Tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi! My name is Tina and I live in the southern suburbs of Brisbane. I am married to a very clever and hardworking man named Nek who runs his own building and renovation business. We have a 16 month old daughter - Georgiana. I spend my days at home with Georgie having a lot of fun but also sewing and working as much as I possibly can. My Greek heritage means I have a self-sacrificing work ethic that doesn’t allow me to be idle or without an income if I can possibly help it! I resigned from my nursing job at the beginning of the year after my sewing business began to grow in popularity and the only thing I miss about it is the fun I used to have on the wards laughing with my colleagues. We worked very hard at the same time. (I lie – I also miss the abundance of chocolates and lollies given to the nursing staff by the patient’s relatives…) We enjoy spending time with our extended family and Georgiana adores her grandparents and being spoilt by them as all children do. I have a very pro-active and fun loving group of friends in my Mother’s Group and at the moment we tend to gather once a week which provides an endless source of laughter and enjoyment.
Can you explain your craft/art and the material you like to use? I create clothing and other functional items for babies and toddlers but my signature design is the ruffled nappy cover. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s the steamiest day in Summer or the bitter heart of Winter, my best seller is always the ruffled nappy cover. My customers and I had a lot of fun last winter discovering how amazing a ruffled nappy cover can look over the top of a pair of tights and under a pinafore.
I always use cottons as my main material and I enjoy sourcing superb fabrics that you don’t see everywhere. It wasn’t until recently that I have really come to be a “collector” of fabric. I adore the fabrics that have the softest, silkiest feel even though they are 100% cotton (how DO they manage to do that??) and the endless possibilities that one little piece of fabric holds. I also enjoy playing around with buttons, ric rac, ribbon, lace and other yummy little items.
Where do you get your inspiration and what is your creative process? All of my inspiration comes from the fabrics I spend a lot of time sourcing. It’s always a case of finding the fabric, then deciding on the design and combinations. I always find myself looking at a fabric and thinking “Would this make a good ruffle?” I have always remained cynical in regards to my fabric combinations and I worry constantly about losing the ability to create surprising and beautiful combinations but I do believe it is better to be a little humble and fussy about the combinations than over-confident.
I enjoy using fabrics that most people wouldn’t consider using for baby and children’s items and I await the thrill of the combination once I have finished sewing the item. I always attempt to look beyond the very obvious in regards to applying typical or expected prints to certain designs. Most of the time, this sort of approach to fabrics pays off… sometimes it doesn’t! I have always been hugely attracted to the “Shabby Chic” concept created by Rachel Ashwell and I love the way she expressed her ideas about the need to remain open minded in her approach to design elements on her blog – “The trick is learning when we are settling or when we are just stuck in our pre-conceived ideas on how things should be or how we want them to be, versus taking a different seat at the table and just looking at things differently.”
How long have you been creating and how did you get into craft/art? I have been sewing for 12 months now and I’m so thankful that I can now use a sewing machine without generally mistreating it and having it make horrifying sounds! I was a hopeless home economics student at high school and I still swear to this day that when I would walk into the room, the teacher would audibly cringe. I always had the desire to sew and be able to make really functional and beautiful items. I became obsessed with mastering the art after Georgiana was born because I would purchase handmade clothing for her and think “I can make that!”, which was totally ridiculous at the time because I hadn’t touched a sewing machine in years! However, I began with a bassinette sheet (and ended up with quite a pile of them) and then went straight into tackling a ruffled nappy cover which took me one week to complete. It now takes me approximately half an hour. My mother and Grandmother were also always dabbling in one craft or another when I was young.
How did you come up with your business name? Georgiana’s name was the inspiration – we call her Georgie the majority of the time. I don’t know how I came up with it really, it just happened by itself and worked out well because then I could extend the title to include my boys and unisex lines under the names Georgie Boy and Baby Georgie. I hope that one day Georgie will find it exciting that her name was the inspiration for my first business!
What resources 'have or do you' use to help your creative pursuits (i.e. groups, classes, shops, websites etc)?
I consider my husband, mother and other family members to be a wonderful ‘resource’ because I love hearing their opinions and encouragement. I also utilise my Mother’s Group as a “resource” a lot of the time. They assisted with product trials of bibs and burp cloths etc for me towards the beginning and were so honest and helpful.
The very talented and amazing ladies in the handmade community are one of the greatest resources I possess. The way in which we bounce ideas off each other and help each other source fabrics and supplies is invaluable. I also spend as much time as I can searching the internet for fabric sources and new and interesting embellishments. I think if you know your medium back to front, it can only make the job of creating quicker, easier and more enjoyable. I seem to have a strange ability to remember where I’ve seen an image, fabric swatch or pattern and can usually pull it up online quickly. Without the internet as my resource, I would be lost.
What's your best advice for someone starting up?
Some of the best advice I have been given is don’t ever create something and attempt to sell it if you don’t like it yourself. If the fabric you are using or any other items don’t appeal to you, you will have a hard time convincing anyone else to like it too. Insincerity always displays itself in your creations and people will spot it a mile away either consciously or subconsciously.
Also, don’t even consider starting up a business of selling something you make yourself if you don’t have the ability to accept criticism and if you are not totally committed to what you are doing. If you can’t see something through to the end or put your full attention towards it when necessary, you shouldn’t be cheating customers out of good service. That also ties in with customer service. There is nothing more important than treating every single customer with respect and courtesy. They are your livelihood and without them, you wouldn’t have a business at all!
Do you have any advertising/promotion tips for sellers to be successful?
I must say that Facebook (facebook.com/georgiegirlhandmade) has personally provided me with invaluable free advertising opportunities. The greatest way to assist in selling on madeit if you are not able to spend a lot of money on other forms of advertising, is to constantly let your ‘likers’ know what you are listing in your store and providing them with easy access to it. Also, get out there and interact with other sellers and businesses. The more you talk to people, the more people become familiar with your business name and product. Have an online presence and take an interest in what relevant sites are doing. Keep abreast of what is happening in the handmade community
Can you share any lessons that you have learned the hard way? I learn new lessons about business and service every single day but I must admit that I learnt the hard way that you should never list or try to sell anything that you haven’t already physically made and have in stock. It works well for people who can take orders and know that they will definitely be able to fill them by a certain date but if you’re disorganised like me and your home life is not the same every week, you should never burden yourself with the pressure of trying to fill orders that have already been paid for and that customers are excitedly waiting on. That feeling is far too overwhelming and you need a clear head to be able to handle the other aspects of your business and to create successfully. Also, associate yourself with like-minded crafters who run professional businesses. Like reflects like.
A very good and wise friend of mine is constantly teaching me the art of saying “No”. I am slowly improving the skill but I wish I had learnt to say that word long before now. Yes, people will be disappointed if you explain that you can’t meet their demands, but in the long run, you can only do so much and it is simply not worth the stress you place on yourself. Be realistic about what you can and cannot manage to get done. That way, if you happen to finish the work you have before time, you can give yourself a little break or get a head start on the next task.
What do you like to do besides creating? I love spending time with my family and friends. I think it’s so important to get out of the house when you can as a Mother for the sake of your sanity and I really try to make an effort to do so. When I had more time, I loved to read, bake, knit and scrapbook. I miss doing those things acutely and I’m coming to the realisation that they are not going to happen unless I schedule them – I think I have found my new year’s resolution!
What is your favourite music, television show, film, book, website? Music - Just about everything and anything! Nat King Cole, Michael Buble, Dean Martin, Usher, Elton John. T.V. - I really only watch one series religiously at the moment and that is Spartacus and I adore Sex and the City. Film - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sabrina, Chocolat, Troy, Parfum. Books - Anything by Jane Austen, James Frey or Terry Pratchett. I love the Harry Potter and Twilight series of books. Websites - rachelashwellshabbychic.blogspot.com , bookdepository.co.uk, marthastewart.com
What would be your perfect day?
Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I’m a terrible morning person and so a perfect day in my world must begin with a very indulgent sleep-in. The rest of my perfect day would be spent at home with my family.
Who is one of your favourite madeit seller, explain why in less than 10 words? AnK Bowtique - Hard working, talented ladies who set an impeccable example.