This weeks Handmade and Hot is an interview with Abbie Finestone of Twig Prints. Gwyn saw her collection of printed goods at the Got Craft Show and fell in love with the simple graphic prints and natural feel of the fabrics. Have a read and find out more about Abbie and how she works:
Who are you and where is your studio and what is it like?
My name is Abbie Finestone and I own a little textile printing company called Twig Prints, creating hand printed home décor and accessories. I work out of a small studio in Whistler BC. The space is divided into two rooms. The front room is where I print and sew. It gets really nice light and overlooks the valley. The view is an amazing vista of mountains with snow-capped peaks. The back room is where I store all of my supplies and inventory and it’s also where I cut all of my fabric. It can get pretty messy in here when I am working on a project. Working by myself I have the luxury of being as messy as I want to, which is kind of fun. Having said that, I do set aside a little time at the end of each day for tidying up. It’s always nice to walk into a fresh space each morning and having the freedom to make a mess all over again. It’s very cathartic.
When and why did you decide to start your business?
I started my company back in 2009 as a sideline. I was managing a restaurant at the time and feeling quite restless. I have always been creative and when I left Australia and started traveling that part of me got tucked away. If you are an artistic person by nature and you don’t have an outlet, it’s like a part of your soul is missing. So, feeling a bit empty I decided to brush up on my skills, get out my sewing machine and get back into it. I was initially just making things for friends and family but started to get interest in my designs. It just got to a point where I thought that I could turn it into a full-time gig….and luckily, it’s seems to be working out.
What inspires you to create the lovely patterns in your designs?
Thank you- I do like to create lovely things. I’d have to say that nature is my main inspiration. I feel very immersed in it here in Whistler. My inspiration comes from simply looking out my window, taking a walk or riding my bike. An amazing texture or color will have me jotting down ideas for designs. I also like to collect images from some of my favorite Aussie magazines, old books and inspiring blogs. And, of course, the process of creating inspires me. I love when I start out with an idea and something new grows from it.
Do you hand draw your patterns? How do you document your ideas?
Yes, all of my patterns and designs are hand drawn. I love the rawness of an original sketch and try to keep the end result as true to the original as possible. I have a pile of sketchbooks filled with ideas. Some are just squiggles or quick sketches of images that I have jotted down. I often look back through them and see if anything catches my eye. We didn’t have computers when I went to art school so I’m afraid I am not very tech savvy. Not having a choice but to hand draw everything is fine with me and I think I feel more connected to the images this way.
What new products do you have in mind for 2013?
I have a long list of ideas for new products. Finding the time to make them is the challenge. Right now I am working on a new summer tote bag with designs inspired by my seaside holidays, to be printed on brightly colored linen. I also have burlap produce bags in the works. The idea is that they can be used to transport your onions or potatoes from the farmer’s market and then rolled down to turn into a storage container when you get home.
How would you like your collection to grow? And where else would you like to see it sold?
I am really happy with how my business is operating right now. My collection grows each season as I add new products. I am busy in the summer with farmer’s markets every weekend and I also participate in craft fairs in the spring and at Christmas. My mantra for the last little while has been “stay small, manage well”. It’s all about a happy life balance for me. I have a family as well, so trying to fit everything in can be challenging. I often think about expanding the wholesale side of things. I would love to sell to more stores here and in the States, so I would really have sit down to think about what that would look like and if I look happy in that vision.
What is the best thing about what you do? And which is your favourite all time piece?
Nothing beats being your own boss- you get to sleep in, take days off whenever you want, have a nice long lunch break. Of course, I don’t actually do any of those things as I am a very strict boss, but the beauty is that I can if I want to. Truly though, I love the freedom- to explore my own ideas, to daydream, to make my own happiness. And when someone pays me a complement about my designs, well, that’s pretty special too.
My all time favorite piece? Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I don’t think I have one singular piece that I love. I certainly have pieces that I have created that I just can’t part with. I would have to say that anything new that I am working on is usually my favorite piece at the time.
Thanks Abbie for your great answers. We hear you about the possibilities of being your own boss and are way too hard on ourselves too