Creative Chats | Kathryn Davey –
Sustainable Designer and Natural Dyer
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 latest Creative Chat with Kathryn Davey takes us to a sustainable design studio in Dublin.
Our 6th Creative Chat is with sustainable designer and natural dyer Kathryn Davey, handcrafting naturally dyed homewares & accessories:
Do you have a favourite creation, one that you’re most proud of?
Can I say my daughters : ) I just finished making a Irish Linen Indigo dyed Jacket for a friend, I really enjoyed the process of cutting & sewing the jacket, then bringing it to life with the Indigo. It felt very special to make a gift like this for a dear friend and I was quite happy with how it turned out.
What’s in your creation toolbox?
So many things, my scissors, I have quite a few, my pots for dyeing, my mixing bowls, my plant dyes, my wooden spoons, my fabrics, needles, threads, iron, sewing machine, my drying racks, lots of simple things & my fabric, I can’t forget that !
Tell us about running your business, the ups & downs?
I think what I most enjoy is the freedom & flexibility that comes with owning your own business. I love that I get to create & grow my business in a way that I am proud of. I find the creative side, the branding & ecommerce the easiest. I love making/dyeing products, coming up with new products to add to the range, I also really enjoy taking photos and posting them on Instagram & interacting with other lovely people on that platform.
I don’t enjoy being behind on emails! I find it challenging to keep up with the communication aspect, responding to comments & direct messages on Instagram, my website and emails. I am quite good at staying on top of my responses but things always get lost and I feel bad if I don’t respond to someones comment & see they left it 5 weeks ago! Aside from that the greatest obstacles and challenges have been financial, as a one income family this is where the greatest difficulty and the most stress has been. Not knowing how I’m going to pay my bills or order more supplies to keep the business growing has been relentless and I’ve shed more than a few tears with the stress of it all but somehow it always works out !
Can you tell us about your creative process?
At the moment I do a lot of my natural dyeing in my studio & the Indigo dyeing outside. When I arrive in the morning I light some incense and make a cup of tea, I like to plan my day and what I need to achieve/complete. When I am doing wholesale orders I often have a few different dyes on the go with lots of laundry to do so I need to be very organised. I listen to podcasts or Spotify and work away until I have to get home to make dinner. I have been making a conscious effort to make space for non work creative time for myself, like making some clothes or try a new natural dyeing technique. I think when you work for yourself in a creative field the creativity is only a part of the whole and sometimes your own creative pursuits gets pushed aside so I am working on giving that priority this year.
Where you find your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the beauty I see in nature, the seasonal colours of the Irish landscape & functional design. The products I choose to dye are usually products that I find useful and practical in my own day to day living. The natural dyes I choose to work with are colours that compliment each other effortlessly, I find it really inspiring working with dyes and plants that work together in this kind of way.
Who is your perfect/ideal customer and what do they value from you?
My ideal customer is someone who has a innate appreciation & understanding of the value of hand made products. Someone who cares about the quality of what they purchase as a consumer, knowing that the pieces they purchase from me are made with so much care and attention to every part of the process from beginning to end.
Do you work on your own and where from?
I work from my studio in Dublin, I’ve gone between working in studios and working from home, I was working at home for 1.5 years before I found the studio I’m currently in. It’s a fantastic place with lots of outdoor space where I can basically make a big mess and no one minds ! The people who also have studios there are all lovely so it makes it a very enjoyable place to be. I work alone most of the time however now that my daughters are older ( 16, 19 & 21 ) I have them come in to help when I have a lot of orders to get through.
Do you have any work in progress you’re excited about and you like to share with us?
Yes I have just invested in a new range of linen products such as waffle bathrobes & towels, tablecloths, aprons and other beautiful homeware pieces. I am also going to be offering 100% Merino wool hats alongside my wool socks which I am ridiculously excited about. I am working on offering naturally dyed Linen jackets & I am also working on a new website in conjunction with the release of these new products so everything will be fresh and new in a few weeks time.
Passions and interests?
I love all things natural dye & textile related, design, outdoors, music. I really enjoy a good hike and sharing a beautiful meal with loved ones. I love travelling to new countries and swimming in the sea.
What was the biggest take away from doing our Pinterest course?
I think my biggest take away was how valuable a marketing tool it can be if you put the time in. As a small business it can be challenging to have a budget for marketing & with Pinterest it is a free way to bring traffic to your site and potentially sell more in a long term way. Its also fantastic that you can use your images from instagram and add longevity to the images you are already taking, giving more value to the time invested in Instagram.
Kathryn’s new book ‘Natural Dyeing | Learn How to Create Colour and Dye Textiles Naturally’ is now available from her website. Huge congratulations! This book is for anyone interested in the process of natural dyeing or curious about how to extract colour from plants. It will walk you through the process from start to finish. Natural Dyeing reveals the endless possibilities of plant-based dyes and how they will inspire you for years to come.