Hi Taaryn, why and when did you decide to start your business?
I’ve always wanted to work for myself, even before I realised it could be a possibility. I job-hopped a lot in my early 20s, I would get frustrated with office politics and move on. I retrained as a graphic designer and started my business while I was on the course and ran it part time until just over three years ago when I quit my job. While it’s not always a walk in the park, I love the freedom and flexibility I have. I’m in total control of my creative path and the opportunities that I’ve had definitely wouldn’t have come my way if I’d stayed an employee. I don’t plan on changing it anytime soon!
What had you done previously?
I used to work for studios as a graphic designer doing a mix of everything: print, branding, motion graphics and packaging. Before that I’d worked in client services and marketing roles.
How do you find mixing life as an illustrator and product maker?
It’s hard trying to balance them both! The commercial side of my creative studio takes priority as it’s where the majority of my income comes from. My shop started as a way to reclaim some creative control and I like to come back to it in between client work. It’s very freeing to be able to create the things I want to create. My illustration work usually exists in the digital space so I absolutely love translating it to real tangible art that people wear and decorate their home with.
How would you describe the brand’s ethos and your signature style?
My brand is all about bringing joy by making playful art. I’m an absolute colour lover, I’m drawn to bright colours and bold shapes like a moth to a flame and it runs through everything I make.
Can you tell us a little about the processes used to create your work?
It always starts away from a computer screen with sketches, colour roughs and paper mock ups. My sculptures and accessories are made from jesmonite which is an acrylic based resin that’s poured into a mould to set. With any new idea, I need to think about how the mould and casting will work and adjust my design. I go through rounds of prototyping with 3D printing and making custom silicone moulds to get the end product just right.
Which is your most popular product?
My snowdrop sculptures have been so popular, most likely due to the time of year. I made them for the winter markets I was trading at and they went down a treat in the run up to Christmas.
Hard question…do you have a favourite product?
My birthday bird greetings card is definitely my favourite thing I’ve made! It’s so cute and makes me smile every time I see it.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m a late riser and try to start the day with a workout. I’m absolutely useless in the morning so I take my time making breakfast and cleaning up from the evening before. I usually start around 11am. Mondays end up being admin days, so I’ll go through my inbox getting back to clients or putting together proposals for commercial work. On other days, I’ll be working on illustration and design work for my clients or casting new jesmonite products.
How do you approach PR and marketing?
I’m pretty ad hoc about it, I definitely need to spend more time making an actual plan. I try to keep myself visible by putting myself forward for talks and interview features. I’m also big on knowledge sharing and honesty. I find showing my process in detail, talking about the business side of things, and being open about when things have gone wrong generate a lot of interest in my business. I no longer let myself be a slave to Instagram and don’t try to force ‘content’ for the sake of it.
How does your location inspire you?
I live in a small, quiet village which is close enough to the city but nestled between lots of greenery and nature. It’s the perfect location! I love seeing how the seasons change the landscape and the different flowers popping up every month.
What’s been your highlight so far?
I absolutely loved seeing people making a beeline for my stall when they spotted my snowdrop sculptures. Seeing their faces light up as they picked one up was pure joy! It’s hard sometimes to keep the momentum going when you put a ton of effort into something and it doesn’t sell as well as you hoped. But those small moments when you’ve found your audience make it all worth it.
If you were to share any words of wisdom with readers looking to start a creative business, what would you say?
Start small! You don’t need to create large product ranges or splash out on non essentials like custom tissue paper for wrapping orders. Take things slowly and invest in things one step at a time.
Describe your work in three words: Colour, pattern, play
What are your creating rituals? I can’t work in a messy environment, I need a tidy office space to let the creative juices flow
Tea or coffee? Neither, I’m more happy with a juice box!
Mountains or sea? Sea
Night owl or early bird? Again, neither! I’m a late riser and in bed at 10pm!
I wish someone had told me… you’re not stuck doing one thing for your whole life.