YOU ARE BRAVE textiles printed fabrics by textile designer Michelle Kistima-Menser

Interview with Cath Derksema

Making It Happen : An Evolutionary Tale From Cath Derksema

InterviewsMichelle Kistima-MenserComment
The Happenstore Annandale Sydney

From the early days as a designer at John Kaldor in the 80's, to working on her home furnishing label Art Park, to a more recent iteration, Prints Charming Original Fabrics, Cath Derksema has always been one to roll with change.

In an tough industry with little support in the way of funding, local manufacturing and supply, it' encouraging to see Cath's passion for textiles ... for supporting other makers & for passing on her knowledge as she evolves with the times.

I interviewed Cath almost exactly 2 years ago at her gorgeous warehouse work space in Sydney's inner west. A unique, open space which she shared with other creatives & regularly opened the doors to many. Unfortunately that creative space is no longer & Prints Charming is no longer but ...

Cath seems to have a knack of finding the positives and developing something unique. Something better. She just ... Makes It Happen!

So if you haven't already heard about her latest venture, I'm thrilled to be able to introduce you to The Happenstore. Read more in my interview with Cath below ...

The Happenstore - Exterior.jpg


1. What is The Happenstore? How is it different from other shops in Sydney?

The Happenstore is a multidimensional space in Sydney that encompasses retail, workshop and events ... it is a creative space for like minded people, makers and yearners. A place to come, to make, to learn and be inspired. An authentic and unique destination to celebrate artistry and friendship...

* Photo by ....

* Photo by ....

The Happenstore Annandale Sydney

2. How did it come about?

It evolved as I needed a new studio! Throughout my life as an artisan I have been thwarted by property developers. Always working from inspiring and interesting warehouse spaces, always led me to being on the move, as they were inevitably developed (DON'T GET ME STARTED!). The moment I saw this shop I knew it held more mystery and potential, than a space just for me.

4. What gets you up in the morning Cath?

Excitement and the unknown get me up every morning. I never know what is around the corner and I LOVE that!

The Happenstore interior workshop area

3. Why is it called The Happenstore?

The name evolved from one of my favorite words 'happenstance' ... it embraces the magic of things just 'happening'.

Bowls by Lisa Tilse & artwork by Warwick Orme at The Happenstore   

Bowls by Lisa Tilse & artwork by Warwick Orme at The Happenstore

5. What has been the bravest thing you've had to do in the making/running of The Happenstore?

The bravest thing I've had to do in the making of The Happenstore is committing to a lease and increasing my rent significantly ... The store needed a lot of hard yakka in bringing it up to a contemporary street had been a guitar shop for 30yrs and needed a lot of TLC..Negotiating with real estate agents is not for the faint hearted!

Work by Paula Do Prado at The Happenstore

Work by Paula Do Prado at The Happenstore

6. What advice would you give someone who has a dream of opening a retail store in Sydney today

My advice for anyone wanting to open a retail space in Sydney ... have a strong budget and stick to it! It is expensive and there are often many hidden costs ... Be super creative in pushing through these and be prepared for initial compromise. Have endless energy and passion for your vision and GO FOR IT! Sydney NEEDS creative spaces that are public and inclusive.

* Photo by Baz Scott

* Photo by Baz Scott

You can find Cath & The Happenstore at 55 Parramatta Rd, Annandale in Sydney's inner west. For more info & opening times, please click here.

An Inspiring Interview with Cath Derksema from Prints Charming

InterviewsMichelle Kistima-Menser2 Comments

Hello & Welcome!

I'm so pleased to have the had the opportunity to chat with Cath Derksema, the designer, printer, crafter behind the fabulous Australian textile label Prints Charming.

It was not until I interviewed Cath last week that I realized I'd been admiring her work throughout my burgeoning career in textile design since the mid 90's.  I idolized the designs of Hot Tuna (the iconic surf wear brand), John Kaldor (I so wanted to work there!) & her own interiors label Art Park (I still have a blue green spot quilt cover set from back in the 90's) This is .... to name a just a few of the labels she's designed for.

Cath is so openly warm & welcoming, no wonder I love her work!  If you haven't seen Prints Charming, I can tell you that it's a feast for the happy eye! Bright, fun & so obviously full of love for the textile medium.  I'll leave the rest for Cath to explain in the interview below ... at her gorgeous studio space ...

Q.  I love how you use the words “crafted” & “crafting” on your website. Why is crafting & handmade important these days?

It is important as it is a beautiful antithesis to the craziness of the technology driven world we now live in. Our DNA is rife with making ... there's no hiding from it!

Q.  What inspires the Prints Charming aesthetic?

Clean bold simple lines initially inspired the PC aesthetic ... Marimekko for their longevity and obvious pattern love.

YOU ARE BRAVEs Interview with Prints Charming

Q.  What were you doing directly before Prints Charming?

I was winding down my design business, and having two babies...I thought initially that I could do it all ... however, the demands of motherhood quickly over rode deadlines and forward thinking..

Q.  What was the motivation for starting Prints Charming?

A strong desire to make fabric was the initial motivation ... however I also realized that I needed to be back with creative like minded souls, having spent a good 5yrs in the domestic baby realm.

Q.  What is your proudest career achievement?

I don't ever think like that ... I love what I do, and simply feel very privileged to be a part of this awesome community ... hang on ... come to think of it ... Kirsten and I did a lot of screaming and jumping up and down, when we learned of our contract with 'FreeSpirit' fabrics in NY!  It was 2007 and crafting fabrics were taking a turn for the better, as we were under the same banner as Amy Butler, Denyse Schmidt, Heather Bailey and Heather Ross.

Q.  Who inspires you? Why?

My Mother is a big inspiration as she was a big maker crafter in the '70s (and beyond) and we always had a sewing machine on the kitchen table.

Q What’s the bravest thing you’ve done during your career as a textile designer?

I guess leaving a secure job with John Kaldor and starting my own thing was in hind sight pretty brave, although at the time it seemed so obvious to me.

Q.  What advice would you give someone thinking about starting their own creative business?

I would say, be prepared to live, breathe, eat and sleep it! Have relentless reserves of energy and never be afraid. Don't hold back, don't procrastinate ... just GO FOR IT ..... all of this will come naturally if you are really meant to do it!

Seriously inspiring stuff!  A big thank you to Cath for her time, natural warmth & openness!

The Prints Charming range can be found at Spotlight & via her website. Cath regularly runs Shibori indigo dying & embroidery workshops at her beautiful warehouse space in Annandale in Sydney's inner west.  She can be contacted via the website