Nailed It

Nailed It: Q & A Style Interview With Roberta Montorfano From Betta Design Studio

Nailed It. Creative business success story

Here at Digital Fabrics we love finding a new and interesting success story on a brand or business that is inspiring to the creative community. We thought it would be useful and informative to find out how these creative businesses nailed it, lessons learned on the way and tips they might have. We have asked them to share important “How to’s” and growth hacking tips for start-ups and emerging designers. Read it, get motivated and nail it yourself!

This time we have a Sydney based Textile designer to get your creative juices flowing and your mind ticking! We are chatting to Roberta Montorfano the artist and designer behind the Textile Studio: Betta Designs, a brand that is full of bohemian delight and florals to swoon over. She is also one of our workshop teachers!

We had the pleasure of asking her a few questions about how she is nailing it and what she has learnt along her journey so far and what she plans for the future of her business.

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_Betta_Designs_12Who is behind Betta Designs Studio– tell us a bit about who you are, what you do and what services does Betta Designs offer?

Hello, my name is Roberta – I am a dreamer, pattern lover, artist and full time textile print designer!

My background is half Mexican – from my mothers side; and Italian- where I was born and spent most of my life. I have always been a curious soul wanting to see the best and colourful side of life, trying to find the best way to communicate myself and who I am through art and patterns (that you can also wear if they are textiles!!)

With Betta Design we offer collections of exclusive textile prints services:

– Collections of exclusive designs ready to go prints in high resolution Photoshop files.

– Custom design for any particular print idea and request

– Creation of different colorways and print manipulation

– Mood boards and trend research

– open to any artistic collaboration ideas

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_Betta_Designs_8

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_Betta_Designs_7What did your creative journey look like and how did you begin designing textiles? At what point did you start your textile studio ‘Betta Design Studio’?

My journey with Betta Design has been very natural, looking backwards I can see all the dots connected to each other.

I have always wanted to have a pencil in my bag to draw and colour something since I was young; art and anthropology have always been my favourite subjects at school and when I had to choose my University career I decided to keep art as a ‘hobby’ and studied ”languages and cultural mediation” (dreaming of becoming a some sort of National Geographic photo journalist).

While I was trying to study Chinese I found a job opportunity as a sales rep for a textile studio in my hometown, which required me to travel a lot around the world (Brazil, Japan, USA, China, Europe…) When I soon after realised what I was selling and how inspiring and creative was the textile design world I automatically pursued my textile design career as well. So after working for a very well-known local print studio in Italy for few years, I decided to challenge myself:  travel and move to grow and learn and seeking new dreams.

Betta Design Studio was born in my room in Bondi in 2014 after a strong desire of sharing my passion for pattern and print ideas, art and textile.

You have a very interesting background and heritage, do you think you can tell us about this and how this has inspired you and in what way do you believe it has translated into your work across the years.

My background is very interesting, two countries that have such a strong art identity:

I grew up surrounded by colours, patterns, textile. I come from Lake Como that used to be the Italian capital of silk, my dad has always worked in textile producing made in Italy silk scarves and ties. Our house was full of Mexican art and style and handmade beautiful traditional designs, it has been always around me.

I have always felt so lucky to be who I am and to be born from such a rich mix of roots.

My strong curiosity for art and the desire to create combined with my passion for travelling and exploring art and cultures brought me into textile and my passion grows every day more and more.

Digital_Fabrics creative interview with textile studio Betta Designs Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_Betta_Designs_1What does a day look like in the Betta Design studio? Do you have a routine to follow or do you work in a more ad hoc way?

It’s very hard to describe what a typical Betta Design day looks like because it really depends on what is going on. Let’s say that Betta Design never stops even at night, a bit unpredictable each day because there are so many tasks and exciting things to do every day: finding new ideas, preparing files, creating new prints, lots of admin sometimes, resourcing new projects, new opportunities, traveling and showcasing our designs around as well as painting and drawing and colouring the world with patterns!

This is what typically happens in a day but I have to say that at night is when I am more productive and full of ideas (it’s 12.52am right now!)

Florals and botanicals are clearly a huge inspiration to you, was this always the case and where do you get new inspiration from?

Styles can change from day to day, when an inspiration or a new idea comes you can only follow it. I love to change a lot: animal prints, bohemian, borders, florals, abstract prints, a bit of geometrical sometimes, tropicals.. there are infinite ideas in our minds!

Actually florals are not my best style. I love drawing florals, especially botanicals or watercolours but I am more a bohemian type. I like to design different sort of style depending on the request, the trends and ideas. But my soul is gyspy, so ethnic and bohemian prints are my favourites!

Obviously I love drawing florals, that’s why we run the Floral Workshop together!!

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_Betta_Designs_6 Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_Betta_Designs_3What does your creative process looks like? Can you take us through your design development steps and which is your favourite and why?

There are different ways I develop a print, a creative process is quite personal and different from each textile designer.

Betta Designs never stops – my eyes are everywhere I can see patterns all around me: it could be watching a sunrise, on the bus, walking around the park full of trees and flowers, at the market or looking at a tile outside your friend’s house. Inspirations can come from anywhere!

I remember one of the first print I created it was in my first or second collection: a water effect digital print. Very bright and vibrant and blue! I started from a photo that I took during a coastal walk in Tamarama, a photo of perfectly smooth waves from the top of the rock. I still remember that moment, the perfect combinations of shades of blues and whites. Then I got home and I started playing with it in Photoshop and I created a print that I called ‘Splash’ (I used to give actual names to my prints). That print was sold to a great swim local label.

This is my favourite part of the design development process –  The natural one, when the idea just comes by itself and you create something that is new and interesting.

Going back to your question I was getting too emotional; whenever the inspiration comes from (a catwalk trend or a picture you took from a flower on your balcony) the design process is quite standard:

– Creation and preparation of the elements. This is my favourite step, usually the most creative one. Drawing and preparing the elements, choosing colours and movement.

– Designing the print: display the elements and put them in repeat. This is the most “technical process”.

– Try different colorway options and check the file at the end.

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_Betta_Designs_15Can you share your go to online resources for textile design trend research and inspirations?

I tend to use more books for inspiration but as in online resource I manly keep myself updated on trends on wgsn.com on weconnectfashion.com and blogs, I use Instagram and Pinterest to share and get inspired.

You are represented at some of the international textile trade shows, what goes on at the shows and what do you get out of them.

Yes, we have tried some trade show, the most recent one was the London Print Textile Fair. Trade Shows are a great opportunity to connect with other customers and it’s a window for new opportunities and to grow. We are also represented by agents in Australia, US and Europe.

If you were to start your creative journey all over again, would you do something different and if so what would it be?

You know when they say “it was meant to be”? – I strongly believe that we have a path to follow and mine led me here where I am now. So no, I would not change a single thing of what I did so far. Textiles is more than a passion and is a way of living. My creative journey has been very natural for me and I hope I will always stay as exciting and inspiring as it currently is every day.

 What skills do you think are necessary to have in order to become a textile designer that specialises in developing fabric prints for the fashion market?

– Definitely a strong passion for patterns and colours

– love to create and drawing skills

– strong eye and observation skills to constantly look around yourself and always inspire and get inspired

– strong knowledge of Adobe software (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign..)

– lots of patience and determination to keep believing in yourself and your art because it’s worth it!

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_Betta_Designs_11What words of wisdom do you have for others wanting to do what you do?

It’s not an easy industry like many other creative carriers. It’s challenging to constantly be creative and share hoping that someone else will like what you have drawn (and eventually wear a dress with your design).

So many times I have asked myself what I was doing and why, but I could never stop because my imagination was bigger than any fear of failing. And failing is actually a good thing sometimes. Whatever your passion is just follow it, it’s never going to be wrong as long as it makes your soul smile.

 “Creativity means enjoying any work as meditation; doing any work with deep love.” 

What would you like to see in the future of Betta Design Studio, any dream collaborations, projects or ideas that haven’t come to life as yet?

In the future of Betta Design I can see so many things that I don’t even know where to start. So I try to stay optimistic while trying not to overwhelm myself with expectations either. I would love Betta Design to keep learning and keep sharing prints around and get inspired by collaborating with different people and projects hopefully around the world and I will do my best!

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_Betta_Designs_5Thanks Roberta, what a fun and colourful read full of inspiration.

You can follow along with what Roberta from Betta Designs is upto Website, Instagram, Facebook

Nailed It: Q & A Style Interview With Stavroula Adameitis From Frida Las Vegas

Nailed It. Creative business success story

Here at Digital Fabrics we love finding a new and interesting success story on a brand or business that is inspiring to the creative community. We thought it would be useful and informative to find out how these creative businesses nailed it, lessons learned on the way and tips they might have. We have asked them to share important “How to’s” and growth hacking tips for start-ups and emerging designers. Read it, get motivated and nail it yourself!

We are back for 2019 and we have a fabulous designer to get your creative juices flowing and your mind ticking!  To get the year going we are chatting to Stavroula Adameitis, the artist and designer behind the fabulous label ‘Frida Las Vegas‘ an Australian brand known for its bright colours, pop art themes and humorous work with a big kitsch kick and homage to the 80’s. We had the pleasure of asking her a few questions about how she is nailing it and what she has learnt along her journey so far.

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_FridaLasVegas_5Firstly, please tell us about how Frida las Vegas was born and how you came up with the very fun name?

The name ‘Frida Las Vegas’ was given to me by a dear friend when I unceremoniously signed up for an OKCupid.com profile some time in 2012 and didn’t want to use my real name on screen. I stayed on the platform for a grand total of 10 minutes before getting creeped out and leaving the online dating world forevermore but I noted the name ‘Frida Las Vegas’ had a catchy ring to it. I felt the combination of artistic feminine expression a la Frida Kahlo with a side order of tack-a-rama Las Vegas glamour really summed up who I was and what I wanted to express, so it was perfect to create work under this name a year later!

Your artwork is uber unique! What messages are you trying to share and what does your brand represent?

Thank you! My work is super nostalgic and reflects my personal obsessions with icons of popular culture, architecture, fashion and memory – many of which are distinctly Australian, which I feel is missing from the pantheon of Pop Art. Glamour and humour are central to the FRIDA LAS VEGAS ideology as these terms usually contradict themselves and I don’t think they necessarily should.

Visually, I’m interested in creating a universe that exists in its own timewarp, like a mash-up between art deco linework, 1980s Memphis Milano graphics and 1950s atomica. Ultimately my brand represents the self-actualising power of positivity, colour, confidence and humour.

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_FridaLasVegas_9Your colour palette is bold and bright, do you ever see this changing or is it integral to your work?

My colour palette is somewhere between a Barbie Campervan and a bag of mixed lollies and I can’t see this changing too much across mediums. I connect with bright colours on a deep level as they give me energy.  If I ever use black as a major colour, I’m pretty sure will only be used as a background for multicoloured neon lights!

Do you work on Frida las Vegas full time? If so how did you make the transition and what experience have you found most valuable on the way? What advice can you give to fellow creatives thinking about making the leap?

Presently, I work freelance and split my time between clients, agencies and my own work under the FRIDA LAS VEGAS label. It’s all a juggle but I love constantly learning and evolving. There’s no roadmap through a career and I’m excited to see where the path twists and turns as new technologies and opportunities present themselves in the future. It’s important to stay open and flexible, regardless of your medium or industry.

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_FridaLasVegas_8Do you think you have a specific demographic, if so who are they and what do you think they love most about your work?

Anyone who appreciates vintage-inspired styling, a keen sense of humour and a love of colour is probably going to connect with my work. I’ve been told by customers that wearing FRIDA LAS VEGAS makes them feel fabulous and confident, which is the ultimate double-whammy compliment in my books and also the reason I do what I do!

Sydney is a BIG source of inspiration for you (obviously, because she’s fabulous dahhh-ling). Can we expect to see any work inspired by any of our other glorious Aussie cities?

I adore Sydney and feel incredibly inspired to call Sydney home, but am equally pumped to explore the mythologies, signs, symbols, faces and places of other Australian locales – especially the Gold Coast (so gloriously tropical and tacky!) and Adelaide always holds a giant slice of my heart, as that’s where I grew up and spent my first 25 years on the planet.

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_FridaLasVegas_10Who are your biggest inspirations and who tops your dream collaboration list?

I’d love to collaborate with Black & Gold or Home Brand, but this is definitely a pipe dream as they are both very elusive and exclusive! Fashion-wise, I love the work of Elio Fiorucci,  Jeremy Scott, Thierry Mugler, Gianni Versace and 80s Barbie, amongst others. Cinema is also a massive passion, especially costume and set design – which is truly creative across the spectrum and allows filmmakers and their teams to construct entire ‘worlds’, something I find really appealing.

Ethical manufacturing is clearly very important to you (yass!). As another local business supporting the ethical fashion movement we’d love to hear what your motivations with this cause are.

Ethical manufacturing makes perfect sense. From a production perspective, it’s more efficient to foster relationships with local suppliers whom you can jump on the phone and workshop ideas with in the same timezone rather than dealing with overseas companies by email. My artwork celebrates Australia in all its forms, so it’s only fair my clothing truly reflects that celebration in how it is produced and constructed. I’m a big believer in practicing what you preach!

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_FridaLasVegas_7You recently entered the world of fashion with a product list growing fast! What led to you designing and creating these pieces and what might be next?

I’m always motivated to design what I personally want to wear and can’t find on the market. I’m not interested in trying to reach a mass audience, which gives me freedom to follow my instincts and design without boundaries. Presently I’m on the hunt for the perfect swimsuit that is fun AND flattering, with no luck from what’s on the market – so I’m working on making that happen!

What projects are on the horizon for Frida Las Vegas for 2019? Can you share any juicy plans or new product launches?

I’m working on an exhibition of neon and acrylic art that I’m MEGA pumped about, which is shaping up to be an extravaganza of extreme 80s glamour!

What is your advice for creatives at the beginning of their journey? Perhaps they are not sure on the product to create or the path to go down. If you could go back and give yourself advice, what would it be?

The best way to do is by doing. Skill up. Tool Up. Bar a few established professions, the concept of a career with a capital C is 100 per cent in flux right now – so stay ahead of the game with real, practical, hands-on skills that render you valuable and flexible for a changing world.

Find your own unique style. Don’t seek to emulate the work of one or two of your favourite artists. Instead, find inspiration from the random things that TRULY speak to you. Aim to ‘channel’ your influences rather than ‘copy’. Creating a style is all about how you mix up the mediums, styles, symbols and feelings of the things you love to create a product that is more cohesive than the sum of all its parts. Do this with your own personal flourishes.

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_FridaLasVegas_1Social media now consumes so much of our time and mental space, how do you manage this area and do you have any tips on how to stay relevant and fresh?

Social platforms are purposefully addictive by the nature of their interface design. With minimal ‘exit points’, it’s important to maintain boundaries with yourself and not get lost ‘in the scroll’. I strive to share my work in a tone that is authentic, relatable and not-too-serious. If a photo or video takes more than a minute to write a caption, I don’t post it because it means I’m probably thinking about it too much. Ultimately it’s important to not take social too seriously or let it define you – we are all human, not numbers!

As a business owner these days you have to have the ability to wear lots of hats, what is your favourite and least favourite hat to wear and why?

Posting orders at the post office isn’t my favourite part of the process but I’m trying to find beauty in the banal and see it as a chance to leave the computer and stop ‘n’ smell the (Cadbury) Roses!

Digital_Fabrics_Nailed_it_creative_interview_FridaLasVegas_4Thanks Stav, what a fun and inspiring read!

You can follow along with what Stavroula from Freda Las Vegas is upto Website, Instagram,

Nailed It: Q & A Style Interview With Sarah Kalidis From Studio Onethirty

Nailed It. Creative business success story

Here at Digital Fabrics we love finding a new and interesting success story on a brand or business that is inspiring to the creative community. We thought it would be useful and informative to find out how these creative businesses nailed it, lessons learned on the way and tips they might have. We have asked them to share important “How to’s” and growth hacking tips for start-ups and emerging designers. Read it, get motivated and nail it yourself!

Today we are talking to Sarah Kalidis, the artist and designer behind Textile label and self-named bricks and mortar shop: Studio Onethirty. We will be chatting to her about how and why she began, what challenges she faces and what she sees for the future of her growing brand.

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Studio_one_thirty_nailed_it_10Tell us about your creative business, what do you create, how did it begin and where did the name for the brand come from?

Hello I am a textile designer, furniture designer and artist. The business began while I was taking time off as a new mum; I started drawing and painting in my down time. After trying to source fabric for homewares pieces, I found there was a lack in the market for something bold and playful, and at that moment I decided that I would create something myself. Thus began the transition from drawings to textile pattern.  The name ‘Studio Onethirty’ is where my studio first began; my home address number of 130. It would be a reminder of a humble beginning, and those few precious years being a new mum and juggling a new venture.

You began your career in interior design, what led you to start your own business and if you could go back and tell yourself anything what would it be.

After becoming a mum and taking time off, it gave me plenty of thinking and reflection time. I decided I wanted to forge my own path rather than help some someone else achieve their dream. Having my own business would give me flexibility of choosing my own adventure. It hasn’t been easy, as working solo from the beginning meant that all responsibilities were mine, and working on designs, prototypes, sampling; meant plenty of back and forth while carrying an infant around.

If I could go back and tell myself something, it would be not to stress the small stuff; things may seem difficult and every day you may feel like you are pushing up a very steep hill, but keep looking forward and try to remember the reasons why you took this path. The pure joy and satisfaction of creating your own collection is far worth it.

What did you learn through the interior design industry that has helped you with building your own brand and what skills are transferable?

Being an interior designer has definitely helped with conceptual development of the range, and I give myself a brief and manage all aspects of the product from initial sketch through to assembly. I not only see each piece aesthetically, but it is important that there is a relationship between form and function. Certainly the skills of being able to visualise a product from conceptual stage has helped. I have a vision right at the beginning of how the piece should look, and having the material knowledge allows me to liaise with different local artisans and collaborate on the manufacture process.

Studio_one_thirty_nailed_it_4You opened a bricks and mortar shop earlier in the year, a designer’s dream some would say. What were the biggest challenges in doing this and what led you to make the bold move.

Yes it is a dream move most certainly! And having only started the business a little over a year before, it was a very quick progression. However a store came up in my local area, in a lovely boutique little shopping strip, and it was a blank canvas. I thought what an amazing opportunity to provide locals with something unique and inspiring, and bring something different to the area. The space is my retail flagship store, and it also houses my art studio upstairs. I love that I can create pieces entirely onsite, and customers can visit to experience the whole design process.

Studio_one_thirty_nailed_it_9What do you love most about what you do, what does a typical day in the shop look like and do you ever miss elements your old job?

The thing I enjoy most is being able to design and create each piece myself. It is a real sense of pride to be able to introduce people to the collection and explain that the art, textiles, homewares & furniture are my very own designs. And they are proudly made in Sydney! A typical day in the store during opening hours, is working in-store serving customers, along with tending to emails, orders & social media. And if there is some quiet time I can work on some new concepts and art pieces. I do miss my old job where I worked with some fabulous people and clients, however having the opportunity to be creative in a completely hands-on way is a really lovely new direction.

What would your advice be to someone dreaming about opening a shop or creative space? Have you faced anything you didn’t foresee as a challenge?

Making the decision to open up a creative space is one that takes a lot of consideration. You need to have a clear goal of what you are setting out to achieve, and know the risks at hand. The retail market is not an easy during this economic climate, so you need to offer your customers a unique experience and a level of service that would make them want to return. The challenge I faced right at the beginning was educating the local community on the store concept. The site had been a beauty salon for over 15years, and not expecting a creative space in an area such as this; it took a little while for people to realise what Studio Onethirty was all about.

Studio_one_thirty_nailed_it_8As well as having a real life shop you also do the independent design markets, what do you think the main benefit of these are to Studio one thirty and what would your advice be to someone keen to showcase their brand at these events.

I love doing design markets! I feel that my products need to be experienced first-hand; and what better way to see a product than to touch and feel, and meet the artist themselves. My first ever launch to the public was at The Finders Keepers Market 2017 in Sydney, and over 3 days 20,000 people came through the doors! So the exposure my brand gained in the early days was incredible. Exhibiting at a design event is something I highly recommend when developing your brand. You will be exposed to a diverse range of customers, & gain feedback on your product that enables you to grown and adapt to the retail market.

What are your biggest inspirations and favourite materials to work with and is there a material or discipline you would like to work with in the future?

I love painting botanicals and native flora, and I do like to give my pieces a contemporary feel. It is all about colour and texture. I do enjoy working with linen as I love the organic feel of the fibre, and there is something about the way my designs translate to the cloth; it adds dimension to the artwork yet achieves a softness. I try to be eco conscious when developing the range, working with more recycled materials would be a great step.

How do you approach new work or designs, do you create for seasons or trends? In your experience is this valuable or do you prefer to follow your own path and see what comes naturally.

I prefer to follow my own path when designing pieces. My range is quite unique, and so it is important for me to keep inspired by external influences other than trends. I do feel that my work is a reflection of the season; I am often inspired by the natural environment, and so many of my artworks include colours that I am surrounded by at the time of their conceptualisation. It is generally a natural progression while painting and drawing.

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Studio_one_thirty_nailed_it_1What do you see for the future of Studio One Thirty, do you have any projects in the pipeline you want to let us know about? 

I hope that my pieces can continue to bring a smile :) and one day I would love to see my upholstery fabrics in an amazing hotel somewhere fabulous, like New York or Paris. Dreaming BIG I know!

What is the best piece of business advice anyone has ever given you and if you can pass on any words of wisdom what are they.

One of the best pieces of advice was that you should believe in yourself and have the confidence in your product, as it will evidently show in the quality of work you produce. Words of wisdom would be to find something creative that you really enjoy, even if it is just a small hobby, and make some ‘me’ time to really enjoy it.

Studio_one_thirty_nailed_it_6Thank you Sarah! We loved having you as part of our Nailed It series.

You can follow what Studio Onethirty is upto: Website, Instagram

Nailed It: Q & A Style Interview With Megan Mckean From Mckean Studio

Nailed It. Creative business success story

Here at Digital Fabrics we love finding a new and interesting success story on a brand or business that is inspiring to the creative community. We thought it would be useful and informative to find out how these creative businesses nailed it, lessons learned on the way and tips they might have. We have asked them to share important “How to’s” and growth hacking tips for start-ups and emerging designers. Read it, get motivated and nail it yourself!

First up in this new series is Megan Mckean from Mckean Studio, an inspiring design label based in Sydney who create colourful, fun travel keepsakes with a modern twist.

nailed_it_megan_mckean_studioTell us about your creative business, what’s it all about and how did it begin?

McKean Studio is a design label with a focus on contemporary souvenirs. We’ve been running our business for almost 4 years now, and it came about after working on some passion projects to soothe the post-travel blues! Inspired by our time spent holidaying around the world, our pieces are a modern take on travel keepsakes.

Do you work on Mckean Studio full time now?

I work full time in McKean Studio, and am coming up on my 1 year anniversary of full time self employment! It’s been a rocky road for retail in the past year, but an interesting challenge in diversifying my skill set and exploring other avenues that I might not have otherwise considered. It’s been really great to have the time to focus more on what I’m passionate about, and try out so many different projects.

If so, how long did it take you to get to that place and what advice do you have on career transitioning for creatives hoping to do the same. 

I’ve been really fortunate with the timing of all my transitions, and each stage of change in the business has come about quite organically. I was working part time on McKean Studio and part time in a retail role for several years after studying, and this was perfect as it allowed me to create for McKean Studio without huge overheads or financial commitments (and still bringing in enough income to pay my rent each week). Having the flexibility of a casual position alongside the business also allowed for travel, which has been really vital for both my inspiration and product development. I think everyone finds the groove that works best for them, and there’s certainly no shame in having a ‘day job’ or part time role if it facilitates the creative work you want to be doing.

nailed_it_megan_mckean_studioWhat goals do you think are important to achieve before you can make that leap?

For me, making the decision to go full time in my business was mostly influenced by time; I was down to just one day per week in my previous role, and finding that I still wasn’t able to fit everything I needed to into my week. I had a couple of years of business data to look over and ensure that it was going to be sustainable, so eventually just had to bite the bullet and make the jump!

With your experience in mind, would you recommend to jump full steam ahead into a business giving it your full energy, with big intentions right away or would you suggest doing it slowly and giving the business time to grow before making the leap? 

I think if the opportunity is there to grow the business slowly and steadily, then I tend to lean more towards ‘cautious optimism’ and continue on that path. But at the same time, you can’t leap a chasm in two jumps, so it comes to a point where you’ve just got to make a decision. I always told myself that if the worst happened and I wasn’t able to sustain the business, then I’m still totally employable and can go and work elsewhere!

nailed_it_megan_mckean_studioManufacturing is a complicated process, there are so many angles to consider. Do you have any disaster stories? If so, what did you learn from that experience?

There are no major disaster stories, but plenty of ‘face-palm’ moments and frustrations at not always being able to achieve the end result I had in mind. I’ve worked with such a wide range of materials and manufacturing processes, between handmaking myself, local production, and offshore production, and have learned that sometimes trial and error is the only way to figure out what’s best! I’ve had some annoying communication errors with international suppliers that have meant the quality of a product isn’t where it needs to be (even just simple things like a print resolution not being high enough for the product) and other projects locally that I’ve sunk a LOT of money into but haven’t been able to find an affordable solution for the final production. I’m still working on that one! 😉

What is your advice on working with manufacturers for those who are just at the beginning of their journey?

Local is best wherever possible, there’s nothing better than being able to problem solve in person, or communicate directly with a business who knows exactly what the problem you’re having is, and how to solve it. I would always say it’s better to start small and closer to home, until you’ve got a better understanding of the processes and the outcomes to scale up from there.

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nailed_it_megan_mckean_studioYou do a lot of the trade shows and big markets such as Finders Keepers and the Big Design Market. What are the biggest benefits other than sales that you think come from attending them as a brand?

We don’t do any trade shows, only a couple of the big markets each year, and it’s such a great chance to get to spend time with our customers and chat directly with them. We get invaluable feedback from this face to face contact (even just on colour choices, or product suggestions) and it’s always lovely to chat with our audience and trade travel stories!

If you were to start your creative journey all over again, would you begin differently and what avenue you would take to accelerate your venture, if any?
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had my creative journey run quite smoothly, so the only thing I would change if I could go back in time would be to tell myself to chill out a little bit! I’m a big worry wart when it comes to future planning, and wish I could have been a little more relaxed about trusting the timing. So many great projects I’ve been able to work on have popped up out of nowhere, and there’s no amount of planning I could have done to have made them happen. Even the books, which are such an important part of my career now, I had no plans to pursue at the time I was approached by my publisher. It was a wonderful, serendipitous meeting and something that I was able to find a new passion for and work into our range perfectly.

nailed_it_megan_mckean_studioWe saw that you have been nominated for small publishers Children’s Book of the Year, which is pretty impressive! Do you have any exciting projects coming up that you can tell us about? 

I’m so delighted to have long listed for an Australian Book Industry Award, and I’m still pinching myself! Working on the books the last 2 years has been such a different way of working and a great brain stretch… so keep an eye out for something new in that category later in the year!

You have travelled the globe soaking up souvenir inspiration, where is on your list for the future and could you ever see yourself living somewhere other than Australia? 

I am always dreaming of living overseas, and we’ve been so fortunate to spend time in some beautiful cities all around the world. I’d love to live in New York one day, or retire early in Palm Springs (or live bi-coastally between the two!). We also often talk about moving to Sweden, so you just never know! We love Sydney for now though. We’ve got some other travel coming up this year to Japan, but after that we’ll see where the wind blows us!

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nailed_it_megan_mckean_studioTell us something people might not know about Mckean Studio.

I think something that people don’t always know about McKean Studio is that everything is made/designed by just the two of us! I do all of the illustration work, and handle all of the production down to packing and sending out every order. People often think we’re a much bigger operation than we are, and I always chuckle when we get work experience and internship requests (as flattering as they are!). Our Mini Cities are entirely handmade and hand painted here in Sydney, and all of the new pieces are connected and work-shopped for quite a long time before they’re produced.

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