Interview with Jenni Rogers

braceletturquoise

This week we take some time to talk to one of our newer crafters, Jenni Rogers, who makes the most stunning silver jewellery. Having spent large amounts of her time travelling the globe and discovering new ways of life, Jenni settled on a career in jewellery making with silver and precious stones after she had her daughter. Take a look at her fantastic designs and read about how she goes about making them:

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jenni Rogers and I make jewellery for living.

How did you get into crafting?
My partner and I went travelling and ended up in Nepal where we got really sick. After a year in Asia I would have thought our tummies would have been up to the local food, but no! So we spent a few weeks sitting in a garden chilling and buying lapis, turquoise and Tigers eye and experimenting with making jewellery. Years later I started making Swarovski jewellery and taught myself the basics. From there I went on an adult education course a few hours a week and learnt silversmithing techniques.

amoniteearrings

Who and what inspires you to make your designs?
Me, really – when I sit down and look at the metals, that’s when I start feeling inspired. And, of course the stones I use.

When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
It just happened, there was no decision really. I just started selling to mates, then went to a local fete and put my duvet cover on a table and got it all out (how bad is that?!) and it just progressed naturally.

bracelets

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Well, with anything you do, you have to have passion: there’s no point in doing something day in day out unless you’re passionate about what you’re doing. Cash, determination, and being prepared to work seven days a week. I can’t think of a fifth!

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
Anyone who makes anything beautiful to the eye. If you smile when you see the craft, whatever it may be, it’s done its job.

earrings

Name three of your most popular designs.
Small pendants, hammered bangles and reticulated rings. I personally love the stone necklaces which encorporate things like African opal, turquoise, ruby and sapphire.

If you weren’t a jeweller what would you be doing with your time?
No idea! Before I started making jewellery I was packing parachutes for a living at Headcorn airfield, where I also ran a veggie cafe later on. I then went travelling the world with my partner Chris who is a skydiving instructor. I was getting pretty fed up with that and was booked on a course to go and train with Monty Roberts on a horse whispering course, when I found out I was pregnant when we were in Malaysia and it all stopped. When my daughter was three I started making jewellery again, she’s now 15.

bracelets2

What’s new with your craft for 2016? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you at the Emporia this year.
I’ve been working on some poppy seed head designs recently, which I’m going to turn into cufflinks, rings, earrings and pendants. I plan on using some uncut sapphires and using natural casting techniques this year too. I’ve also been experimenting with merchandising so you can expect to see my market stalls looking a little different this year too.

Jenni’s beautiful silver jewellery has been on sale at Emporia for just over a month now and already it’s proving extremely popular with our customers. If you haven’t been in to take a look in person, then now is the time to do so, and if you’ve already seen what’s on display, then fear not as new pieces will be arriving in April.

Advertisements

Interview with Rosanna Clare

purses

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.

triangleearrings

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.

red-purse

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.

waxedct

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!

Interview with P O L L E N

pollen1

This week we shine the spotlight on the maker behind P O L L E N jewellery, which has been on sale in the run up to Christmas here and is proving enormously popular. Take a look at what crafter Verity says about inspiration, determination and balancing work and creativity.

Who are you and what do you do? 
My name is Verity Keniger. I’m a designer currently focusing on my jewellery line called Pollen. Pollen is a continuing exploration in tactile jewellery born from my inherent attraction to colour, shape and texture.

How did you get into crafting?
Whilst I grew up I developed an interest in design and led me to feel like I have an innate sense of colour and composition, and as a consequence I’ve studied photography, design and illustration over the years. I am also a keen printmaker though this is not something I am focusing on right now, although you can however find a few of my prints at Emporia.

rosie

Who and what inspires you to create?
I’ve found that being happy in life has allowed me the freedom to work creatively. My design ideas are fuelled by nature, travel, swimming, food, my partner, my dog … all the things that make me content.  I used to struggle working creatively and would get really unhappy and stressed, and eventually I had to put it all to one side. With jewellery design I have found a way to channel my inner aesthete and enjoy myself too! I am directly inspired by shape and colour which is as simplistic as it sounds I suppose but it materialises in my designs in a very meticulous, considered way.

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
I am lucky to have a lot of friends who are creative and they inspire me immensely – knowing the person and the
dedication needed to be creative can be just as inspiring as the work itself. I am influenced by traditional art and craft – I like that there has always been a need for creativity in human society. I also admire mid-century modern designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Olle Eksell and Enzo Mari attracted to their simple, bold shapes, colours and patterns.

bracelet

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Support – I couldn’t have come as far as I have with Pollen if it weren’t for the unfaltering support of my mother and my partner. I can’t thank them enough for keeping faith in me and not pressuring me to get a job that actually pays
money!

Time/financial stability – Over the years I have tried to combine my creative pursuits with working other jobs to pay
the rent and had varying success. I am in a unique position right now to focus all of my energy on Pollen. I wouldn’t
say this applies to everyone and is rarely possible but I’m certain it’s what every designer would like when they are
starting a new business.

Social media – If you want to create a successful business then developing online presence is a must. It takes time you
probably would rather be spending creating, but what’s the point of making if no one see it! Instagram is proving most rewarding for me as it’s so visual and instant. It’s also very buoying to be given positive, objective feedback when I’m sitting at home alone in my bedroom.

Determination – My determination comes from a part of me inside that feels what I’m doing is right. I’ve always felt
disheartened and truly unhappy having to work in ‘normal’ jobs I’ve had little passion for. I still occasionally doubt what I’m doing but I try to work through these times because I enjoy my life and believe with hard work and time it WILL go somewhere.

Networking – Again, as I mostly work alone it’s good to be able to connect with people who are in a similar boat. It’s mostly online, but combined with day to day interaction and inspiration, I feel this will open a lot of doors including new stockists, online sales, craft events. But I think it’s also important to connect with and meet people locally, in the real world!

necklace2

Name three of your most popular designs.
I would say my pastel-coloured Sorbet necklace, my mixed size Ball necklace in pink/mustard/umber/livid and the 4
Ball necklace in grey/turquoise/mustard/rust. The simple Moon necklaces are also proving to be a hit. My loom
bracelets tend to do better online and the bangles I’ve made for a long time are always popular. I find people respond differently through different outlets though and people have such varied taste so I never can tell!

If you weren’t a jewellery designer, what would you be doing with your time?
I would love to be studying nutrition. It’s the other main interest in life and I am always wanting to learn more about
healing through food.

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 or at Emporia this year.
With Pollen I am continually exploring and working on ideas as I go. I am going to Morocco soon which I’m certain will provide a lot of inspiration to work with. I plan to make a dedicated website for Pollen next year and also hope to be making prints again.

necklace

The gorgeous P O L L E N ball necklaces and bead bracelets are selling like hot cakes currently at Emporia, so if you fancy getting one for yourself or a friend, you need to get your skates on! And Verity has informed us that the last day for you to put in a request for a custom order of colours is Tuesday 15th December – you can pop into the shop to place an order with us any time before then.

New Crafts on Sale at Emporia

windows

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve gradually been introducing a fantastic range of lovely new crafts and gifts onto the Emporia shelves, and now we’re seriously in the run up to Christmas, what better time is there to show off these gorgeous new things to you our avid followers? So if you’re on the look out for different and independently made local crafts to give your friends, family and children this year, Emporia is the place to start your shopping.

finktshirts

Fink Clothing Co.
The Fink designs and and prints are made by the super talented Hannah Rushforth who has the enviable inclusion on her CV of having worked on the kid’s TV show Art Attack! when she was younger. Now working as a freelance arts project manager, she also produces an amazing range of screen printed t shirts, sweat shirts, baby vests and paper prints. And she promises more Star Wars inspired ideas will soon be hitting our shelves soon!

pollenjewellery

P O L L E N
Gorgeous colours and tactile textures at the heart of P O L L E N jewellery – hand painted and finished baubles strung on coloured thongs can be paired with intricately woven beaded bracelets, making simple but striking additions to anyone’s wardrobe. Go for a multitude of spheres or choose a statement pair, either way these necklaces are destined to be filling up lots of lucky lady’s Christmas stockings.

rjlaurenson

R.J. Laurenson
We haven’t had any ceramics on sale at Emporia for a long time, so these beautiful natural designs by R. J. Laurenson are a breath of fresh air to us. Covered with leaping and boxing hares, singing birds, leaves and floral patterns, these coasters and trivets have already garnered great praise from plenty of Emporia customers. And given that they are both dishwasher safe and food safe, we can see lots of people taking these home for Christmas this year.

peaspodselection

Peas in a Pod
Funky, funny and cute designs from Emma of Peas in a Pod come in all shapes and sizes, from cards and plates to badges and tea towels. We all know someone who can use a plate that bears the legend Eat Me, or a cushion covered in bottoms, so now you know where to look! Tea towels covered with cartoon macarons, notebooks proclaiming they are full of Incredibly Marvellous Stuff, and dinky badges covered with funny little Christmas puddings – take your pick and make one of your friends laugh every time they use your gift.

rosehillcards

Rose Hill Designs
Rose Hill creates portraits of a different kind – she has spent years making the coolest pet portraits in the world, and now even sells her wares in Harrods! So we are super flattered that she has decided to let us get our mitts on some of her amazing cards just in time for the festive period. Choose from frowny dogs wearing specs and surprised cats in bowties, or funky pictures of camper vans and rock n roll style celebs.

jandicushions

Kim’s Kushions
At this time of year we all start to think about spending more time on our sofas, so what could be more inviting than a selection of plump down-filled cushions to lounge about on? These gorgeous designs are created by Jandi of Kim’s Kushions, which she makes using classic prints from the likes of Liberty and Cath Kidson. Soft and squishy as well as incredibly stylish, these cushions would make a fantastic addition to any living room.

blackrabbitcards

Black Rabbit
Another well renowned crafter from Kent, we’re very excited to have cards made by Black Rabbit of Margate join our throng. Selling her designs all over the world in places as far flung as Japan and America, Black Rabbit cards feature a range of different animals and different objects, including one of the designs on a badge – perfect for those of us who resent not getting badges on our cards once we’re older than 11.

All these delightful designers are now represented in the shop, with a variety of their ranges on sale direct from us, but since they’re an amicable bunch, many of them will make special creations just for you – so if you see something you like, but you fancy it in another colour or a different size, then they might just be able to help you out.

And of course, we’ve still got plenty of fabulous crafts from the likes of Richardson & Richardson, Aye Aye Clothing, Lucy Alice Designs, Lotte Jamieson Crafts and Pickles Accessories.

Summer Classes at Emporia

aye aye 0-3m

Now we’re all finally moved in and getting a bit more settled, we’ve managed to come up with some fantastic classes to keep you and the kids entertained throughout the summer holidays. From friendship bracelets and felt monsters to skirt workshops for kids and grownups, we’ve got the lot – so if you find yourself feeling a bit uninspired with your sewing during August, you know where to look!

Get to Know your Sewing Machine – 10am – 1pm Saturday 1st and 15th August 2015
Our most popular class on getting to know your sewing machine features twice during August – once on Saturday 1st and again on Saturday 15th. Here you can get cracking on your first ever makes, learn how to insert a zip or make button holes. Suitable for ages 8 and up, the class costs £40.00.

Make a Simple Girl’s Skirt – 11am – 12.30pm Thursday 6th and Wednesday 12th August 2015
Now’s your chance to whip up a quick and easy, but super lovely child’s skirt in a morning session with Clair. Make a simple gathered skirt from some of our beautiful fabric and give it to a very lucky little girl to wear on her summer hols. Suitable for beginners, this class costs £30.00 per person and includes fabric.

felt bear

Kids’ Class – Sew a Felt Monster or Bear – 1pm – 2.30pm Friday 7th  and Thursday 20th August 2015
Kids can join Clair for a summer holiday special children’s class, where anyone over the age of seven can sew themselves a funky monster or a cute bear to take home. The class costs £12.00 for an hour and a half.

owl

Kids’ Class – Applique Owl or Monster Cushion – 11am – 1pm Monday 10th August 2015
Join Clair for another summer kids’ class at the shop as she shows children how to cut and sew an applique design for a cushion. The class costs £20.00 per child and includes fabric. Suitable for 12+.

Make a Circle Skirt – 10.30am – 1pm Monday 17th August 2015
Make your very own floral or nautical vintage style circle skirt with Melissa from Aye Aye. Melissa will show your how to recreate her iconic skirt in this sewing session. Choose from our double wide florals, gingham or nautical inspired prints and walk away with a super swishy skirt on the day. £45.00 per person.

embroiderythreads

Kids’ Class – Make a Friendship Bracelet – 11am Wednesday 19th and 26th August 2015
Get crafty with some embroidery threads  and make an old school style friendship bracelet with Graeme this summer. Suitable for the over 8s, the class costs £8.00 per child and lasts one hour. Threads are included.

inthebowl

Knitted Jewellery Class – 1pm – 2.30pm Friday 21st and Thursday 27th August 2015
Make a knitted bracelet or two in this unusual knitted jersey jewellery class. Although this session is perfect for those who already know how to knit and purl, if you are a confident beginner, you should still be able to get to grips with the simple style of the i-cord. Materials are all supplied on the day, and if you want to take home your super chunky knitting needles so you can make more bracelets, you can purchase them at the end of the class. £15.00 per person, suitable for 12+.

Kids’ Class – Make a Pencil Case – 10.30am – 12pm Monday 24th August 2015
Melissa from Aye Aye is back at Emporia and teaching children how to make their very own pencil case just in time for the new school year. Choose from a variety of funky fabrics and learn the technique of inserting a zip. The class costs £20.00 per child and is suitable for 8+.

kidsdresses

Sew a Child’s Shirred Dress – 2pm – 4.30pm Wednesday 26th August 2015
Melissa from Aye Aye shows you how to shirr fabric and make a delightful summer dress for a child. The class costs £40.00 per person and includes fabric..

For more information or to book a place on any of the classes taking place over the summer, pop into the shop for a chat or give us a ring on 01233 612278.

Knitted Jewellery Classes

inthebowl

A few weeks ago we introduced some knitted jersey bracelets into the shop, and ever since then people have been asking us how they are made, so now we are giving you the chance to find out by holding some jewellery knitting classes! If you are a knitter who fancies getting to grips with some new skills and a new way of wearing your knitting, then this is the class for you.

rolls

The bracelets are made from jersey yarn which is a by product of the fashion industry, so essentially they are very long and very thin off-cuts. Available in as many colours as are being used by the current season garment makers, the jersey makes for some very exciting and very wearable jewellery potential, as the only limit is how many different stitches you know. Go for super simple i-cord style or mix it up with a chunkier bracelet, either knitted or woven with another colour. You can also make necklaces too, in exactly the same way.

Double colours in a chunkier style

Double colours in a chunkier style

The knitted jewellery classes will take place over the coming weeks, and everyone who attends will get the chance to make either two simple style bracelets, one more complicated chunky style bracelet (and possibly a simple one too, if you have time), or a necklace. Although this class is perfect for those who already know how to knit and purl, if you are a confident beginner, you should still be able to get to grips with the simple style of the i-cord. Materials are all supplied on the day, and if you want to take home your super chunky knitting needles so you can make more bracelets, you can purchase them at the end of the class.

Single i-cord style

Single i-cord style

The classes take place from 12pm – 2pm Monday 22nd June, 12pm – 2pm on Monday 13th and Monday 20th July 2015, and 1pm – 3pm on Saturday 18th July 2015, and cost £15.00 per person. Classes are limited to four people per session. If you would like to book a place on any of the knitted jewellery classes, phone the shop on 01233 612278 or pop in and see us in person.

greyroseflatwide

Interview with Lucy Alice Designs

hareprint

This week we are welcoming some very exciting new stock to the store as the delightful Lucy Alice Arnold has delivered her equally delightful designs to us. Impeccably crafted wooden jewellery, including brooches and necklaces, plus cards, prints and badges featuring a selection of British wildlife, are all now for sale at Emporia. So to celebrate their arrival and our inability to keep our hands off the hares, foxes and bird designs, we took the opportunity to have a little chat with Lucy about her work and what inspires her.

necklaces

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Lucy Arnold and I am the designer behind Lucy Alice Designs, a creative studio based in a seaside studio in Folkestone. It is a family run company specialising in handmade jewellery, greetings cards and home-wares, with all designs inspired by the animals around us. We call it our menagerie of colour and intrigue!

How did you get into crafting?
I have always been very creative and have always made things ever since I was little. I studied Textiles & Surface Design at Bucks New Uni which is where the designs you see in my collections today first materialised. I was approached to take part in a Christmas art market whilst at my degree show back in 2011 and that is how I caught the designer/maker bug.

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
Three of my favourites are the illustrator Nicola Rowlands, artist Abigail Brown and jeweller Helen Noakes. I love designers who do things differently and don’t necessarily follow trends. They make what reflects their own personalities and passions; their work is wonderful!

notebooks

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
1. Know your brand – make sure you create a line of products that flow together and have a theme. Create a logo for your business and use the same set of colours and font across all of your packaging, on your website and on signage etc at craft fairs. It will make your business look so much more professional.

2. Keep it simple – Stick to a few products or designs at first and see what works well and what people like. It is so easy to jump in at the deep end and try to do everything at once when you are a creative person. Having a small selection of products is easier to manage at first and easier to market. You can then add new products every few months. Adding new products or collections gradually is also a great idea as it will give you something to blog about, tweet about and talk about to your customers.

3. Work out your pricing and don’t under sell yourself.

brooch

4. Make things that you love – To be able to sell something you have to be passionate about it, if your passion shines through, people will fall in love with your products too. A handmade business should reflect your personality and let your talent shine.

5. Be brave – If you want to start your own craft business my advice would be to go for it! Create a small range of products, create your own brand, price it correctly and then book yourself a table at a local craft fair or start a Facebook page. Shout about what you do and see how people respond!

Name three of your most popular designs.
Anything with cats, birds or foxes on!

What’s new with your craft for 2015? 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.
2015 marks the official start of my journey into full time self employment. I am currently working on my new and improved 2015 collection which launches in April. You can find some of my new designs exclusively at Emporia including floral hare and fox brooches and little wooden bird hair slides.