Hi Safiyyah. Why and when did you decide to start your business?
I started my creative business at a time in my life where I felt I needed creativity for healing. Painting was a kind of therapy, at a particularly traumatic time in my life. I realised how much I needed it and decided to make it part of my daily routine in the early stages before I became a full time artist and textile designer.
What had you done previously?
I used to teach Design Technology in secondary school for 5 years. I enjoyed it at the beginning, as it allowed me to express my creativity during lessons and with students. However, over time other mundane tasks took over and teaching became more and more like daily tick box activities. It became more about exams and marking rather than making lessons fun and engaging for students. It was then I realised I needed to search for creativity in another form.
Can you tell us a little about your style?
I love photographing moody florals, lots of depth and bokeh, in contrast to that my painting style is quite soft, feminine and dainty water colours florals. I love the contrast this gives my Instagram feed. I like to change things up with the colours I use and the way that I paint, but I would hope you can tell all my work is me.
How does the artwork come together?
Each product/scarf begins its life as a painting or floral painted elements. Once I’m happy with the painting I scan them onto the computer and start designing. I manipulate the paintings on Photoshop to then form designs for scarves etc. Once I’m happy with my designs, they are sent off to India to be hand woven and digitally printed.
My notebooks are actually made up of my sample scarves that would have eventually ended up in landfill. I thought it was a great idea to extend the life of art by reusing and creatively recycling my sample scarves to create one of a kind sustainable notebooks.
That is such a lovely idea! You’re renowned for your floral prints – applying them to scarves, cushions, notebooks and hand-painted artworks, where did your love of all things floral come from?
I went through quite a traumatic life event in the summer of 2016 and it was around that time I used flowers as healing to help me recover. They made me happy! I have actually started a new monthly email called ‘Under the floral spell’ where I aim to empower others to bring happiness into their own lives using flower therapy. I send out monthly mood lifting prompts and flower and feelings facts on emotional wellness. Not to mention some pretty printable’s of my floral photography and paintings.You can sign up here to receive it.
Which is your best seller? Why do you think that is?
The Juskio scarf is my best seller. Pale blue and silver is definitely my favourite colour combination. I think there is something about how all the colours work well together that makes it so appealing.
Do you have a favourite?
I would say my favourite painting is the same one. I have a thing for grey blue tones with a combination of pink.
You also donate 2% of sales from certain items to the NSPCC, which is so lovely of you. Why did you decide to do this?
I am a mum of a two year old daughter, my husband is a GP and is the lead child safeguarding GP in his practice. Some of the stories I hear when he comes home from work are heart-breaking, and it makes me feel so blessed to know that Isla is very lucky to have two parents that love her to bits.
There are children out there that haven’t chosen to live a life of abuse and that haven’t had a choice in being born in troubled households. Children are so vulnerable and delicate in so many ways. We need to protect them and help the ones that have been emotionally and physically damaged.
Where do you create from? Does your location inspire you?
I love to paint from live flowers but don’t always have them in my studio. It’s usually from my head or other floral illustrations. I aim to get my garden looking perfect for painting in by next summer as there is something so therapeutic about painting nature whilst being in it!
What does a typical day look like for you?
My typical day starts at 6.30am, I wake up at the same time as my husband leaves for work. I take some time out to pray/ meditate/breathe, centre myself and give myself positive affirmations, try and remove anxieties worries and negativity. There is a sweet spot just before sunrise when I do this and then I begin my day.
Isla plays in her cot and I check emails making lists of things I need to do that day and planning on ways I can grow. Sometimes it means doing my daily Pinterest routine or planning a post on Instagram. From 8am till 11am I am with Isla, playing, interacting and as soon as she is down for her nap I am working again. I have until 1pm to work then I am with Isla the rest of the day. This is usually on Mondays and Tuesdays only as the rest of the days she is at nursery.
My days usually consist of designing new collections for scarves, paintings, making calls, working on new projects, planning finances and just thinking of ways I can grow and strengthen my business.
You’ve had some fantastic press coverage, how do you approach PR and marketing?
I’ve been very lucky with press coverage, as I reach out to people myself and a lot of it is just building connections but also being at the right place at the right time. I normally scroll through the #journorequest on Twitter most days. I happened to answer questions that I feel are the right kind of fit for me. Ideally I would actually love more press coverage on my products but that is something I am still working on.
If you were to share any words of wisdom with readers looking to start a creative business – what would you say?
Quitting is not an option!
Have a plan B but put all your time and investment in plan A.
Keep going, trust in the process of failure.
I have chosen this path and I have days where it can be challenging working for yourself but it is about going through the process and there is something about it that helps you grow in character.
What’s been your highlight so far?
Being featured in The Guardian newspaper. Actually seeing myself in print was so surreal. I had family and friends call me up and say they had seen me and it was just lovely.
Describe your work in three words:
Floral, feminine and dainty
Tea or Coffee?
Coffee. I’m a mum!
Mountains or Sea?
Sea… there is a dangerous beauty about the sea. The vastness scares me but the one time I did the scariest thing in my life (scuba diving) I saw beauty that my eyes had never even thought existed, it was an amazing experience!
Night Owl or Early Bird?
Early bird- I find early mornings allow me to be in control of the rest of my day, and not let the day run away with me.
I wish someone had told me…
To relax in life, and not take myself too seriously. I love the advice from the sun screen song (Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen). It’s my life advice that I would give anyone and so relatable.