This week’s Featured Traders all create unique products using mixed crafts and reusable materials, and each one shares the same ethos; ensuring their products are sustainable. In this week’s Meet the Maker, we chatted to Rhubarb Tree, Crafted by Kate, Curly Lulu, Jennifer Lemon Designs and Turquoise Gem Textiles about how they kept their businesses going during the pandemic, being sustainable and creating their products.
Pedddle: How do you feel about returning to the markets? What are you most looking forward to?
Rhubarb Tree: I’m really looking forward to returning to markets, the pieces I make can sometimes be too fragile to post, so to be able to sell in person again makes that easier. I also love meeting fellow stallholders and it’s lovely to meet new and returning customers and to see their reactions to my products.
Crafted By Kate: I feel a little apprehensive about returning to markets as I’m just so not used to being around lots of people anymore. But I am really looking forward to the buzz of markets again and actually being able to meet and chat to my customers. I am also looking forward to seeing people’s responses again when they feel our jewellery and it feels softer and lighter than they would have expected.
Curly Lulu: I absolutely cannot wait to get back to markets! I’ve just missed seeing people and getting their responses, questions and feedback. I think seeing products in real life is so important for customers as part of the buying process, it really helps them connect to them and I’m really looking forward to the next few months when I have a few in person markets booked! I’ve also really missed my fellow stall holders – I can’t wait to see them all and get back to doing what we all do best!
Jennifer Lemon Designs: My work is so tactile so when customers can see and hold the pieces, see how light they are and give them a try in real life it’s much better than trying to translate that online. I love chatting to customers and sharing my story with them, which really helps people feel connected to you as a small business too. To be honest I can’t wait and I’m so excited to get back to real life events, although to be honest I definitely think I’ll be feeling rusty. Just need to remember – don’t forget the card reader!
Turquoise Gem Textiles: I have already attended my first physical market at the beginning of May in Canterbury hosted by Etsy Made Local. It felt amazing to be back attending these. There were lots of customers and the event was very busy but with Covid regulations in place. I am looking forward to attending more.
Pedddle: Were you able to continue creating and selling your products during the pandemic?
Rhubarb Tree: During the pandemic I was very fortunate to be busy. I made the decision at the start of the first lockdown to do a weekly giveaway. This was something I hadn’t done before, but it was really nice to do something kind for others. I did create some new designs because of this, mainly about having hope.
Crafted By Kate: Throughout the pandemic I have continued to create and sell our jewellery and have taken part in lots of virtual online markets. It has been tough though as such a tiny business to rise above the noise of social media and to balance it with so much more going on at home with the kiddies around and homeschooling.
Curly Lulu: At the start of lockdown it did feel very scary when everything stopped and it was hard to see how to keep going. But in the end, I just looked at what I could do and was able to send out smaller items and then over time, I was able to again open up my Etsy shop fully and was able to provide all of The Pants Gang needs that people had! I also took part in lots of online markets during the last year, and lots of these were found through being part of Pedddle. These were definitely a steep learning curve for me – I have absolutely been lacking in technological skills- but I learned so much and was able to reach so many new customers which has been great. I have managed to keep creating products and ideas during this time, but also fully admit to a lot of gardening and Netflix!!!
Jennifer Lemon Designs: Thankfully, having my own website and online shop I was able to keep selling during the pandemic. Getting involved in online events such as with Peddle has also opened my work to a wider audience geographically too. It’s been fun “setting up shop” from my home studio too. One of the new products I launched during the pandemic was my printed face masks and they’ve been really popular. I didn’t think I would still be making them over a year later, but I guess they’ll be around for a little while longer as we return to “normal”.
Turquoise Gem Textiles: Yes I was, I am very lucky my art and print studios are in my home. As it is just me, I create, design and handprint all of my homewares and giftware through my brand. I didn’t need to change a lot in my day to day business life. The biggest change was being more virtual. I also was able to convert to participating in Virtual Markets or Fairs. I started to use my social media platforms a lot more too which are integrated with my website and online store. It was a natural adjustment and one channel I will continue to use.
Pedddle: How do you ensure your products meet the standards of being deemed as ‘sustainable’?
Rhubarb Tree: All of the materials I use are vintage. This includes the tins and boxes, buttons and even to the paper that lines them all. I love the fact that by doing what I do, it’s giving all of these unloved old items a new life and it keeps them out of the landfill, which has to be a good thing.
Crafted By Kate: Our necklaces and earrings can be washed and wiped clean. We also use recyclable material for wrapping and postage, so we use tissue paper, raffia ribbon and cardboard postage boxes.
Curly Lulu: I am aware of the environmental impact involved in the production of the linen and cotton that I have to use for my products, so my main priority has always been to make sure that I don’t waste anything! This is the reason that I make animals of all sizes , from big to teeny, so that I can use up every little bit of fabric I have available- I hate throwing any of it away. I also only buy what I absolutely need and am now looking at more ways to make sure that all my packaging is as sustainable as it can be.
Jennifer Lemon Designs: I try to be sustainable where I can, I tend to make to order, I source eco friendly materials for my designs such as the cotton I print my fabric with. I recycle bubble wrap and packaging paper for wrapping orders where possible. It’s certainly an area of my business I will continue to improve on.
Turquoise Gem Textiles: This aspect is very important to me and my brand. Living on the coastline of Thanet, Kent that is impacted by plastic pollution and there is risk of land flooding if ocean levels rise, climate change is right on my doorstep. To ensure I know all of my products are as eco or sustainable as possible. I will research suppliers who are also sustainable and make materials from recycled waste. It is very easy to say all your products are ‘recyclable’, to me it’s not just about my end being recyclable or deemed sustainable. The materials I get from my suppliers must be made from recycled products such as paper made from recycled consumer waste. I spend a lot of time researching and finding ways that I can provide my customers with sustainable products with one click of the button. I even recycled my prints that have failed my quality control, by either passing these onto other creatives or recycling them to make my own handmade paper. I also only ever print using water based inks that are vegan friendly. If I can’t find an eco-friendly solution then I will find sustainable alternatives to ensure all of my products love Mother Earth and her Oceans.
Pedddle: What is your best selling product and why?
Rhubarb Tree: I would say that my best selling product is anything with the little tiny figures I use. Whether that’s a cotton reel with a little lady sewing on top, a vintage torch with a couple sitting together or even old thermometers with painters and decorators working on it. People love the originality of the pieces, which is great, but unfortunately as all the pieces are unique, reproducing certain popular designs can be tricky.
Crafted By Kate: One of our best selling products has been our mustard yellow and navy blue necklaces- the colours complement each other so well and it’s a bright addition to any outfit. Our monochrome necklaces have also been popular recently as they will go with all outfits.Curly Lulu: I think it is probably my bunnies in pants. People really seem to like the floppy ears and I think it’s that added pop of more pattern and colour that appeals. I also think people just really love bunnies! However the lions are also definitely picking up new fans – they sell even before I can get them listed in my shop. I’m currently making more, so fingers crossed, they make it to Etsy!
Curly Lulu: I think it is probably my bunnies in pants. People really seem to like the floppy ears and I think it’s that added pop of more pattern and colour that appeals. I also think people just really love bunnies! However the lions are also definitely picking up new fans – they sell even before I can get them listed in my shop. I’m currently making more, so fingers crossed, they make it to Etsy!
Jennifer LemonDesigns: This is always an ever changing answer, but there are certainly a few pieces that are always popular at every market and event I do. My stud earrings are perfect stocking fillers and 3 Mini cubes and Hexagon necklaces are great for everyday wear as they’re not as chunky as some of the other shapes. Over the past year the must have accessory has been my face covers, I guess if we have to wear face masks on a daily basis, we should do it with style!
Turquoise Gem Textiles: My best selling product is my Eco wrapping paper handprinted with my Seaweed pattern because it brings seaside nostalgia to everyone. This wrapping paper is great, as it is made from recycled postal waste. Durable enough to use at least three times for gift wrapping or even origami (I have attempted this myself). Even more beautiful is each sheet is unique due to the nature of my handprinting process I do in my screen printing.
Pedddle: What is your favourite part of the process of creating your products?
Rhubarb Tree: My favourite part of creating is finding the treasures that I’m going to use. I go to antique fairs and spend all day hunting. Sometimes I don’t find much and then other times I get loads. This then inspires me as to what I make. The process of then finding the right figures and wording, when it all comes together, as I’ve imagined in my head, is just magic and I love it.
Crafted By Kate: My favourite part of the process of creating our jewellery is just to sit surrounded by beads of all shapes, sizes and colours and to let my imagination take over as to what colours and bead types to combine for different and new designs.
Curly Lulu: I really love the bit where I get to sew up the final part of the animal – it’s definitely when they come to life and get their personality and I can then go ahead and choose their name and all the special details that come with them. Most of The Pants Gang love the outside, nature, some love an extreme sport and most of them share my love of jelly babies!
Jennifer Lemon Designs: Each piece of jewellery I create is painted by hand, so no two are ever the same, I love how unique each mark and tone is. It makes each piece as special as the person wearing it.
Turquoise Gem Textiles: I have to say that creating my original artwork of Marine life, the backbone to all of my eco homewares and giftware products inspired by our amazing oceans. I specialise in a drawing technique called Pointillism, drawing with dots to build up my anatomically correct Marine illustrations. I currently have three pieces of Artwork in progress, Stefano the short snout seahorse, Henrietta and her calf Hugo the Humpback whales and a personal illustration named after a friend who had passed away earlier this year, Ah Taw the Avocet.