Hi Megan! Why and when did you decide to start your business?
I feel like it was decided for me in a way, which was very lucky for an indecisive person like myself! When I left university (studying illustration) I felt a lot of anxiety around being creative, and was using embroidery as a gentle way of finding the joy in it again. About 6/7 years ago I was making embroidered dolls just for my own fun and as presents for loved ones, and I started receiving requests for commissions through Instagram. It hadn’t occurred to me that I could have such a slow craft as my career, but thankfully thoughtful handmade art is having a time of appreciation. Things grew organically from here with the help of social media and encouragement of kind people.
What had you done previously?
I was a chocolatier at a small company before I started freelancing. It was less like the romantic vision of the Lindt chocolatier in a big white hat looking lovingly at gold bunnies, and was more like blue hairnets and crocs. But it was great fun and a different thing to do, taught me a lot of skills and came with a lot of free chocolate which is my favourite thing in the world.
How would you describe the brand’s ethos and your signature style?
I don’t think of it as a brand so much, perhaps because I work on my own and it feels like a very personal thing to me. Because of this I try to stay true to the things I want to make and sell. Something I care about sharing is the enjoyment I get from the slow nature of embroidery, and so making kits and patterns for people to stitch themselves has been an important part of my business in the last couple of years. Slowing down isn’t always easy but having a craft to gently work on can be a very meditative way of being creative. I like to focus on capturing quiet and gentle feelings, sleepy characters and small moments which hopefully bring a little happiness and comfort! It’s all about finding a bit of magic in every day.
The materials I use myself are mostly second hand finds as I love a car boot sale rummage and finding threads and materials to re home. In a nutshell I think that my ethos is to always be thoughtful, whimsical and keep things small scale and made by hand. To tread lightly on this earth.
Can you tell us a little about the processes used to create your work?
Whether I’m painting, illustrating or embroidering, it begins with a general idea. It’s hard to pinpoint how they come about. I love reading children’s books, fairytales, textiles and art books to get inspired, and also going for quiet walks and observing nature. Lately I’ve been enjoying looking at historical embroidery techniques and having a go at learning them, then replicating them on a tiny scale. There isn’t a set formula for how I work but when I paint I use arches hot press watercolour paper which is perfect for painting little details, a set of watercolours and sometimes a nib and ink. One thing I can tell you about my process is that it isn’t speedy! I like to take my time and get stuck into building an image gradually. When I stitch dolls I draw and paint the basic design onto the fabric and then stitch on top before turning it into a 3D shape.
Which is your most popular product? Why do you think that is?
The badgers I make are always popular, I think there’s something about these cheeky creatures that snuffle around that captures people’s hearts. A mysterious and sometimes misunderstood symbol of the English countryside. They’ve become such a classic children’s book feature which I think adds a bit of nostalgia to a dear badger dressed in a waistcoat.
Hard question: do you have a favourite?
Very honestly, I don’t think I have a favourite! Certain things I feel more sentimental towards, and very occasionally I have to keep a character that feels like they are meant to stay. I have a sleepy lion sat in my studio that makes me feel calm with his soft colours and happy expression.
The white stitches I used on him were inspired by old English smocks and he also has a sailboat and waves at the bottom. He is sort of like my talisman.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A ideal typical day is when I spend the early morning doing the practical things like packing and organising and ticking things off the to-do list, and then having a slower pace in the middle of the day to focus on the creative side. As things progress there is more admin to contend with, so I find it really important to still have days where emails can wait and making can be the priority. I go for a walk or swim most days and also have regular peanut butter breaks for motivation!
How does your location inspire you?
Living rurally is a constant source of inspiration and I’m happy to have realised how important it is for me to be in the countryside and surrounded by nature. Changing seasons always bring new feelings and ideas and I like to incorporate that into my work. Winter brings darker and cosier colour palettes, hints of gold and holly sprigs, and then come spring I can’t help but have the urge to stitch rabbits with soft bellies and bluebells.
You also are an illustrator, can you tell us a little about this aspect of your work, and how you balance the two?
The two seem to perfectly balance themselves and I think it’s all overlapped. I think that the way I embroider has an illustrative nature as it is often focused on character. Although there are no words, I try to bring a sense of narrative to my embroidery through symbols and patterns, and similarly, my illustrations have a lot of the same patterns that I would explore in my embroidery.
How do you approach PR and marketing?
It’s something I struggle with and would like to put more effort into. Being a one woman band leaves me with more things than I can do in a day and this is an area that gets neglected. I’m very thankful for the ease of using Instagram to keep people updated and share bits of my world. One thing I have appreciated lately is having professional photographs taken as it captured my work in a way that felt considerate and quite ethereal, and a nice way to honour a finished project. I think marketing is a complicated thing and would I prefer to share things in an authentic way and hope that it naturally resonates with people.
What’s been your highlight so far?
I really like the double sided nature of what I do, and how it tucks me up in my comfort zone and also nudges me out of it. As an introvert, there’s little I find as wonderful as getting to hunker down and spend the day being creative in my own world, and I would say that being able to do this is an ongoing highlight. On the other side of it, some of the moments that have stuck out to me have been ones that have stretched my capabilities and encouraged me to be confident and open, like teaching workshops and doing markets.
What’s in store for you over the coming months?
At the moment I’m working on some new kit designs for cushions and flat embroideries, and alongside that I’ll be carrying on with juggling embroidery, painting new card designs, doing a bit of printmaking and hopefully teaching a workshop or two. Variety is the theme and nothing is set in stone yet which is a very nice feeling.
If you were to share any words of wisdom with readers looking to start a creative business – what would you say?
Keep your compass strong and don’t be swayed by what other people are doing or what you think people want you to make, and always keep the joy of making as the main focus. As someone who isn’t as fond of the business side of things, that is something I hold dear. Do what you love, love what you do and just give it a go!
Describe your work in three words: Peaceful, intricate, small.
What are your creating rituals? Open window, hot tea and snacks, making a nest of pillows, books, threads, tools and materials to work with. Going for a walk, sniffing the air and listening to birdsong. Woman’s hour (radio 4), Harry Potter audiobooks, instrumental music and *sometimes* the real housewives of Beverly Hills keep me company on a making day.
Tea or coffee? Tea – a big pot of herbal tea to be sipped all day.
Mountains or sea? Sea – quiet cove, summer morning, swimming and star fishing.
Night owl or early bird? Night owl, aspiring early bird, dusk if that’s an option!
I wish someone had told me… What you put out is what you get back.