We have had some wonderful creative businesses enrol on our online course and come along to our Pinterest Workshops. We have so enjoyed connecting with them online and in person and thought it would be great to share our creative chats with you here on our blog!
We have reached out to these artists and makers to share their small business story with us. Details of their creative process, where they find inspiration and the highs and lows of running their own business.
Our third Creative Chat is with designer & maker of contemporary quilts and patchwork decor, Kayleigh Excell:
Do you have a favourite creation, one that your most proud of?
It’s such a difficult choice as I love creating it all! But if I had to choose I’d say baby quilts. I love how beautifully they come together and how soft they are. Knowing that they are intended for a precious bundle of joy is a special feeling. I pay every attention to detail so that they will last a lifetime of treasured memories. I feel very proud and privileged to create these heirloom pieces.
What’s in your creation toolbox?
So many things! My notepads to sketch out ideas, my rotary cutter and cutting mat to cut the fabric (precise cutting is very important!), my trusty Janome quilting sewing machine, rulers, fabric markers, needles, pins, and so much more. The most underestimated tool, however, is my iron! Sewing involves a lot more ironing than you might think. Pressing fabric in-between stages of sewing makes a big difference to the overall finish, so my iron gets a lot of use!
Tell us about what you enjoy about running your business and find easy?
What I enjoy most has to be the creative side. I love it when an idea comes to me and I can start sketching and playing around with designs. It’s such an amazing feeling to create something that you love and hope that others will love too. I also enjoy branding, researching, and making plans; I’m a very organised person so I feel good when I’ve done lots of research and brainstorming. My previous job was a market researcher so this side of the business comes naturally to me.
What don’t you enjoy and find difficult, what are the obstacles?
What I don’t enjoy so much is photography. I love photographs and I know exactly how I want my images to look but my house is generally a bit of a mess (with two toddlers running riot) so it’s so difficult to get beautiful shots. I find this part really frustrating as I have done all the hard work to design and create the items but making sure I show them in their best light feels like a lot of pressure.
Who is your perfect/ideal customer and what do they value from you?
My perfect customer is someone who has thought over the purchase, done a bit of research, and is making a considered investment. Buying handmade is expensive. A lot of work goes into each piece and more than anything I want the customer to be happy. I wouldn’t want purchases to be regretted on a whim so I am always open to discuss orders and tweak designs to make sure they are perfect for the customer. In a world of fast throwaway fashion, I really want to make items that will last and can be treasured or repurposed.
Can you tell us about your creative process?
Usually, an idea comes to me when I’m having a moment of peace (which isn’t very often!). Either when I’m feeding my son his milk before his nap or if I’m watering the plants in the garden! Once I have the idea I usually sketch out some designs in my notebook or on my laptop and play around with positioning and colours. I usually sit on an idea for a few weeks or longer before creating anything, just to make sure I’m happy with it and it offers something different to what’s been done before. It’s really important to have a USP so I have really been trying to carve out my own distinct and unique style.
Do you work on your own and where from?
I sew in our tiny spare room/current son’s nursery. It is seriously a tiny room and I feel bad about filling up my son’s sleeping space with fabric! But it’s a lovely space looking over the garden and I can often see foxes sleeping in the sun outside. I work on my own on a Sunday with BBC6 on the radio and a cup of tea, its bliss! All of my admin work (web design, social media, planning etc.) is done in the evenings when my little ones have eventually gone to sleep. I’m usually sat on the sofa with some background TV on trying to cram in as much as possible before I’m too exhausted!
Where does your design inspiration come from?
This is a tricky one as inspiration is everywhere! Sometimes I find inspiration from real-life experiences. For example, the Wanderlust pennant collection is inspired by the scenery from a road trip I took around the States in my 20’s. But often it’s from current interior décor trends, for example, minimalist scandi décor. I use Pinterest a lot to create mood boards of colours, patterns, décor that I’m drawn too. Sometimes it’s just from those quiet moments when I’m thinking about what to create next.
Do you have any work in progress you’re excited about and you like to share with us?
Yes! I always have about 2-3 ideas floating around in my head at any one time but not all of them make the cut! But I am almost certainly going to be creating an organic range. I would love to use 100% organic fabric as using eco-friendly materials is really important to me, but the range and availability of organic quilting fabric are still limited. However, I have sourced some beautiful samples and I cannot wait to sew with them. I will be using more natural and neutral colours that will work perfectly in a simple modern space. It should be ready in time for A/W19.
Passions and interests?
Obviously, number 1 is sewing! I love anything crafty so I follow a lot of craft accounts on social media. I hope that when my children are a little older that I can do little craft projects with them. I also have a new hobby of making sourdough bread. I am now addicted to eating it and bake around 3-4 loaves a week! Gardening is also a new hobby for me. I spend a lot of time in the garden with my children. We have a vegetable patch and lots of brambles so I’m looking forward to making lots of jam and chutney this summer!
What was the biggest take away from doing our Pinterest course?
I found the Pinterest course extremely helpful. There were so many little tips and tricks that I was completely unaware of. For me, the biggest takeaway was the realisation that pins can take time to gain traction. With an Instagram post, you might get lots of likes within a few hours but after that nothing. With Pinterest repins can build and build over time. I now get regular traffic to my website and Etsy from pins that I shared last year. I have recently had a rebrand so I will be revisiting the course and updating my Pinterest account to make sure it’s on-brand. I also have a new blog series and am creating images specifically for Pinterest. I would recommend the course to any small business.
Would you like to learn more about how to use Pinterest to grow your creative business? Check out the following: