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Turning Patterns Into Product {open discussion}

March 19, 2008

Samantha Hahn is a Brookyln-based artist that I’m a big fan of, especially since purchasing some work from her recently and seeing it in person. She’s so talented, her splashy hues jump from the page. So when she wrote to me recently asking about pattern design and turning patterns into products (other than prints), I wasn’t sure where to direct her. I’m asked this question quite regularly by readers and I often feel awkward answering since I have little experience in this area. Time to change that with your help!

Turning Patterns Into Product {open discussion} Patterns designed by Hahn.

So the question that Samantha and so many other designers out there have is: How do you take your patterns to the next level — from the drawing board to an actual product — textiles, wallpaper, gift wrap, etc?

When I think about companies like Amy Butler Design or Hable Construction, I see amazingly talented people who do most of the work in-house and then send it out to a mill to be produced. I think the Hable girls use a textile mill in Massachusetts, I know Fall River, MA has lots of mills that people work with but I have no idea how to even contact one and what the initial investment would be. I’m sure pricing varies due to quality and the amount of colors used. A one color textile would be less costly to produce than a multi-color pattern. And if you wanted to go eco-friendly that would be even more expensive.

Then there are designer who produce patterns and send them off to a licensing company and they do the rest for you. The rep may come back to you with news that a card manufacturer would like to purchase your image or a store like Urban Outfitters would like to turn your work into art on canvas and at that point, you negotiate a price and all the details around the product. But I’m going to stop talking now because I really don’t know that much about this.

Turning Patterns Into Product {open discussion} More patterns designed by Hahn.

I know Marisa Haedike has some experience in this area, as does Julia Rothman, Joy of Nantaka Joy, and Meg Mateo Ilasco so maybe these ladies can jump in and give some advice. Not to put anyone on the spot, I just look at these ladies as quite helpful and they have had a lot of success building their business taking patterns they’ve designed to the next level. Maybe they have some suggestions, links, or a few good books to suggest. Ashley G of Kitty Genius wrote about her recent experience with Urban Outfitters, AshleyG and Drew: Taking it to the Next Level While Staying Small, over on Etsy. Perhaps her words will be helpful to some of you.

I invite all readers to jump in if you can help by commenting below. Also ask any questions you may have on this topic in the comments section, too.

(images from samantha hahn)






Inspiration, Small Business

Project Runway {and the winner is…}

March 5, 2008

I can’t close up shop today without quickly mentioning tonight’s fierce finale of Project Runway. Though most complained that contestants were far too nice, this season showed us the best talent and that maintaining professionalism (for the most part) and showing personal interest in others, some designers even helping their competitors, shows strength not weakness. This batch of designers proved themselves to be quite secure in their craft, though a few doubted themselves and allowed the “production” of it all to cloud their better judgment. I felt an authentic group of designers this season who successfully translated their personal style into their projects despite the many curve balls thrown.

Project Runway {and the winner is...}

The moment Christian, Rami, Chris, and Jillian met up after months of being apart, I felt a positive energy that was motivating and inspiring. Let’s hear it for more fashion, less trashin’, and a dose of positivity and professionalism. I’m tired of seeing all this hate flying around on reality shows because bad behavior rarely produces anything good.

And how entertaining and crazy talented is Christian? Or what about the gifted detail-oriented Jillian? What about Rami and his gorgeous dresses? No matter who wins tonight, I hope that they’ve set a new bar for seasons to come — that “reality” doesn’t mean cold-hearted and rude in any industry. Here on the web amongst my blogger friends and fellow decorators, designers, and other creative types, this isn’t our reality. We each make progress by lending our support. There’s nothing wrong with that.

What about the final three? Any predictions? When it comes to manners, skill, detail, listening to clients, personal style, professionalism, and actual work experience (okay, everything) Jillian is a complete package and can win this. Then you have the unforgettable Christian, he’s one hot designer and a real crowd-pleaser so there’s an equally good chance he’ll take it. And the boy can out sew even the best of them. Rami is another strong talent. Either way, I see all three walking away with a bright career ahead of them, so at this point all three have won this one.

Anyone have any comments to leave about PR Season 4? Who do you think will win? Jillian, Christian, or Rami?

(image from bravo television)






Inspiration, Small Business

Podcast with Matte Stephens

February 28, 2008

We all love Matte, but do we really know him? Well you’re about to. If you’re a fan of his colorful work filled with whimsical creatures then you’ll enjoy this podcast with him hosted by Creative Thursday that just went live last night. It’s just over an hour but well worth the time since Matte talks all about how artists make a living, a great topic for the times! With all the creative types out there looking to get started doing their own thing or for established artists in need of some encouragement (and tips) to keep going, it’s a terrific podcast to listen in on!

Podcast with Matte Stephens
Great job Marisa and Matte! And for those of you interested, Matte also has an etsy store with nearly 1,500 items sold since it launched just one year ago this month. He is a bright shooting star with fans worldwide — one to watch!

(images from matte stephens)






Arts + Crafts, Small Business

DaWanda Pinboard

February 22, 2008

Dawanda invited me a few months ago to pull together a pinboard of 20 of decor8’s favorite finds on their site, but I got a little carried away and pulled together 70.

DaWanda Pinboard
Of course, I needed to shrink the list so here are my 20 favorite finds that are currently being sold by DaWanda artists. :) I hope that you enjoy it and that you take some time today to browse their website.

(images from dawanda)






Arts + Crafts, Small Business

DaWanda Anyone?

February 21, 2008

I’ve blogged about Berlin-based indie super store DaWanda before, but a quick show of hands… Do you shop DaWanda? If not then I’ll try to entice you with a quick snapshot of a few of my favorite DaWanda shop owners. I love Etsy so I’m always talking about them, but with so many other great indie shops online I don’t want to ignore anyone. What I think sets DaWanda apart is that they’re based in Berlin so they attract more small business owners based in Europe. Plus, their site is in German, French, and English — a very attractive perk as well. And when it comes to payment, many offer Paypal but most accept bank transfers which is the most common payment method in Europe. The overall aesthetic feels slightly different, too. Here are some of my favorites, see what you think… :)

DaWanda Anyone? Prints and cards from Ted + Rose Design with terrific graphics and bright happy colors. Yellow, pink, and animal motifs – how can we not like ’em?

DaWanda Anyone? Andrea from Pequenio Craft in Argentina simply loves paper (especially Japanese papers) and with this paper passion she creates everything from stickers to brooches and prints. The colors she uses are beautiful, they really lure me in. I love her sweet little handcrafted girls, so sweet!

DaWanda Anyone? These are concept bags are new and sold in Thailand by a group of independent designers and they’re now available in their Made In Spire DaWanda store. The bags are only 15- Euro, free shipping, and come with free pins to coordinate with the pattern on the bag so that the bag has some dimension to it and stands out as unique.

DaWanda Anyone? Falling down a rabbit hole I landed in the imaginative world of Isabella’s Art, a Dutch artist inspired by fairy tales and silhouette art. There are so many prints to choose from, all very affordable and each telling a unique story.

DaWanda Anyone? In addition to all sorts of crafty things, Lady Dilema from Spain makes these great shirts with ties — super cute!

DaWanda Anyone? Anything made by Enna in Hannover, Germany makes me happy. I met her last year and toured her retail store (so sweet, click here to view it), and she even taught me how to make my own stamps for designing fabric (our project here, don’t laugh). I can’t wait to get back over to Germany to see her again this year!

DaWanda asked me last year if I’d pull together a pinboard for their site and since I only recently had time to do that, it will go live on their homepage soon. Yay! When that occurs, I’ll be sure to post a link here on decor8. It will link you to over 50 of my favorite DaWanda sellers which just may become yours as well. :)

(images linked above to sellers)






Interviews, Shop Tours, Small Business, Travel

Meet Moss {Shop Tour}

February 11, 2008

I recently came in contact with a lovely store called Moss located in Savannah, Georgia (and now online). Owned by Colin Brotherton and managed by Ryan Meashaw, the home design store opened in 2007 carrying unique gifts and accessories, “style inspired by nature” as Ryan calls it. The store was opened for the same reason most shop owners agree to take on such a huge responsibility, because he wanted to share his vision of what stylish design with a natural touch looks like. “I love the contrast of a formal Chinoiserie bureau juxtaposed with a rustic driftwood framed mirror or vintage taxidermy,” Colin says. He buys what he likes, putting his heart and soul into Moss with every purchase. I had a chance to ask this creative business owner a few questions about shop ownership for all those out there who have entertained the thought of opening the doors to your very own storefront.

Meet Moss {Shop Tour}
decor8: Hi Colin! My first questions is in regards to your store name. How did you decide upon Moss?

Colin: Moss came about because we wanted a one-word memorable name that was modern yet organic and natural at the same time. Plus it seemed appropriate with the Spanish Moss that can be found all over Savannah.

decor8: Everyone thinks of shop ownership as this magical dream they’d love to be a part of. In reality, it can be much different and often very challenging. What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced and how do you handle them?

Colin: Understanding cash flow can be a big obstacle. It takes being focused to overcome this problem. Figuring out the flow of business is challenging. Our economy is so up and down that it can be difficult to stay on top of this issue. And it can also be a challenge to narrow down all the incredible choice in cool products that flood the market. But of course this is also the fun part!

Meet Moss {Shop Tour}
decor8: What do you love about owning a shop?

Colin: That it allows me to discover new items and share my unique perspective with others. We really strive to make design simple and affordable for everyone. And you know, Mother Nature is one of the most stylish woman around!

decor8: How do you source the products that you carry?

Colin: I travel to NYC twice a year and also the Highpoint furniture market. In addition we are constantly on the lookout for new and innovative products that we may come across – be it online, in magazines, etc. I love searching the shows for cool things. It’s a lot harder then people might think pouring through literally thousands of items, picking out the few jewels that I know will shine bright at Moss. I also scour design blogs for unique and unusual items. I love finding designers and artists out there who are just starting out and have a unique perspective.

Meet Moss {Shop Tour}
decor8: I’m happy to know that design blogs are helpful to you, that’s great. What about the other way around, if someone wants to approach you about carrying their line…

Colin: We love when artists seek us out. We are of course available by email. Including good images of your work is more likely to get you noticed.

decor8: I can’t stress the value of good images, you are so right! Another question about your store, how do you let people know you exist?

Colin: We are fortunate to have some great local magazines to work with as far as marketing goes. Also, the internet is great for us to reach out to new customers and those returning. Savannah is an amazing place with around 7 million tourists a year gracing her moss-draped streets. We find that word of mouth and of course location, location, location! are great tools. I also want to mention that a fair number of our business is from tourists who return home after just a few days in our fair city. These customers began requesting an online storefront where they could buy our items from home. After an overwhelming response we have come to the realization that there is a larger market we can reach through e-commerce so we opened a store online just a few weeks ago on January 30th.

Meet Moss {Shop Tour}
decor8: That’s great, congratulations! Now let’s talk profit. Is it true that as a shop owner you don’t see real earnings until after the first year in business?

Colin: They say it can take a few years before you start earning a profit from most businesses. And I think this can very much be the case. But we have been fortunate in our first year and have really seemed to find our niche because we are already seeing a profit on our hard work.

decor8: You must know your market very well there in Savannah! Can you tell us more about your frequent shoppers and what are some of the most popular lines?

Colin: Our average customer is definitely a woman, between about 20-70 years of age. She is educated, savvy, stylish and sometimes a bit alternative. She appreciates the classics but also loves to discover something that is different. As for lines, it’s hard to pinpoint specific best-selling brands, but we do sell an awful lot of bath and body products. People really seem to like a good bar of soap! We do very well with our French soaps. Another popular type of item are cards and stationery. We carry brands like Jonathan Wright, Cavallini and Saturn Press. The life-like animals of Hansa have proved surprisingly popular.

Meet Moss {Shop Tour}Meet Moss {Shop Tour}Meet Moss {Shop Tour}
decor8: Are other small business owners in your area supportive and how so?

Colin: Yes, the local businesses have been very supportive. They have shared information on being successful in Savannah, the flow of tourism, the high season vs. the low season, etc. Savannah takes some adapting to get used to. And we have thankfully had some help with that.

decor8: Thank you Colin for telling us a little about your store, sharing some insight, and of course we appreciate the photos and the mentioning of your new online shop. Thank you again for meeting up with me here on the web today. We wish you tons of continued success!

Readers: If you have any questions to add to this interview please jump in and ask Colin by commenting below.

(images from moss)






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