Maker Spotlight: Forest and Found

Hand Turned Pots

We’ve been big fans of Forest and Found for a while now. Their booth displays are always stunning at our London Fair and we can’t wait to see them again this weekend!

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Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

We knew straight away that our name had to reflect what was at the heart of our business. It has always been about our relationship to the outdoors and particularly to the forest, so it was a definite that ‘Forest‘ had to be the starting point. We then wanted something that would reference our methods of working and approach to our craft. Foraging for dye plants and locally sourcing timber has always been central to the way we gather materials to work with so ‘Found‘ quickly became a direct reference to this. We haven’t ever set ourselves strict limitations or have a heavily structured business model, instead we prefer to let the business grow organically finding new opportunities and avenues through direct contact with like minded people. ‘Found‘ also became the perfect representation of how we work and run our business. Most importantly we wanted a name that felt warm and welcoming with a sense of adventure … hence ForestandFound!

Naturally Dyed Madder Quilt

Have you always been passionate about design?

We both have come from a Fine Art background where our interest in making always revolved around materials and how we experience objects. Design has always been on our radar but has never been the driving force of our practice. We almost fell into it accidentally while pursuing our interest in woodwork and textiles. Our starting point for approaching design is always informed by the materials we work with. The products we design and make always have function at their heart but our interest lies in how people interact with them and the relationships they form.

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?

After graduating in 2013 we felt a need to pursue our practice in making and directly working with our hands. We began looking at traditional methods of craft and the role of the craftsman/woman in contemporary society. We had always worked with wood while building sculptures so our research began there and we quickly started looking at carving and woodturning. An impulse purchase of a wood lathe meant we very quickly had to learn how to use it! We live and work in Walthamstow in East London and have Epping Forest on our doorstep so sourcing timber from the forestry management has been invaluable. Walthamstow also has a thriving textile industry and we are surrounded by textile shops. Having always worked with found objects and whatever materials we had to hand it was a natural progression to start looking at textiles. Having both made and stretched canvases for painting at college we were drawn to the most basic painters canvas and calico. This has remained our fabric of choice and to achieve the colours we were after we began hand dyeing all our textiles using natural plant dyes.

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What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?

When thinking about our business or discussing how we differentiate ourselves within the craft and design market we always return to our integrity to the materials we work with. We are looking for a ‘truth’ within our materials whether that is in their provenance and sustainability, or in the way they react and surprise us in the making process. We are always designing our products with the users direct experience of the object in mind. We aim to make products that offer something more through their touch or smell and the way they interact with the body. The way a spoon feels in the hand or a quilt warms your back are all considerations from the word go.

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Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?

Failures are part and parcel of the making process, we are always testing and pushing the limits of our materials. How thin can you go on the wall of a bowl before it cracks or what colour can be achieved from an unknown foraged plant? Often without the mistakes you wouldn’t have the discoveries. A cracked bowl can often be beautiful in its own right and an unattractive colour result can become a happy accident when over-dyed to produce an unexpected and beautiful shade.

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Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?

Weekends have definitely gone out the window and our social lives have often been put on hold. However we have discovered the most amazing network of friends and fellow business owners who make it all worth it so definitely no regrets!

What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?

We are probably most proud of our studio and workshop, which without we couldn’t have ForestandFound. We built it from scratch and it is the hub and centre of everything we do. It is currently going through an expansion as we add a new textile studio and a deck for natural dyeing. Our favourite moments of running ForestandFound are when people purchase our products. The novelty still hasn’t worn off and it is the most rewarding sensation when people walk away with something they will truly treasure.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

London has the most amazing galleries and museums which we regularly visit to get new ideas. It is one of the main reasons we are here and if we ever moved out of the city we would always return to catch new exhibitions. Our love of landscape and the outdoors has made us seek out London’s green spaces which exist in abundance. We have an allotment which is the perfect breath of fresh air and escape from the hustle and bustle. Being able to inhabit and cultivate your own patch of land within such a built up city is an opportunity we are so grateful for.

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What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?

Chelsea College of Art and Design where we both studied Fine Art runs a very independent BA course. It taught us the invaluable lesson of being self motivated and how to have a working practice we believed in and had the drive to pursue. As a result we are able to structure our days and be our own bosses. We know each others strengths and weaknesses which allows us to work very well together and to shoulder different responsibilities to spread the workload. We are also used to coping with self-doubt and how to work through issues within our own practice without feeling the need to give up and throw it all in.

Naturally Dyed Crusades Quilt

What made you take this leap into being your own boss?

We had both worked several part time jobs throughout our time at University so when we graduated we knew we didn’t want to go back to that way of working. We found it tired us out so much that it sucked all creative energy out of the days we then had off. We were lucky to be living at home in London and with the support of our family around us we were able to make the transition to working full time on ForestandFound. Watching it grow and progress to a point that we can support ourselves has been the most amazing and rewarding experience and we will never underestimate the value of having a supportive family network when running your own business.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

We think a lot about where our materials are from and how they relate to one another. Subtle relationships between wood and textiles can often be the catalyst for a new idea. If we are designing and making an object we want to know how it will then go on to be used within the home. We are always researching and looking at the way different cultures use vessels and utensils and how textiles play a role in the home. We draw a lot on Japanese ideas of frugality and the humble nature of the materials used. We have never been interested in making the most ornate and decorative objects rather we like the grain of the wood or the colour of a piece of fabric to speak for itself. The very act of making can be meditative and we’d like for our products to have the same effect when used. There are definite health benefits from living with simple, well-made and natural products. 

What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

Our advice to fellow makers is always to stick to your guns and to trust your instincts … 90% of the time they will be right and the other 10% you will learn from.

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Man, we are so so so excited for this weekend! Don’t miss out on our London Holiday Fair this weekend, and check out Forest and Found online here:

Website

Instagram

Our London Holiday Fair Kicks Off This Weekend!

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The London Holiday Fair kicks off this weekend at the Old Truman Brewery! On November 7 + 8 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. you can shop for the perfect handmade gift, take part in DIY workshops, and welcome in the holiday season.

A selectively curated assortment of more than 200 Makers will provide exciting options for holiday gift giving, such as jewelry, ceramics, home décor, children’s accessories and toys, letterpress stationery, art prints, and knitwear. All items featured in the Fair are handmade by emerging and established artisans and offer an opportunity to support local makers.
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ROW 1: MABEL MADE THIS | FELLED LIGHT | CHRISTABEL BALFOUR | ROW 2: MIND THE CORK | EVERMORE | I LIKE CATS | ROW 3: FOREST AND FOUND | APRES SKI | EAST TO WEST WOODS

Feeling inspired to join in on the handmade spirit? Get hands on with some of the Fair’s festive DIY workshops! Textile artist Amy Ilic will offer weaving workshops both Saturday and Sunday for £10, which includes all supplies and materials. Seatting is limited, so RSVP before it’s too late! Prickle Press will also assist shoppers in creating personalized letterpress cards at £5 each.

For more holiday fun, portrait artist Emma Block will be on hand Sunday to create her live illustration watercolours, in which she will paint unique portraits of guests in just five minutes — a lovely gift for family or friends.

Attendees looking to boost their shopping stamina with some sweet treats should search out My Little Cake Tin, who will provide a selection of bakes and cakes at a beautiful dessert table. Offerings will include friands, brownies, tartlets, cakes, cookies, and more.

Oh Comely will be present with a Christmas subscription offer, back issues, and exclusive merchandise from their shop, including pieces designed by Owen Gent, Marie Gardeski and Kaye Blegvad. You won’t want to miss out on their photo booth operated by lifestyle editor and photographer Liz Seabrook, who will be creating Oh Comely “Cover Girls.” It’s the perfect gift and perfect way to commemorate your visit with RCF!

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Getting There: The Fair will be indoors at the Old Truman Brewery, located in East London at 81 Brick Lane. Pets are not permitted at the venue. Route directions to the venue can be found here. Visitors are encouraged to walk, bike, or take public transportation to the Fair; the brewery is easily accessible via tube, rail, and bus.

Uber is sponsoring rides for Renegade’s Holiday Fairs. New users can get up to £15 off their first Uber ride using the code RCFLONDON. To sign up, download the app or head touber.com/go/RCFLONDON.

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Want to spread the word? Join our Facebook event and invite your friends. Grab our e-flyer and pass it around. Add #RenegadeCraftFair and #RenegadeLondon to your RCF-related Instagram pictures and tweets! We love seeing what our followers and makers are up to!

For more information about this event, please visit the Renegade Craft Fair website, check out our upcoming Maker Spotlights, or browse the Makers on Pinterest.

 

Big Thanks to Our London Sponsors:

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Maker Spotlight: Mind the Cork

MInd the Cork - cork composite objects

We’ve got a sweet little Maker Spotlight today featuring the beautiful design wares of Mind the Cork. Mind the Cork was founded in 2013 by designer Jenny Espirito Santo, who’s inspired by the natural value of materials and the sense of history and heritage they embody. These pieces elevate the humble cork into one of a kind statement pieces for your home, and we can’t wait to make our living spaces look awesome! The London Holiday Fair is going to be a beaut, folks!

Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

My business name has a few influences. Anyone who lives or has been to London (or heard of!) will recognise the term “mind the gap”. When I was growing up, I often heard adults saying, “oh, mind the cork” when serving wine at the dinner table.

My aim was to make people consider cork as a high end sustainable material that is great to use in design and as a leather alternative too; so the idea behind it was to “mind”, to “consider”, to “be aware” of something. I liked that play on words and meaning.

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?

My background is interior design and while I really enjoyed it, I had this feeling at the back of my mind that I wanted to work in a very specialised field and I wanted it to be sustainable and meaningful to me.

Working with cork is important to me because of my Portuguese heritage and because it’s so incredibly eco-friendly. I think is a product that looks to the future; the natural resources we have available and how we use them creatively.

Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?

Long and random backpacking trips around the world! Traveling is one of my great passions and something I was able to do fairly regularly when I was an employee. Ever the optimist, I thought that by being my own boss I would have more flexibility and control over when and long I could travel for. How naive! My business takes up every minute of my every day but I have no regrets at all, when I can look back at the milestones I achieved so far, and all the future things I have planned.

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What are your plans for the future of Mind the Cork?

I am very happy to see cork being increasingly used and featured in design. My goal is to expand my range of homeware and lifestyle products and exhibit in different countries around the world.

I also love doing collaboration projects, so really looking forward to a few things that may be happening in the near future!

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Just look at those pillows! We can’t wait to see these lovelies in person at our London Fair this weekend. If you aren’t in London, you can find Mind the Cork online here:

Website

Instagram

Gift Guide: For the Hostess

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Clockwise from top left: EVERMORE LONDON | CORAL & TUSK | GOPI SHAH CERAMICS | BEAUTIFUL BRINY SEA

With all the upcoming dinner invitations headed your way this holiday season we thought we’d simplify things with an RCF Hostess Gift Guide! Candles are always a popular choice, and you can’t go wrong with Evermore London’s Amber and Clove Candle, the perfect holiday scent. If your friends love hosting parties, pick up some Coral & Tusk whimsically embroidered napkins. Headed to a food lover’s home? Any of Beautiful Briny Sea’s salts are the perfect hostess present, but we kind of love Bird Bath. And if any of your friends are like me, chances are they’re always looking or a match to light a candle. I’m obsessed with these ceramic strikers by Gopi Shah Ceramics!

Want some Fall inspiration for your own party? Check out some of our Fall Favorites on Pinterest and get in the mood with our Thanksgiving Spotify Playlist!

Maker Spotlight: Jenny Sibthorp

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Jenny Sibthorp for the win! We’re loving these illustrated textiles and goods from this UK designer and we can’t wait for you all to buy them up at our London Fair coming up in just 1 week!

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?

I was living in London and craving an outlet to be a bit more creative and feel more satisfied. I took up upholstery courses, and realized that I wanted to find a way of making a living by using my hands. I left London for the countryside, and started working out how I could turn my dreams into reality.

What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?

I’m still getting over a Design*Sponge feature at the beginning of this year. I submitted an entry to their Before & After for an old French nursing chair I’d reupholstered using some of my fabric, forgot about it and then nearly fell off my chair when Grace emailed me with some questions about a month later. When it went live the response was just incredible!!

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

I’m hugely influenced by where I live, but its’ not a city these days. I live in the countryside and my studio is an old farm building round the corner from my house. It’s basic, but beautiful and rustic. I sometimes can’t quite believe how lucky I am to have it. There’s a resident bat and through the summer I have lambs outside my back door (see my plethora of instagram posts @jennysibthorp!)

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What made you take this leap into being your own boss?

It was a now or never kind of decision. I just figured that at the time I didn’t have any responsibilities in terms of children or having a mortgage etc and I really didn’t want to be working in an unsatisfactory office job forever. A really great friend just kept on saying to me ‘what’s the worst that could happen’ and he was so right, you just don’t know until you try it.

 

What are some inspirations for your work?

I’m inspired largely by my beautiful surroundings, bright colours, old photographs; but everything is inspiring, its just learning to hone these inspirations into something that makes sense. But just sometimes, I just want to remember something important to me by putting it into a print – Eggs was born shortly after my chicken Widdy went ‘Missing Presumed Dead’. A lot of my prints can be a little bit tongue-in-cheek like that.

Jenny Sibthorp Deckchair Linen Zip

What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

My favourite one is just chat to anyone and everyone about what you’re up to, you just don’t know who they might be and its amazing how easy it is when its something that really matters to you and that you feel passionate about. It’s really easy when you’re self employed to work every single hour possible and only take a break to eat and sleep, but this is a really important one, try to be disciplined and let yourself take off time every week, be that a few hours or a whole day. It’s amazing what a difference this will make to your energy levels and efficiency.

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Jenny Sibthorp’s patterns and colors are as addictive as the cheeriness they emanate. Only one week until our London Holiday Fair, in the meantime find Jenny Sibthorp online here:

Website

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

Maker Spotlight: Christabel Balfour

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Christabel Balfour is one talented lady. Her designs in weaving and paper cuttings are some of our favorites around, and we are so thrilled to have these goods showcased at our London Holiday FairChristabel Balfour 002

Have you always been passionate about design?

I come from a background in contemporary art, and studied sculpture at art school. It’s only been recently that I have focused more on design, but looking back I can see it influenced a lot of my work. I have always been interested in the structure of things, and the practical aspects of making.

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?

I took up tapestry weaving around two years ago. At art school I made woven sculptures and installations, and only tried tapestry after I graduated. It started as an experiment and soon became a full on obsession! I taught myself from scratch using books and the internet, and make all my weavings on frame looms that I build myself.

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What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?

I think what is different about my work is the balance between minimalist design and intricate detail. Although at first glance they might seem simple, upon closer inspection you can see the amount of work that goes into each piece.  Often there are subtle colour changes or finely balanced compositions which encourage you to keep looking. I want to create pieces which draw you in.

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Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?

I haven’t had any failures I would call “major” just yet (knock on wood) but I have struggled quite a bit with pricing my work. I’ve definitely put work up for sale or online and later realised I wasn’t actually making any money because my work is so time-consuming to make. Learning to value my time and skills has been the toughest thing to do.

What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?

My proudest moment was the solo show of my weavings that I held in May. It was called “Simple Cities” and showcased my work from the last year. It was a bit of a nightmare getting everything finished in time, but so rewarding to see it come together.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

I’m very influenced by the contrasts of London. You have all these old buildings right next to new skyscrapers, along with so many green spaces and pockets of nature. The Thames is my favourite place in the city- my studio is right beside the river and I walk along it on my way to work. The tranquillity of the water in the middle of the busy city is something I’m always trying to capture in my designs.

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What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?

I was fortunate to work as an administrative intern for a designer/maker  for about 18 months before I left to start my own business. So I learnt everything about running a creative business- manufacturing, shipping, website sales, wholesale, promotion, social media, the list goes on. It was a great introduction to the challenges and joys of working for yourself.

What made you take this leap into being your own boss?

I’ve always wanted to be self-employed and it got to the stage where it was “now-or-never”. Plus you can’t be an intern forever…

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What are some inspirations for your work?

There are so many other weavers that I look up to- Sheila Hicks, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Mimi Jung, to name a few. I’m also very inspired by architecture, particularly the Japanese architects Tadao Ando and Shigeru Ban. But a lot of my inspirations I just find online, mostly through Instagram which has an amazing creative community.

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What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

Don’t underprice yourself! If you’ve worked hard to make something beautiful you deserve to be paid properly for it. Also it’s really worth seeking out creative communities of people working in similar fields to you- I’ve had so much helpful advice and useful tips from friends or fellow designers online.

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Londoners, put some time aside for this Holiday Fair because you won’t want to miss Christabel Balfour. If you can see more of her work online here:
Website
Webshop
Instagram

 

Maker Spotlight: Loela

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It’s always a good Monday when you get to look at pretty clothes and jewelry! Loela is prepping for our London Holiday Fair and we are twiddling our thumbs, counting down the days to bask in the amazingness!

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Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

I really struggled with the name! I came across Loela and liked the spelling!

Have you always been passionate about design?

Definitely, I loved art as a kid and then went on the do a BTEC in art and design at college which was great for trying out lots of different disciplines, I gravitated to graphic design and fashion and although I decided to do a fashion degree i’m still heavily influenced by graphic design in my work.

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?

When the recession hit I lost my job in London as a merchandiser and decided to try out selling on a fashion market based in Manchester while I looked for another job. I was hugely inspired by the other designer makers that were doing their own thing in Manchester and fell in love with the feeling of being your own boss and the creative freedom you have working for yourself. The fashion market really gave me the confidence i’d lacked before to put myself out there, and things followed on from there.

What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?

I think the great thing about being is a designer maker is being able to offer a product which is 100% your own creative vision, without having to worry too much about other factors which come into play when you work for someone else. I think thats a fantastic thing to be able to do and I feel so lucky that I have the chance to do it.

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Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?

I don’t think any major failures but i’ve had plenty of  learning curves! Particularly working out how much work I can handle on my own and when its time to find help with production etc. I was lucky enough to have a concession in Topshop for six months which was such a great opportunity and really hard work, I learnt so much about how that side of thing works, like hiring staff, keeping on top of stock and pricing things correctly.

Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?

My social life isn’t what it used to be!

What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?

Getting the Topshop concession was just so exciting and confidence boosting, I couldn’t quite believe it when I first saw my dresses out on the shop floor.  It wasn’t something i’d ever imagined happening when I first started selling on the fashion market.

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What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?

I did degree in fashion design at uni which included a 6 month placement with a small independent business in London called the Jacksons, I got to see every aspect of the business from production to selling at trade shows to running the shop. I didn’t know it at the time but I think little bits of advice about running your own business came back to me when I started working for myself. Apart from one bit of advice on a particularly stressful day which was ‘never start your own business Laura!’

What made you take this leap into being your own boss?

The secure feeling of taking your future into your own hands.

What are some inspirations for your work?

It might sound a bit basic but colour is and the thing that constantly gets me excited about designing. I recently visited Marrakesh which was full of  beautiful geometric designs and colour combinations, my version of heaven!

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What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

I think its really important to keep active on social media, although i’m not the greatest example of that! And i’ve learnt not to be timid about taking opportunities.

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So many good things are heading to London! Mark your calendars, everyone! Our London Holiday Fair is coming up on November 7 + 8. Find Loela online here:

Website

Instagram

 

Maker Spotlight: Catherine McGinniss

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Catherine McGinniss is a truly awesome artist. We can’t wait to have her paper, illustrated goods, and housewares at our London Fair in just a couple of weeks!
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Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

I spent ages thinking about names for my business and in the end I went with my name – as I am a freelance illustrator who creates and makes products I think it is nice to have the connection of knowing the name behind the image or item, it just makes it more personal.

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Have you always been passionate about design?

I have always been passionate about art and design.  My Dad was an architect and when I was a kid I loved watching him at his drawing board drawing these really straight lines freehand that suddenly became buildings.  Reflecting back it probably influenced me a lot -seeing and understanding that a drawing is more than pen and paper it can become anything and everything….!  Now I spend any spare time visiting galleries and watching the world on youtube!

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?

I create all my products by hand, mostly I screen-print or letterpress print my products both of these processes allow me to make the products myself, this means I don’t have to use other company’s to manufacture which ultimately means full control of the products I make, then I can be sure that they have the look and feel that I want them to have. This also means that you learn the hard way how to do this but it often gives you other ideas of things to make.  

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Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?

I think anybody who starts any sort of business sacrifices something mostly time and often sanity, I am very lucky that what I do is very much what I like and want to do so I don’t really feel like all the time and effort that goes into creating is a sacrifice as I love what I do.

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What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?

My favourite moments are the small things, like when I get good feedback from someone on my Etsy store or moments like this where I am writing a Q&A for Renegade spotlight as it really encourages you and gives you a real boost and makes you feel excited about what you do.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

I am influenced by all the places that I have lived in.  I grew up in the Essex countryside, farms, fields, woods, somewhat isolated but great for imagination and real freedom for a kid.  Then living in London with the excitement of city life all noise and bustle and architecture, history and culture.  Now I live by the sea with salty air, candy floss, sticks of rock, giant cedar trees and a room for me to draw and imagine in.

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What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?

I studied illustration at university and then went on to have a variety of jobs, some I enjoyed some I did not!  – but I learned something from all of them and mostly I just carried on making, doing, drawing and creating.

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What made you take this leap into being your own boss?

It’s mostly a sense of needing to do something that makes me happy and to create and make things that please me and I can’t find elsewhere.

What are some inspirations for your work?

Inspiration is everywhere

What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

Carry on making, doing, drawing, sticking and most of all just enjoy it. It’s worth it.

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We can’t wait to see all of Catherine McGinniss’ work at our London Fair on November 7 + 8! Want to keep up to date with Catherine? You can find her online here:

Website

Instagram

Maker Spotlight: Pikku Potin

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There’s a lot to love when it comes to Pikku Potin. These makers are heading to our London Fair in just a couple weeks to show off their nordic inspired homewares and accessories. And boy, we cannot wait!

Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

‘Pikku Potin’ is an adaptation of the Finnish words for ‘little pot’ – Anna is half Finnish, and we were looking for a name that referenced the nordic influence of our designs. We also wanted our name to be unique to make it easy for people to find us online! The copper plant hangers are based on a traditional Finnish decoration, called himmeli, which was a starting point for other homewares of a similar nordic simplicity.

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?

We met whilst working as architects, and we were both looking for a more direct creative outlet for our design ideas. We found architecture a very long and slow-moving process. By designing and making our own products (on a much smaller scale) we are able to be completely involved in all stages of the design process, and have the satisfaction of creating a real, tangible product in the space of a few hours rather than a few years! We are both keen on interior design and homewares in general and Anna had just bought a flat and was doing it up, so homewares seemed like a natural area for us to explore. Initially we were just trying to make things we wanted for our own homes but couldn’t find anywhere else, and that’s since become the way we approach the design of all of our products.

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What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

We design and hand make all of our products which allows us freedom to work with clients and collaborators on an individual basis, and respond to individual requests. Our architectural background provides an influence in the geometry of our designs, attention to detail and interest in materiality, as well as our market stall set-up.

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Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?

We had no prior knowledge of business so we’ve definitely had to learn from our mistakes, particularly in terms of valuing our own time and getting the price point of our products right. We want to keep our products as accessible and affordable as possible, without compromising the quality, so it’s a careful balance.

What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?

Probably when one of our favourite shops approached us to stock our products rather then us contacting them first. We were only starting out and wouldn’t have had the confidence to approach them so it made us begin to feel that anything is possible!We’ve also felt really proud when other designers have contacted us to use our products when styling shoots and events.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

London has a fantastic creative community, and there are a lot of opportunities for selling at markets, which has been invaluable to us in terms of getting direct feedback from shoppers, and for meeting other designer-makers. We have to credit where we are today to a very receptive London audience who value handmade products and small businesses! We have learnt so much from other stall-holders we’ve met, and there is a great supportive network out there, which is handy when you are starting up. Getting to know other creatives has also led to rewarding collaborations, stretching us as designers and also giving us opportunities outside of our normal area.

What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?

Architecture gave us attention to detail and the confidence to design. Everything else we are learning along the way!

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What are some inspirations for your work?

Our main design inspiration is Nordic simplicity; we also draw a lot of inspiration from the plants themselves and from the raw materials we use. We really like to mix natural materials and forms with clean geometric lines.

Another great source of inspiration for us is collaboration. We are also currently working with a fellow small business, Blue Guy Pottery, on a limited edition collection to be launched at Renegade! We also recently collaborated with start-up gallery Scene to create a planted installation as part of their exhibition, and we also came up with a new product for them. We really enjoyed inputting to the exhibition design as it enabled us to draw on our past in spatial design, linking it directly with our products. We are always on the lookout for future collaborations!
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What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

Speak to people! We’ve all dealt with the same problems and pitfalls, so talk to your neighbours at markets, and support each other through social media, you’ll learn a lot and get loads of inspiration!

It’s also important to remember that while it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the increasing amount of competition in the small creative business realm, there’s room for everyone as no-one has the exact same approach and values as you. So keep going as your product will be someone’s idea of perfect!

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photo by Garry Maclennan

Can’t wait for our London Fair? You can find Pikku Potin online here:

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Maker Spotlight: Sarah K. Benning

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Ahhh! There is so much to love when it comes to Sarah K. Benning’s work. Not only is her attention to detail spot on, but her embroidery work and color captures so much sunshine and cheer. Our London Fair is so lucky to have Sarah K. Benning!
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Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

I am Sarah K. Benning and I make contemporary embroidery, so my business name is pretty straightforward.  Sometimes I wish I had gone in a different direction, and chosen a different name for my business, but when I first opened my Etsy shop I had no idea how much it would take off and what it would turn into!  Most of the time I like that my actual name is the same as my business name. I think it’s good to remind my customers and my followers that there is, in fact, a real person behind the products and social media accounts.

Have you always been passionate about design?

I have always been passionate about bing an artist.  I grew up surrounded by artists and creative professionals, so it always seemed like that was a real possibility.  I attended an arts high school, and later received my BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, so I’m not sure I’m qualified to be anything else.

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft?

Despite having taken many classes in the Fiber department at SAIC, I didn’t start embroidering until after school. I opened my Etsy shop in 2013 selling hand-stitched greeting cards.  My shop quickly grew to include embroidery hoop art and I have never looked back.  I am constantly pushing myself to hone my skills and further develop my unique voice.  My current body of works consists of hand-stitched pieces depicting house plants, oceans, and moons.

What do you think sets your designs  apart from others?

Since I am self-taught in embroidery, I don’t use a lot of traditional stitches or techniques.  I approach my pieces more like illustrations since each piece starts as a drawing and is then painstakingly filled in with thread.  I try to keep my embroideries fresh and contemporary in terms of technique and subject matter and try to avoid falling into predictable patterns. I don’t like to get too comfortable in my work, because then it feels like I am a one person factory turning out the same things over and over again.  What’s the point of being a self-employed artist if you can’t allow yourself a little creative freedom? (I always keep my fingers crossed that my followers and supporters will be just as excited about new work as I am!)

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Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?

Of course, I’ve had many major and minor failures over the past 2.5 years.  It’s important to view these failures as learning opportunities, rather than catastrophes.  There is a lot of pressure to always be perfect.  Social media and branding adds to this pressure and can magnify the inevitable failures. As anyone who has ever used Instagram or Pinterest knows, every independent maker/artist/designer/stylist/etc. is effortlessly living the perfect, natural-light-filled bohemian dream (ha!).  But, as I have learned, it’s not always that easy.  I have had to work really hard to create a separation between my business and my personal life.  I highly encourage other small business owners to do the same.  Cut yourself a break, because you are only one person (at least in my case) trying to manage every aspect of your business from product development to packaging and shipping and everything in between.

Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?

There have been plenty of sacrifices along the way.  First and foremost is probably sleep.  Especially in the early days, when my business was first picking up and I was still working a full-time day job, I was constantly working 16 hour days and barely finding time for things like food and sleep (not to mention a social life!)  But I definitely don’t regret any of it, it’s been an amazing experience to build a career for myself by doing what I love.

What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?

The proudest moment since I started Sarah K. Benning : Contemporary Embroidery was the day I was finally able to quit my day job.  It was a year and a half in the making, but it was so gratifying (and only a little scary) to leave corporate security and take the plunge into full-time self-employment.

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How does the city you live in influence your work? 

Right now, I am transitioning between living and working in Upstate New York to living and working in Menorca, Spain.  Besides the obvious challenges of moving my business to another continent and learning a new language, Menorca has been an incredibly inspiring place.  The landscape and plant life are amazing and, even though I have only been here for a month, the change of scenery has already impacted my work.
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What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?

Because of my fine arts background, I started out with a lot of confidence in my technical abilities.    The business side of things, on the other hand,  has definitely been more of a trial by fire.  I continue to learn as I go and do my best to learn from my mistakes. DSC_0577

What made you take this leap into being your own boss?

Exhaustion.  I reached a point where I had to choose between continuing my day job or committing to my business,  because physically and mentally I couldn’t do both anymore.  It was an easy decision.
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What are some inspirations for your work?

Lately, I’ve been deeply inspired by the plant life and landscape of Menorca.  I know I already mentioned it, but it is such a beautiful island and most of the time I can’t believe I live here.  I also look at a lot of Mid Century Modern design and more contemporary process-based art practices.  I love Tara Donovan’s work.  I love how she builds her incredible installations one little piece at a time.
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What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

Have faith in yourself and what you are doing.  Chances are, if you are really pumped about what you are making, other people will be too. Also, be open to constructive criticism, but stick to your instincts.  Working

Don’t miss out on our London Fair coming up November 7+8 at the Old Truman Brewery! You can find Sarah K. Benning online here:

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Maker Spotlight: The City Works

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Happy Monday, folks! We’re thrilled to begin our Maker Spotlights this week for our London Holiday Fair! First up is the incredible London team behind The City Works. Sylvia Moritz and Rowan Ottesen are the design duo behind The City Works and we’re thrilled you all get to know more about these two and their work!The City Works — Renegade Blog Post — London Notebooks

Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?

The City Works has a dual meaning. Firstly, we believe cities ‘work’. They’re interesting places where creativity thrives and millions of stories are told. Secondly, just like an iron works or a wood works, the city is the ‘clay’ that we work with by moulding landmarks & architectural styles in interesting ways.

Have you always been passionate about design?

From as far back as we remember, we’ve always had an undying passion for making, and seeing complicated ideas become reality. We both studied design at Camberwell College of Art, which is where we met.

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?

Sylvia began making fine art etchings after graduation and wanted to make an affordable version of her detailed city style. We combined this style with our fondness of printed matter to make products for anyone who loves to live the city life.

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Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?

So far, we’ve been lucky to go from strength to strength. Long may it continue.

Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?

We both left behind stable full-time design jobs with a regular income to launch The City Works. It started out as only a temporary thing, but so much happened so fast that now we both run it full time together. No regrets!

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What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?

Working on bespoke commissions for the Barbican Centre and National Gallery were two very proud moments for us. We were so young and for such great institutions to notice our style and trust in it was very reassuring.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

That’s a very relevant question! Obviously the place that we’re in shapes our designs completely. Every collection we release is based on a new, interesting city. We currently live in London, which has allowed us to absorb everything about it and make a range of products. In the future we will be moving to a new city, and making a new collection about it.

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What made you take this leap into being your own boss?

We’re both very strict in our beliefs of how things should look and how they should be made. When we were working in a corporate design atmosphere, we serviced the uninspiring visions of others, which simply didn’t fulfill our own creative spirits.

What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

We’re a little new to the industry to be imparting knowledge on people who are probably much wiser than us! But, we would say we’ve learnt the importance of finding a brand ethos and having confidence in it. We’ve found that making our work unique in multiple aspects helps us stand out from the crowd.

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We have an attention to detail that is present in every aspect of our business, from design, to manufacture, customer service to packaging. We use only the finest materials and most trusted techniques, which is why we proudly hand print our entire greetings card range in-house, as well as hand-sew our notebooks.

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We can’t wait to stock up on all things The City Works on November 7+8 at our London Fair! In the mean time, check them out online here:

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London Holiday Roster is Here!

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Row 1: Mabel Made This | Felled Light | Christabel Balfour | Row 2: Mind the Cork | Evermore | I Like Cats | Row 3: Forest and Found | Apres Ski | East to West Woods

Our first Holiday Fair kicks off the first weekend of November and we can’t wait to head across the pond to the magical city of London! Want a taste of what’s to come? Check out the London Roster! Want to conquer this holiday season? Find your favorites now and start writing out those Holiday shopping and wish lists.

Thank You London!

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Wow, London! What a treat this weekend truly was! Being in London during the Springtime is something else. Not only was the weather perfect, but so were the bright and colorful wares and good vibes our Makers brought to this Fair! Over 100 extraordinarily talented independent Makers showcased their work at the Old Truman Brewery to London locals and visitors. We got to start our day with delicious baked goods from Luminary Bakery, and then shop a range of one-of-a-kind handmade products from screen-printed posters to embroidered housewares to delightful temporary cat tattoos. We topped our day off with some ooey gooey mac n’ cheese from Anna Mae’s.

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One of our favorite post-fair activities is combing through the #RenegadeLondon collection of photos. We loved witnessing Makers and shoppers alike, posting about their favorite products, booths and experiences! Here’s some of our favorite moments below:

2015-LDN-thanks-graphicRow 1: @xemieex | @_ellamasters_ | @coralandtusk | Row 2: @patrickedgeley | @bakerie | @ouipui | Row 3:@_helloharriet | @_abieverett | @iamacrylic | Row 4: @jinnynguidesign | @basilandford | @_concretejungles

We always try to top each Fair, and it couldn’t be possible without your feedback! We value your opinions seriously, and always want to improve our Fairs to be the best events you attend each year. If you attended our London Spring Fair, please fill out our Attendee Survey or Vendor Survey! It only takes a few minutes, we swear!

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Want to relive the good times? You can get a recap on Instagram and Twitter using #RenegadeCraftFair and #RenegadeLondon to view RCF-related Instagram pictures and tweets!

Stay tuned for news and updates regarding our 2015 Spring/Summer Tour. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Pinterest to stay in-the-know on our Makers and all things Renegade Craft!

Maker Spotlight: Pup Tart Handmade

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Happy Friday, everyone! Today we’re featuring Pup Tart Handmade, a London-based textile brand dedicated to creating awesome products for your furry pets and your home. We’re so excited to have Pup Tart join us for our London Fair kicking off tomorrow! Hannah’s bringing some brand new fruit and cactus printed housewares, so keep your eyes open at our Fair!
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Pup Tart was founded by Hannah and her Norfolk Terrier mixed dog, Indy. This adorable duo set out to create hip dog accessories, that were practical, beautiful, and also affordable. The success of Pup Tart led to an expansion of products, including home goods that complement Hannah’s pet accessories.tuti fruti teatowel

Pup Tart is truly a handmade collection – everything is designed, printed, and sewn by Hannah herself, including the fabrics and papers. Hannah tie dyes, marbles, and block prints to create bright, colorful patterns and designs to freshen up your home.

Think Pink TipiMarbled paper

Hannah has such a great eye for color when it comes to her marbling. The swirls of neon pink, electric blues, and shimmering golds blend seamlessly together, yet maintain their bold originality. If you visit the Pup Tart blog, Hannah even has a tutorial on how you can marble yourself! tote multi glitter bow

Meet Indy, Hannah’s adorable pooch, and partner in crime. Indy is the model and inspiration behind the brand. Just look at that handsome face!Midnight Glitter Multi glitter clutch 1 copy

We’re dying to get our hands on Hannah’s summery pet tipis! Our dogs in the office would go nuts for them.il_fullxfull.589500547_9nmm

We can’t wait to see Pup Tart Handmade’s bright and colorful booth pop up at our London Fair this weekend! Be sure to check out the Pup Tart Etsy shop, and follow Hannah and Indy’s adventures on Instagram



London Fair Kicks Off Tomorrow!

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Our London Fair kicks off this weekend! This free handmade extravaganza will feature a collection of some truly awesome independent Makers, plus food, treats and more! Check out our rundown below:

100+ MAKERS
We’ve got something for everyone at this Spring Fair! Find gifts for loved ones, plus freshen up your home and wardrobe for Spring!
Check out the full Roster to catch a glimpse!
FOOD + TREATS
If you start feeling peckish, grab a sweet treat or some southern-inspired fare from these lovely foodies:
Luminary Bakery
Anna Mae’s Southern Street Food
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ROW 1: BUBBLE TREE DESIGN STUDIO | OH NO RACHIO! | CLARE NICOLSON | ROW 2: TINY TRACK | UBYME | LUMINARY BAKERY | ROW 3: KATE TEMPLE | ROSIE MOSS | GIRA E RIGIRA LA MODA

Want more handmade in your life? Learn more about Makers behind their craft in our Maker Spotlights and re-pin your favorite Makers from our Pinterest board.

Getting There: The London Spring Fair will be held at the Old Truman Brewery at 91 Brick Lane London, UK E1 6QL. We encourage you to walk, bike, or take public transportation to the Fair. Route directions to the Fair here.

Want to spread the word? Join our Facebook event and invite your friends. Grab our e-flyer and pass it around. Add #RenegadeCraftFair and #RenegadeLondon to your RCF-related Instagram pictures and tweets! We love seeing what our followers and makers are up to!