In this week’s Meet the Maker, we chat to Featured Stallholders Monica of Twenty Birds and Teija of Unique Ella about how they started off their businesses, their first selling experiences and challenges they have faced to what’s next for them and their businesses since the pandemic hit.
Pedddle: Tell us a bit about your business and how it started – e.g. where did you first become interested in producing your products/learn the skills it takes to produce them?
Twenty Birds: I became really interested in screen printing once I had my first daughter. I had touched upon it in uni but not explored the process fully. I found that I treasured the short times I had in between caring for my daughter that I made the very most of it and was more constructive with the use of an hour. Pre-child I would easily waste an entire day procrastinating, thinking I could do it later. I was more motivated with less time and found that my creative work was vital to me and I felt it essential to my life, so I had to be much more disciplined. After experimenting and practicing for a few years my brand came from a single idea for a print. I was fascinated by the wide variety of pattern and colour within varying birds. I challenged myself to tessellate 20 different abstract birds into one large square while wanting to stay true to original colour ways yet reduce the amount of tone variation.
Unique Ella: The unique Ella started out with a love for colorful wooden earrings. I am Finnish and I first ordered Finnish earrings for my own use and later I started selling Finnish earrings in my online store, which I made. I loved choosing new earrings, and soon I had a lot of my own designs in my head. I loved designing my own earrings and that’s where it all started. I have a degree in Design Engineering in The Garments Industry and it gave me the confidence to start my own collection.
Pedddle: Following on from the first question, we’d love to know more about your process, the materials you use and what you’re inspired by.
Twenty Birds: For all of the products that I extracted from the print in varying formats, it remained important to find UK based printers and producers and ensure high quality which is why each product is individually printed by specialists in each area..
Unique Ella: My jewellery is designed by me on a computer software program and then laser cut from high quality PEFC & FSC certified Finnish birch plywood in Finland. The wooden parts are printed with odourless and ecological printing ink and sealed with varnish. The surface is highly resistant to UV rays. All jewellery is hand assembled in my studio in Cambridge. I’m inspired by Scandinavian design, nature, contemporary patterns and colour combinations. I love to make people happy with colours. Sustainability is at the heart of my business and I work hard to ensure that my jewellery remains as eco conscious as possible.
Pedddle: Do you remember your first selling experience?
Twenty Birds: I produced some prints of abstract florals and signed up to a fair. I wanted to try out spin off products so I extracted some of the patterns from the prints and applied them to mugs, teapots and egg cups in addition to napkins and tea towels. They sold better than I thought they would so this gave me the confidence to design a new print series with spin off products.
Unique Ella: Yes, my first sale was my Oona earrings in teal on my website.
Pedddle: What challenges did you face when you first launched your business?
Twenty Birds: Managing the timing of fairs that would clash with the family of my teaching job. In general working it into my time without having a negative impact on the above.
Unique Ella: I think the most challenging thing was doing everything by myself.
Pedddle: What’s next for your business this year – anything you’re planning, looking forward to, are there any new products/ranges etc
Twenty Birds: I have just released 4 new mug designs, with new packaging designs which I printed. I am doing my first solo Pop up in John Lewis in Leeds for 7 day in mid July. I am also due to feature in Yorkshire Life mag July/August edition.
Unique Ella: I have so many new design ideas and colour combinations for this year and I’m looking for new stockists. I am so grateful for all my orders and I want to provide the best customer service.