Wednesday, 18 August 2010

MEET: Ann of Snowdrops and Daisies, and The Tea Cosy Shop

I am embarrassed to say that I can not knit or crochet even one stitch, much to my chagrin. Both have been on my list of things to learn forever and I am determined to make time for them because when I watch knitters at work, for example, I love that they seem so relaxed and have a wonderful rhythm while they clickety click those needles... It looks so therapeutic and yet - for accomplished knitters at any rate - still a sociable craft since they can chatter at the same time! 

Meet Ann, a designer/maker with a love of yarn and a firm command of some very clickety needles...

Tell us how you came up with the idea for your shops and how you chose their names?
Snowdrops and Daisies was created as an outlet for my creative tendencies. I wanted a name that was natural and feminine; I mostly live a very non-girly life, so it is nice to have something a bit pretty as my shop name... Plus my two favourite flowers are snowdrops and daisies :)

[blue felt tubs - Snowdrops and Daisies]

The Tea Cosy Shop was born when I was making lots of tea (and cafetiere and mug) cosies, and my Snowdrops and Daisies shop was getting over-run, so I decided they needed their own little space. I love the simplicity of the name - much like my tea cosy design.

[bramble tea cosy - The Tea Cosy Shop]

What is the ethos behind your work?
I want to make lovely things that have little impact on the environment. I use as many natural, recycled, organic materials as I can. I love bold colours too, and I like to think that we can all live more sustainably without missing out on the little pleasures of life.

[funky felt needle book - Snowdrops and Daisies]

How have you developed your business over the last eighteen months?
My business has only been going for a little over 18 months. I made my first big steps to improve all my photos around a year ago and then to work on my networking (on Twitter and Facebook). Business wise I am still in the early stages and I know I have a lot more to learn. At the moment, I am concentrating on trying to focus my efforts on a few key items.

[woodland green mug cosy - The Tea Cosy Shop]

How do you maintain the balance between work and family life?
I have to admit it is a struggle. We recently had a huge amount of building work done on our house and our builder turned out to be less than competent, so my home is a permanent building site and huge drain on time and resources... You can follow our family battle to turn our house back into a home here - it's quite a tale!

I also run our mini-holding with huge veg patch, orchard and chickens and I have a three year old who I home educate. I work in the evenings and early mornings and try to get some time alone over the weekends to squeeze in a few hours too. I try to imagine it like plate spinning - only I'm not very good at it, and there are a lot of broken plates.

[juggling balls - Snowdrops and Daisies]

How do you keep motivated and what inspires you?
My work is my escape; my refuge from the mess around me. I have to admit I get a rush of motivation when I sell an item, or when I get compliments about my work, but often it is just the feeling of cosying up with my knitting needles and a big ball of wool.

[breakfast gift set in berry red - The Tea Cosy Shop]

What do you love about 'handmade', as opposed to mass produced?
In my opinion, mass produced doesn't really compare to handmade; mass produced products are designed to be cheap to make and easy to ship. Handmade is about good design and individuality. Handmade fits much better with my ethos; everything used to be handmade and lasted years, it is generally better for the environment and the spirit. I think it is a way of life many people have been (and will be) returning to as we learn to appreciate that life isn't just for consuming...

[felted tea pot trivet - Snowdrops and Daisies]

What is one thing you would make for yourself if you had the time and/or materials?
A cob house - like a hobbit hole, built into the side of a hill... maybe just a small one as a studio in my garden.

[marshmallow pink tea cosy - The Tea Cosy Shop]

What's next for you and your business?
I have some craft fairs coming up which I am very excited about, and I plan on opening a shop on Dawanda next week (bit too busy building up stock for my craft fair to do it just now). I hope to expand my tea cosy range and work on some origami additions to my Snowdrops and Daisies shop.

If and when I get my house sorted, I plan on studying for a qualification in permaculture (a type of productive horticulture); I hope to use that to do a bit of volunteer work around Scotland... I'm not sure where that will take me but I'll have fun on the journey.

[hidden purple felted bowl - Snowdrops and Daisies]

Is there anything you would go back and change, with the benefit of hindsight?
Besides the house??!!! I do wish I had paid more attention, made more effort, and had more faith in myself in the early days of Snowdrops and Daisies, but I'm working on it now and I am getting better.

[snowdrop white breakfast gift set - The Tea Cosy Shop]

What is the best piece of advice you have been given, and what advice would you give?

"DO IT!" When I was doubting myself, wanting to take the next step into craft fairs but lacked the confidence, a friend shouted "DO IT!" in an on-line chat forum... so I did!

I think the advice I would give would be to keep on keeping on - making your products and presentation better - there is always something that can be improved on; that's advice which I try to listen to myself.

 [funky denim cell phone pocket - Snowdrops and Daisies]

Thanks for sharing with us Ann. Our very best wishes for getting everything sorted with your house, and for your craft fair this weekend! 

If anyone is in the Glasgow area this Saturday 21st August, pop along and see Ann between 10.30am and 4.30pm at the Langside Hall craft fair.

PS - Ann, I have to sing the praises of your cup cosies because mine has been brilliant - I am notorious for letting my tea get cold but you have saved the day!

[my personal cup cosy from Ann's Tea Cosy Shop - action shot!!]


Unknown said...

Loving the felted bowls! , I am currently trying to perfect some for myself, so mybe going to snowdrps and daises for advise. Kxx

AMIdesigns said...

Great interview! I love the tea cosys. and the mug cosys. and the bowls.

Quietly Otaku said...

Hope your house situation improves soon, theres nothing worse than living in a building site! Our family did it for half a year.

Good luck!