This week’s Meet the Maker focuses on three very different makers; Calico Collective, Design & Tea and 504 Krafts by K. Each of these makers offers varied products, so we wanted to explore how they discovered different mediums, their top advice for market selling and running a small business, and their plans for 2021.
Pedddle: Tell us a little more about your business…
Calico Collective: I’m Charlotte, and I’m based in Manchester. I create consciously crafted, small batch homeware and jewellery – specifically using lino printing, jesmonite and polymer clay to produce budget friendly, statement pieces, including wall hangings and home décor, plant pots, jewellery and trinket dishes.
Design & Tea: I am Julieta from Design and Tea, my design studio in South East London. I am a graphic designer, illustrator, and mum to a 2 year old little girl.
Inspired by my daughter and wanting her to grow up surrounded by positivity, I created a collection of fun colourful art prints, with inspiring and empowering messages.
I designed the prints into colour collections to make it easy for you to mix and match them to create a gallery wall to go with your home décor – you’ll be sure the prints will look good together without being samey.
The idea behind the prints is that children can develop into them. First by recognising and naming shapes and colours, then letters, later on they will be able to read the phrases all by themselves and with our help, understand the meaning of the messages and how they apply to them.
For adults, the prints work as brilliant motivational reminders to have around the home or office, or as part or a gallery wall (pictured below). Who doesn’t need a little reminder such as ‘Don’t be afraid to be you’?
504 Krafts by K: I’m Kirsten, the hands behind 504 Krafts by K. I make crocheted and sewn items such as bags, shawls, scarves, stuffed toys. I was born and grew up in Honduras (hence the 504 in my company name, our dialling code!). I’m now married to a Brit and mother of two young children who are the fuel to my life!
I started making things for my children and my loved ones, so I have always tried to make them as best as I can. Every single item I make, whether it’s crocheted or sewn, involves lots of effort and practice but, most importantly, love!
Pedddle: What’s new for 2020?
Calico Collective: My Dawn to Dusk A3 Riso Print and Take Me Home A4 Riso Print are brand new this year, and I’ve recently added an Earth Planter and Earth Striker Pot to my new collection too. You can see some of the newbies pictured below!
Design & Tea: I haven’t launched any new products yet in 2021 but I still have very limited numbers of the gorgeous A Fem Art Nation print boxes, that would be perfect as a Valentine/Galentine gift (25 prints for £30 on my Etsy).
I am working on a few new prints designs for Valentine’s Day, which I am really excited to be launching next week (I will reveal on my Instagram – click here to check it out).
I have also been testing different paper stocks to be able to print on demand (I am really fussy about paper!) and I am super happy to say I found the perfect card stock, which prints in such an amazing quality. I will now be able to offer all my prints in A5 size (some people like this size for a gallery wall or small spaces / inspiration boards). I need to update my Etsy shop with the A5 sizes but if you want to order any print in A5, please contact me! Printing on demand will also allow me to offer more designs in a variety of sizes, custom sizes, personalised prints and greetings cards and best of all, it will avoid any wastage, being kinder for the planet.
504 Krafts by K: I am currently working on writing my own knitting patterns. I have so far made a John Lennon pattern, that you can see on my Instagram page (pictured below) I am looking forward to writing patterns more and more this year. They’re a great lockdown pastime!
Pedddle: What is your best selling product, and why do you think this is?
Calico Collective: Our bestselling product would probably be the Sunflower A4 Lino Print (pictured below) – this has been a product I’ve produced since starting my business last year and it has always been popular! It’s available in a range of colours, as well as the option to choose a custom colour, and has been described as the perfect floral print to brighten up a space. Something perfect for brightening lockdown too!
Design & Tea: My best-selling products have been my ‘Little Dreamer Big Dreams’ print, my ‘Don’t Be Afraid To Be You’ print and my Christmas cards.
I think the ‘Don’t Be Afraid To Be You’ print resonates with loads of people in different ways, and it is such a positive message. People have been ordering it to hang in their office spaces to keep themselves motivated and also in kids’ rooms to inspire them and teach them not to doubt themselves. The colour palettes and the geometric design have been really well received too (not many people realise the shapes represent people of different colours, shapes and sizes and how we are better together. Note to self: I should talk about the thoughts behind the designs more often!).
The ‘Little Dreamer Big Dreams’ print is just really sweet with the friendly round typeface and the moon and clouds illustration, and has been very popular as a new baby gift. It just encapsulates how much we would love our kids to grow up dreaming to be the best they can be.
My mid-century modern and scandi-inspired Christmas card collection this year has been my first one and I was blown away at how well received it was. People talked about how much they liked the simple geometric minimalist designs and the colour palettes. So this is something I will be definitely looking at offering more of.
504 Krafts by K: People seem to really like my amigurumis (stuffed toys, pictured below). They are cute and very long-lasting, unique pieces – whether they are for children or for people making special keepsake collections!
Pedddle: You work with a wide variety of mediums, creating varied products. How did you discover such varied mediums, and how did you learn the skills it takes to produce your products?
Calico Collective: Lino Printing has been a medium which I’ve been fascinated by for many years, originally learning the technique in a school art lesson when I was 14. It’s a technique which I’ve practiced on and off ever since and, with the first Covid-19 lockdown last year, I had the
opportunity to really delve into the medium and experiment to find my style.
It was during this experimentation period that I discovered the brilliant, lightweight properties of polymer clay for making jewellery, having previously used it for model making during my degree.
Jesmonite is a material that I had also come across while completely my degree in Theatre Design, as it’s perfect for creating intricate, moulded details for set and props. Having researched its rather unique properties, I began building and developing my homeware range.
Design & Tea: I have been working as a designer for over 20 years now. I am originally from Buenos Aires, where I studied graphic design at the University of Buenos Aires and came to London almost 19 years ago, where I continued to work in design.
Design is what I truly love and I don’t think I could live without it. I always say that you don’t just work as a designer but you are a designer. You can’t switch it off, it just goes with you wherever you go and shapes the way you see and experience the world.
My love for typography and colour comes from my design background. I love being inspired by design, art galleries and exhibitions, illustration, photography, street art; anything and everything inspires me. I love the buzz of London, which I have been missing loads during lockdown. That was luckily filled with the buzz on Instagram, which has been great and gave me the chance to meet new and amazing people, who I’d love to meet in real life one day, once we’re back to ‘normal’.
504 Krafts by K: I learnt how to crochet at school when I was a kid back in my home country, Honduras. Not long after I moved to England, I took a crochet class, which seemed to remind my brain what it already knew. I then started looking for patterns and new stitches/techniques I didn’t know. I also took a knitting class as it was something I always dreamt of learning, but crochet just stuck with me!
Pedddle: What do you love most about working with diverse mediums and materials, and what is your favourite thing about your craft?
Calico Collective: For me, working with a wide range of materials allows for a lot of growth and development. When I’m struggling with creative block, it helps me to be able to step away from one medium and experiment with another. Something I really love about working across a range of disciplines is that, despite their differences, I’m able to bring my own style to the way I work in each.
Design & Tea: I am obsessed by quality, so naturally my prints had to feel just perfect. I pride myself in researching the best materials and processes. Before I launched my prints you should have seen the pile of paper and printing samples I had on my desk! I needed to make sure everything was just right.
Also, I am really happy to partner with local businesses to produce my products. I take pride in designing and choosing all the small details, like the tissue paper, the thank you cards, and the packaging. I feel it all contributes to what makes it so special to buy from a small independent business; the attention to detail and the personalised service.
504 Krafts by K: Although I work with different materials, I really like working with cotton mostly. It is a fibre that most people can use/wear and I find it can be used in multiple types of projects and seasons. It is nice to do a mixture of crochet and sewing as it keeps it fresh.
Pedddle: What is the best piece of advice you could give to anyone wishing to start their own small business?
Calico Collective: Find your niche. The creative community is an incredibly supportive place, don’t be afraid to grow and develop and explore your ideas. Look for inspiration outside of your discipline – I
always find I’m most inspired when I can take myself out of my work and feel inspired by my surroundings.
Design & Tea: Just go for it! It’s not easy, it’s got its ups and down, and you will need to wear loads of different hats but the rewards are huge. And the flexibility of being your own boss is just amazing. Having someone purchase a product you dreamt of and created from scratch is just the best feeling in the world.
504 Krafts by K: I have a marketing and economic background, so I would say look around a bit for what there is out there already. It’s very difficult to make it for small businesses, but the feeling of creating and sharing your talent with others is amazing!
Pedddle: Evidently, we love markets! What first made you consider selling your products at markets?
Calico Collective: Selling my products at markets seemed like a very distant dream when I first began Calico Collective. Back in May 2020, I took part in the Curated Makers Postable Pop Up through Instagram, which was the first time I’d ever displayed my work all together for people to see. It really gave me a boost to consider selling at in-person markets.
It was actually through helping my family’s business, who started trading at Markets after the first lockdown, that I felt inspired to take the leap and trade at markets myself. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made for my business – I’m eagerly awaiting the day they can start up again!
Design & Tea: Having launched my prints at the end of 2019, I missed most chances for applying for Christmas markets that year and I only participated in a local one by a cooperative I am part of (The Hill Trader, in Telegraph Hill). When lockdown happened, my hopes of being active in markets just disappeared. However, I was lucky to participate in a local Christmas market (Brockley Studios Christmas Market) in December 2020, and it was a great experience.
For me, talking to people and seeing their reactions to my products is just great. It’s so encouraging and lovely to meet and talk to people interested in what I do. I would love to participate in markets again once we’re able to do so.
504 Krafts by K: My family and friends encouraged me for years before I actually got the courage to do it! I’ve only taken part in one physical market before this new lockdown, but I experienced something unique there; I saw happiness in children’s eyes when holding and taking my creations with them! That feeling!!! WOW!!!
Pedddle: What is the best piece of advice you can give to anyone who dreams of selling their products at artisan markets?
Calico Collective: Get yourself out there! It’s easy to keep putting it off but I’m so sure that once you’ve started and taken the plunge, you won’t want to stop. Perhaps try out an online, virtual market to begin with – these can be a really good way to get a feel for your stall and audience. For me, selling at markets is worth every early morning and freezing cold day just to have the chance to speak to customers in person and interact with them, especially if you’ve only sold online before.
Also – try not to be too disheartened if you don’t sell anything the first time – it’s all a process! Don’t be put off because it’s completely normal, it’s all about experimenting with what works and putting yourself out there.
Design & Tea: Just go for it! It is such a rewarding experience. If it is Autumn/Winter then wrap up extra warm, lots of layers, put on your thickest socks and rubber soled boots and take a packed lunch, snacks and a big flask of your favourite hot drink. You will need it, as hopefully, you will be so busy you won’t have time to go search for what to eat!
Talk to your fellow stallholders too – it’s lovely to know your neighbours and support each other and feel part of the community.
504 Krafts by K: It will sound cliché, but follow your dreams! In Spanish, we say “go after the YES as you already have the NO!”. Even if 504 Krafts by K doesn’t make it in this very crowded small business market, I will never regret trying my best and sharing the love that I have for crochet, which translates into unique pieces!