Who: Nicola at Pouch
Where: Bristol, England
BVC: When did your passion for creative recycling/crafting begin?
Nicola: I started buying vintage fabric back in 2003/2004 from thrift stores and jumble sales. The more I bought, the more I fell in love with the bright designs and colours from the 1960s and 1970s. Before I knew it I had amassed quite a collection. I started to think that I could combine the bright vintage fabric with repurposed denim and corduroy. I had also gathered quite a few pairs of jeans and trousers whilst rooting around at jumble sales and I noticed that people often threw trousers out once the hems were worn. I also noticed that there was plenty of viable fabric left despite the worn hems. Denim is hardwearing and takes lots of natural resources to make, so it seemed logical not to waste this valuable fabric. I have always been quite thrifty and didn’t like to see fabric going to waste so I decided to reuse it and combine it with my vintage fabric to make unique, one-off bags. I started to make a few totes and sold them at craft fairs. It wasn’t until I discovered Etsy in 2007 that Pouch really took off as a handmade business. Since 2007 I have expanded my range to include housewares, belts and my lavender owls and rabbits, which have turned out to be my biggest selling item.
BVC: Is it your 'day job'? Or do you also have another job to pay the bills?
Nicola: I used to work as a freelance book and journal typesetter. I had always had Pouch on the backburner when I was typesetting, but since having my daughter in 2009, I haven’t been able to return to fulltime typesetting due to the high cost of childcare. I needed to work in a more flexible way so I decided to put more focus on Pouch. I work two afternoons a week whilst my daughter is in nursery and boy do I have to manage my time well! Now I have so few hours to myself, it really helps to focus my mind. I have made more stock and written more blogs posts than I ever did when all my time was my own pre-2009. I love what I do and 2011 was my most successful year yet, I sold over double the amount in the run up to Christmas 2011 than I did in the same period in 2010 – which isn’t bad in the current economic climate!
BVC: Where do you sell online? Do you have any good tips for others who are thinking about selling their creations?
Make something you love, always be original and don’t expect to be an overnight success or get rich quick! I’m learning all the time and still don’t feel Pouch has reached it’s full potential, I’m always trying to evolve and improve my products and photography – it’s hard work!
BVC: Do you feel that the UK has a strong arts and crafts network for handmade? Recycled?
Nicola: Definitely. I have met so many like-minded people via Etsy, there is a very vibrant handmade community out there. The main job is to try and encourage people to support us and step away from mass produced creations. I have been involved with an organisation called UK Handmade for quite some time now. As is says on their website:
“UK Handmade is a design led online magazine committed to showcasing and promoting the best creative talent the UK has to offer. The term 'handmade' is now an indicator of quality, care and professionalism that is second to none and something we at UK Handmade wish to encourage and celebrate.”
BVC: What is your 'dream' project?
Nicola: I have lots of ideas, but unfortunately very little time to execute them now that I am a busy mum! I have an applique project in my head that I have been mulling over for about two years now – I have made a pact to make 2012 the year I start putting together some samples and prototypes. I would love to get it off the ground as I hate having half-finished ideas and projects on the go or in my head.
I am also hoping to take part in a collaborative project to create an installation for a Children’s Hospice in the UK. The project is being coordinated by Lisa Stevens who runs Seaurchin, a ceramics store on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/shop/seaurchin). She is still looking for people to take part, so you can find out more about the collaborative project here: http://estellaswall.blogspot.com
BVC: Can you share 3 other DIY or crafting blogs from the UK that you think our readers should see?
BVC: Fill in the blank: If I were in Paris, I would...
Nicola: ... love to visit the fabric district! I know that doesn’t sound very romantic, but as a confirmed fabric addict I really regret not having the time to go and have a long mooch around the fabric shops. When we were visiting Sacre-Coeur, I could see from the steps of the church these huge fabric shops in the distance. We had so many things we wanted to see in our three day stay, I knew my husband would be reluctant to trawl around a fabric store! So maybe next time I’m there...
Nicola - I truly hope that you get those days to mooch around the fabric shops of Paris! If you're like me, a day like that is so meditative and inspirational. My dream day of mooching would be at one of the great Parisien markets. Thank you so much for sharing with us.
For all the BVC folks, make sure to hop over to the Pouch blog or follow along with Nicola's progress on Facebook as she continues to grow her Pouch business.
If you'd like to catch up with past global blog hop interviews for Europe, check out:
ReThink Design (Sweden)
Sea Green of Appledore (England)
Ina Olavarria (Spain)
Made by iSa (France)
Handmade by Kallaristi (Greece)
Annemarie's Haakblog (the Netherlands)
Now let's hop over to see who's been discovered in North America, Australia, or Asia.
Are you also in Europe and would like to be considered for an interview feature? Leave me a comment at the end of the post, or send an e-mail with your website/blog to: bluevelvetchair at bredband dot net.
**Don't forget to add your own blog or website to the link party below to connect with new creative soulmates from across the world.
Until next time...