Hello and welcome to September's Makers Month, once again we have some treats for you this month, from Q&A's to tutorials and lots of fun in between. So keep your eyes peeled for lots of fun coming up.
Today we are sharing our recent chat with the lovely Jo Want about her brand Hello Sunshine about what it's is like to have a handmade business and the things she wishes she had known before she started. Along with being a fab girlboss, she is honestly the sunny-est person we know, so read on to find out why we love her and her furry friends so much!
Hi Jo! What was the first thing you remember making?
Oh crikey! I have lots of memories of drawing when I was little and making up little comic books (about cats), but one of my fondest making memories has to be in primary school when we made clay candle holders. I remember making an old fashioned looking candle holder with a handle like we were told to do and then making a tiny cat and mouse to go on there too. I can still see it now and wish I still had it. I often think about the clay fun times I had at school, especially at the moment as I’m desperate to take up an evening ceramics class if I can find one. Maybe I could re-create the candle holder!
How did you find your creative side?
I don’t think I found my creative side, to be honest, it must have found me! I can’t remember a time when I would say I wasn’t creative. I have always loved drawing and making things. I was encouraged to be creative at home and throughout school, college and uni it just made sense to grow my skills and follow my passion. Plus it wasn’t long before I realised I wasn’t academically smart enough to become a vet so I stuck to what I was good at! Haha!
What has been your favourite ever make? Whether that be for your business or just for fun?
Oooh! That’s tough! I think it has to be a tie between my Cat jewellery, which is all based on my two tinkers, and the Sunshine portrait I also drew of them. Toby (the black cat) and Pegs (the tabby) keep me smiling every day and provide the best inspiration, cuddles and giggles in the studio. It’s pure crazy cat lady love that went into the illustration and designing the jewellery, and I love that they are the most popular pieces with customers too!
What are your favourite ways to stay inspired?
Spending time outdoors for sure! Whether it’s a run down the river, a cycle into Cambridge town or a full on camping adventure or hike up a mountain. Being outdoors sparks so many things (and happy hormones) in my mind, and I often find I come back home with lists of ideas and a big smile on my face.
I am greatly inspired by the people (and pets) in my life too. All of my jewellery collections have stories behind their origins and designs, ranging from favourite foods to childhood memories and pets. So spending quality time with the people I love is an important way for me to stay inspired too.
I also LOVE food and find myself inspired when I’m cooking (trying to!) or out stalking the food vans in Cambridge. I have a growing collection of illustrations inspired by the food and beautiful vans serving delights here, and I’m pretty sure it will just keep on growing… along with my waistline if I’m not careful!
What are the three things you wish you had known before you started your own handmade business?
1. How powerful the internet was or was going to be. I think I could have embraced the online world a lot earlier (building a good website, online shops, etc.) if I had been more aware of the internet and what it was capable of and how social media would enable my business to grow so quickly.
2. That I had read Austin Kleon's 'Steal Like an Artist' and 'Share Your Work' when I was at art college. I always thought that I couldn’t draw certain things or make laser cut jewellery because others were already doing the same. Somehow, throughout college and uni I had this misconception that my own style applied to an existing process/discipline wasn’t good enough to ‘make it’ in the art world, that I had to invent the next big thing or a draw something nobody had ever drawn before to be successful. I never thought I could share my work either, the idea of the big wide world seeing the unfinished pieces was terrifying! Sounds so silly when I look back now. Reading ‘Steal Like an Artist’ in particular made me realise that I had been wrong for so many years about a lot of things and I think that both of his books should be taught at college level. It would have helped my confidence and meant I may have shared and followed more of my creative dreams much earlier in life.
3. It’s not that scary, and you get SO MUCH more out of getting up and chatting to other creatives at events. I was terrified of other stall holders when I first started going to craft fairs, especially if they made jewellery. Before Instagram, I always felt like there was some weird, competitive, keep yourself to yourself vibe at events - maybe it was in my head because I felt like an imposter at the time like I was just a hobbyist. I soon got learned to get over this though thanks to social media and I now feel closer than ever to fellow creatives and feel like I have a have a bazillion friends and a support network I never imagined was possible ten years ago.
Who are your favourite Designer/Makers right now?
I realise that I always say this, but I am obsessed with Viktorija’s (andsmile) illustrations! Her work and the videos she shares over on her Instagram have me spellbound every time. She is also the NICEST, happiest, friendliest person in the world and one of my prize possessions is the portrait she drew of me at a Crafty Fox Market last year.
I am also slightly obsessed with Hello Harriet’s new website, lookbook and products. The recent photoshoot is so cute that my head almost explodes every time I see one of her updates. The new products are just gorgeous, and everything is so beautifully styled!
What crafty item is top of your wishlist?
Ooh, it has to be a laser cutter of my own! To have my beast to be able to play and make things at home whenever I fancied would be amazing! Also… ALL THE PINS! There are so many amazing enamel pins out there at the moment I just want them all (can they count as a wish list item?)
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I love walking, running, cycling, climbing mountains and camping with my bearded other half. I really enjoy trying new things too - ice climbing, wake boarding and zip lining have been favourites this year! On the flip side of being active though I also love nothing better than a brew (or cheeky vino depending on the time of day) cuddled up on the sofa with the cats, the boy and a good film. Oh, and eating… eating is definitely something I love to do… whether I’m working or not!
Tell us a bit about what you have coming up? Any little projects you want to tell us about?
As well as preparing for the big C-word, making sure I’m ready for events and writing my list for Santa I am currently starting work on something new which I’ve called ‘Project Van’. This project is fuelled by my obsessive love of Campervans and memories of being taken out in the beautiful VW Camper that my Grandparents used to own when I was little. It’s still very early days, but I am hoping to create a new range of jewellery, illustrations, accessories and other fun things with the view of using the profits (and a little inheritance) to help fund my very own Sunshine Campervan and follow in my Nanna & Grandad’s footsteps… well… tyre marks. Here’s hoping my dream plan comes together… watch this space!
I also have a VERY EXCITING collaboration with Sew Crafty in the pipeline which I cannot wait to see come to life and share with you all as it does! Collaboration projects are always so much fun, and I love working with other small business to create exciting new work. YAY!
Thank you so much for joining us today Jo, and sharing your tips with us! Please head over and show Jo some love on her website Hello Sunshine where you can shop her products and keep up with which events she will be at so you can meet her and see her latest products in person. Dot forget to follow her on Instagram too @sunshine_jo
Do you have any questions for your favourite makers? Let us know and we will put them to in our future Q&A's
Sammy and H
Photos Credits; Jo Want and Holly Photo Booth
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