Meet the maker: bookhou

Artists Arounna Khounnoraj and John Booth founded multidisciplinary studio bookhou in 2002 to showcase their individual and collaborative projects. Producing work with an emphasis on natural handmade materials and small production, in 2008 the couple opened their bricks and mortar shop in Toronto, and run an online store, too. We talk to Arounna to discover more about bookhou’s work…

rug hooking book.jpg

How would you describe bookhou, in a nutshell?

bookhou is as a multidisciplinary studio making a variety of decorative items such as furniture, fabric bags and home items with an emphasis on handmade.

arounna and piper hires.jpg

What inspired the idea of setting up your business?

John and I were always makers and designers and although there were differences in our chosen materials and approaches, it also seemed that our work really complimented each other. So, from the onset, we knew that bookhou would be a place to develop our individual work but also contribute and combine our ideas in a number of collaborative projects. Because we both have such a diverse interest in art and design we purposely worked with a variety of materials and processes from fabric, paper, wood, to anything else that came our way. Eventually, as we gained more of an audience for our work some things developed further, but still we try to keep working in a variety of directions.

hooking rugs frame.jpg

What did you both do before setting up bookhou?

We both have degrees in fine art. John also has a degree in architecture. We met while working in education - I was teaching at universities when we began our studio work together and eventually decided to run our business full-time.

mini bucket bags.jpg

How would you describe your style?

Although I work in both abstract and figurative ways I think my style is simple and minimal, with an emphasis on natural materials.


What is the ethos behind bookhou?

We want to make utilitarian objects that reflect both the art and design aspects of our backgrounds. No matter how simple the idea, we always try to emphasise the beauty of the materials we use and the importance of form, pattern and structure. And because we believe in thinking with our hands we've always made virtually everything in-house at our Toronto studio. That allows us to keep our connection with our work in all ways and lets our projects cross-pollinate in ways that would otherwise be difficult to predict.

PILLOW - sumie.jpg

Describe your work process…

I spend portions of the day doing a number of different things - production work, designing new items, painting botanical samples that might become pattern elements, etc. I also like to keep busy doing a number of projects at the same time with different materials and methods, sometimes painting, sometimes sewing, weaving or punching. But it never seems that I'm doing different things - they all contribute and inform each other. Ultimately, my work process is very intuitive.  While I do sketch ideas, I don't really plan things out ahead of time in a traditional way. I use my discoveries to help build a final product.

shop vibes jan. 16.jpg

What sort of space do you work in?

We live and work in a Victorian storefront which we have renovated several times to suit the needs of work - both business and personal- and family life. We wanted to have a collection of spaces where we could do anything we wanted - a showroom in the front, a busy production area for sewing, cutting, printing and shipping, as well as more private studio spaces for quiet work and for wood working. Because we see our work as interconnected and we wanted our kids to grow up in a working studio that they could use as well, our building grew into a place of zones all connected to each other.

knit picks swifter.jpg

Tell us about your neighbourhood…

We are located in downtown Toronto on a relatively quiet stretch of Dundas Street West, filled with mom and pop shops, restaurants and loads of coffee. The best part of our location is that it’s situated in the middle of a number of great neighbourhoods - Trinity Bellwoods Park, Kensington market and Chinatown, as well as both College Street to the north and Queen to the south. We have a car, but rarely use it because we walk everywhere. It's a pretty diverse neighbourhood so it has a mix of everything and everybody. It's a great place to live and work.

patch minis finished.jpg

Do you have a design background, or are you self-taught?

I’d say yes to both. My background is in fine arts, majoring in sculpture and ceramics, but a lot of the textile work that I do is in many ways self-taught. I love collecting new techniques and trying new things, which I happily dive into, figuring it out with a hands-on approach.  I think it’s an advantage for me to work this way because it allows me to work both correctly and incorrectly - which is a positive when I can incorporate my own way of thinking into a technique or material.

patchwork needlebook.jpg

Has your work evolved since you began?

I feel that my work has similarities to what I've done in the past - similar materials and interest in botanical elements - but I think I've developed from presenting them as singular motifs and images into more complex patterns. Learning about patterns has been a long process, and establishing a balance between a repetition of form that is both structured and organic is key to my work. One consistent element for that balance is that I continue to draw everything by hand and arrange elements intuitively. And, of course, another difference over time is that I feel things have become more refined.

patch progress june 20 .jpg

 How do you balance producing handmade works, with the online world?

The online world can be demanding, and balancing that demand with the concept of handmade, small production is sometimes difficult, if not impossible. But since I can only produce so much of most items, it forces you to find ways to increase production, and keep the work fresh and accessible while still keeping a connection and quality to your work. But challenges aside, the relationship between handmade and online is completely interconnected, and I’ve found ways to use social media as a way to introduce new ideas and groups of work in numbers that are manageable. I can gauge how I should move forward on a piece by incorporating the response for a product into the process.  Social media also allows me to show my work process as part of a larger narrative that our customers enjoy.

shopvibes may 20.jpg

How important is the online community to your work?

I think it’s very valuable, and I feel that it has helped elevate our business in so many ways - the most obvious being connections to customers. But being connected to other makers, sharing ideas, and promoting each other’s work lets you build a network that goes well beyond just marketing - it reminds you that you are sharing with actual people, places and cultures. 

punch needle pouch.jpg

Where do you find creative inspiration?

From my surroundings - it can be a plant that catches my attention while walking in the neighbourhood, the texture of an old wall, or a shadow cast on the ground.  We collect lots of little botanical samples and love the accidental marks that come along with any process. Inspiration is all around me and the key is to be able to interpret what I see.

studio vibes aug 9.jpg

What are the highs and lows of working an independent maker?

I so enjoy working as an independent maker. The best thing is that I have full control of what I'm doing. I decide what I want to pursue based solely on what I find interesting, without concern for things like trends. In terms of production, the challenge I have is trying to make enough work to keep up with demand and keep the work interesting for myself but also manageable in scale. Typically, I rotate patterns that are available or play around with new combinations or bag designs. But in the end, I can present my work with a consistent theme and aesthetic that I feel comfortable with and that I can honestly say comes from my hands. 

sm storage blocks.jpg

Which pieces do you most enjoy making?

I really enjoy drawing and embroidery, both of which I find closely related. Not only do they let me explore the motifs and compositions that I enjoy in a very intimate way, but I think they help me to slow down and the slower task makes it very meditative.

studio vibes nov. 19.jpg

How did you first discover your love for what you do?

I have always been a maker and knew at a young age that I would spend my life making. I was part of a family of immigrants that made many of the things we needed - clothing, decorative things, furniture, and of course food. Making those things as a child, I think made me appreciate processes such as the slow accumulation of stitches that show fibre work as an art, as well as craft. Going off to art school and then opening a craft studio was really the only I thing I could do.

water colour for punch needle.jpg

Do you have creative pastimes or hobbies?

I enjoy things I can do with my family like going for after dinner walks, and movie nights at home - as long as I can embroider while I watch!

Describe your working day…

I start the day checking emails and looking at orders, to see what needs to be fulfilled and made. Depending on the day, there is usually a production schedule to keep items in stock and contact suppliers for materials we use. Equally important work every day includes photographing projects and posts for Instagram. If I have a little time, I try to spend a while in a quiet space to work on some long term projects, such as punch needle work, or doing a few lines of weaving.


How do you approach marketing and PR?

We have never paid for advertising, but rather let our social media do the work of presenting our goods, workshop and events. It’s a lot of work keeping up with social media, and I place a lot of importance on every detail of a photograph or post and methods of presentation. But the benefits of social media are so important.


What have been your working highlights so far?

The simple answer is being able to make a living selling goods I make. More specifically, I think seeing everything come together after so much work and effort with my first book this last spring has been big. And seeing how it has been received has been amazing.


Where do you sell your work?

Early on we did many shows and markets as we could with a few vendors selling our goods in different cities. But now, it's almost entirely retail, either from our brick and mortar shop or online store.

What do the next six months hold for you?

The most recent thing for me is the release of my book exploring punch needle. It’s being published in a number of languages, and I have a pretty busy travel schedule teaching punch needle workshops.

shop vibes may 5.jpg

Any guidance for makers just starting out?

Work hard and don't focus on what others are doing. Go at your own pace and believe in yourself.

Quick-Fire questions: 

Describe your work in three words? 

Handmade, minimal, natural

Tea or coffee?


Mountains or sea?


Night owl or early bird?

Night owl

I wish someone had told me...

To not worry about making work that won't work out - make mistakes, lots of them.

Find bookhou at 798 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario, and online via their website and Instagram.

Meet the Maker: mondocherry

Sisters Clare Scholes and Joy Stewart turned their shared creative hobbies into a successful business that’s perfectly tailored to their busy lives. 91 talks to Joy to find out more about their work, and the beautiful artworks they create together as mondocherry.

Gemmola mondocherry_paper_botanical_artwork_floral.jpg

How would you describe mondocherry?

We create original 3D paper artworks that are entirely hand-cut and hand-painted. Often based around nature, they appear graphic from a distance and incredibly detailed up close. Seven years ago, we opened a shop in Melbourne to showcase our work, as well as to feature beautiful home and gift products from artisans and designers from around the world.

Gemmola mondocherry_Clare_and_Joy.jpg

What’s the story behind the name?

One of the very first orders we worked on was with a fabric that was called ‘mondo’. It came in a few colourways, one of which was named ‘cherry’. So we used to call each other and say ‘can you come over today to work on the mondocherry?’  A few months later when we registered our business, we tried to think of a clever name, but it was much harder than we thought. And then we realised that we had actually already named ourselves!

Gemmola mondocherry_blue_paper_feather_artwork_tea_table.jpg

What inspired the idea of setting up your business?

In 2006 we both found ourselves living in Brisbane with our families, and naturally spent a lot of time together. While the children played, and over many a slice of chocolate brownie, we would make items for our homes; artworks, handbags, soft toys, cards – you name it.  Friends began asking if we could make pieces for them too, and it was this interest that initiated the idea that maybe we could turn our hobby into a business.

Gemmola mondocherry_cutting_feathers.jpg

What did you do before setting up mondocherry?

Clare studied law and mathematics at university, and I was an early childhood teacher.  But we both became stay-at-home mums once our children came along (Clare has six, I have three).

How would you describe your style?

We use loads of beautiful colour, balanced out by plenty of white and neutrals.  We like the old mixed in with the new, and lots of textures and layers.  We love pieces with a story behind them, and we can’t live without lots of greenery!

Gemmola mondocherry_paper_botanical_artwork_floral_sofa.jpg
Gemmola mondocherry_Clare_Joy_studio.jpg

What is the ethos behind your business?

There is a particular beauty in handmade products, original design and limited editions that we are drawn to. We want mondocherry artworks, and our shop, to be a reflection of our passion and to stay true to what we love, rather than running with trends, or trying to predict popularity.  There’s value in uniqueness, and we love that a mondocherry artwork can never be exactly replicated. The two of us enjoy making art that makes people happy. As we work together, we also made a rule early on that we would never let our business come between our relationship as sisters.

own mondocherry_painting.jpg

Tell us about your work process…

Our main materials are paper, scissors, paint, and patience. Every component of our artwork is hand-painted and hand-cut and so many, many hours go into each piece. Clare and I work in stages and therefore often have multiple artworks on the go at any one time. It’s good to have the flexibility to take our cutting with us (to school pickups, ballet waiting rooms and footy games!) and the variety of working with different colours, styles and stages.

Gemmola mondocherry_paper_botanical_artwork_greenwall.jpg

Describe your workspace…

Clare has a studio room in her home, but stills tends to spill out into the adjoining family rooms. She often takes components at the cutting stage into the shop when she is there. I live in a condo in Singapore, so space it pretty tight. I manage with a ‘creative cupboard’ and can often be found working on my terrace, enjoying the tropical weather.  We spend many hours on the phone during the week, discussing works in progress and new ideas, however we are definitely at our most creative when we are together in the same place and start playing with paper and paint!

Gemmola mondocherry_pink_paper_feather_artwork_bed.jpg

What sort of neighbourhood and community is around you?

I currently live in Singapore and enjoy exploring the botanical gardens, with their lush tropical foliage, and the colour, fabric and treasures to be found in the Little India area. Clare lives in Melbourne and loves the suburbs around our shop, with their beautiful architecture and well-maintained gardens.  

Gemmola mondocherry_fascination.jpg

Do you have a design background, or are you self-taught?

Neither of us has a formal design background, retail experience, or marketing or business degrees. Our love for creating definitely stems from our childhood, as we are lucky enough to have a very creative mother, so our spare time was filled with sewing, painting, crochet, tie-dye etc. To end up in a creative business feels very natural to both of us.

Gemmola mondocherry_green_paper_feather_artwork.jpg

 Has your work changed since you began?

Our work has definitely evolved and continues to do so. That’s all part of the creative journey. In the beginning, we probably overthought our work and listened to too many opinions, but we really honed our own style when we began to trust our instincts. Initially, we worked a lot with fabric as well as paper, but found it hard to develop a cohesive story with both mediums. 

own mondocherry_studio_setup.jpg

How important is the online community to your work?

The customers and friends we have made through social media have allowed us to grow and expand our business, and we are so thankful for their encouragement, support and feedback. It gives us the biggest buzz when we get photos of our artworks displayed in homes, both locally, and on the other side of the world.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Everywhere. The colour of a beautiful bird, an interesting fabric, patterned tiles, layers of chipping paint on a wall, the details in a piece of embroidery, the delicacy of a rose petal … we find ideas, inspiration and colour combinations all over the place.

Gemmola mondocherry_paper_botanical_artwork_floral_table.jpg

Working together as independent makers – what are the joys, and what are the challenges?

It’s great to have the flexibility, the creative freedom and the variety of tasks involved in being our own bosses, and the process of making our artworks from start to finish (although we do leave the framing to the professionals). We thrive on words of encouragement, so finding motivation when things get a little tough can be hard, but luckily it usually happens that one of us is able to encourage the other. 

Which pieces do you most enjoy creating?

That would be like asking us to choose a favourite child! All of our collections are special to us for different reasons, and there is hardly a colour we can’t rave about. 

own mondocherry_paper_feather_closeup.jpg

What does a typical working day look like for you?

We both start with coffee - essential for staying sane while getting children off to school. Clare then usually heads into our Melbourne shop, where she chats with customers, merchandises the shelves and deals with admin.  In Singapore, I tend to do most of my creative work during the day while my younger children are at school. I also do a lot of work with our social media. 

Gemmola mondocherry_white_paper_feather_artwork.jpg

How do you approach marketing and PR?

This has been a large learning curve for us, as we are definitely more creative than business-orientated. We both love the visual impact of social media, however it is often hard to show the texture of our artworks via a small square. Investing in professional photos has been one of the best things we have done, as it gave us the confidence to approach designers and magazines - and having fresh eyes style your work is always a useful exercise. 

own mondocherry_feather_samples.jpg

What have been your business highlights so far?

Opening our shop was very special, as it gave us a chance to style our artworks up with beautiful products, so we could show our customers how we imagined they could be displayed in their homes.  We’ve also been lucky enough to be featured in a number of magazines and design blogs, which is a ‘pinch me’ moment every time!

Gemmola mondocherry_blue_paper_feather_artwork.jpg

Where do you sell your work?

We sell our artworks in our Melbourne shop and on our online store. We also take custom orders for colours and sizes, so that our customers can have a unique artwork made especially for their home.

own mondocherry_floral_cutting.jpg

Do you have any creative pastimes or hobbies?

Making our artworks isn’t just our job, but also something we love doing. Apart from when we are experimenting with paper and paint, I love the process of decorating a doll’s house for my daughter, and Clare regularly has her sewing machine out, embellishing and adjusting dance costumes.

Any advice for makers just starting out?
Ensure you are making something you actually love, and don’t under-price yourself - especially if you will be wholesaling your work. Great photos are worth spending money on, too.

Quick-fire questions:

Describe your work in three words?

Unique, colourful, intricate.

What are your making rituals?

Good background music, or an interesting podcast is a must.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee in morning, tea in the afternoon.

Mountains or sea?


Night owl or early bird?

I’m an early bird, Clare is a night owl.

I wish someone had told me...

Knowing what you don’t like is as essential to finding your own style as knowing what you do.

See more from mondocherry on their website and on Instagram.

Images supplied by Martina Gemmola (and stylists Richard Hall & Son) and mondocherry.

Meet the Maker: Karen Hsu

Paper florist Karen Hsu creates beautiful pom pom style flowers using sustainable and biodegradable materials. We spoke to the London-based maker to hear about her delicate designs, creating statement displays for Selfridges and how nature inspires her work…


Hi Karen. Why and when did you decide to open Pom Pom Factory?

It started in 2012 when I was working at Mercantile London - a fashion boutique in Old Spitalfields Market. I was asked to create a window display for the shop.

It was this experience that helped me realise that the most unassuming yet endlessly versatile material that I had been using on the counter day-in day-out would eventually become the first pom pom display I made. And it was tissue paper!

Pom Pom Factory was born when Selfridges approached me and asked me to make 6000 paper flowers for them for their Christmas window displays. I frantically assembled a team and quit my job at Mercantile. Mercantile were kind enough to let me use their basement as the “factory “.


What had you done previously?

After graduating from Central Saint Martins with an audio visuals degree, I was working as a film runner, sometimes as an extra, and set designer and prop maker.


How would you describe your style?

I make paper floral displays, either utilising creative tissue paper for pom pom flowers or specific crate paper to produce realistic flowers at site specific installations. Over the years, I’ve seen my style of work develop from making paper flowers as a decorative element to finding a harmonious connection between observing nature and craftsmanship.


Can you tell us a little about the processes used to create your work?

I always start by observing the natural flower I am going to recreate in paper form, I explore its form and structure to ensure I obtain as realistic an impression as I can.  

I will then take a desired colour roll of paper out and start building the flower out from memory, which I believe allows me to impart my own signature perception of the flower. I want my imagination to maintain a significant level of influence on my creations.


Your wares are all made with Pyrène (a natural tissue paper which is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable), why was it so important to you that your products are environmentally friendly?

Being inspired by nature, it is important to create something that is sustainable and biodegradable. I want my creations to last but not cause a negative impact on the environment.


Which is your most popular flower? Why do you think that is?

Peonies are the most popular, I think due to their unique varieties and strong feminine quality, their full-bodied shape make them perfect for indulgent bouquets and arrangements. They’re delicate yet tough as nails.


Hard question: do you have a favourite?

I love making thistles! It has such a different structure to any of the other flowers that I make. Their delicate bright colourful flower heads and body full of sharp thorns intrigues me to no end.


What does a typical day look like for you?

I don’t really have typical days, it changes all the time, I get a lot of last minute orders usually in the fashion of “can I have these flowers made by tomorrow?” Which means I always have to be ready to go into overdrive to fulfil a myriad of bespoke orders.

In the past I’d always say yes, which usually lead to me being a perpetual night owl. These days, I am more realistic with timings and let my clients know that my flowers are all handmade to order so it takes time to create the best possible display.


You also hold workshops, can you tell us a little about them?

I started to teach workshops three years ago. I love being able to share basic paper flower making and craftsmanship with others. My workshops are not just about being able to make a paper flower but of the processes involved that enables someone to create, style and establish their own unique imprint on the flower.

I like to encourage my students to explore their own ways of making flowers rather than just following a template. I post all my upcoming workshops on my newsletter that I would like to encourage all those interested to sign up.


If you were to share any words of wisdom with readers looking to start a creative business - what would you say?

Trust yourself and build a support network around you. I have an amazing group of small business entrepreneurial friends whom I exchange experiences with and offer mutual support to.


What's been your highlight so far?

Our London Craft Week display this year was definitely my highlight. We had spent one year planning this event and are so grateful to work with the London Flower School, Italian paper supplier Cartotenica Rossi and Old Spitalfields Market to create a concept for an installation inspired by underwater coral reefs and floral gardens.

Peony Wokshop.jpg

Quick-fire questions

Describe your work in three words:

Imaginative, versatile and emotive.

What are your making rituals?

I like to start with an empty table before I lay out all my tools and papers before I commence making. I like to observe and conduct this ritual methodically to get myself into the making mindset. Sometimes I will go out for a walk for a few hours around my neighbourhood, I end up chatting with friends who have shops by close-by. We usually converse about new and upcoming exciting projects and this usually pumps me up for the work ahead.

Tea or coffee?


Mountains or sea?


Night owl or early bird?

Night owl

I wish someone had told me...

Maya Angelou once said ‘Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it!’ I try to remind myself of these words everyday.

See more from Karen via her website and Instagram.

Meet the Maker: Bisila Noha

Looking to explore her creative side, Bisila Noha serendipitously stumbled upon her talent for ceramics. Now at a collective London studio, she creates unique handmade marbled ceramics that beautifully evoke nature and landscapes.


Hi Bisila, we love your beautiful ceramic pieces - what first inspired the idea of setting up your business, and how did you then develop it? 

To be honest, it all happened very naturally without me realising much about it. I had gone on a break to study ceramics a bit more and the moment I put my work out there I started getting orders, so I had to start making full-time.

How would you describe your work?

My pieces are a mix between pottery and painting, since I make forms that I then use as a canvas to make ‘ceramic paintings’. I use simple forms and powerful decorations that make each piece totally unique.

What is your background?

I studied translation and interpreting and also international relations, and right before setting up my business I worked as an account manager at an advertising agency that specialised in adapting or translating ads and marketing materials.


Do you have an ethos behind your business, or values that you focus on?

I believe that as a society we should change the way we consume: we should ‘buy less and buy better’. We should buy local products as much as possible and keep an eye on the carbon footprint of the products we use. Therefore, I make pieces that are durable, made with local raw materials and I mostly sell in London and avoid shipping.

How would you describe your creative style?

It’s very much inspired by nature - storms, skies, the sea, mainly - and Japanese sumi-e paintings. 


Describe your work process?

At the moment, I have a signature technique - marbling - thanks to which people recognise my work, which is great. I’ve been using this technique for a while now, so I am constantly looking for new shapes I can use to explore and tweak the possibilities of marbling, as well as better express myself through it.

I use UK raw materials and I am always trying to find ways to minimise the range of materials I use while making the most of them. I also love collaborating with people in order to come up with new ideas and projects. 

What kind of space do you work in?

It’s a collective studio in East London called Turning Earth In Production. We are now about 12 people making very diverse work - sculpture, functional pots of all kinds. We have just been moved to a new space, so we are going to try to build a stronger community. Everyone’s dream is to have their own space, but working next to other people can be great too. We learn a lot from each other and there is a nice atmosphere.


Do you have a design background, or are you self-taught?

Art-wise - I’ve mostly learnt all I know while working at Lon-art, an arts and education organisation I run (my other passion along with ceramics). Design-wise, I think it all comes kind of intuitively and also thanks to my sister who is an interior designer and design and trend forecaster. And when it comes to pottery, I have been studying and practising for the last six years, so I would say that while I’ve done different pottery courses and residencies, I am mainly self-taught. 

Has your work evolved over time and taken you on a creative journey?

Definitely! I started off making very naive, small pieces. Also, I’ve realised that at the beginning I was heavily influenced by a rather capitalist approach to life, constrained by societal ideas of productivity and functionality. Therefore I struggled to create ‘only’ decorative pieces, and so all my first pieces had multiple functions. It was a bit too much!

As I like to say - these first pots were a metaphor of us, human beings, becoming ‘human doers’. I am now being much more zen about it and embracing ‘the being’. I’m not scared of making things, I just enjoy making - this may not be straightforwardly functional, but I like to think that art and decorative pieces also have a very valid function - that of visual delight and aesthetic pleasure. 


How do you juggle producing handmade works, with engaging in the online world?

I used to be way more worried about Instagram and all that, posting a lot, etc. It is true that it is a great tool to sell and show what one does, and I do sell via Instagram. However, now I am more focused on promoting myself offline, contacting people, galleries, etc. And the followers will come… hopefully! 

How valuable is the online community to your business?

When making new work it is super useful to see how people react to it. And it can be very encouraging.  There’s also a good bunch of makers that explain how they do things, which is great to learn. And I also use it for research. 


Where do you find creative inspiration?

In nature. Since the very beginning I have been making and decorating pieces with landscapes in mind.

What do you find are the joys of being an independent maker, and what are the challenges you face?

I do enjoy it a lot. I am very driven so I can get lots done, I’m not scared of asking for things or contacting people, so being on my own is great to do anything I want. However, I must also say that it can be very lonely. Moreover, a creative path is one where there aren’t many rules as to how to progress etc, so this DIY aspect of it can be a bit scary or discouraging. I sometimes don’t know if I’m doing things right, and because it’s a very personal journey, it can be tricky to know where to get good advice from. My biggest challenge is to deal with myself. I have been very demanding and a tad harsh with myself, so I’m now trying to be a bit more chilled.


 Which pieces do you most enjoy making?

My favourites are my large decorative wall pieces. They are about 45cm diameter and the marbling on those is very powerful.

How did you discover your love for what you do?

 Just by chance. When I moved to London six years ago I knew I wanted to explore my creativity - a friend suggested pottery, and here I am. 

What does a typical working day look like?

My days are often very varied, but I like going early to the studio and work for about six hours, and then have time to go for a swim, work on other projects, or also teach - which I do regularly in the evenings. 

Bisila Noha ceramics

How do you approach marketing and PR?

My marketing is via Instagram and my newsletter, and for PR I am now thinking how to do it, to get the right people to see my work. Every so often I have a day where I crazily email people, shops and galleries that I have been following for a while - and see if anyone replies. But I think it is high time I got a real strategy!

What have been your working highlights so far?

My number one highlight undoubtedly is the London Art Fair, where I exhibited in January this year with Thrown, the gallery I have been working with for the last year. And then the trip I did to Armenia a year ago, where I was invited to teach a 3-week workshop on ceramics and embroidery at Tumo Studios in Yerevan. It was the best, as I could travel thanks to my work, teach, meet people and have an amazing time!

Bisila Noha ceramics

Where do you sell your work?

In London, I sell at Heal’s in Tottenham Court Road, at the gallery Thrown in Highgate, Not Just Another Store in Shoreditch, and Living Earth - the brand new shop by Turning Earth. I also do a couple of markets each year, plus I sell in Madrid, at Bureau Mad and Planthae. 

What does the rest of the year hold for you?

For the Londoners, I would recommend they to pop by Living Earth. If in Cornwall, I will be exhibiting my work at Porthminster Gallery in St Ives for their September Festival Show (August 31st - October 5th), which is very exciting! I also have a couple of other things in the making, so 91 readers can follow me or subscribe to my newsletter to be in the loop.

Do you have time for creative pastimes or hobbies?

I love analogue photography - I used to translate for Lomography years ago, and since then I am super into it! But my hobbies generally are more exercise oriented, like swimming and yoga.

Any advice for makers just starting out?

Don't be too worried about what other people do, do your own thing and believe in it. Also - be gentle to yourself, and from time-to-time, dedicate some time to assess your achievements and somehow celebrate them.

Quick-Fire questions: 

Describe your work in three words?

Poetic, dynamic, mesmerising.

What are your making rituals?

My current ritual is listening to either Andrew Bird, Agnes Obel or Haley Heynderickx while throwing. And Laura Marling while trimming!

Tea or coffee?


Mountains or sea?

Mountains - Panticosa being my favourite place on Earth!

Night owl or early bird?

100 per cent early bird.

I wish someone had told me…

How important procrastinating and leisure time actually are when running a creative business.

See more from Bisila via her website and on Instagram.

Photographs courtesy of Bisila Noha, Ida Riveros and TUMO Studios

Meet the Maker: Sandeep Pawar

Brighton-based maker, Sandeep Pawar, creates one-of-a-kind nursery decor, garlands and crowns inspired by her love of adventures and nature. We caught up with Sandeep to talk about personalising children’s spaces, working with craft queen Kirstie Allsop and why it’s never too late to do what you want to do…

Sandeep Pawar - owner of Planes Workshop

Hi Sandeep, first thing’s first, why did you decide to open Planes Workshop?

I opened Planes Workshop about three years ago. It started out as me just playing around with different projects to see what I could do, what I liked, experimenting with different textures and materials. It very quickly developed into an exploration of who I wanted to be as a craft based designer and I found an affinity with creating pieces for kids spaces and nurseries. I really believe in giving our little people an identity and a sense of pride from the space they inhabit. The need to share that vision with the world encouraged me to open up the doors and business began from there.

Planes Workshop

Where did the name come from?

As a child I used to dream of being able to fly. My imagination would take me over the seas and mountains exploring far off lands. I had forgotten all about this until I bought my daughter a toy plane when she just a baby. She would say ‘I’m flying mama’ and the name just stuck!

Planes Workshop

What had you done previously?

I worked in a government position for years. Before I knew what I really wanted from my life I had a couple of years when that job was fun and exciting, but the novelty of working in London in a fast-paced corporate job began to wear thin. Creative blogs were on the rise at the time and they encouraged me to start sewing again. I already had a deep love for craft, but I never thought it was something that I could pursue. Once I started, I couldn’t stop and I was obsessed. It was as though I’d been sleeping for years moving in the shadows of expectations of who I thought I was supposed to be.

Any chance I had outside of work I took to sew, crochet or sketch designs for new projects. One day I decided I wanted a creative career. I still work in a government job now, but it’s local and its part time (which is a huge step up from a three hour daily commute for five days a week) and I am actually very grateful for it. It funds my dreams and I try to remind myself of that every time I sit at my office desk wishing I was in my studio!


We bet! How would you describe your style?

When I think about my style I think of a tea party in the woods with lots of garlands and maybe a bear and a fox show up too! I’ve always been drawn to woodland scenes and the serenity that comes from being in nature, whether you’re walking amongst a bluebell field or gazing up at the moon and stars. I like to mix earthy tones with the rich palette of florals and foliage. These elements heavily influence my designs as do vintage children’s books by the likes of John S. Goodall and Jill Barklam. I love where these influences take me and how they inevitably shape my designs.

Meet the Maker -Planes workshop

How do your designs start out?

Everything starts with my sketch book. I never leave home without it. When I get an idea I have to scribble it down. I’ll then let those ideas sit in my head for a day or two. When I go back to my sketch book if my frantic scribbles still hold their own, then I keep them in. I’ll spend time drafting patterns and making prototypes tinkering with measurements, style etc before I’m completely content with the finished article.


Where do you create? Does your location inspire you?

I work from my home studio in Brighton. With the beach and the South Downs at my doorstep I am not short of inspiration!


Which of your gorgeous creations have been your most popular? Why do you think that is?

My woodland name banners have been a big hit with customers. This is the first banner I have designed with 3D wool felt foliage making the piece interesting and fun. Because you can choose your florals and add someone’s name, I think people just feel connected to these banners and they become more than just a product. I love making my customers feel included and excited about buying from me and I think these banners just tick that box in a big way for a lot of people. 

Planes workshop
Planes Workshop

Do you have a favourite product?

This year I designed a range of celestial inspired felt banners. I love these so much because they were so fun to design and I feel so proud of how they turned out. For me they step away from the norm of gendered design and can be enjoyed be everyone. My love for the moon and foliage combined into one piece is what my design dreams are made of!


What does a typical day look like for you?

My day in the studio usually starts the night before as I’m writing my to-do list and looking ahead at upcoming deadlines. Life starts pretty early round mine as I have a human alarm clock in the form of my four year old daughter. Once we are finally out, I take her to school and on the walk back I get a chance to clear my head before my day can really begin. I’ll usually work through orders in the morning and then spend the afternoon doing admin (like writing my monthly newsletter, invoicing etc) and working on new products. I work from my home studio which is handy because my husband usually takes pity on me and makes lunch and brings me lots of snacks!


Sounds perfect! You use Etsy for your business - how does this work for you? Is this the sole way your audience find you?

Etsy is an incredible platform to sell from and I love how easy it is to use. Whilst a lot of traffic comes directly from Etsy, Instagram is also one of my main sources for traffic and sales.

Planes Workshop

If you were to share any words of wisdom with others looking to start a creative business, what would you say?

Do not believe that it’s too late in the day to start your dream career. Just start! We are constantly sold this idea that our lives should be sewn up by age 30. This concept is not only untrue it is incredibly dangerous. It tricks us into thinking that if we don’t have our dream career, a big house and oodles of money by this age we have failed. It completely writes off the second half of your life as though it doesn’t mean anything. I would also say that nothing is perfect and neither are you, so don’t wait for ‘the right time’. There is no-one who will do this for you. Get up and start working. If you’re scared - good! Take that fear and use it to your advantage - get addicted to the thrill of proving those doubts wrong. In the words of Elizabeth Taylor - “now is the time for guts and guile.”

Planes Workshop

What do you hope the rest of the year has in store for you?

I’m currently working on an e-book full of creative projects to make for baby and kid spaces which will be on sale this Autumn. I’m excited and terrified in equal measure because it is something I have wanted to do for so long. I hope you all like it!

Planes Workshop

How exciting! Before you go, what's been your highlight so far?

My highlight has been appearing alongside Kirstie Allsopp in her infamous Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas show. I was featured on the table decoration segment. It was the first time I stepped out as a craft based designer and a true highlight of my career. Kirstie was so lovely and made me feel at ease in front of the camera. Designing a Christmas table was so much fun and I just had a ball! 


Describe your work in three words: 

Woodland. Empowering. Kids.

What are your making rituals? 

I never leave my studio in a mess at the end of the working day. Even if it’s a tip, or I’m having a bad day, cleaning the studio is incredibly therapeutic and it slows down my racing mind to help me start fresh in the morning.

Tea or Coffee? 

Neither - I’ll take a biscuit and a glass of milk, ta!

Mountains or sea? 

Mountains (sorry Brighton!)

Night owl or early bird? 

Early bird.

I wish someone had told me... 

To stop waiting for perfect and get the hell on with it.

See more from Sandeep on Etsy or on Instagram.

Meet the Maker: Lois Floyd

After taking up crochet as a hobby, Lois Floyd’s favourite pastime soon blossomed into a creative business, handmaking Scandi-inspired pieces for the home and nursery. Lois talks to us about her slow-living ethic, and juggling her business, Logii, with the demands of a young family, a day job, and home renovations.

Hi Lois! How would you describe your work?

I make simple, Scandinavian-inspired home and nursery décor, handmade using natural fibres.


What inspired you to set up your business?

Crocheting used to be a hobby, and still is (when I find the time). I had been making and crocheting for a few years before my little boy was born in 2015. During my maternity leave, I started making lots of little bits and pieces for him and his nursery. He was my main inspiration and the ideas were pouring out of me. It gave me the perfect excuse to buy more yarn! The first thing I had ever made, and the thing that had inspired me to learn to crochet in the first place, was a granny square blanket (which is still proudly draped at the end of his bed).


What are the values underpinning your business?

I love the whole 'buy less, buy better' ethos and hope this is somehow translated in my work. Everything is 'slow made', which I think makes it more special than any mass-produced item you can buy.

I'm on a bit of a journey towards a more simple, natural lifestyle. I have felt overwhelmed in the past with the amount of stuff I've got (I'm a hoarder at heart), and having children only adds to this!  With so much visual and mental 'noise', I wanted to strip back and be a bit more mindful of the things I was filling my home with. My business reflects this ethos, in that I try to keep the designs simple and always made with natural materials, as well as being conscious of our impact on the environment.


I also want the pieces to be cherished and passed down through generations; I think there is something so special about handmade items that makes people enjoy and look after them in that way. I believe that the things you surround yourself with impact your life, and I want to help people create a calm and inspiring space for themselves and their little ones.

What did you do before setting up your business?

When I was younger I spent a few years studying art and photography, but ended up doing a degree in broadcast media. Since leaving university I've had a few different jobs, but after moving to Sheffield in 2010 I’ve worked in an office (which I still do part time).


Tell us a little about your work process…

Crocheting is a very portable craft, so luckily, I can cram in a bit of crochet wherever I go. I rarely leave the house without my project bag! I have a sketchbook where I draw out designs or write garbled notes of patterns I'm making as I go. Often, I will find a new stitch or a pattern from Japanese crochet books that I will incorporate into my pieces.

I use natural fibres, mostly cotton and merino wool. In the past I've been completely inspired by some beautiful yarn and just bought it without an idea of what it will be turned into. These days I tend to think of what I want to make before finding the right yarn to work with (but the temptation to buy new yarn is always there!).

As I have two small children (one nearly four, the other ten months old), I do most of my work when they're asleep. My husband will help me out at weekends for a few hours if I need to take photos or get parcels ready; “the juggle” is real!


Do you have a preferred workspace?

I live in a small terraced house with an attic conversion, so I have claimed a section of the attic as my workspace. Up there is a desk and some shelves with all my materials, stock etc, but in reality, I do the majority of my work in the comfort of my bedroom or living room.


Where did you learn your craft?

I’m self-taught. I learned to crochet through tutorials I found online and I'm still learning new things every day about running a small business. I do everything from the initial designs to the branding, marketing and of course, the making.


How has your business evolved since you began?

It has slowly developed over the years; I've tried out a few different products and designs and as I've learned more about pricing, branding, and also where my passion lies, I've adapted the business to grow with me.

I first started out making lots of different things for my son Benjamin, such as bonnets and booties, so thought I'd try putting those out into the world as I was always getting complimented on them. I would buy yarn in sales and experiment with what to make with it.

After moving into our new home in Sheffield (which is slowly being renovated), then going back to work and juggling motherhood, a small business and everything else, I soon became overwhelmed and stressed with the chaotic life I felt I was living. So, I gradually tried to simplify things wherever I could. Getting rid of the clutter that we no longer needed, changing my shopping habits and teaching myself more about simple, mindful living.  

As I learned more about the benefits of living a more natural lifestyle, I started making changes in my everyday life. I gradually changed my beauty products to all-natural ingredients, I replaced the cleaning products I use and I took notice of what my clothes were made of. It was a natural progression for me to stop using synthetic yarns and I became more passionate about creating a positive, inspiring environment for myself at home, and in my business. Logii kind of naturally evolved to reflect this and I focused more on creating home decor.


How do you balance producing handmade works with the online world?

That's a very good question that I'm still working on!  I wouldn't say I have the perfect balance yet and my online presence is the part that suffers if I'm really busy, but generally, I find the most efficient way of working is to batch tasks.

I'm active most days on Instagram and Pinterest; I tend to reply to customers or DMs whilst I'm feeding or having cuddles with my baby (thank goodness for smartphones!) Most of the ‘making’ part will happen in the evenings when my children are asleep, or if I have a morning or afternoon to myself (which isn't too often).


How important is the online community to your work?

Oh massively! I've met some wonderful people through Instagram that I chat to regularly; from other mothers to other small business owners, and of course customers.

The majority of traffic to my online shop is from both Instagram and Pinterest, and it's helped me get noticed by some big accounts. It's also a huge source of inspiration!


Where do you find your creative inspiration?

I'm often inspired by other types of craft or art. I love ceramics and painting, and can be very inspired by the different patterns, colours and textures I find in shops, cafes or magazines. I love the brightness and simplicity of Scandinavian interiors, but am also drawn to bohemian decor; so I was thrilled to discover the whole Scandi-boho movement!

What do you find are the joys of working as a maker, and what are the challenges?

I love working as an independent maker; it's my main creative outlet and I get so much joy and peace from crocheting. I also love the community I have found through social media and the real connections I have made through it. It's such a positive experience and has made me grow in confidence and encouraged me to push myself in ways I wouldn't have done otherwise. It makes my day when I get a happy email from a customer, or get tagged in a photo featuring something from my shop. It's true what they say about small business owners doing a happy dance!

That being said, I do get frustrated by the little amount of time I feel I have to do 'all of the things', but actually, it has pushed me to adapt and focus on what's important. I find it hard to switch off sometimes. Trying to get the balance right is something I'm still working on, but I'm happy with growing slowly as I enjoy my young family.


Which pieces do you most enjoy creating?

It has always been blankets for me. The reason I first taught myself to crochet was because I saw a photo online of a beautiful crocheted blanket, and just had to know how to make one myself. I find it is very meditative when I get stuck in to making a blanket, and the end results are always worth the time and energy for me. There are endless possibilities too, and I can spend hours deciding on stitches, patterns and materials for my next blanket. I'm slightly obsessed.

Is there a typical working day for you?

Each day is different, and I have my two little ones to occupy me most days, so I fit my work around them, really. Sometimes I'll take a trip out with them via the post office. Other days I'll catch up with work when my eldest is at nursery and my youngest naps. A lot happens in those in-between times and stolen moments. I can do many things on my phone: order supplies, respond to messages, edit photos, update listings. It's not that structured, but I can get a lot done if I have a clear list of jobs and priorities at the start of each week.

In the evening, I try to spend time away from the computer or my phone (not always that easy or possible, but it's something I hope to get better at!), and relax into the process of making. I try to make it an enjoyable and peaceful part of my day; I put on some music or a podcast, light a candle or turn on my essential oil diffuser, and make myself comfortable whilst I work on orders or new designs.


How do you approach marketing and PR?

The majority of my marketing is done via Instagram and Pinterest, and I've recently started a blog as well. I've taken part in a few product swaps with other makers, which is always fun and helps get your products in front of a new audience.


What have been your business highlights so far?

Some stand-out moments for me have been when I've been approached by people and brands that I admire who want to collaborate with me or buy my products; I still can't believe it sometimes. But then, I'll never forget the feeling of selling my first blanket - that was an amazing moment.


Where do you sell your work?

Currently it's only for sale in my Etsy shop online, but I am working on a web shop that will be available via my blog (hopefully in the near future).


What does the next year hold for you and Logii?

It's a bit of an unpredictable ride as I'm still on maternity leave and we're slowly renovating our house, but business-wise - I've just launched my blog, so I’ll be blogging regularly, and I have a range of new blankets and wall decor in my shop. Hopefully I’ll be attending some more craft fairs, and I wouldn't mind running workshops, so perhaps I'll give that a go - who knows?


What are your creative pastimes and hobbies?

When I get time, I love to try out other fibre arts such as weaving, knitting, macrame or more recently punch-needling. I've usually got a personal crochet project on the go too - I make clothes for my children or presents for friends. We have an allotment, which also requires a lot of attention, so my husband has taken charge down there; but when the weather is nice, we all go down and help out.


Any advice to share with makers just starting out?

I'd say do the best with what you have and don't let perfectionism stand in your way; you get better in everything with practice. Spend time finding and connecting with the people that are going to support you, and don't worry if it doesn't all happen overnight (and yay! for you if it does!).

Quick-fire questions

Describe your work in three words…

Simple, soft, Scandi.

What are your making rituals?

Cup of tea at the ready, radio/music/podcast on, some essential oils on the go and get comfortable.

Tea or coffee?

Tea (but I need one strong coffee in the morning to wake me up!).

Mountains or sea?


Night owl or early bird?

Night owl trying to be an early bird.

I wish someone had told me...

That procrastination takes many forms, and really, you just need to get on and do the work!

See more from Lois at: or on Instagram

Meet the Maker: Hannah Bould

London-based contemporary ceramic artist Hannah Bould creates handmade and wheel-thrown works with a graphic, painterly style. Hannah tells us more about her business, and her passion for individually crafted pieces.

Hi Hannah! How would you describe your ceramic work? 

I make functional stoneware pottery, with geometric bold shapes and expressive painterly marks, primarily using wax resist to decorate my monochrome works.


What inspired you to set up your business? 

It happened very organically. It had definitely been a dream of mine to set up my own business, but the process was more of a gradual set up. I started with a couple of small wholesale orders, which I would fulfil in my spare time, and that then led on to more orders. Eventually I quit my job to focus solely on my business. I also did an internship, which gave me confidence in my skills, and belief in my own work. Over the years, it has developed slowly as my output has increased and my needs have changed.


What did you do before setting up your business?

Aside from various nannying jobs, I worked for six years at a fine art print studio in East London as a studio assistant. My role there involved paper handling and print finishing.

What’s the ethos behind your business?

I have always prioritised the handmade nature of my work, and endeavour to remain excited about all the individual pieces that I make. As much as possible, I like all my works to be one of a kind, and am open to all forms of collaboration.


What’s your creative process at work?

I use a white stoneware body for all of my work, and black, white and transparent glazes exclusively. I really enjoy experimenting with various forms of wax resist and like to let the form of each piece dictate the pattern or glaze application. When it comes to decoration, I like to work quite quickly and instinctively, and don’t deliberate too much.


Tell us about your workspace.

I work in my garden studio in North London. It’s small, but perfectly formed! 

What’s your background?

I studied illustration at Camberwell College of Art, and started pottery evening classes in 2012, from there I just practised loads - with a lot of failed attempts at first!

Image:  Toast

Image: Toast

How has your work evolved?

It has definitely evolved, in that I have honed my skills and refined my techniques, but the imagery and mark making is derivative of my old illustration and printmaking work, so I can see a direct correlation between the two.


How do you balance producing handmade works, with the online world?

Not very well! I tend to get very involved with the making process and am not a very computer-y person - it’s something I definitely need to improve on. My own online shop is hardly ever stocked which is terrible! On the other hand, I love how Instagram is a very quick and easy way to give an insight into my day-to-day work.


How valuable is the online community to your work?

Instagram is invaluable to me and has led to most of my orders, and I’ve always found it to be a really positive environment.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

I find inspiration through experimentation - I am definitely more of a do-er and less of a thinker. The process itself inspires me and find I’m most creative when I’m busy. 


 Working as an independent maker – what are the joys, and what are the challenges?

I can’t imagine working in any other way now! I really enjoy being able to explore an idea on a whim, and I like that I can physically spread out in the studio without getting in anyone’s way. Having said that, being my own boss means I often work long hours and feel guilty if I’m not in the studio.


Which pieces do you most love making?

I really enjoy making anything new, and anything with handles! Trimming is my favourite part of the whole process.


How did you first discover a love for what you do?

At the very first pottery evening class I did, I fell in love with clay and became completely addicted to throwing, I find it really therapeutic. Quite soon into making ceramics I realised how many avenues there were to explore, and I feel there has been a clear trajectory from the those early lessons to now.

Describe a typical working day…

I usually like to get into the studio around 9am and then throw until midday. I’ll then spend the afternoon either trimming the previous day’s thrown pieces, or do a bit of glazing and decorating. I like to vary the tasks I do each day, but that being said, I do strangely love a repetitive task! 

How do you approach marketing and PR?

I try to keep my Instagram fairly up to date, and like it to reflect what I am doing here in real time. I think it’s important to take good pictures of my work, but that’s about it!


What have been your business highlights so far?

Throwing live on Selfridges shop floor was a great experience, and being asked to do a professional talk by my old pottery teacher was another highlight for me. And it’s been great expanding my home studio and taking on a new studio assistant - my dog, Fig!


Where do you sell your ceramics?
My stockists include Toast, Venner in Walthamstow, Form lifestyle store in Manchester, Frank in Whitstable, Hunter Jones in Rye, Ondine Ash in Falmouth, the National Centre for Craft and Design, the Design Museum, and others!

What does the next six months hold for you?

I’m currently working on an order for Tavern shop in China, which I’m really excited about. I also have a very exciting collaboration in the pipeline, but I’m not sure I’m allowed to mention the details just yet…! 


Do you have any creative pastimes or hobbies? 

Mostly, it’s walking my dog Fig on the heath - I don’t get time for much else! 

Any advice for makers just starting out?

I would simply say practise your craft a lot, and make loads of work!

Quick-fire questions: 

Describe your work in three words…

Bold, playful, simple 

What are your making rituals? 

Radio on, and hot water to throw with!

Tea or coffee? 

Earl Grey!

Mountains or sea? 

Sea, if the sun is shining!

Night owl or early bird? 

Night owl… wish I was an early bird!

I wish someone had told me...

Not to worry so much!

See more from Hannah at

Meet the Maker: Louise Lockhart

Renowned for her bold, colourful and vintage-style illustrations (which have caught they eye of the likes of Liberty, Marks and Spencer and Heal’s), Louise Lockhart’s designs never fail to make us smile.

We caught up with the Yorkshire-based illustrator, founder of The Printed Peanut (the online store where she sells her beautifully illustrated wares - including homeware, books and soaps) to talk inspiration, cat prints and what it’s like living in a mill…


Hi Louise! Why and when did you decide to open The Printed Peanut?

Back in 2012, I was living in Canada and I worked part-time in an amazing stationery shop. It was the first time I’d really noticed that you could apply your designs to products to sell! On my days off, I set up a screen-printing bench in my tiny flat and printed cards and wrapping paper. It was a real education to see what people would pick up and buy in the shop and I learnt the basics of how to run a business.

Meet the maker interview with The Printed Peanut

How did you get into illustration?

I studied Illustration at Glasgow School of Art. It suited me down the the ground because you can apply illustrations to all sorts of things, whether that be textiles, chocolate wrappers or animations. I also love narrative and storytelling and the two go naturally hand in hand. When I graduated I found it difficult to get work in the industry, so I would just continue to draw in my spare time, slowly creating a recognisable style and a more consistent portfolio to show future clients.

How would you describe your style?

My style is very true to me and it just comes naturally. I’m very influenced by the flat, cut out styles of Nathalie Parain and the prints of Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden. I love vintage children’s books and have a collection next to my desk that I like to delve into when I’m having a creative block. I love working in a limited colour palette and I often create my own little worlds where men still wear suits and hats and there is always a happy cat in the background.

Meet the maker interview with The Printed Peanut
Louise Lockhart paper cut outs 3.JPG

Can you tell us a little about the processes used to create your work?

I create my work by compiling paper cut outs and drawings, which I then scan into the computer, where I will add colour and texture. It’s fun to rearrange compositions using Photoshop. I love that you can press ‘undo’ which you can’t do in real life. I have recently began drawing directly into my iPad to speed up the process. I like my work to look as if it is all done by hand but in reality, the computer is just a very handy tool! 

Louise Lockhart lithographed concertina book.JPG

Which illustration is your most popular? Why do you think that is?

I love designing packaging for my products and bringing illustration into every day life. I love designing tea towels because it’s like having a useful screen-print in your kitchen! It’s hard to say what is most popular... people always love a cat-based illustration!

Who doesn’t love a cat print?! Do you have a favourite design?

I really enjoy working with clients and seeing my designs come to life on products I wouldn’t be able to get produced myself, such as the fudge packets I designed for Liberty, or the circus play tent I designed for Anthropologie. I have the tent up in my spare room as it’s so fun!

Meet the maker interview with The Printed Peanut

Where do you create? Does your location inspire you?

I work from home in an old mill in Yorkshire. I have a custom built workshop for myself (complete with an underfloor heated marble floor!) I could happily work from anywhere, which is a great kind of job to have. I love living in the bottom of a valley, surrounded by brooding hills and trees. It is an old fashioned town with a great market and local characters. I live right next to a train station and can be in Manchester in 20 minutes if I need some city inspiration.

Meet the maker interview with The Printed Peanut

That sounds like the perfect mix. What does a typical day look like for you?

I get up around 8am and make coffee, which I’ll drink whilst checking over emails. If I have a big illustration project on, such as a children’s book, I’ll usually be working on that solidly for the whole day. I do like to break up screen time by packing up orders from my website. I love all the details that make buying from an independent so special. Each of my products will be wrapped in printed tissue paper and I like to pop in little notes or a free pin badge.

My daily outing is to the local post office. I enjoy the balance of running a small business and working on illustrations. I find it hard to stop working at the end of the day, especially as I work from home. My life is about to drastically change as my first baby is due in a matter of weeks, so it will be a steep learning curve how to balance work with looking after a little one!

Meet the maker interview with The Printed Peanut
tea cups.jpg

So exciting! You use social media for your business - how does this work for you?

I love the community of illustrators out there on Instagram, it helps to keep you going through the harder times and you can bounce off ideas when you’re feeling isolated in your studio. It’s a great platform for showing my work to people all over the world at the touch of a button. 

Do you have any words of wisdom with readers looking to start a creative business?

Do what you want to do and keep true to your own style. It’s easy to be influenced by gorgeous designs on Pinterest and Instagram but they already exist, there’s no point copying! It takes a while to get a steady income from a creative business and the first few years can be tough, so keep on going!

What's been your highlight so far?

I have to pinch myself daily to remind myself how lucky I am to be doing something I love for a living. I’m so happy I can draw every day, and get paid for it! There’s nothing quite like getting a completed book back from the publishers. I have three books coming out this year and I feel really proud of that.

Meet the maker interview with The Printed Peanut

That’s amazing! What else do you hope 2019 has in store for you?

Perhaps some baby themed products! I’m looking forward to a new direction in life as I have been working so hard for the past five years. I think a bit of time out from commissions and a focus on personal work will ultimately feed and inspire my other work in the long run, so I’d love to work on some large scale prints.


Describe your work in three words…

Colourful, playful, jolly. 

What are your making rituals?

I usually start by cutting little shapes out of paper and drawing into them, as it’s a lot less daunting than drawing onto a blank sheet of paper. I can’t work without the radio on, and a steady stream of biscuits.

Tea or Coffee?

Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon!

Mountains or Sea?

I like the sea as long as I’m looking at it, not in it.

Night Owl or Early Bird?

I’m a mid-morning person, I love my sleep!

I wish someone had told me…

Hard work does pay off!

See more from Louise at

Meet the Maker: Liha

Liha Okunniwa and Abi Oyepitan, the duo behind all-natural beauty brand Liha, are on a mission to bring highly-prized West African beauty secrets to the UK. Now in their third year, the business partners and lifelong friends focus on small batch and sustainable production, balancing their burgeoning brand with family life. We talk to Liha Okunniwa about the pair’s work…

Liha Beauty - Meet the Maker / 91 Magazine

Hi Liha! How would you describe your brand?
Relaxing, luxurious, unusual.

What inspired you to set up Liha, and what did you both do before?
We both knew we wanted to do this since our university days in 1998, but life got in the way! I’d studied English with American studies and moved back to Cheltenham from London when my daughter was born, where I ran a successful art publishing business. Abi had studied politics and sociology and had a career as an Olympic athlete, but we had both always had been making natural beauty products on the side. When Abi had retired from athletics, we just knew it was the right time. All along, the little voices in the back of our heads would not go away! We finally gave in to it and took the leap from totally different fields. It was worth it.

Initially, we tried to do a soft launch to test the market, but the demand was so great we just had to keep pushing and it forced us to develop quicker. At the moment we are raising investment, and it is exciting to pause, map and regroup, as we take each step in growing our brand to the next level. 

Liha Beauty - Meet the Maker / 91 Magazine

What is the ethos behind your business?
Minimalism is key - buy less, and choose well. This is why we make all our products multi-purpose and don't inundate people with new product lines, which can be commonplace in the beauty industry. We also take a lot of inspiration from family - we describe Liha as 'natural African roots with a quintessentially British attitude’. My mum is an English aromatherapist, and the unique mix is what makes us stand out. Much of our aesthetic - an extreme minimalism with African touches (what we call ‘Afro-Scandi’) - comes from my dad. He came from Nigeria on an engineering scholarship and ended up hitchhiking around the world in the early 60's, nearly settling in Scandinavia.

There is a West African philosophical concept, Asé-Ase, by which you conceive the power to make things happen and produce change. It’s somewhat similar to the idea of Chi. We want to show people how to take self-care to Goddess levels and keep that Asé up! All our products take a while to become familiar with - you can find your own unique ways of using them, or even make your own creation with them. They also force you to slow down – for example, it takes time for the Idan oil to melt, and you have to really work the shea butter into your skin.

Our values are also influenced by political crops and sustainability – the medicinal plants that grow in West Africa have huge potential in the west, with the correct legislature and scientific testing in place. We are aware that most people don’t associate West Africa with beauty secrets, but introducing people to shea butter is just the beginning. There’s a wealth of ingredients that have yet to be introduced to the western world which are centuries old, and tried-and-tested. A big reason we want to scale up our business is to be a true innovator in our field, by showcasing these new ingredients and wellness secrets. As we grow, we hope to transform what has been a traditionally destructive trade route (oil, gas) with new socio-economic cooperatives for West Africa.

Liha Beauty - Meet the Maker / 91 Magazine

How do the two of you work together, day-to-day?
We’re like Yin and Yang, and we work together really well. Abi is super-practical and I am more ‘head in the clouds’, but we are both very creative. We can talk about a tweak to packaging for literally months, and are both obsessive and perfectionists in different areas, which is a plus! Abi is amazing at visual merchandising and keeping up with the industry news, and I am always hunting for new ingredients and experimenting with mixes. Day-to-day, I live in Cheltenham and Abi is in Hackney, so we are constantly texting back-and-forth, but it really is essential to have face-to-face meetings as well, as that is when the ideas really start flowing.

Describe your workspace…
Our workspace is in Queens Park in a wonderful place called Kindred Studios. It’s a former college that has over 170 artists and makers in studios, spread out over two huge buildings. Every so often there are open studio days for visitors to look around and buy, which is a wonderful way to meet customers. In true 80s movie style, the developers are trying to move in on the building, so the artists, makers and supporters are all coming together to try and raise money to buy it back - hopefully this arts haven will stay safe a little longer.

Liha Beauty - Meet the Maker / 91 Magazine

Do you have a background in health and beauty?
In African Yoruba culture, making your own cosmetics is something natural that you learn at the same time you learn to cook. My mum studied aromatherapy, and my parents had shops that I grew up living above - she would test me from about the age of 8, so I've been learning a long time!

My first job was in the Body Shop in 1996; Anita Roddick came and said ‘hi’ and I nearly fainted! Then I worked for SpaceNK when I went to Uni in London - it was my mecca before online shopping, it was the only place to get cult beauty products. I’ve studied the industry for years, so when I saw there was still a gap for the idea we had been brewing for so long, we had to jump.

Liha Beauty - Meet the Maker / 91 Magazine

Where do you sell your products?
We sell in Being Content in Marylebone, Glow Bar, lots of other lovely independents. We also have a stand on Broadway market every Saturday which works as our shop for now, and we have a huge and very exciting new stockist we will be announcing soon!

Where do you find creative inspiration?
Everywhere! We try to make time to step away from working constantly, to enjoy the smaller things and let the ideas flow. I love the luxury of taking an afternoon to go to the cinema, and Abi is always losing herself in novels. It's an obvious answer, but we both love to travel too, and meditation or just good old daydreaming are essential for any creative person - and we get loads of our ideas from these!

Liha Beauty - Meet the Maker / 91 Magazine

What are the joys, and challenges, of being an independent maker?
The joys are when people say how much they love your products - that never gets old! The challenges are having to ‘make’ on top of everything else, and feeling like you never have enough time! 

Which products do you most love making?
Our Ose Gidi Black soap, because it took so long to perfect the recipe and now it is absolutely spot-on. It smells phenomenal, and always takes me back to being in our kitchens or our first tiny studio in Cheltenham with no windows! It was so hard to make at first, but now it’s second nature to us. It’s so nice when you can see your hard work pay off like that.

Liha Beauty - Meet the Maker / 91 Magazine

Do you hold workshops and events?
We do bespoke workshops for up to 15 in which we teach the absolute basics of making with shea butter, these can be booked through the website. It's great to inspire people to start their own journey and give them a crash course in aromatherapy. It’s amazing how much people bond, relax and open up when they are crafting with their hands.

Where do you source your ingredients?
At the moment we are sourcing from a number of different ethical places. In Ghana we work with the Shea Cooperative, and the Nigerian shea comes from Abi's dad's town, so we know exactly where it’s coming from. As we grow, our goal is to have our own farms and cooperatives in West Africa.  

What have been your highlights for Liha so far?
All of it! We wouldn't change one bit of our journey, even the tough parts. 

Liha Beauty - Meet the Maker / 91 Magazine

How valuable is the online community to your work?
We are not as good at posting as we should be, but we love Instagram. I’m not so keen on the algorithm but it’s a great community for wellness and makers. Our social media followers are all very valuable to us and we believe in quality over quantity.

What does the next six months hold for Liha?
We have some really exciting things coming up and we are growing pretty fast, so keep checking back for social media updates @lihabeauty

Any creative pastimes or hobbies?
I play music in my spare time, and Abi and I both write. Abi loves photography and we are both massive bookworms. Dancing around naked every so often is also a must for me to stay sane!

Liha Beauty - Meet the Maker / 91 Magazine

How do you approach marketing and PR?
We have been lucky in that we have never had to chase, and all opportunities have come to us directly through the website or via Instagram.

Any advice for makers starting out?
Just jump in and crack on! Trust the process and you will find your path. 

Quick Fire questions:

Describe your work in three words? Satisfying, fun, amazing.

What are your making rituals? Loud music (or Radio 4 on peaceful days), old clothes, self-belief, and a little alchemy.

Tea or coffee? Tea, always.

Mountains or sea? Sea.

Night owl or early bird? Abi is a night owl, but I’m an early bird.

I wish someone had told me... It's never too late to change direction. As a kid you are taught to find a path and lock on to it. That just isn't how it works, you can always change.

See more from Liha at:

Meet The Maker: Jessica Ford

For many of us creatives, the idea of stepping away from our computer screens and connecting to what we’re doing is something high on our wish lists, but is not always practical with looming deadlines and other commitments.

Fine artist Jessica Ford (who also works as a illustrator and has designed everything from children’s books and packaging to advertising campaigns and fiction covers, as well as this year’s Valentine’s box for Godiva Chocolatiers!) has done just that and carved out time in her schedule to focus on her paintings.

This ‘happy hobby’ has become not only a creative outlet, but also become another business - with her work now hanging in homes across the world (including in the home of social media influencer Zoella).

We chatted to Jessica to find out how she creates her abstract work, divides her time and tips for starting a new venture.

Jessie Ford - Dusk.jpg

Hi Jessica! Why and when did you decide to become a professional artist?

I’d been working for ten years as a commercial illustrator (and still do, for half of the time!) but was dying to get away from a screen and get back to physically making art. I love having a varied working life, and still really enjoy the buzz of illustration commissions, but there’s something really exciting about making art for yourself, and not to a brief.

Photography: Joe at Nash Watson

Photography: Joe at Nash Watson

Can you tell me a little about your work? How would you describe your style?

My paintings and colourful, abstract pieces. When I started painting, I was really conscious that I wanted to have a happy experience in the studio, and I wanted the paintings to feel joyous and light - and not depressing. I’m not interested in digging around my soul for melancholy! I want the owner to feel positive when living with my paintings in their home. They’re very easy to live with. 

The whole process for me started out as a happy hobby, that wonderfully evolved into something much bigger. 


That’s so lovely to hear! How do you go about creating your work?

I like to work on quite big canvases. Strangely I find working on smaller canvases much more challenging! I use acrylic paint, gouache, and graphite pencil. I achieve the different textures by using different mixing mediums. I’m a big fan of a palette knife! I’d probably make a great plasterer!


Which paintings have been your most popular? Why do you think that is?

I have three prints that sell extremely well: ‘Brood’, ‘Lark’ and ‘Dusk’. I’d say the number one favourite has been ‘Dusk’. I’ve had so many enquiries about that painting, I could have sold it ten times over. Ironically it was on sale for over 6 months, appeared in different galleries, and then as soon as I sold it, the enquiries came piling in. Always seems to be the way!

Harbour by Jessica Ford

Harbour by Jessica Ford

Doesn’t it just? Hard question, but do you have a favourite?

My favourite is ‘Brood’. It was such a favourite that I decided to keep it and it now hangs in my bedroom at home. Again, I’ve had so many offers from people wanting to buy it, that it’s been quite tough to stay firm and not sell, but I’m glad I haven’t. Some things are worth more than money. I’ve lent it out on photoshoots on various occasions, so it’s travelled around a fair bit, and even appeared on one of the room sets at The Ideal Home Show this year.


That’s exciting! Where do you create? Does your location inspire you?

I have a little, cosy studio in Hove, East Sussex. It’s pretty teeny, but it has a big window, which as all artists know, is the main consideration with taking on a space! I’m very close to the sea, which is always really inspiring! And I love Hove. There’s such beautiful architecture everywhere, and lots of creative people live here. 

Unfortunately I will be leaving this studio soon, as the developers are moving in and turning the workspaces into flats. I do fear for the creative people of Brighton and Hove, as this is increasingly happening, and it means there’s no longer affordable studio space left. A lot of my artist friends have already left the area due to the rising costs, so the future is looking a bit uncertain.


What does a typical day look like for you?

I divide it up doing my illustration work half the time, and then depending on what my deadlines are looking like, I’ll disappear downstairs to do some painting. I’ve been really lucky that my painting studio has been in the same building as my illustration studio all these years. I can pop between the two, often when I’m waiting for a layer of paint to dry!


So handy! You use Instagram for your business - how does this work for you?

Instagram has been amazing for me. It’s the only social media platform I use for my painting, as I only really use Facebook for personal use, and Twitter... I’ve never really loved at all!! I’ve sold lots of paintings directly to customers through Instagram, and then it’s been such a buzz to see the paintings in situ, popping up on my client’s feeds. It’s brilliant to be able to communicate directly with your audience. One of my paintings has ended up in a home in Australia, so I’m thrilled the reach of social media travels so far.

Dusk by Jessica Ford

Dusk by Jessica Ford

With already having a successful career in illustration, what tips would you give to those of us looking to start a new venture?

Just start! I talked about painting for years, tentatively planning, dreaming, wishing. Two years ago, I made the decision to properly carve out time in my schedule to commit to it, starting with Friday being my ‘official painting day’. I really believe that it was that New Years resolution that propelled me forward. Sometimes these things just need proper time to grow and to be able to get off the ground.

6. Jessie Ford - Aurora.jpg

What's been your highlight so far?

It was pretty exciting when Zoella bought one of my paintings. It frequently pops up on her Instagram, or in her videos. 

Last year I had a lovely feature in Breathe magazine, and I’ve had loads of lovely support from fab interiors bloggers, such as Sophie Robinson, Little Big Bell, and Emily Dawe. They’ve been so great at featuring my work and helping to raise my profile, which has been such a gift. 


That’s so fantastic! So, what's next for you?

In my dreams I’d actually love to move into interior design. Perhaps own a shop. Be a stylist. Why are there not more hours in the day! I’m such a career glutton! Haha. I’d love to create a lifestyle brand that brings together my love of painting, colour and interiors.


Describe your work in three words:  

Colourful, abstract, bold.

What are your making rituals? 

Change into my painting clothes, pop on my favourite podcast and make sure I have a cup of tea by my side!

Tea or Coffee? 


Mountains or sea? 


Night owl or early bird? 

Early bird!

I wish someone had told me... 

It will all work out! I remember the deep seated fear of leaving university and heading for London to kick start my creative career, armed only with an art degree and not able to do anything else (I couldn’t even work a computer!), and thinking "NOW WHAT?!!" I'm so happy that my creative career actually panned out and I'm able to create art for a living. I feel really lucky.

See more from Jessica at

Meet the Maker: Wallflower Weavings

A creative year spent abroad as a teenager sparked a love affair with woven art forms for Sophie Cotterill of Wallflower Weavings, igniting a passion for making her own whimsical works using beautiful, sustainable materials, as she tells 91 Magazine’s Sine Fleet.


‘I suppose when I first saw a piece of woven art, my immediate reaction was “Wow, that's so different!”’ says Sophie Cotterill of Wallflower Weavings. ‘Woven wall art is such a unique and creative way to decorate a room, it brings warmth and movement to the space it hangs in, and can't often be found on the high street,’ she says.


Sophie’s business is now situated in her home town of Warrington in Cheshire, but her love of weaving first began in a small corner of the Netherlands, the city of Delft, which she visited in 2014. ‘I was only nineteen at the time, and had moved abroad for a year. I found weaving through Instagram initially, and the moment I tried it, I was hooked!’ she says.


Sophie initially set up an Instagram account, soon followed by her online Etsy shop during her year abroad, which helped to fund her trip. ‘I set up Wallflower Weavings following my sudden hit of inspiration in what I was learning. It developed as it grew in popularity online, which encouraged me to keep going, and it has been a steady and lovely practice in my life alongside my other work, running an Alice in Wonderland-themed tea shop.’

College studies included textiles and photography, but Sophie’s interests and skillset have been honed through independent self-development and the pursuit of her own personal passions. ‘I've loved art since I was very young, and at high school I found it was the textile world that called to me, especially when it came to anything free-form and unusual.’


Over time, Sophie’s unique style evolved – her textural pieces have a playful, whimsical feel. ‘Where many of the weaving world's pieces are classic, neutral and minimal, my work organically took a different direction over time into deeply tactile and colourful work. They're very feminine pieces, quite delicate with intricate details – a real feast for the eyes, like a bouquet of yarn! That's part of the reason for calling them “Wallflowers”,’ she says.


From there, Sophie continued to build her skills, venturing into spinning yarns, experimenting with natural dyes, and processing farm-fresh sheep's wool to use in her work, and sell on to fellow makers. ‘It's always a pleasure to sit at the loom or wheel and make something that is entirely one of a kind,’ she says. ‘As I spin and dye yarn, it’s my responsibility to ensure I'm choosing the best sourced fibre that I can. Instead of aiming for mass-produced materials, at fibre fairs and markets, I discover new businesses and suppliers of unique fibres and yarns. Even though I make my own, I love to buy and support other spinners and dyers - everyone has a different style. On my travels I buy local yarn as a memento, whether from a modern city like Oslo, the bustling streets of a town in Thailand, or the Welsh countryside. A little part of the culture and charm makes its way into my weavings,’ says Sophie.


Discovering weaving answered a cry for inspiration at the perfect time for Sophie, having tried sewing, knitting, crochet, embroidery, and many other crafts. ‘Weaving was the one - it gave me so much confidence in myself, and I could finally identify with the side of me that always felt like a ‘maker’. It was everything I had been looking for as a creative who hadn't found their outlet yet,’ she explains.

Creating in a free and instinctive way is central to Sophie’s work, and inspiration can come from the natural world, design trends, fellow artists, and travel. ‘My weaving method is free-form, so rather than drawing up a design or following a pattern, I let my hands get to work, using my understanding of the fibres involved to build on texture and create a strong, but beautiful piece. My materials are my ultimate inspiration, which is why I taught myself to spin and dye, to get closer to the fibres and understand every part of the weaving process,’ Sophie explains.

Lovebirds Cheshire Photography

Lovebirds Cheshire Photography

Commitment to sustainability, resourcefulness and eco-friendly materials also shapes Sophie’s work, and ‘getting back to the roots’ is intrinsic to her working ethos, stemming from traditional weaving practices through the ages. ‘I love to visit smallholders of sheep and alpacas in the countryside, where I can meet the animals and learn from their owners. This way I'll know exactly how the animals live - simply for the love of them and their wool. I choose 100 per cent personally sourced, organic wool – usually straight from the sheep, goat or alpaca – and also experiment with plant fibres like hemp, organic cotton, bamboo etc. for their wonderful strength and range of textures. I like to work in as eco-friendly a way as possible, limiting any chemical and water use, using mainly wooden equipment such as looms and spinning wheels, and follow the tradition of working with natural dyes.’

Sophie’s wonderfully natural dyes come from the simplest and most resourceful of means, ‘I source ours from our family allotment - some of our favourites have been the roots of rhubarb, which create a glorious golden yellow hue, and beetroot, which of course can lead to a lovely hot pink! Berries, onion and avocado skins, nuts, coffee, flowers, tree bark – there are so many sources for natural dyes, so there is always more to learn. These colours blend together very harmoniously, and my work over the years has taken on a more natural palette,’ she describes.


Like most makers, Sophie works best when her workspace around her is ‘just-so’. ‘I'm quite particular about my workspace, with lots of warm and cosy colours and textures around - a nice tidy desk and a series or album to keep me going! I can sit down at 6pm to work and look at the clock to find it's suddenly midnight, and I barely notice - so being comfortable is a must. I have all of my equipment to hand, which ranges from spinning wheels to looms, bobbins to a drum carder (a tool for combing the wool before spinning), as big and unusual as they are.’ The work of other makers also constantly inspires Sophie, ‘I surround myself with these - the results of art swaps within the online community, and purchases from local artisan fairs. These works are important as they are all inspiring in different ways - I find them really encouraging to work around.’


From day one, the online world has been a linchpin for Wallflower Weavings, providing a community of like-minded makers, and a vital launch-pad to potential customers and commissions. ‘My business wouldn't exist if not for Instagram and online shopping platforms, and both of these aspects have made my life as a maker so much more interesting. There's a big community out there filled with the nicest people I've ever met, and they're all online, happy to share and encourage. Many of my customers and fellow artists I meet are from overseas. We share knowledge, inspiration, advice, and even share materials with each other,’ says Sophie.


With a deep love of nature inherent in her work, when time allows, Sophie loves to retreat to the Scottish highlands to feed her creativity. ‘If I could turn my work into a place, it would be there - up in the depths of Skye. These retreats take me on fleece-hunting escapades, natural dye foraging and a chance to soak up the magic of the mountains! I also love interior design and to thrift, especially furniture - I even thrifted and renovated one of my spinning wheels, from the ‘80s.’

Sophie’s future plans for Wallflower Weavings include a move to a more rural setting, ‘With a big move to my first house on the horizon, I'm excited to see how my new space helps my business come into its own, with a beautiful countryside setting to inspire new pieces and a studio to devote to my work.’ Collaborations lie ahead too, which Sophie hopes might inspire others to try their hand at weaving, ‘A new addition to the shop comes from my project with an independent woodworker in the highlands – we have created our first prototype for one of a kind, all natural lap looms. For those who enjoy the out-of-the-ordinary, these luxury looms have been designed to accentuate the natural wood, and to feel like an organically grown piece of equipment. We will be producing them simply for the love of it. I'm obsessed with mine already,’ she says.

Lovebirds Cheshire Photography

Lovebirds Cheshire Photography

Quick-fire questions: 

Describe your work in three words?
Whimsical, organic, tactile

What are your making rituals?
House to myself, comfy clothes on, a pot of coffee brewing, my two cats, and a tidy workspace to enjoy. 

Tea or coffee?

Mountains or sea?

Night owl or early bird?
Night owl

I wish someone had told me...

Not everything has to be perfect – as it turns out, imperfections are even more beautiful

Find out more about Wallflower Weavings via Instagram, Etsy and Facebook.

Meet the Maker: O-M Ceramic

O-M or Object-Matter Ceramic is the product of artist Carrie Lau, working from her studio in Los Angeles.With playful forms and striking surface pattern, Carrie’s designs have earned her cult status among fans of modern pottery, and, for Carrie, encourage mindful making.

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Carrie Lau first fell in love with Los Angeles, and making ceramics in 2014. Previously working for a Hong Kong-based fashion magazine, graphic products were clearly in Carrie’s creative blood, but her journey to ceramics was almost accidental. ‘I decided to come to LA for a graphic design program, since then I have been working in graphic design and art direction,’ explains Carrie. ‘but about four years ago my friend introduced me to ceramics and I fell in love with it as a hobby; I got tons of support from friends and family who encouraged me to join a craft market.’

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine
Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

O-M Ceramic’s range includes playful cups, contemporary planters, striking glaze-dipped vessels and colour-splattered mugs. ‘The journey has been great - fun and challenging,’ continues Carrie, and her genuine consideration for creative practice through mindfulness results in playful but considered design. ‘Objects {everything} around you are made up of matter, it has its own beauty,’ she muses.

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

‘I get inspiration from surroundings, experience, communication, interaction, travel, landscapes, other artists, and so on.’ This widely-drawn inspiration results in playful shapes with splashes of delightful and surprising colour. ‘I love studying colour and shape, they give me a lot of room to play around and see the possibilities,’ confirms Carrie. ‘I sketch and draw here and there, and when I come to make ceramics, it may or may not turn out as what I was planning - there is always a surprise which I love!’

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

This flexible ethos has led to O-M’s distinct aesthetic, with a contemporary vibe yet reverence to the nature of clay. ‘My work is playful, minimal and modern with a bunch of colours and graphics,’ she adds, but making the transition from two to three-dimensional design wasn’t simple. ‘It took some time for me to craft by hand, since I am so used to creating digitally,’ she describes. ‘There’s also a blockage of perfection - how to make [the pieces] look perfect,’ continues Carrie. ‘The more that I do, the more I realise the beauty of handmade work is the uniqueness of itself.’

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

With this modern expression of graphic design influencing Carrie’s work, O-M is singled out among the popularity of handmade ceramics through its bold minimalism - she was making terrazzo-style glazes and Miami-style graphics long before high street brands picked it up. ‘My collections are full of colour & graphics with a minimal approach,’ adds Carrie. However, Carrie’s audience is steadfast in its love for handmade in whatever form that takes. ‘I have met a lot of people during craft markets, art shows, events and workshops that are also into design and even creatives themselves,’ she considers. ‘They really appreciate the time and effort of the things that are made by hand - it means a lot to me and motivates me to do more.’

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

Refreshingly, this doesn’t seem to impact Carrie’s making processes, nor does it pressure her to create something outside of her aesthetic or ethos. ‘I’m not led by seasons or trends, it’s more about realising my sketches,’ says Carrie, ‘but I also enjoy collaborating with different brands on exclusive collections.’

Meet the Maker - O-M Ceramics - 91 Magazine

Carrie enjoys the flexibility of life as a freelance artist, valuing the unique balance of work and personal life. However, like many other makers, she finds it tricky to switch off her creativity. ‘I work pretty much every day, since I work from home,’ Carrie describes. ‘It’s easy to work here and there when you have a little bit of free time - it’s just so easy to keep working.’ And like other creatives, each working day is completely different to the next. ‘A typical day starts with morning coffee, then I walk my dog, Bowl, for a bit,’ begins Carrie. ‘Starting work depends on what projects I have on hand - sometimes I will be making ceramics or drawing, some days I will be taking pictures for my website and social media, or packing and shipping ceramics.’ This flexible approach is as unique as each of Carrie’s pieces, and easily as fabulously interesting.

Quick-Fire Questions:

Describe your work in three words?

Fun, minimal and colourful

What are your making rituals?

Meditation and drawing

Tea or coffee?


Mountains or sea?


Night owl or early bird?

Night owl

I wish someone had told me...

The importance of presence.

Find out more about O-M Ceramic via

Meet The Maker: Forage Botanicals

Creating natural products for women, Forage Botanicals aims to help ease the pain of periods and the stress they can cause our bodies and minds each month. We chat with professional herbalist Natasha Richardson, the maker behind Forage Botanicals, to find out more about painful period remedies and the magic of British herbs. 

Hi Natasha, why and when did you create Forage Botanicals? 

I created Forage Botanicals last year to serve people with terrible periods as I've had. I'm a herbalist and have always made medicines for my patients partly by foraging - a process which connects me with nature.  

Natasha headshots-12.jpg

What had you done previously?

Since graduating from uni in 2010 as a herbalist, I've helped patients dealing with period pain, endometriosis, PCOS and infertility. I've also taught people how to use the plants around them through medicine making workshops. 


Why was it important to you to create products that helped with periods? 

It literally took me years to find herbs, supplements and lifestyle changes that helped my periods. Period pain isn't something we learn much about school but 1 in 4 of us will experience it and have to take medication or time off work for it. I wish I'd been able to walk into a shop and get a natural remedy all those years ago and I aim to make such things available in the future. 

Photo:  Rachel Hudson

Where and how do you source the herbs that you make your products with?

The ingredients in my products all come from British suppliers. I focus on herbs which are native to the UK as much as possible to reduce air miles. At the moment everything I've made is vegan as it's all plant based. 

These are herbs which have been used for thousands of years to help with period problems. But I give them a tweak to suit the demands our modern lives have on us. 

Photo:  Rachel Hudson

How do you create and test your products?

I have used my own journey and over 10 years of treating patients to inform the creation of my products. I have tested them on myself and given them to friends who suffer with severe period pain. I was lucky that my period pain wasn't caused by a serious illness like endometriosis but I give my products to people who do suffer with that to check they're effective at the extremes of symptoms too. 


Which are your bestsellers?

My Goddess drops and Strengthen + Soothe powder. The Goddess drops are a botanical extract made with Raspberry leaf, Lady's mantle, Rose and Mugwort. This blend helps people embrace their bodies. You take drops of it on the tongue. Sadly with most period problems they go unnoticed for a long time, ignored as they only happen once a month. We tend to put it to the back of our mind, when they are usually a symptom of a bigger problem such as stress. Which leads into the second bestseller; Strengthen + Soothe powder. This is a blend of Ashwagandha, Oat and spices which can be added to smoothies, porridge and the like. It's delicious when added into a nut milk as a chai. It's adaptogenic which means it helps to strengthen your resilience to stress whilst also soothing your nerves. Good for the tired and wired. 

edit (91 of 91).jpg

We can imagine it's a hard question to answer, but do you have a favourite product?

I'm pregnant at the moment so I can't use my absolute favourite: Waning Moon Bath Salts, because they have clary sage in. As I can't have that, I've been really enjoying the Strengthen + Soothe powder instead!

Photography:  Rachel Hudson

Photography: Rachel Hudson

Where do you make your wares? Does your location inspire you?

I make my products in my kitchen where I have access to hundreds of dried herbs, tinctures, essential oils and powders. The herbs inspire me as I can't help but imagine their taste and smell when I see them. It is intoxicating. 

Forage Botanicals Blossom box Spring shoot.JPG

What does a typical day look like for you?

I usually start my day with a swim. It clears my mind and keeps me fit. Then I'll come home to a smoothie with some of my Strengthen + Soothe powder. I'll start my working day with setting up a to-do list in my calendar if I don't already have one. Then I run through it hour by hour. I flexibly change my priorities as things arise during the day. I like to work on my book in the morning, break for lunch then make products in the afternoon.

After my work day is done, I cook for myself and my husband's return from work. Then we both go and check on the allotment in the evening before settling into bed with a book and a cup of herbal tea. At the moment I'm having Elderberry syrup with hot water to keep my immunity up as the seasons change. 

Week 1 1.jpg

Sounds perfect! What's been your Forage Botanicals highlight so far?

I have most enjoyed writing my book on stress and menstruation. It's due for publication in a couple of years' time. I hope it can help raise awareness of common period problems and help people get the support they need rather than just accepting their lot as someone with ovaries.

That's exciting! Apart from the book, what's next for Forage Botanicals?

I will be crowdfunding in the next few months in order to launch my next product; a balm for cramps.   


Describe your work in three words: 

Wild, empowering, soulful

What are your making rituals? 

I NEED a completely clear and clean surface. So important.

Tea or Coffee? 

Herbal tea, duh!

Mountains or Sea? 


Night Owl or Early Bird? 

Early bird. That's why I do my writing in the morning! 

I wish someone had told me... 

To take imperfect action. 

See more about Forage Botanicals at

Meet the Maker: Paper Covers Rock

We chat to Rachel Caunt, the artist behind Paper Covers Rock about her stunning collages, finding inspiration in ordinary places and her love for all-things paper… 


Hi Rachel! How did you know you wanted to become an artist? 

I enjoyed creative activities from a young age but, like many people, I have been employed in all sorts of roles over the years - from care assistant to retail buyer. Life takes twists and turns and I never really had a very clear career plan. It has only been in the past three years that I have been able to properly develop my small business and generate an income doing something I have always loved. 


When and why did you start Paper Covers Rock?

I started working with collage about nine years ago during a short period of time living in Driftwood, Texas, about an hour’s drive from Austin. Located in the woods and unable to drive, I filled my days with walking, cooking and creative projects. l became fascinated with a collection of old kaleidoscopes, the patterns and colours that they produced and attempted to recreate them using tissue paper, tweezers and a great deal of patience. 


My ‘Kaleidoscope Collages’ received unexpected interest from friends and later stockists and led to the creation of Paper Covers Rock, my brand of prints and greeting cards based on original paper collages. 


Where do you find inspiration?

With each collection and project, inspiration is drawn from colour, shape and texture, and how these elements work together to tell a story, create a mood and form a composition. On a daily basis, I am inspired by my surroundings, paying attention to the smallest details and finding beauty in ordinary places. I like the way that paint peels on derelict walls revealing colours beneath and the unintentional collages that are created by torn advertising posters.


The most striking colour combinations can often be found in nature, with different places having their own colour palette. Bodnant Garden in North Wales has become a very special place to me in recent years. Its beauty is magical and fills me with ideas. During my trip to Japan last year, I spent a day walking across Amanohashidate, a pine covered sandbar that spans the mouth of Miyazu Bay. It was stunningly beautiful and evoked all kinds of emotions. Some places just stay with you once you’ve left.


Sounds magical! What has been your favourite 'career high' so far?

During the Edinburgh Festival in 2016, I exhibited a collection of collage prints at my friend Helen's beautiful café, Fieldwork. This year I created work for an exhibition entitled 'Into the Haze' at Botany on East London's Chatsworth Road. I would definitely consider these exhibitions to be my 'career highs'. It was truly lovely to see my designs displayed in such inspiring, thoughtfully curated surroundings. It is also wonderful to receive positive feedback, every complimentary word at a market or kind comment on social media, is a boost of confidence and validation of what I am trying to achieve.


How would you describe your style?

It evolves with every collection and sometimes I worry that I do not have a clear and recognisable style, however I hope my use of colour, shape and texture somehow unites the work.  

I tend to use gentle, muted colours to create simple and thoughtfully constructed, abstract compositions. 


Can you talk us through the process? 

Every design starts as an original collage, these are largely made solely from paper but I have recently started to experiment with other materials, such as fabric. Most projects begin with a trip to Shepherds on Gillingham Street – paper heaven! I also bought some beautiful handmade papers during our visit to Japan last year so I have incorporated those into many of my most recent pieces, including those created for my exhibition at Botany. 

I sit at my desk or on the floor, surrounded by any new papers I have sourced as well as the large collection I have accumulated over the years. I experiment with colour and texture combinations and then spend time creating a composition using the chosen fragments. 

Sometimes the original collages are the finished pieces but I often develop my designs a little digitally at this stage so they can also become greeting cards and Giclée prints. 


Speaking of Japan, some of your most recent work was inspired by your trip - how did it inspire you?

Last year I travelled around Japan for three weeks with my partner, Adam. Before the trip, a number of people told me that, once you've visited Japan, you will want to plan a return visit almost immediately after stepping off the plane. They weren't wrong! 


Japan was everything that I had hoped it would be and so much more. New designs began to take shape very naturally on my return. My mind was full of all the beauty we had seen and the joy I felt discovering new and inspiring places each day. The attention to detail and thoughtful consideration in every aspect of Japanese design is astounding and yet it is presented with an effortless simplicity. I wanted to create pieces of work that captured the colour palette that emerged from my memories and photographs, as well as the feeling of calm that I experienced whist gaining an insight into their wonderful way of life.


Can you tell us a little about each of your collections? 

I have always enjoyed working in 'Collections', I decide on a theme or aesthetic and then allow a set of designs to develop from this. My earlier collections, 'Pie' and 'Arrow', were more geometric. They were still inspired by colour and texture but with a focus on balance, repetition and pattern making. The next collection I produced was the 'Sightseer Collection', these are fun, little postcard style designs. Each one is a memory of a place visited or an emotion felt, like holiday snaps. Then came the 'Fragment Collection', a set of abstract collages inspired by fragments of songs, dreams and memories. My most recent work was created for my exhibition at Botany. These designs have a more fluid, organic feel to suit the environment in which they were to be displayed. I enjoy challenging myself to create something new and develop my style with each collection. 


Is there one piece that you love a little more than the others?

Some designs seem to come together with a lot more ease than others and they often tend to be my favourites. At present, I am most satisfied with 'Flow I' because of the colour palette and fluidity of the shapes. The design I have most consistently favoured over time is 'Rotation I', I love the cornflower blue background and the overall balance of the composition. The cards that I choose to send out the most are 'Whirl' and 'Into the Haze'. 


You've just finished exhibiting at Botany (a concept plant and homeware shop in East London) - do you have any advice for other artists wishing to exhibit (but perhaps aren't sure where to start)?

Have confidence in your own work. It's not easy to put yourself out there but I think if you try to produce work that you personally like and are proud of, then other people will like and appreciate it too. 


Perhaps you have more advice for those starting out?

Just keep plodding on... having a small creative business is a complete rollercoaster. I have really positive times when I think it's all going brilliantly and then other times when I question what on earth I am doing with my life. I think the key is to accept that there are highs and lows and just try to enjoy the ride. Being able to generate an income doing something you enjoy is a very fortunate position to be in so be grateful for that and work hard. 


What does the next six months hold for you?

I’ve just had a baby boy (Isaac, born on 28th May), so, over the next six months I will mainly be embracing all the joys and challenges that come with being a new mum. As I work from home, I fully intend to continue with all things Paper Covers Rock as soon as I feel comfortable to do so. I hope to find a nice balance and one of the first projects I would like to work on is a children's range of prints and cards. 


Congratulations! As well as the children’s range, do you have any other goals you'd like to share with us?

My dream is to move to the coast and have a studio/retail space. I would like to expand my product range and also work on more commissions and collaborations. Earlier this year I worked with Henri, a contemporary women's shirting brand to produce a series of collages for their new London store. The artwork used offcuts of fabric from the shirts and the compositions were a response to the imagery that had inspired the SS18 collection. The collaboration took me nicely out of my comfort zone and led to the production of work I was extremely happy with. I am always open to interesting new projects and like to keep an open mind in regards to the future of Paper Covers Rock. 

Quick-fire questions

Describe your work in three words...

Gentle, thoughtful and abstract

What are your making rituals?

A pot of coffee, my Spotify Daily Mix, a desk covered in paper and a little fresh air in the afternoon. I'm sure this will all be far less leisurely now I'm a mum. 

Tea or Coffee?


Mountains or Sea?

Depends on my mood, it's just lovely to escape the busy city.  

Night Owl or Early Bird?

Early Bird

I wish someone had told me...

Never to wish the time away and to appreciate every stage of life a little more because it is constantly changing and it flies by! 

Visit Rachel's website at:

Images by Jon Aaron Green

Meet The Maker: KANA London

London-based ceramicist Ana Kerin explores her love for sculpture and all its textural possibilities through KANA, distinctive stoneware that embodies both function and form.


While ceramics seem to be having ‘a moment’ for design lovers, they have been a somewhat paradoxical artform for Ana Kerin, whose conceptual fine art has come full circle and now encompasses earthy, simplistic form in her ceramics. ‘I studied fine art at degree and post-graduate level in my native Slovenia, and there was a lot of theory, art history and traditional drawing involved,’ recalls Ana. ‘It was an amazing experience, and I had such thorough training, but it was quite intense,’ she admits. Her background in sculpture was founded here, where the art students were encouraged to use all kinds of materials in their sculpture work, ‘I always came back to clay!’ she exclaims. While Ana was led to a ‘high-end’ art career after studying, producing works such as large-scale installations and conceptual pieces, it was the smaller elements that had the mark of human touch that interested her: ‘while I was working on large fine art projects, I enjoyed the non-pretentious side of making functional ceramics in the studio,' explains Ana, ‘so when I moved away from Slovenia it gave me license to pursue more functional forms- which was of course more financially sustainable.’ 

KANA_22.05.20180499 1.jpg

Ana’s studio KANA now sells hand-crafted dinnerware, gifts and vessels, each with a modern aesthetic and unique use of beautiful, mottled glazes and finishes. Ana has collaborated with Petersham Nurseries, illustrator Alexa Coe and London restaurants to produce smoothly-hewn pieces that have a hand-finished edge. Small, glossy pinch pots have gilded curse words gently brushed on, while traditional handmade tea cups have blue pigment applied with a brush to mimic the effect of Ana's etchings or watercolours. With the rough edges and personal traces of the artist left on each piece, Ana’s work wasn’t immediately received when she launched in 2012. ‘A lot of my pieces toe the line between “fine” art and function,’ Ana says. ‘What happens when you take a conceptual piece away from a gallery or exhibition space and put it in your kitchen? Does it de-art it?!’ However, she doesn’t detract from the work of fellow ceramicists. ‘I admire greatly the skills of potters who throw pots,’ Ana continues. ‘A great potter is trying to achieve perfection and produce thousands of identical cups that bear no trace of the human touch- which makes the commercial potter much more anonymous.’ 


In the past six years Ana’s work evolved to the point where she found need of her own studio, and in May 2017 moved into the space she now occupies in Hackney, East London. ‘I’ve moved spaces five times in London- studios are so expensive and rare- and I often outgrew previous premises,’ she says. ‘Having my own space is so important to me, and I’ve found it interesting how my spaces affect my work.’ Often producing a range or collection for a shop or restaurant, Ana found it necessary to have a large enough space to accommodate large volumes of ceramics and has found the freedom of  ‘a room of one’s own’ to be a huge influence on her. ‘There’s no point being frustrated by someone else’s timetable or habits, or being confused by the lack of light or windows- here I have so much natural light and I find my colour palette is often dictated by my mood,’ she adds. KANA’s collections are not led by trends or fashions, instead Ana can work on a collection for as long as two years before producing a cohesive range, which seeps into smaller releases such as vessels or a certain colourway before a big collection is unveiled. 


In the meantime, Ana finds time to share her expertise through teaching at her Kana Clay Parlour. Small groups can attend one-off workshops or even a series of more intimate classes to learn about how Ana uses her medium as expression and for function. ‘I’ve been teaching art since as early as high school, and I still really enjoy it as every group is different,’ says Ana. ‘Sometimes it can be the combination of the people in the group that’s interesting, and sometimes it’s more like a therapy session!’ While the idea is to learn Ana’s technique of clay building and create a finished piece, learning new muscle memory and skills, it can be quite therapeutic for some students. ‘I really get a lot out of these sessions,’ continues Ana. ‘I often need to introduce the idea that we need to turn off our expectations, let go of ego and allow yourself to be new at something- ultimately most people are surprised by the quality of what they’ve made and it’s just great having that time to yourself to be creative.’ 


Being conscious and respectful of one’s time is something Ana is very enthusiastic about, especially as an independent business owner. ‘Although I have some sort of routine, planning my days can be tricky- I feel like I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to find a routine!’ laughs Ana. ‘It’s important that I find some quiet, alone time each day- either with a coffee at home or here in the studio,’ she continues. ‘After that it might be five meetings in a row with no time to eat or pee, or it might be a three-hour work lunch with a friend and colleague- either way I have to tell myself that it’s OK to spend time in this way rather than at the studio until 2am every night.’ Routine, it seems, is as flexible as Ana’s work, and her incredibly philosophical approach to art and life. Whether she’s teaching, making or creating new connections, Ana’s business continues to grow with love and passion. 


Quick-Fire Questions

Describe your work in three words... 

Tactile, personal, memories (stimulates or creates)

What are your making rituals? 

Silence and late nights 

Tea or Coffee? 


Mountains or sea? 


Night owl or early bird? 

Night owl

I wish someone had told me... 

How much easier life gets once you are past 30! 

Visit Ana's website at

All photography by Georgia Gold

Meet the Maker: Skratch Ceramics

Inspired by Britain’s rugged mountains, rocky shores and folk history Kate Russell’s handmade ceramics, created in her studio in rural Wales, depict wild landscapes, escapist wildernesses and blustery harbours, with a folky twist.


Over the last few years especially, ceramics have become swoon-worthy must-haves for the home. And for good reason too; is there anything better than being able to hold a precious piece of art that has been created mainly with just a pair of hands and the earth? Perhaps it’s this idea of going back to basics (although no-one - especially if you’ve ever tried your hand at pottery yourself - could ever call making ceramics a simple or easy process!), that’s calling so many of us to give it a try.

Just a few years ago, busy mum of two, Kate Russell signed up for a pottery course at her local college, wanting to find a creative outlet. Within twelve months, the history of art graduate began selling her beautiful British inspired wares, mixing her love of folk history and the great outdoors.

“I came to ceramics fairly late,” Kate explains. “I studied history of art at university and worked in arts-related jobs until I had my first child. I spent the next five years as a stay at home parent, but once my daughter started school and her younger brother was 2 years old, I was keen to find a new interest for myself. I had in the back of my mind that I would ideally like to start a creative business down the line, but I wasn't sure in which field or if I was capable. I signed up for classes at the local community college and pottery was the one that stuck. After a year I started posting images of some of my pots on Instagram and the interest they received gave me to confidence to start selling my ceramic work.”


Kate now creates her hand-built ceramics from her home studio in the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales. Growing up in between the picturesque peaks of the Lake District and the Pennines, and then living in cities such as London and Amsterdam, Kate’s return to her rural roots continues to inspire her work and has seen her adding welcome traditional touches. “I love wild landscapes - mountainsides and rocky shores,” the ceramicist continues. “It seems to be something in-built, perhaps because I grew up sandwiched between the Lake District and the Pennines. I absolutely love the Highlands of Scotland and, closer to home, Snowdonia. Our location in Wales prompted me to think about including Welsh ladies in my work. It just started on a whim, when I was decorating a piece in college, but they have since become a key design motif in my work.” This Welsh lady whim has paid off, as they’re among some of Kate’s bestsellers - each piece is currently sold on the Skratch Ceramics website, until the next shop update takes place on 24th June. “I like to take those long-standing trans-national folk traditions of pattern-making and colour, but give them my own contemporary twist,” she adds.

Skratch Ceramics - Meet the Maker

As well as Britain’s landscape and Welsh history, Kate’s pieces also feature sgraffito - decoration created by scratching away at a surface, to reveal a hidden colour - a talent she also rediscovered at one of those inspiring ceramics classes: “I made a couple of sgraffito decorated panels at secondary school, which my parents had kept all these years, and I remembered I'd really enjoyed it,” Kate smiles. “When I went along to ceramics classes at the community college, it was top of my list of things I wanted to try again. I was also following Vicky Lindo, a fantastic sgraffito ceramicist on Facebook. I was really inspired by her modern take on traditional slipware, using bright colours. As soon as I tried it again, I was absolutely hooked. There's something about carving through leather-hard clay, that I find both therapeutic and thoroughly addictive. I really felt like after years of searching for 'my thing' I'd finally found it.” Sgraffito plays a big part in Kate’s work - appearing in almost every piece - hence the name Skratch (which also incorporates Kate’s initial too).  


Not only did social media start Skratch Ceramics, but it continues to provide inspiration and connects Kate with other ceramicists as well as potential clients. “I have found it so inspiring on Instagram to see so many women with creative businesses, making it work on their terms,” she says. “That's been a really positive influence on me - to just to go for it and do things my way. I follow a lot of ceramicists on Instagram, but more out of interest to see their daily working practices and relish in the sheer variety out there.” As Instagram has been such a “valuable resource” for her, Kate recommends other makers starting out to “make the most of social media as a free marketing resource. I haven't spent any money on advertising, all my custom comes from Instagram and Facebook.”


“Share your making process and don't be afraid to bring your own personality to your brand - it's what sets you apart from the big guys and people really like to know where products come from,” she advises. As well as a scroll through Instagram, Kate’s also a fan of podcasts, gaining “businesses tips, reassurance and inspiration from those who've been there and done that,” including Hashtag Authentic, Raw Milk and Creative Biz Rebellion.

During her daily practice - although she tells us there’s not really a ‘typical’ working day, instead favouring a monthly making cycle (one week of making the clay blanks, a week or two of sgraffito decorating the leather-hard pieces, a week to bisque fire, glaze and fire again and finally a week of product photography, product website listings and posting orders) - is when Kate listens to podcasts while she works: “I find it's a great way of picking up some useful small business and marketing tips while my hands are busy.”


Kate’s light and airy studio, just a few steps away from her home, is where she designs, creates and sends out her ceramics. Her favourite product so far? “My favourite changes depending on what I'm working on at the time,” she says “but I find that my pinch pots always fly out. I get enquiries about them after every sale, especially those with Welsh ladies. I think there's something about a pinch pot, with it's handmade organic form, nestling in the hand, that's hard to resist.”


As anyone who’s ever enjoyed ceramics knows, it’s not a quick procedure. Instead, it’s all about taking time and enjoying the process. This is something that Kate takes pleasure from, as it allows her to go with the flow - constantly tweaking designs and making changes, when creating each of her unique pinch pots, platters, dishes and bowls. “The best thing about being a maker is the satisfaction of an actual physical product to show for your work at the end of the day,” Kate adds.

It’s been a busy twelve months for Kate, exhibiting at The Good Life Experience last September and selling out during each online shop update - so what’s next for Skratch Ceramics? “I'm finding it hard to keep up with demand at the moment, so I'm looking for ways to increase my productivity,” Kate says. “Next month I'm going to learn to slip-cast, which I'm hoping will prove a useful way to speed up the making process a little. I also want to learn how to digitise my designs so that they can be applied to other products and I'd like to do some more lino printing too! So many ideas and never enough time! My son starts full-time school in September, so I'll have a bit more studio time and I'm so excited to see what the next few months bring!”


Describe your work in three words: 

Tactile, bold, folksy. 

What are your making rituals? 

 Lots of half-drunk cups of tea and a good podcast playlist. 

Tea or Coffee? 

Tea - Yorkshire Gold in the morning and Earl Grey in the afternoon. I love the smell and idea of coffee, but I hate the taste. 

Mountains or Sea? 

That’s a tough one! I love both, but if I really had to choose one to live in/by, it would be mountains. 

Night Owl or Early Bird? 

Most definitely night owl! Even though I have young kids who wake me early, I can’t get out of the habit of going to bed late. I often get some of my best work done in the evening. I’m looking forward to the days when my kids’ body clocks are more aligned with mine! 

I wish someone had told me... 

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. During my art foundation course in the 90s, there was a push towards towards conceptualism. I felt I had to be the next Hirst or Emin, or there wasn’t worth in what I was doing. That knocked my confidence and put me off taking up my place on a practical art degree. I wish I’d understood at the time that there was equal value in traditional, decorative arts and crafts, so that I might have found my way to this sooner. 

Visit Kate’s website at

Meet the Maker: Kathryn Davey

Nature’s palette is beautifully harnessed by textile designer Kathryn Davey with her naturally-dyed linen products, all hand-made in Ireland.

Photo credit: Jo Murphy

Photo credit: Jo Murphy

‘Sustainability’ and ‘provenance’ are both popular concepts in modern consumerism nowadays, and for the conscious shopper they’ll always be at the forefront of their mind. However, there are few designers and makers that offer truly eco-conscious products with a local history - Kathryn Davey is one of them. Her textiles are grown, produced and hand-dyed in the Republic of Ireland, making the best of nature’s rich bounty.

‘I discovered natural dyes when I was living the Bay area of California, as I was somewhat involved with the west coast’s creative community,’ explains Kathryn. ‘The Dharma Trading Co. was nearby, and I was amazed by the selection of raw materials, organic fabrics and dye supplies - everything you could possibly need.’ With all the supplies at her fingertips and good drying weather year-round, Kathryn began experimenting with indigo dye in her own home, and quickly grasped the technique. ‘A friend of mine opened a studio and workshop, and invited me to teach indigo dyeing techniques, and I soon moved on to other natural dyes,’ she adds.

Difficult personal circumstances encouraged Kathryn to move back to her native Ireland, and she set up home in Dublin. ‘At first, I found the move difficult for my work,’ admits Kathryn. ‘It wasn’t so easy to source wholesale supplies, but in other ways my life had improved immeasurably,’ she continues. ‘My life had simplified, giving me the physical and mental space to grow my business - my perspective had shifted, giving me a renewed drive.’ The past year has proved a learning curve for Kathryn, as her work load increased, and she found suppliers for her bags, table and kitchen linen in Ireland, the UK and USA.

Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

‘My work definitely connects me to a sense of place,’ explains Kathryn. ‘When I was living in the USA it was important to use what was local to me as much as possible - although very little fabric was actually produced locally, I used whatever I could.’ Now, Kathryn uses world-famous Irish linen, which is grown and woven in the South of Ireland and dyed by Kathryn in Dublin. ‘To be able to come home and have Irish linen that’s been woven here is something special and I feel like I have no other choice!’ she laughs. The linen is first sewn into bags, aprons and napkins by a local sewing studio before Kathryn commits them to the dye vats that live at her city studio. The range also features organic cotton gauze scarves, and socks knitted from Jacob wool, and Kathryn is introducing a looser, more rustic weave linen this summer. 

Photo credit: Jo Murphy

Photo credit: Jo Murphy

‘All my products are completely ethical; it’s important that they include no chemical dyes- natural is what feels right to me,’ Kathryn adds. The subtle variations in finish and colour are all part of this philosophy, and Kathryn’s recent workshops in Edinburgh and London (at Kristin Perers’ Flower Factory studio) teaching shibori dyeing prove exactly that. ‘There are so many ways of using natural dyes- shibori produces more abstract and linear designs but the magic is that you never know what something will look like when it comes out of the dye pot,’ she enthuses. ‘The possibilities really are limitless, and one has to surrender to the unpredictability.’

Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

Photo credit: Kathryn Davey

Photo credit: Jo Murphy

Photo credit: Jo Murphy

One area of predictability, however, is Kathryn’s daily routine. With three children and her own business, balancing life can often be tricky. ‘I’m trying to bring more balance to life, as I have found I’m always putting myself last,’ Kathryn admits. ‘Since I launched the linens last year I’ve found I’m working every day, so taking some time for myself and doing some exercise is important.’ Kathryn cycles to her city studio every day, once her daughter is at school. ‘My studio is based in an old school building- however it’s rather cold and far from romantic!’ she says. ‘Renting in Dublin is expensive, but I use my studio space for everything,’ adds Kathryn. ‘Once I’ve arrived at the studio, my routine is much the same every day- I check emails, deal with admin and orders and collect the sewn products before getting the dye pots going,’ she adds. Kathryn dyes for the rest of the day, each day producing her products for stores in Dublin, California and London as well her website.


Describe your work in three words: Inspiring, Challenging, Addictive

What are your making rituals? I clean the space and organise the workflow, make a cup of tea, get my dyeing clothes on and get to it!

Tea or Coffee? Always and forever, tea.

Mountains or Sea? Both! But if I had to choose one: Sea, water’s good for my soul.

Night Owl or Early Bird? Early Bird (only because I have to get my daughter to school, otherwise I'd probably be a Night Owl)

I wish someone had told me… The story of Benjamin Button when I was a teenager!

Visit Kathryn's website:

Meet The Maker: Alex Collins

Alex Collins is true creative; trained in the fashion industry, like so many others she became disillusioned with its fast and throwaway nature and turned her talents towards the slow making movement. A self-confessed obsessive knitter, her beautiful project bags feature original hand-printed fabric with consciously-sourced materials. A visit to her Instagram page reveals a fondness for natural colours, minimalist palettes and the joy of making. We caught up with her in early Spring to discover her approach to making and her creative lifestyle.

Alex Collins - Meet the Maker

‘There are so many bag makers doing beautiful work, but I saw a gap in the market for eco conscious project bags that wasn’t being filled at the time. I had been sharing my personal makes on Instagram for a while before starting my business and it was my friends there that gave me the confidence to set up shop,’ begins Alex. ‘I’ve always wanted to do something creative and pursued a career in fashion for a time, working first on the business side for a label and later more creatively as a make-up artist. I had some amazing experiences, but it never felt like quite the right fit for me,’ she admits. It’s probably not that surprising that it was when Alex decided to step back from working in fashion she found that there was no pressure associated with her making, and her creativity bloomed.

Alex Collins Needle Case_2.jpg

‘My eyes were really opened - through Instagram especially - to how diverse the creative world is and just what is achievable on a small scale,’ Alex continues. ‘For the first time I saw small artisanal makers and crafts people doing things on their own terms and sustaining a living from their work.’ This epiphany led Alex to the conclusion that fashion, and more specifically fast fashion, was less and less appealing - ‘not just because of the environmental impact and waste, but the constant reinvention and chase for something new is exhausting,’ she says. ‘This slower more considered way of working that I was seeing was so much more relatable to me and made me excited to be a part of this new movement.’

Becoming part of this slow and sustainable way of creating appealed to Alex on many levels, and she is aware of the current interest in provenance. ‘I think people are slowly becoming more aware of what goes into making the things we use each day and I love that there is a growing group of people who care about the making process,’ she explains. ‘More excitingly, these people can appreciate the craftsmanship that makes handmade so special to own and use; when I sit down with a coffee in my favourite mug the whole experience is elevated because I know the artist that made it and I can picture the journey it’s been on.’

Of course, at 91 Magazine we’re all heavily invested in this experience and feel proud to be in this group of people. ‘I like to think that’s how people feel when they pull out a project kept in one of my bags,’ Alex continues. ‘That they have something really special that was laboured over with love and that each element was carefully considered.’ This handmade story is what is apparent in Alex’s pieces, from the hand-printed surface pattern, to the individually stamped logos in the lining of each roomy and attractive bag.

Alex Collins Knitting Project Bag_2.jpg
Alex Collins_013.JPG

What’s clear when talking to Alex or navigating her website is her clear ethos to produce environmentally-sound products. Her values are instilled in every aspect of her work. ‘I am someone who really cares about the impact we’re having on our planet so it was important to me right from the start that my work wouldn’t impact negatively on the environment,’ explains Alex. ‘I don’t believe you can force people to change their habits but leading by example is really powerful.’ One of the things she loves most about her business is that it has started so many conversations with people about the environment.

‘I often get asked why I’m only using organic cottons and it leads me naturally to share about the harm cotton production is having on the earth and those people who grow it,’ she adds. ‘When you’re using organic cottons, you are limited by what’s available - but I’ve actually found that has been a help rather than a hinderance as I’m more considered in my choices and it helps push my design work having those parameters,’ admits Alex. The limited choice of fabrics in soft, muted colours has led Alex to experiment with natural dyes, as well as designing the surface pattern.

Alex Collins_4.JPG

‘My design process starts out really loosely on paper where I’ll sketch freely with no pressure,’ she explains. ‘I’m really drawn to using botanical motifs in my work so I’ll often snap pictures of plants when I’m out and about to reference later and I use Pinterest to search for botanical inspiration.’ Like many others, Alex can find the blank page of a sketch book intimidating so she then likes to use the images she’s collected as a jumping off point to see where it takes her. ‘I’ll often draw the same thing over and over until I almost don’t need to look at the page - I find more interesting abstract shapes often come from these fast, loose sketches compared to those times when I’m really trying to capture something as I see it.’

For a repeat pattern Alex will then pull out some of her favourite motifs and start playing around with the layout using a pencil and a square of tracing paper. ‘I could design my repeats on the computer, but I like to use the traditional method of cutting and repositioning my drawings on paper to create a repeat design when I’m just starting to form my ideas,’ she says. ‘Once I’ve got an idea of how I want the pattern to look I’ll then clean up my drawings and transfer those initial sketches to the computer and print out my repeat pattern at different scales and mock up the bags to see what I like best before sending the final pattern to a screen maker who transfers my designs so I can screen print my drawings onto fabric.’

Her ideas for the bags, pouches and tool wraps come directly from her experience as a maker; Alex is a beautiful knitter and keen sewist and so understands the limitations of what’s available for other makers. ‘I knit and sew for fun just like my customers do so new product ideas will usually stem from me needing something that’s missing from the collection,’ she says. ‘I’ll have a clear idea of the function the product will have, and I’ll develop the idea from there.’ Once Alex has the basic shape she wants, she’ll carefully consider things such as the number of pieces that can be cut from a single print or metre of fabric to minimise waste and then makes a few prototypes to get the final piece just right.

Alex Collins Knitting Project Bag.jpg

Working from her London flat, Alex is the epitome of an independent business owner, and she admits that she has found this enormously liberating. ‘I feel very lucky that I’ve created a life and a business where I get to dictate what’s on the agenda each day and to a certain extent the pace at which I work,’ she smiles. Everyday can look totally different, as many small business owners and artists will understand, and that brings joy to Alex each day. ‘I batch tasks and try to dive straight into my work first thing in the morning before I’ve had time to procrastinate and daydream the day away!’ she explains. ‘I check if any international orders have come in overnight and I set my three priorities for the day - I find picking three things to work on for the day is brilliant for keeping my focus,’ Alex adds. ‘Throughout the week I will be printing and dying fabric, sewing for the shop, working on new ideas and product development, Instagramming, keeping on top of my accounts and doing my freelance work for The Fibre Co.’ she continues.

The Fibre Co. is an independent yarn producer and dyer based in the UK, and Alex works on the promotional side of the business. ‘I work alone which suits me just fine, but I do love listening to podcasts which keep me company,’ she says. ‘My desk looks out over the garden and I’m easily distracted by the sweet little birds just outside my window; I’d love to find a way of incorporating these little feathery friends into my work- perhaps you’ll see a bird print in the future!’

Being a one-woman show does of course have its own challenges, which anyone who works from home will no doubt identify with. And with the rise of social media as an important business tool, it can be hard to switch off. ‘I find it impossible to separate myself from my “brand” or online identity,’ Alex says. ‘Perhaps you’re seeing a more curated version of myself through Instagram and my business, but it’s still me - I’d hate for there to be a disconnect when people meet me offline and I think it’s a positive that people are reminded there is a human behind the business.’ This personal touch is evident even throughout Alex’s self-confessed curated content. But her communications and inviting website carefully convey Alex’s warm nature and love for making. ‘I am quite a private person, so I find it hard to share on social media sometimes but it’s something I enjoy and I’ve found the Instagram community to be so supportive and engaged,’ Alex explains. ‘There are some people I follow who are doing some really exciting things with video which I would like to experiment with more, I’d love to share more of my process with my customers and bring them along on this journey.’


As her business grows, Alex is working on new prints and designs inspired by the yarn-lovers around her. ‘This Spring I’m collaborating with Garthenor, who source, produce and sell certified organic wool products from their small family farm in west Wales,’ she says. The bags were of course hugely popular when Garthenor took them to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival earlier this month. ‘I have new prints coming to the store this Spring and I’m working on a personal project that I think is going to bring some new energy to my work,’ continues Alex. And to stretch her creative muscles, Alex is taking part in The 100 Days Project. ‘Starting 3rd April I’ll be experimenting for 100 days drawing, painting, block printing, screen printing and who knows what else on fabric,’ she ventures. ‘It’s easy to get stuck in your practise when you sell what you make so I’m excited to see where this project takes me creatively.’


Describe your work in three words: Functional, Timeless, Scandi

What are your making rituals?  A new knitting project always starts with hand winding my ball of yarn which feels like a ritual of sorts. It’s such a meditative process, I’d hate to switch to doing it by machine.

Tea or Coffee? Apple tea is a favourite but if I was pushed to choose I’d have to say coffee. Taking five minutes out with a really good coffee feels like an indulgent treat in the middle of a busy day and I wouldn't want to give that up.

Mountains or Sea? It has to be sea. I feel all the feeling when I’m near the ocean, its so vast.

Night Owl or Early Bird? Early bird...not too early mind you!

I wish someone had told me... It’s never a good idea to leave something until the last minute. Actually, I'm pretty sure I was told this all the time growing up, but it’s taken me a long time to learn that lesson for myself.

Meet the Maker: Sian Elin

This month we talk to designer and illustrator Sian Elin, about her eponymous homeware brand. 

Our conversation with designer and illustrator Sian Elin starts with the creative process behind her vibrant designs - does she have any particular necessities to get the ideas flowing? ‘Boring music is pretty key,’ she laughs, 'I like to have music on while I'm designing, it helps me get into the flow, but it can't be anything too engaging or interesting - I'm very easily distracted!’

Sian recently moved from Cardiff to Bristol, which meant leaving behind her studio space and switching to working from home. Was that a difficult decision to make? 'It wasn't actually that tough, it seems counter-intuitive - a lot of creatives like to have a space away from home in which to work - but I actually prefer working from home,’ she says, ‘it’s more relaxing, I don't have to worry about extra overheads and I mix it up with lecturing work [Sian is visiting lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University], or attending trade fairs, so I don’t get too isolated.’’


Having launched her eponymous brand in 2012 - Sian is something of a veteran when it comes to running her own creative business, what has she learnt over the last six years? ‘That starting your own business is never straightforward,’ she says, ‘it’s been brilliant but also a pretty intense few years; the entire process has been full of ups and downs.’

Sian Elin is on a definite ‘up’, with her designs stocked by Fenwicks, Heals and Oliver Bonas, alongside her own online shop. ‘It’s fantastic seeing my work in those stores,’ she says, ‘my friends message me if they spot one of my designs somewhere - it still feels a bit unreal.’

Art and design have always played a large part in Sian’s life - following her Art Foundation year she went on to study Graphic Design at the University of Reading. ‘To be honest, illustration was my first love,’ she says ‘but I thought it was sensible to study something more vocational - to ensure I could get a job at the end of it.’

After graduation, Sian moved into book design working for Oxford University Press and Penguin - and developed a strong understanding of brand, ‘My main aim with Sian Elin was to work creatively on something I loved, but I also wanted to create a thought-through, cohesive brand - and to create a clear design identity.’

Her bold, Scandi designs are unmistakable, so does she feel she’s achieved the cohesion she was aiming for? ‘I’d like to think so… I’ve worked hard to try and create a unique style, and a range of designs which sit well together.’ Her publishing work involved visiting trade fairs, like New Design, in hunt for new illustrators to commission. ‘Increasingly, I’d find myself at trade fairs speaking to designers and illustrators and thinking I’d love to be doing what they’re doing - so I started to build up my own portfolio on the side.’

In 2012 Sian and her partner moved to Israel for six months, which gave her space and time to build her first collection, ‘East Meets West’ inspired by her travels to India, the Middle East and South America. ‘I spent a lot of my time in Israel designing, pulling together the first collection, getting it photographed and ready for launch.’

On return to the UK Sian took the collection to Tent. ‘I thought it was best place to start as a new designer - it’s a great, creative event and it felt more manageable than some of the larger, more corporate fairs.’ Despite her design background, it was something of a nerve-wracking experience ‘I definitely had a bad case of impostor syndrome when it came to launching Sian Elin,’ she says, ‘I was happy with the collection but also hung up on my lack of experience in textiles - it made me worry that I might not have the right background to go it alone.’

Sian’s worries were misplaced, however -  the feedback was positive, and, more significantly, her designs received a lot of positive press attention. ‘The press coverage was unexpected and amazing in terms of what it did to help the business - it was a real kickstart to the whole thing.’

Sian’s design process can take months from initial idea to end product. She begins by collating ideas on a board, including an overview of trends, ‘It’s important to have a sense of trend,’ she explains, ‘and if I can find a way of interpreting that so it fits with my aesthetic then that’s great, but I don’t subscribe to rigidly following trends.’

Next, she starts sketching out ideas; ‘I take my time; working out ways of creating something unique but with a Scandi, bold graphic feel. I enjoy creating work that looks bold from afar, but on closer inspection is full of detail and texture.’  Sian’s hand draws or hand paints her design, then does work on the colour digitally. A range of samples are made - Sian works with manufacturers in the north of England -  then they are reviewed and adjusted until Sian is happy with the end result.  

Sian works on two collections a year, S/S and A/W - how easy is it to get into a good workflow? ‘I can definitely procrastinate with the best of them,’ she laughs, ‘I find that the administrative side of the business can really take over, so I can spend days working on the business and not doing much design.’

‘A big lesson for me over last few years is that I can’t fit design work around everything else - I need headspace before I can do the creative stuff. I feel that if you’re working up something new you need to give it uninterrupted time, so you can get into the flow and allow the space for ideas to develop.’

What’s next for the brand? ‘I’m currently working on the A/W 2018 collection - which will be quite different to what I’ve done before, in terms of both design and the product range. I’m also hoping to get into licensing this year - it seems the natural next step for the business.’

Does she have any advice for designers thinking of launching their own brand? ‘On a practical level - getting your manufacturers and suppliers right can be a long process - expect it to take a while. You also have to get used to the pressure of carrying the business largely on your own.

‘Know that mistakes are inevitable - but you’ll learn from them. Remember it’s important not to beat yourself up and make sure you enjoy the process. It is fantastic to have the creative freedom to do what you love and create work you’re really proud of.’

Quickfire Questions

Describe your work in three words: Scandi. Colourful. Graphic

What are your making rituals? Cup of tea, sparkling water, chilled music, heating on!

Tea or Coffee? Lots of tea and one 'coffee shop' coffee

Mountains or Sea? Both! Preferably at the same time...

Night Owl or Early Bird? Somewhere in-between?!

I wish someone had told me... That working the hardest doesn't always get you the results... it's important to take steps back along the way and assess where you are in order to move forward in the most efficient way.


Meet the Maker: ProjektiTyyny

Nora Nilsson's love of the Scandinavian aesthetic and Indian design has led her to create ProjektiTynny, a beautifully eclectic range of home textiles.

Nora Nilsson’s decision to start ProjektiTyyny began quietly; with an evening at home, sewing. ‘I was just playing around with some fabric and decided to make a cushion,’ she says ‘it was an experiment really, but I was pleased with end result so I posted it on Instagram and didn’t think much more about it.’ The response from her followers was overwhelmingly positive. ‘It was amazing to see all these lovely comments and I thought, hang on, maybe I could do something with this.’

A couple of years later ProjektiTyyny was born - the name is a nod to her Finnish roots, ‘I’m from Finland,’ Nora explains ‘and wanted a Finnish name for my brand, which was simple and self-explanatory so Projekti (project) and Tyyny (cushion) seemed perfect!’

Setting up her own brand was not a new experience for Nora; shortly after graduating from university with a degree in art she launched an underwear brand - her first foray into design and running a business. ‘I really enjoyed having my own brand, and I was selling at some high end stores like Selfridges and Fenwicks but I was offered an amazing opportunity to join the buying office of a major international retailer, so accepted the position and moved into fashion buying.’ We'd also just recently had our first baby so it seemed like a ‘safer’ option.


Nora’s time in buying meant working closely with designers and textiles, ‘I tended to buy woven rather than knitted materials - it’s my real forte! My years as a buyer means I really understand the potential of woven cloth and what can be achieved - it’s been fundamental to my design work.’

Buying also involved frequent trips to the Far East and India. ‘Those trips were a real turning point. They gave me the opportunity to see some amazing materials, techniques and the latest developments in fabric weaving.’ She discovered a passion for the aesthetic of Indian textiles in particular. ‘I always brought back treasure from India - and I always knew they’d feature in my home in one shape or form.’

Initially, Nora ran ProjektiTyyny alongside her job in buying. Working full time, whilst trying to build the business proved frustrating; ‘My time was so limited, I felt like I wasn’t giving my all to ProjektiTyyny and that was quickly becoming my priority.’ So, in early 2017 Nora left work for maternity leave - and a decision was made. ‘I had to choose to either go full steam ahead with Tyyny,' she explains, 'or give up and focus on buying. I decided to make the jump and leave my job. It felt risky, but exciting at the same time!’

The risk paid off: ProjektiTyyny has gone from strength to strength and has led to a change of lifestyle with a move from London to West Dorset. ‘We’re now living in the most beautiful countryside,' Nora says, 'I’ve not looked back - I craved a slower, simpler life after 20 years in London.’ The move has also given Nora the opportunity to rent a workspace, five minutes drive from her house. ‘It’s great to finally have somewhere just for the business so I don’t have to burden our home with all the clutter a growing business brings along!’

Nora structures her day around her three children - starting after dropping her eldest two at school, and working in ‘short bursts of productivity’ around Lumi, her youngest child. Work stops once the children are home from school and starts up again once the children are in bed. ‘I think once Lumi starts playschool and I have more solid time in the day, I’ll have a more structured approach,' she says, 'but for now, once she’s napping I work on whatever is next in line whether it’s working on a new design, setting up a new marketing campaign or working on accounts.’

Her design process is ‘layered’ and can be lengthy ‘it can take weeks or months to get from an initial idea to a proto of a product,’ she explains. ‘I collate ideas in a scrapbook, which percolate for a bit before I start designing. I’m inspired by lots of things - nature, people, architecture - I’m always ‘on’ when it comes to finding inspiration. Once I have a design I’m happy with, I create a colour palette - I buy swatches of materials and wool and play around until it’s perfect.’

Nora often weaves a miniature version of her design on a small hand loom to get an idea of what the finished sample will look like. Next, in Nora’s words, comes the hardest part - explaining the design to her maker in India. ‘It often takes a few protos until we get to the point where I’m happy with the product. We’ve worked together for a few years now, but it can be tricky to communicate my vision over email using images and drawings. The next thing on my list is to spend some time in India so we can do all the development face to face.’

Nora’s designs bring together a Scandinavian aesthetic and Indian design - was this blend of styles a deliberate decision? ‘Not really, I didn’t set out to do it but it seemed to happen naturally. I’m Finnish, so the Scandinavian simplistic aesthetic is solidly rooted in me. I grew up in a world of monochrome palettes and simplistic shapes.’

The opposite is true of the intricacies of Indian design… ‘I know! I love simplicity but yet I love so much about Indian weaving techniques. I try and take the elements I love most from both cultures and combine them into something which I’d like to have in my home. People say they love the result - so it seems to work!’


Does she ever get creatively blocked? ‘I do, especially if I am trying to design to a specific deadline. I have learnt the best way to deal with it is to keep the process fluid, and not to stop and start. It helps to not worry about seasons or trends - it’s less limiting - and good design is always timeless.’

What advice would she give an aspiring designer? ‘Always follow your heart and never compromise on your designs. It never works. Know that you’ll have long, hard days but remember once you get it right you’ll reap the rewards - working for yourself means the sky is the limit, you are in complete control,’ she says. ‘And it’s hugely satisfying to be doing something every day that you absolutely love.’


Quickfire Questions

Describe your work in three words: Luxury home textiles  

What are your making rituals? None for the moment - a little baby means there's no time for rituals!

Tea or Coffee? Tea in the morning and coffee in the afternoon!

Mountains or Sea? Oh this is tricky... I think it would have to be mountains

Night Owl or Early Bird? Early bird definitely

I wish someone had told me… to always have a backup plan and to keep all my receipts in order!