We’ve been lucky enough to welcome several new crafters to our collection recently, so for a few weeks you can find out more about their work and what you can expect to find on the shelves of Emporia. This week we take a closer look at Rosanna Clare’s brand new recycled leather and wood jewellery and bags, and see what inspires her to run her business the way she does, as well as why she made the leap from teaching D&T to children to going solo as a professional crafter.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Rosanna Clare Gethin and I am a designer and maker of all things wood and leather! I have 10 years experience of teaching Design & Technology in various schools across the UK, and I also undertook a two year stint at an international school in Switzerland teaching children how to make products in wood, metal, plastic and textiles. However, I have also been making leather bags and accessories for several years on the side. I decided to take the plunge and quit the day job to do this full-time in the summer of 2015. So far, so good!
How did you get into crafting?
My mum is a painter and picture framer and my dad is very good with all things DIY (his dad was a carpenter and he has a lot of his old tools), so arts/crafts are in my blood! I have two sisters and remember times when we were all sat round on a rainy day doing crafts like painting, drawing, papier mache, making clay sculptures etc. that my mum had shown us how to do. I always liked art & design at school and being brought up in a creative household, it was inevitable that craft would be part of my adult life.
Who and what inspires you to create?
My friends and family are a great inspiration to me. I have four nieces and nephews and love to make them crafty gifts. I like to think that although they might not fully appreciate a handmade teddy as a two year old, they will treasure it in years to come (more so than an Xbox!). I have always loved Art Deco and geometric shapes and these often feature in my work.
Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
There are too many to name but there are many designer-makers whose work and ethos I admire. As I like to use upcycled materials and offcuts in my designs, I look to other designers who have been successful doing a similar thing: Orsola de Castro is the founder of From Somewhere, a company that makes clothes out of recycled offcuts of luxury materials; Peg and Awl based in Philadelphia, make products such as childrens’ swings from reclaimed wood; and I love the natural beauty and craftsmanship of the work by artist Andy Goldsworthy.
What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
I have only just started, am no expert and still learning but I would say:
Support: having supportive friends and family is essential! Especially for times when you feel like giving up, having people who care giving you words of encouragement and advice is essential.
Research: this is important in every aspect of starting a business but particularly in pricing your work and how to do it. If you don’t price correctly and fairly (to yourself!) then you won’t have a business. (I’m still learning)
Planning: write a business plan! This sounds scary but doesn’t have to be. Just a simple one page document to start off with, stating your aims and objectives for your business, rough budget and expectations over a period of time. And keep updating and referring back to it, there is no point writing one if you never refer to it.
Social media/good photos: I’m no technology whizz but the web is an amazing tool for any craft business. Get an online shop going and post good photos of your work (or hire someone to do it for you); this is essential if you want people to buy your products online.
Determination & passion: Okay, I know this takes me six but I think these two go hand in hand and, in my opinion, you can’t have one without the other. Anyone can start a business but making it a successful one takes time and hard work, and if you are not determined and passionate about what you do then you will find it very hard not to give up when times get tough.
Name three of your most popular designs.
This is a tricky one as they tend to change on a regular basis but one of my most popular items is the waxed cotton and leather tote bag. I also make some brightly coloured coin purses which have been very popular. My range of earrings, both the leather tassel ones and laser cut oak studs, have sold well.
Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
Yes, I run some workshops up in Camden and have done some smaller workshops in my studio teaching people to make bags and leather accessories. I have also run a workshop with the local WI which was a refreshing change from a class of 30 teenagers.
What’s new with your craft for 2016? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop this year.
I will be continuing to bring new and exciting stock of bags and jewellery to sell at Emporia as well as hopefully running some leather workshops there too.
Thanks Rosanna! We’re so excited to have your lovely pieces on sale at Emporia, and we’re sure there are several lucky mums around Ashford who will be getting their hands on some of your unique pieces this Mother’s Day. And if you’re still not quite sure what to get for your mum, pop into the shop this weekend and check out some of other talented crafters’ wares, who we will be interviewing here on the blog very soon!