We chatted about their backgrounds, creative inspirations and the benefits of unleashing your creativity and finding a sense of balance and calm in the process. Read our Q&A below to find out more about these wonderful makers, as well as what’s coming next for them as the world of small businesses prepares for the busy festive season!
Pedddle: When did you first become interested in producing your products, and where did learn the skills it takes to produce them?
Rima Linden: My friendship with macrame started many years ago. I grew up in a creative family and always loved to learn new crafts. My mother was the person who introduced me to basic macrame knots in my early teenage years. Since then, I use creative knotting in my projects. I have a lot of plants and more than a year ago, after making a few macrame plant hangers for myself, I decided to start my own business. Although I create a variety of products, plant hangers are still my favourite product to make.
imogen melissa: I studied Textile Design at Bath School of Art and Design, where I specialised in embroidery. For my degree collection I created a series of sculptural embroideries, pushing the limits of traditional embroidery. Since graduating, I haven’t stopped stitching! I’ve been making and creating my own embroideries while also working in various textile studios in London.
I have always wanted to work for myself and run my own business, so when the pandemic hit, it gave me the time to develop this idea and that’s when imogen melissa was created! I wanted to share my passion for embroidery and modernise people’s perceptions of the craft, filling their homes with joyful and happy art that makes them smile!
Katrina Alexander Jewellery: I launched my jewellery business in 2008, after a long and stressful career in the events industry. I found the process of hand carving each piece of jewellery in wax initially as a meditative, relaxing process, balancing out the stresses of freelance event work. After encouragement from an artist friend, I took the leap to do Top Drawer, and from there started to supply shops, galleries and online businesses on a small scale. Over time, and from doing more small markets followed by trade and public events, the business grew!
Pedddle: We’d love to know more about your process, the materials you use and what you’re inspired by!
Katrina Alexander Jewellery: Each piece of jewellery is designed to be tactile, with non-symmetrical edges that hang in different ways, responding to the movement of the body, meaning the jewellery can be worn in different ways and is designed for the independent and sustainably minded.
I work using the ancient art of lost wax casting, and this is how I creates the smooth, flowing, sculptural pieces. They’re sustainably made, in sterling silver with a touch of gold. My shapes are inspired by everything that I see and experience daily – from architectural design, textures, random objects, shadows and light reflections.
Rima Linden: For me, macrame is a form of meditation and a great way to relax. I try to use as many natural fibres as possible, mainly eco-friendly 100% recycled cotton cord made out of the textile industry waste. The cord is free from harmful chemical substances and no dye or water are used in the manufacturing process. Using different knot combinations, I create patterns and shapes, paying much attention to colours and function. Recently I started to incorporate weaving techniques into my designs too. I have been passionate about interior design and plants since I was a kid, and this is my main inspiration source.
imogen melissa: My embroidery artworks are all inspired by coral reefs, looking at the coral forms and recreating them with 3D beading techniques and hand embroidery. I spend a lot of time studying images of coral, sourcing the perfect fabrics and beads to create the embroideries. Colour is really important to my work, I love to create exciting colour palettes showing embroidery in a more contemporary way.
imogen melissa is all about modernising embroidery, which is why I also create embroidery bundles and kits so you can give it a go yourself. The embroidery bundles have been designed to give you a taste of hand embroidery and beading, whether you are a total newbie or a craft lover looking to try something new. The colour palettes have been curated for you, sourcing the perfect beads and sequins to play with and get creative!
Pedddle: As a small business owner, what do you love about visiting markets and shopping small?
imogen melissa: Markets are a totally new thing to me, as imogen melissa is only one year old! Although I have been to many craft markets over the years as a customer with my mum, being a stallholder is totally different, but I have really enjoyed the whole experience! It’s been so lovely to talk to customers in person and hear instant feedback on products (something you don’t get online). Another huge positive from the markets has been building relationships with other makers. Working on imogen melissa is very solitary, working away by myself most days so I find myself looking forward to market days and being excited about meeting the other stall holders and feeling part of a community.
Being a small business owner myself I know how exciting it is to receive an order, you are quite simply supporting someone’s dream and cheering them on from the sidelines! For me, I find shopping small so rewarding as every order always has a personal touch to go with it and it’s totally different to anything you would receive on the high-street. I particularly love to shop small when gifting – you always find such beautiful and personal pieces which you can then shout about to your family and friends and encourage them to shop small too!
Katrina Alexander Jewellery: I love taking part in events and markets as it provides a perfect opportunity to really talk through pieces to prospective customers and to talk through the inspiration behind my work. It is also a wonderful way to meet other designers and makers and to buy and support other small creative businesses.
Rima Linden: I love the opportunity to meet so many talented small business owners and to see their beautiful products in one place. I sold in a few markets myself, it was my first experience as a seller in-person. Although I am a very introverted and shy person, I like to meet new people and my clients in markets, it is very different from selling online. Market visitors very often give useful insights and ideas and you can see how they react to your products which are not always possible behind the screen.
Small business owners put so much effort, time, attention, care and love into their products. I like the personal touch that only small businesses and creatives can provide and that the majority of their products are produced locally. Shopping small helps to boost the local economy, and I love the idea that by shopping small you can support someone’s dream.
Pedddle: Running your business through the pandemic, did you find you had to adapt in any new ways?
Rima Linden: My business is very new, and I started it at the beginning of the first lockdown, so online selling was the first thing that I tried. The biggest changes that I faced began when everything opened up and people started visiting in-person markets again. It took me a lot of time to prepare for the first market, but I gained a lot of useful experience.
Katrina Alexander Jewellery: The pandemic created challenges in many ways, but fortunately I found it didn’t affect my creative process! After a long period of illness before the pandemic, I was highly motivated to create many new designs. The pandemic provided many new customers and it was a privellege during lockdowns to make pieces for special gifts, connecting those that were separated, by writing out heartfelt hand-written messages.
imogen melissa: My business started during the pandemic, it had always been something I wanted to do but struggled to find the time while working full time at a textile studio. The extra time the pandemic gave us led me to create imogen melissa! In a way, coming out of the pandemic has been a learning curve for me and my business as I have just started doing my very first in person markets.
I started my business on Etsy and after getting my first few sales, I realised it’s something I really could do. As we were all restricted to staying at home I wanted to spend time working on the online experience for customers and create something authentically imogen melissa, so, I created my website to display my work and sell directly from. It’s been a challenge, but I’ve learned a lot of new skills doing this and I’m really pleased with the end result.
Pedddle: We’re coming up to the busiest time of year! What’s next in store for you?
imogen melissa: I have several markets on the agenda including Farnham Malting’s Christmas Fair, Guildford Craft & Flea and South London Makers Market in Crystal Palace! And most excitingly of all I’m going to be doing a pop up in John Lewis in Oxford, a total dream come true. It’s going to be a very busy few weeks ahead, but all super exciting!
Katrina Alexander Jewellery: I’m looking forward to exhibiting with new galleries this year, and next, and to growing the business further.
Rima Linden: I try to pay attention to every small detail, so new designs often come to life very slowly. At the moment, I’m creating a few new products for the festive season, and I hope I’ll be able to introduce them soon!