will take a lot to dampen my spirits.

What have been your highest highs?

Oooh it has to be earlier this year when I finally took the leap into full time self-employment! Eeek! To leave the security of my job at Boots and jump into the unknown world of self-employment and be my own boss was one of the happiest, most exciting but damn right scariest moments of my life. Definitely my highest high though… I think I’m still buzzing from it too!

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And what would you say are your greatest challenges?

Apart from things like cash flow and spreadsheet shaped things, which will always confuse and stress me out, my greatest challenge is probably dealing with myself. I can be my own worst enemy more often than not; I put so much pressure on myself and often find myself comparing my work to others and wondering why I bother when there are so many amazing people out there who are better than me – it’s not healthy and often leaves me in a pickle for days at a time.

I LOVE what I do and wouldn’t change it for the world but sometimes the paranoid, self-confidence-eating gremlin inside me zaps all of my sunshine and I need to learn how to control it better. I’m slowly learning and talking to and reading about other creative people’s experiences has helped a lot, as it seems this gremlin is a common fiend.

What’s the work/life balance like?

If I’m honest I think it could be better as I find it so hard to switch off even when I’m on holiday/having days off BUT I am a million times better than I was a year ago. I used to make myself poorly quite often and it took a pretty big knock last year to make me stop and listen to what my body and mind needed.

I still try to take on the world and do it all and I will always work my socks off but now I allow myself to have a bit of Jo time now and then. I will take that afternoon nap if I’m exhausted or I’ll leave my phone in another room or go for a run/walk/cycle if I need to escape, whereas before I would ignore the need for a break and power through.

More and more of us ladies are taking up arms and going into business to make our own fortune. What do you think about the current state of women in self-employment/business?

I think it’s amazing and inspiring. I just have to scroll through my instagram feed and creative women running their own successful businesses surround me! I feel so lucky to be part of such a great community, both online and locally in Nottingham. I hope it continues to grow J

Paying it forward, who is your favourite female run creative business?

Oooh my goodness! There are too many to choose from! If I have to choose one then currently I would say that I am greatly inspired by Viktorija of Andsmile Studio. Her illustration style is just divine but on top of all that amazingness her attitude to life and her personality that shines through in all of her work is so positive and friendly it’s infectious!

Any advice for gals out there looking to make their creative mark?

Look after yourself, physically and mentally – this is super important!

Stay focussed and try to remain positive. There will always be ups and downs but you can achieve those dreams if you are positive and determined to do what you love.

Talk to people. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others, ask them questions and listen carefully to their experiences as they can inspire you greatly.

Support each other. With the wealth of online social media and networking opportunities today, it can be overwhelming but sharing experiences and supporting other designers/makers/creatives with likes, comments and general conversation can be so empowering and you can and will meet the nicest people!

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Favourite quote: “If you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” ― Roald Dahl, The Twits

 Weapon of choice: My PEN ORGY pencil case, it contains lots of my favourite weapons… is that cheating?

Currently working to… Oh dear… it’s a bit of a mix but here goes…Royal Blood, Stornoway, Flight of the Conchords, Incubus, Awolnation, Backstreet Boys, Now That’s what I call Disney… please don’t judge me! J

Website: www.hello-sunshine.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Hello.Sunshine.Jo
Instagram: www.instagram.com/sunshine_jo
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sunshine_Jo

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

In August I was mostly…

A quick round-up of one of my busiest months so far!

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…Getting heaps of cuddles with my month old nephew! Here’s a quick sketch I did of him, such a cutie!

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… Reaching personal goals by completing my first 5K run against the strongest wind force ever.

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… Sketching Colin Farrell and his mighty moustache after a crazily disappointing second season of True Detective.

… Making so many new samples! {Some of these will be available in my upcoming Sample Sale this friday}

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… Preparing for the Global Talent Search and completing the assignment for a chance to win representation from Lilla Rogers studio!

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… Completing tons of commissions before the Handmade Fair, including this really touching piece for a 65th wedding anniversary.

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… Baking this Carrot and Walnut cake with cream cheese and orange frosting!

… Organising the first ever Handmade Nottingham x Nottingham Etsy Team Maker Meet Up! Such an amazing evening, and it was even papped by the Nottingham Post.

… Selling at the Great Food and Drink Festival at Newstead Abbey over the Bank Holiday Weekend.

Hope you all had a cracking August, and are ready for whatever September may bring! {even if it’s Autumn..}

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

And the winners are…

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CONGRATULATIONS Maisie Rose Woodward, Rebecca Kite, Karli Dendy and Louise Richardson who have each won a pair of tickets to the Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace this September!

A huge huge thank you to everyone who entered and shared the giveaway – If I could, I would have given tickets to all 92 entrants!

Don’t forget to book your tickets if you haven’t already done so. I’ll be at stand W36!

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

Handmade Fair exhibitors I can’t wait to meet…

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It’s exactly 39 days till the Handmade Fair starts, and although I have an absolute ton of things that I should be doing (new product lines, hello?!) I thought I would share some of the other sellers I am particularly excited to meet!

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Photo from Tilly and the Buttons, taken from the Handmade Fair website

Tilly and the Buttons

I’ve loved following the Instagram of Tilly and the Buttons, finding inspiration for new sewing projects and gaining the confidence needed to really delve into dressmaking. I can’t wait to drop by their stand to pick up a few new dress patterns and get sewing a new wardrobe for the Autumn!

Find Tilly and the Buttons at the East Shopping Village Tent, E4

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Photo from Nikki McWilliams, taken from the Handmade Fair website

Nikki McWilliams

A creative force to be reckoned with, I have loved Nikki’s work since the day I first laid eyes on her digestive biscuit cushion! Playful, tactile and full of joy, Nikki’s hard work and dedication to the love of the British tea break has earnt her a long list of top notch credentials, including recently winning the Established Business award at the Mollie Makes Handmade Awards. I highly recommend everyone to drop by Nikki’s stand for biscuit related goodness.

Find Nikki’s stand at the East shopping village tent, E59a

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Photo from Punto Belle, taken from the Handmade Fair site

Punto Belle

I have had the pleasure of working alongside Lois of Punto Belle at a few craft fairs up and down the country, and now we get to do it all over again! Lois is one talented lady, not just for her insane bag making skills but also for all those bespoke prints she creates for her accessories! You literally will not see her designs anywhere else and her stall is not one to be missed.

Find Punto Belle in the West Shopping Village tent, W43

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Izzi Rainey

As soon as I started browsing through the shopping section of the Handmade Fair site and spotted Izzi’s work I fell in love! Based on a farm in the heart of Norfolk, I love the use of colour and shape in Izzi’s products.

Find Izzi Rainey’s stand at the East Shopping Village tent, E34

Myself, you’ll be able to find my stall in the West tent, W36 and if you still haven’t grabbed yourself a ticket there’s still time to take a chance and win a pair of tickets for yourself and your buddy! Take a look at my giveaway post to see how you can be in with a chance of winning a pair!

Enjoy the rest of this gloriously sunny august Sunday!

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

This month I have been…

Making Jungle Folk handbags! My first ever range of handbags and you lovely lot bought all bar 1!

Cooking with our first ever Hello Fresh box! My personal favourite was the quesadillas with refried bean and pistachio paste.

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Sprucing up my studio space ready for a busy summer ahead…

Adventuring in Derbyshire on an 8 mile hike that took us through fern forests, cow fields, quaint towns and the home of Mr. Darcy, Chatsworth.

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Getting cultural with a live theatre rendition of Emma at Nottingham Castle.

Baking this 3 tier red velvet cake for my mums friends 40th wedding anniversary PLUS tons of banana bread.

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Listening heavily to the final volume of Sons of Anarchy soundtrack as we finished the final ever season!

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And finally, giving away free tickets to the Handmade Fair!

It’s been a busy ol’ month, but I’m excited for August with the upcoming Great Food and Drink festival plus loads more making!

Hope it’s been a good month for you guys too and have a lovely weekend

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015

GIVEAWAY – 4 Pairs of tickets to The Handmade Fair

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This year I have the absolute pleasure of selling at the Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace. In association with Mollie Makes and Hobbycraft, the three day craft spectacular will run from the 18th-20th September with a host of events including Q&A’s, tutorials, demo’s, skills workshops, large scale crafting at the Grand Make PLUS a range of delicious food and drink stalls, an artisan marketplace plus the boutique shopping village where you’ll be able to find me!

It’s going to be my first year going and I’m beyond excited to have a stall (and secretly try and meet Kirsty Allsopp) but I am more so excited because I have the chance to give 4 pairs of tickets away to you guys, for free!

In my biggest ever giveaway, 4 of you lovely humans will be able to take your favourite human and go to the Handmade Fair on any of those dates in September! There are loads of ways to enter, but before I explain how to get your mitts on a pair of these tickets there are some boring but important t&c’s I need to go over so please read carefully to know what you are entering for!

+ Only 4 pairs of tickets available, 2 tickets per winner.
+ You must be available between the 18th-20th September 2015 in order to redeem these tickets.
+ Ticket is only valid for one day.
+ You must complete all the details on the back of the ticket in order to redeem.
+ These are entry only tickets and will not get you into the workshops and classes on the day. You can upgrade for an extra £16.50 to get full entry tickets (Full entry tickets are around £32, saving you almost 50%)
+ Tickets are not for resale.
+ I will contact the 4 winners after the giveaway has ended to get delivery details.
+ Tickets will be posted via signed up 2nd class delivery.

Still up for winning some tickets?
Here are a load of the ways that you can enter this HUGE giveaway:

+ Follow this blog (1 entry)
+ Share this blog post on your blog! (2 entries)
+ Follow me on twitter @DBIllustrations (1 entry)
+ Tweet your entry (1 entry)
+ Follow me on Instagram @db.illustrations (1 entry)
+ Re-gram my giveaway Instagram post (1 entry)
+ Visit me on my Facebook page and give a like (1 entry)

For ease you can log all your entires through a Rafflecopter giveaway widget!

I’ll be running this giveaway for 4 weeks, starting this evening from 6pm until the 18th August 12am.

Good luck!

Deborah x

____________________________________________________________________

NEW LOGO extra small

Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.

http://www.deborahballinger.co.uk

@DBIllustrations

http://www.facebook.com/deborahballingerillustrations

Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015