Recognise those owls? Yup, this week we chat to Sam from Poppykins about her delightful retro owls, why she seeks inspiration from the good old days and how she keeps herself crafting, despite two children, a husband and a full time job getting in the way.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Sam and I am the owner, designer, maker, marketing director, admin and general dogsbody at Poppykins. I am also a mum of two, wife and full time office assistant for a wood finishing company. Poppykins is a small business that is run from my dining room – I love to collect vintage and retro fabrics to re-use and re-purpose, creating bold and bright cushions, bags and accessories. Alongside these are the Poppykins Owls that are fairly well known and the mini Cheeky Chirpy Chicks.
How did you get into crafting?
I remember sewing cuddly animal kits when I was quite young and I studied art with the intention of going to Brighton Uni to do a Fashion and Textile degree. Unfortunately, I let a fella get in the way of my planned career and it all went to pot, but on the plus side I met my wonderful hubby and had two gorgeous (although at times testing) children, and after having my first (Harry) I got back into being creative, making rag rugs and learning to quilt, then I started doing craft fairs and events. That was ten years ago, and up until two years ago was a fun hobby. And then along came Poppykins
Who and what inspires you to create?
There are so many things that inspire me that it would bore you if I listed them all, but I love bright and bold colours, retro funky designs from the sixties and seventies, family and friends, my allotment, nature, and I pick up a lot of inspiration from Facebook, Pinterest and other artists.
Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
One of my favourites is Jane Foster – I just love the bold prints and colours she uses. There are so many other creative people I have come across via Facebook like Marna Lunt of Little A Designs, Little Black Heart and Kirsty Elson Designs. And then there are the super talented people I have been fortunate enough to meet at some of the events I have done – Vic of Lion Tamer Prints, Kate of Love Sweet Pea, and Susie of Sweet Pandemonium to name just a few.
When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
In January 2013 I wanted to see if I would be able to make some extra money from doing what I love: business cards and banners got printed on the cheap and the Facebook page and Folksy shop were started. In the early days it was really hard to see what I was doing as a business and to charge the right prices; I really undersold myself and my work.
But with time comes experience and now I am much better at running Poppykins as a business. I now have a logo and print my own business cards and labels. Getting my stock into local shops was my main aim for the second half of 2013, and I managed to do that getting into five different locations – I can’t tell how proud that makes me. I have taken part in an exhibition in a local gallery and been involved in a Christmas Pop-up shop. It has been a busy and fun time growing Poppykins, but with my youngest daughter starting school full time, I have taken on a full time job, which has reduced the time I can dedicate to Poppykins; plus a number of the shops that I supply have closed down, but it is not the end, I intend to carry on creating!
What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Well made, safe products; confidence in your product; a unique style that will make you stand out; knowing your target customer; broad shoulders (so you can take the rough with the smooth).
Name three of your most popular designs.
Poppykins Owls are a good seller, My mini Cheeky Chirpy Crochet Chicks are always popular at Easter and quilts are always well received as gifts.
If you weren’t a crafter, what would you be doing with your time?
I don’t have much time for anything else in my hectic life at the moment, but if I did have more time baking is something I would definitely do. And spend more quality time at my allotment.
Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
I did go to a local Stitch and Bitch group for a few years, but my hubby works that evening now. I have done a few workshops in the past and would very much love to do more, but again time is an issue.
What’s new with your craft for 2014? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop or at the Emporia market this year.
I’m really loving applique lettering on cushions at the moment, and ticker tape cushions and quilts. And bags made with vintage fabrics are growing in popularity too.
And if you want to check out Poppykins in person, head to her Folksy shop online or come into Emporia and see if you can resist her going home without one of her funky owls tucked into your shopping bag.