So we had been experimenting in screenprinting for a few years, it started with Christmas cards, some t-shirts for presents - and then last year we had a market stall (Ludlow's Tinsel Tuesday) in the few weeks before Christmas. For the first time in a long while, things started to fall into place for us...
So wind back ten years ...Jim and I met on a job at Team Saatchi, Jim as art director, me as animator. We had both lived in London and worked in creative media industries for all of our working lives, so as we upped and escaped to the country, we didn't give it a second thought that we wouldn't be able to carry on working as we had been, once we'd settled down again. But throw into the mix a complete house renovation, the arrival of two small people and diminishing funds - we suddenly found ourselves up against a whole new set of challenges.
When regular income drops out of the equation, you are forced to reassess your priorities - your needs take over your wants. Minimum acceptable standards of living become an on going discussion - and keeping the kids ticking along as though this was the plan all along! Childcare is a big issue, especially if you work for yourselves - the personal cost of jobs that take you away from the family comes into sharp focus - your client is calling the shots, but your kids, also your number one clients battle for attention. We found, we couldn't do the jobs as well as we'd like to and the kids weren't being looked after as we'd like. Being stuck at a computer all night long trying to work when they sleep - begins to take a toll on health and wellbeing - something had to give!
We had struggled to channel our creative skills into a coherent and fruitful direction for some time - we did a lot of jobs that got us fed! And we are grateful for those jobs as we felt our way through the tired years of toddlers, a leaky roof, car repairs and trainers falling apart! It's not like we weren't trying - We illustrated books, taught at University, made a film for the RSC, made a poetry film for Random Acts, did special effects on short films, mentoring young filmmakers, did animation workshops, branding and design for local people and global clients - and lots, lots more ..
It was, perhaps a chance conversation Jim had with Harp Lane Deli owner Henry Mackley, on the way back from school pick-up, that suddenly pulled all our disparate strands into alignment! He offered us the use of his rather good looking private dining room, above the deli, to hold a pop up shop before Christmas.
So we popped-up on the 15th, 16th and17th Dec and managed to fill the room with a complete range of handmade goods (and this is where for once our disparate interests comes into it's own, we could appeal across a range of tastes with Jim's more cool modern aesthetic to my quirky hand drawn approach). We made art prints, t-shirts, cards, tea towels, lavender bags, brooches, bags.. And people liked our stuff! Thank you to all who came, you were brilliant and it meant so much to us, that you came up those stairs to look around! You came, you bought, and even asked for more!
So we find ourselves in a new era, the pop-up shop was proof of concept - we make things we like and they are sellable! We are obviously not out of the woods yet and we know the real hard work is yet to come - but I think we have found a pathway that could really works for us, that is probably a big part of the jigsaw we have spent the last decade looking for.
So as the year comes to a close, we can look forward to building a business where our number one client (the kids) help us make things, my fitbit racks up more steps than I ever could sitting at a computer - we get to use our marketing, media, animation, design, printing, drawing, making skills in ways we never thought possible to do all at once - and we finally have some substance to put to our Salty's name.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year, love Sandra and Jim (aka Salty's Studio)