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

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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A Colourful Conversation with Mark Cawood, Publisher Textiles & Papers

Michelle Kistima-Menser1 Comment

In 2003 Mark embarked on a journey to go out on his own & start a business. His business is screen printing and Boy! does he know his business! His passion for the craft is estimable.
 
It’s something he’s been working on ever since he left high school in the early 90s. He’s worked for companies such as Billabong & Signature Prints and currently not only does he screen print & design for but also runs Publisher Textiles & Papers out of their Leichhardt (Sydney) warehouse & showroom.
 
And if you can’t tell, I’m a little bit in awe! As a screen printer, textile designer & new business owner myself the longevity of Marks’ hand screen printing operation is inspiring. It’s a testament not only to his business savvy but also says something about the man himself.

Publsiher Textiles & YOUAREBRAVE April15

So I rocked up for the interview earlier this week with my 4 year old in tow … feeling a little nervous (as most mothers would be mixing work with a toddler).  Turns out I needn’t have worried. This is a family orientated operation with his partner Stephanie & their 11 month old son Eric helping out in the showroom. Kids are welcome in the showroom & the whole place is chilled & down-to-earth.  So why wouldn’t anyone want to do business with him?
 
My interview with Mark was more of a conversation … one that I could have indulged in for a few more hours … talking technical, talking about the print industry, design, kids & everything in between.  However there’s something to be said for restraint. Here it is in compact …

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Why is hand screen printing in demand these days?
 
Screen printing is an artisan skill and those hand skills are sort after because of the potential for innovation.  Machine printed textiles although they are efficient are limited in what the can do.
 
How did you come to textiles and printing?
 
At school I was really into photography but after leaving school I got a job at Signature Prints & it all started from there.
 
What were you doing directly before you Publisher Textiles?
 
I was working at Signature Prints as a screen printer again after a stint at Billabong in QLD.
 

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What inspires your aesthetic?
 
Everyday life. I’ve worked with photos of building facades, the idea that babies swaddling looks like rope, even my nana’s old wallpaper from the 60s as inspiration for my designs.
 
Who inspires you? Why?
 
Escher! He was a nut bag of the repeat! William Morris, Florence Broadhurst ... not only because of her work but also her business sense. Alexander McQueen for his innovative way of using sculptural elements & methods of applying paint to his garments.
Also the indigenous mobs up north such as Modern Murri www.modernmurri.com & Gaawaa Miyay www.gaawaamiyay.com
 
What is your proudest career achievement?
 
We’re still here! After all this time we’re still here.

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What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever had to do? In life, work, anywhere?
 
People often think that to be brave is to do as much as possible, to go for it and keep on top of everything but for me, especially in this last week, I’ve been challenged by doing nothing. Slowing things down & letting go a little has been extremely hard but the bravest thing I’ve had to do.
 
What’s your expert opinion on decorating with prints? What 1 tip would you give readers?
 
Don’t be scared of prints! Try new things! Do what you’re comfortable with & keep on changing. Change is good!

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Publisher Textiles & Papers Showroom

A big thank you to Mark & Steph for giving their time for this interview ... it was a big & challenging week for their family, so their generosity is very much appreciated!

Publisher Textiles & Papers is based in Leichhardt, Sydney providing a hand screen printing service, hand printed textiles by the meter, hand printed wallpaper, clothing & furnishings. Contact them via the links below or head over to their very cool showroom.

www.publishertextiles.com.au  

* Images supplied by Publisher Textiles

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 www.printscharming.com.au