About Me and Design Rocks!

My photo
Hello and welcome. Here's a bit about me: I've spent my childhood and a lot of my life traveling. Places, colour and pattern are my biggest inspiration. I've surfed & lived in a tent in Cornwall. Sketched my way round Morocco. Designed from an antique textile archive in Manhattan (dream job!). Styled and written for an interiors magazine on the sleepy island of Malta. Now I live in Manchester, UK, where I run Design Rocks greetings cards. Whilst in Manhattan I amassed a large collection of vintage textiles. These were used as inspiration for my first card range, Vintage Rocks! We sell wholesale so if you'd like a brochure visit the website or get in touch. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Proper camping

We abandoned the festival we were meant to go to, for all it's noise, people and sensory overload (get enough of that with my busy life) and instead found a farm in the peaks to pitch up.

Our only neighbours were sheep (and a lot of sheep poo!). The facilities included a tap and a porta loo. The views were just stunning and I had a proper feel of nature and being at one with the land. I saw herons, swallows, rabbits and voles.

I also got a bit Ray Mears and went Ferral. I think I missed my vocation and should have been in the SAS. I come from generations of forces families and I only realised this weekend that it must be in my blood!

Top 5 Proper Camping activities:

Fire building
Setting up camp
Cloud spotting
Drinking round the campfire with good friends
Wittling sticks with your knife - pointless but fun.

I have an ambition to try Hardcore Camping where you build your own shelter in a wood and live off the land. One day.

One thing it did make me is a green warrior - you realise how much crap you create as a human. I made a vow to cut down on plastic, packaging, chemicals and unneccessary 'stuff'. When you live that basically you realise what you actually need and it really isn't that much. I'm also going to use biodegradable cello wrappers and vegetable inks for my cards in future.

In the meantime here's the view I woke up to every morning.

Monday, 18 May 2009


Just a quickie to say Top Drawer has accepted me to exhibit at their lovely and very posh trade show. They called this morning when, very professionally, I was painting my little lady's toenails and without thinking just answered the phone with a chirpy 'hello'. They seemed quite excited for my products and have already sent my images to the marketing department!! Yippy yippee yay.

Hmm just got to pay for it now. ummmmmmm.

Take it easy Monday...

After another successful, and exhaustively busy sale at Chorlton Arts Festival. I decided, after all my hard work, I needed to kick back and relax with my little one this morning.

We painted our nails, had coffee (well I did), took a long walk round the park with the mutt and decided what to bake.

Here's my recipe for Wicked Flapjack (for normal sandwich box flapjack, or for those with heart conditions halve the butter and sugar)

Everything you need is written here on my HUGE floor to ceiling chalk board (very useful!)

Mix up the oats and Muesli in a bowl.

Look away now if you have a heart condition. Here's a massive wedge of butter, a good gloopy blob of golden syrup and a good dredge of golden caster sugar. There's no measurements just mix up equal amounts of each, the more you add the more wicked and delicious your flapjack.

Mix it all up together.

Find a good flat vessel. Something like this:

Squash the wet mix down with the back of your spoon(s).This is the point where if baking with toddlers you need to monitor the intake and spread of buttery flapjack mix!

Bung in the oven till golden brown on top.

Whilst cooling score into portion sizes. Take out when cold, this requires patience if you're as greedy as me.

Put on a cake stand, gobble it up and wash down with a cup of tea!

For even more wickedness add ground ginger to the mix and spread 1/2 an inch of melted choc on top. MMMMmmmmm.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

A bit of chin stroking

I've done an intensive month of craft fairs and been observing a lot of what works and doesn't work. After much thought and deliberation (ok, and a little wine). I think there is a magi formula to successful selling as a designer maker.

A. The product - must be of quality and a good price, be original - do what you do best and concentrate on that. Don't try and do what someone else is doing because they're making sales. The only way to be totally unique is to develope your unique skills to the max. Don't go all craft ADHD (very common problem). Stay FOCUSED dude.

b. Your market - get the right venue with the right buyers - old biddies - forget it. What you need is middle class guardian readers with muchos deniros and an appreciation of your hard work. Look out for craft fairs in trendy city 'burbs with a little cool subculture of their own. Think about who buys your stuff and imagine what they do and where they live - that should narrow it down. If there isn't anything there then set up your own - it's not that hard, just start small and invite friends.

c. Your sales technique - you are your brand! You need to be an extension of your product. I sell cards featuring vintage patterns and I love pattern. So, I wear my best vintage frock, a huge smile, and I engage and chat to as many people as possible. I tell them about the designs, where the patterns come from, the process, my inspiration - I sell the cool image. It sounds cheesy but people are buying in to you as well as your products. Your nice personality should come into it's own here, just be your self and enjoy the time you have with people. This is also a time to get feedback on your customers faves and what sells best - that way you can develop your range in the right direction.

Ok, enough waffle. just want to try and work out how I seem to have made a success of this and share the wealth with you good crafting people out there. Hope it helps.

If you want more great info the ETSY sellers handbook is a real help.

Chorlton arts festival

Roll up roll up... This weekend I'll be selling at the crafts market, within St Clements Church on High Lane, as part of Chorlton Arts Festival. I also have to give a plug for my daughter who's exhibiting at Battery Park and has her first opening (at the age of 9!!). Here's one of her sketches - they are way better and more stylised than anything I could do. She has a knack of capturing peoples expressions with a little squiggle here and there.

I can feel in my bones that this fair will be a good one. Watch this space for the post fair feedback from both of us!

I'd just like to add that in a whole sketchbook this was the only non smiley face (for all you amateur psychologists out there) and that it isn't a picture depicting my meaness to my first born!

BIZ NEWS FLASH: Also went to the printers yestrday to discuss the next range - very excited. Am also waiting for acceptance to do the hottest (and blinking expensive) trade fair in London. Hope they let me exhibit!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Fun on the farm

After all that hard work it's lovely to get some green grass and big blue Somerset skies at my parent's. Not many Grandmas have a quad bike but this one does!

It's just idyllic, birds singing, chickens clucking, the smell of hay and curious horses nuzzling you.

And have you ever seen a madder hair do on a chook?? I actually laughed out loud at this funny character, he was all bossy and noisy as well! They're polish and totally bonkers.

We're very lucky that my Mum is horse and animal mad. A quick audit of animals they own:

10 Chickens
9 Shetlands
6 Full size horses
6 Cats
3 Dogs
10 Koi Carp
30+ Birds in a huge aviary
1 Parott

I've never added them up before, my God, that's mental!

Folk House a success!

Yippee yippee! The sun was shining, people were mooching and the cards were selling. The folk house flea market fundraiser was a great success! The sales were nice and steady (no rugby scrum like last week!) and I sold about 200 (wooohoo!)

OH MY GOD, I could actually earn a living from this!!!!!

The fair was lovely, 40's jazz playing, loads of vintage frocks and hand made things - high quality bric-a-brac (mmmm I love a good rummage)

There were also some gorgous things for sale (ahem, I spent quite a lot of my profit).

In the words of Mary Poppins, "Here are a few of my favorite things.." by ceramicist Julia Davey

Thursday, 7 May 2009

"This time next year Rodney...

...we'll be millionaires!"

In true Del Boy entrepreneurial style, I've contacted the printers and I'm thinking of doing another 30 ish designs and then a great trade fair called Top Drawer in that London town. There be big buyers there and thems are the kind of people I need.

Of course it could all go tits up and I'll be paying off my credit card for the rest of my life, living in a house made of boxes of cards. It's a massive gamble in a recession but as Del Boy would say, "You've got to speculate to accumulate my Son".

I'll see how it goes this weekend first, if I sell 2 cards I might have to revise my business plan!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Bristol Folk House Craft Fair

This Saturday I'm at the Folk House in Bristol for a craft fair. Here's all the info, it's at 40a Park St, just up the alleyway from Nomad Travel. Click here for a map.

They also do yummy organic local food in the cafe which I'm looking forward to tucking into! I'm also loving their chalk board.

I'll be selling my cards at the bargain price of £1 each - it only happens at a craft fair, they're normally £2.35 in shops across England. So if you're down that way, come and say hi!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Rainy tea party

We never let the good old bank holiday rain put us off when it comes to tea parties! After all those sales it was time to celebrate with my lovely friend Charlotte who was holding a good old fashioned birthday tea party.

I was probably the gibbering mad hatter in the corner as I was so tired! Here are some yummy cake pics and Charlotte's even yummier shed!

Green Walk a blinding success!

Blinking blimey flip, I cannot BELIEVE how well I did over the weekend at Green Walk Arts festival. I sold 500, yes 500 cards!!!!!!

I couldn't keep up with the sales, it was like a rugby scrum. I'm soooo happy because I've spent nearly a year trying to get this off the ground, I've been ridiculously skint, confused, frustrated, really down at times, I've nearly given up 4 times and had a little blub more than a few occasions.

Then suddenly, like a little ray of sunshine it all just happened. Everybody loved my cards, some people bought 15 at a time (ok, they were also cheap!). The feedback was so positive that now I feel really confident to go for it and get another (expensive) print run done, then do a trade fair in autumn.

Here's a rubbish pic of me selling my wares on a coffee table. I had a flashback to when I was a little girl and I used to play shops on my grandma's coffee table with a little vintage tin full of coppers and lots of packets of tea from her cupboard. I think I just came full circle!!!