after-hours crafter :: Polka Dot Rabbit
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm in my thirties and I live in Brunswick, Victoria with my husband Chris. I work full time for Green Renters www.greenrenters.org which is an organisation providing information, resources and workshops for people who are keen to make their rental properties more sustainable and environmentally friendly. I also work casually as an education advocate for tertiary and TAFE students.
Can you explain your craft/art and the materials you like to use?
I have a great love of all things vintage and retro and where possible I like to upcycle pre-loved goodies such as old Girls Own and Asterix Comics, old linen, cassettes, old crockery and whatever takes my fancy. I acquire a lot of my materials from second hand shops and it amazes my how often the labour of others (usually women) embroidering tablecloths and making tapestries is so easily discarded! I also adore embroidery and I spend a lot of time in winter making embroidered gloves.
How long have you been creating and how did you get into making handmade goodies?
I've been crafting on and off since childhood when my mother taught me to knit. I've always enjoyed creative pursuits like gardening, sewing, drawing and making things from scratch. I collect a lot of vintage wares and combining this with my love of craft seemed a natural extension. I started Polka Dot Rabbit in 2007 after friends started asking if they could buy my craft, had my first market stall and it carried on from there!
How do you juggle work & crafting/managing your business?
It is at time, extremely difficult. My 'day jobs' often require long hours and can be quite mentally draining which can mean the last thing you feel like doing after a day writing, researching, running workshops, dealing with difficult or very distressed people is sitting in front of the sewing machine or making a stack of stock! Crafting as a practice can be physically demanding (sore neck, RSI etc) and I learnt to work in small chunks of free time rather than wait for a whole free day of interrupted time.
Do you have any advice to other workers who are wanting to start creating handmade goodies?
Accept that unless you can't do it all. When I first started I felt that to be a successful business I had to be everywhere - online, other stores like madeit, consignment and markets. After spending hours at home alone after work crafting like a one woman sweatshop while everyone else was out socialising and having fun I and realised that I simply couldn't make enough stock and keep up with demand whilst holding down a full time job. Unless your products are extremely quick to make you'll never have as much volume of stock as you would like handy! Now I focus on Made it and shop consignment and it's much less stressful as it gives me time for product development as I'm not a machine and they joy is in the creating. Remind yourself that it's about the process as much as the end result and enjoy what you do.