YOU ARE BRAVE Hand Printed Textiles & Handmade Home Decor Made In Australia By Textile Designer Michelle Kistima-Menser

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Diggin' Design | An Interview with Heather Moore from Skinny laMinx

InterviewsMichelle Kistima-Menser2 Comments

I’m always interested in what it is that makes people change direction in their lives or careers. From the outside change can seem quite sudden & perhaps drastic for some. For others it may be more of a progressive transformation.

About this time last year I knew I needed to do something with my “career” as a commercial textile designer for a large retailer. Having always had a stable, full time job it was a difficult decision but I quit my day job & took my husband & young son off to Cape Town, South Africa.  It seemed like a good time to visit the city of my birth again as Cape Town was the World Design Capital for 2014.

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Image courtesy http://www.designspaceafrica.com/world-design-capital-2014/

Image courtesy http://www.designspaceafrica.com/world-design-capital-2014/

Not having much of a clue what to expect I decided to throw myself into attending & participating in as many seminars & creative events as I could.  At the very first talk I attended called The Design Dialogues V5.0 “What I Learned The Hard Way” I was delighted to find Heather Moore the designer/owner at Skinny laMinx was one of the inspired speakers that evening.

Nervously I approached her after the talk … Heather was lovely & so kind as to allow me to spend a day helping out at her beautiful studio & little shop in Bree St, Cape Town. I was thrilled to be able to handle a rainbow of fabric prints inspired by the simple & everyday & be submersed in such a warm & welcoming environment that is Skinny laMinx.

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During my short time at the shop/studio, I found there was such a wonderful sense of connection not only with the designs & the products (that are all sewn by hand on the premises) but also the Skinny community ... that not only includes customers & other businesses on eclectic Bree St but importantly the whole Skinny laMinx team.  Truly an inspiring creative business!

So how did Heather go from a potential career in teaching, to textbook illustration, to blogging, to designing textiles & running a creative business? She took some time out this weekend (at a hugely busy time in her calendar) to tell me more about her fascinating transformation & the newly released range called “Diggi Dot”.

Skinny laMinx Shop Facade Photo by YOUAREBRAVE July14

How did you come to design & designing textiles in particular? Were you always creative?

I studied English and Drama at university, and then trained as a high school teacher. When I moved to Cape Town after my studies, I had vague notions of helping run a puppet theatre, but not much more of a plan than that. I fell into illustration work while doing my postgrad teacher training, when I did illustrations for a textbook one of my lecturers was writing. The publishers liked my drawings, and started commissioning more and I ended up being an illustrator for 10 years.

What made you decide to start selling your designs ie. start the business?

After 10 years of illustration, I needed a change, so in 2006 I took a half-day job as a comic’s scriptwriter, and spent the rest of my day messing around in my studio on Long Street. I started blogging about my work, and opened an online shop on Etsy. People around the world started reading my blog and buying my things, and I got some wholesale orders to the USA, and suddenly I found that I was a designer with a design business.

Inside the Skinny LaMinx shop on Bree St, Paradise Is Here range 2014

Being a self employed designer can seem idyllic from the outside. What’s the hardest part of your job?

I think you'll find that everyone who started a business based on their creative output finds it incredibly hard to find time to be creative. The business side of things – the constant email stream, request for info, staff management, finances – takes a huge amount of time. Luckily these days I have a great team to share the load and I do find more studio time.

Because it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of a business, and stuck on the email treadmill, I try to put aside Fridays as my day for doing non-work-related creative work, where I can simply make whatever takes my fancy. I find that the things I make in non-directed time like this are often put away for a bit, and then brought out later and built upon, when the time is right.

Below : The smiley team at Skinny laMinx

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What inspires your aesthetic?

My inspiration comes from ordinary, everyday things like cactuses, teacups, staircases and vibracrete walls. I usually have a notebook with me, where I make sketches, and I take a lot of photographs of textures, details, juxtapositions and compositions that seem to give me ideas. Follow me on Instagram at @skinnylaminx to find out what I’ve been looking at lately.

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What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever had to do?

I'm not terribly brave at all, but I am good at tricking myself into doing things that might scare me by breaking them down into little steps, which is really how I ended up starting a business, exporting all over the world and opening a shop too. Isn't there a saying about eating an elephant one bite at a time?

Tell us about the exciting new Skinny La Minx range, just released on Friday? Where can Aussie shoppers browse & buy from the new range?

Diggi Dot is our new fabric collection, and it comes out of the trip I was invited to take to India last year, where I taught block printing on a Ritchie Ace Camp. My experiments with using lino blocks to create pattern was not one I'd used in my designs before, and I really loved the way that so many patterns could be generated from different combinations of a single block.

Shop online at shop.skinnylaminx.com

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See more from the Diggi Dot range at skinnylaminx.com & read more about how Heather's teaching trip to Jaipur inspired her new range at http://skinnylaminx.com/2015/05/29/diggi-dot/

Thanks so much to Heather for her generosity of time & spirit in working with me on this blog post at a time when so much is going on at Skinny laMinx.

* Images courtesy of Skinny laMinx

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