Tell us a bit about yourself
Hi, my name is Shannon and I’ve called Melbourne home for the past 10 years. I actually grew up in Brisbane and often get strange looks when I tell people this – usually people tend to head north for the warmer weather. I suppose I’ve always been a little bit different!
Can you explain your craft/art and the material you like to use? I love to sew, I remember my grandmother teaching me the basics when I was a little girl – we made a pencil case that I still use today. Despite my early interest in sewing, for some reason I didn’t end up touching a sewing machine again for 20 or so years (gosh that makes me sound old!) when I decided I wanted to learn how to sew properly. What started as a hobby soon took over the dining room table, the living room, and other areas of the house… before too long I needed to find a way to deal with my growing fabric collection so Rabbit & the Duck was started.
I have always loved fabric and colour and pattern and texture. I love natural materials such as cotton and linen and I have a weakness for anything red, particularly if it involves a polka dot! Other materials I use include kraft card, brown paper and string – I like to keep things simple yet effective.
Where do you get your inspiration and what is your creative process? Inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere. I keep an ideas book where I jot down comments from customers about products they are looking for, sketches or notes of ideas I’ve had, and any other interesting things I’ve found. Often it can take a year or more before an idea makes its way from the book to a sample piece, I suppose I work organically and just let things happen when they’re ready. Usually by this stage I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I want to achieve, so just jump straight in to making a product with my ‘good’ fabric. Patience has never been one of my strong points!
How long have you been creating and how did you get into craft/art? I’ve always been a creative person. Growing up I would be painting things, gluing things, making cubby houses with my sister which we’d then decorate, baking things, or attempting to knit things. Creativity runs in the family – my Mum is ace with a pair of knitting needles or a crochet hook, and my sister also does some sewing and felting. The ability to be creative on a daily basis is the thing I love most about my job!
How did you come up with your business name? I really wish I had an interesting answer to this question! Ever since I can remember I’ve had a love of rabbits, particularly the ones with the really long floppy ears. When I was starting to get my business together, I was thinking and thinking for days about what I was going to call my business. I would walk around the house in my favourite slippers, and one day, with all my pacing back and forth, the slippers started to fall apart. They started making a strange squeaking sound. My partner at the time said to me ‘you sound like a duck with those quacking slippers’. So there you have it – The Rabbit & the Duck.
What resources 'have or do you' use to help your creative pursuits (i.e. groups, classes, shops, websites etc)?
I am such a fan of Pinterest, it’s a great place to keep all your ideas and inspiration together. I also read a lot of design and handmade blogs – I love seeing what everyone else is creating and it’s a great way to keep in touch with fellow crafty people.
What's your best advice for someone starting up?
Don’t try to do everything at once. It can be exciting starting your own business and the temptation is there to quit your day job and jump straight in, but one thing I’ve learned is that businesses take time to grow and evolve. Work away at your business while you have the security of a regular income – make samples, set up your online store, do some markets and listen to the feedback from customers. Your business will gradually grow and take on a life of it’s own – you’ll know when it’s time to take the next step.
Do you have any advertising/promotion tips for sellers to be successful?
Advertising and promotion are not my strengths – my tip would be to do more of both (I should listen to my own advice here hehe). When contacting shops, I’ve found it quite successful to send out a little information pack that includes a product sample, a letter of introduction, and a catalogue. Feedback from retailers is that they love to see the product in real life, and it adds a personal touch when followed up with a phone call a few days later.
Can you share any lessons that you have learned the hard way? Sometimes it actually is a good idea to do your sample from calico and test it out before making a large batch of something. I was so excited about my first run of phone pouches, but I didn’t realise until I started selling them that they were a bit too small for an iPhone! Oops!
What do you like to do besides creating? I love cooking, and baking in particular. I have an extensive collection of vintage aprons that I like to wear while baking… I think I should have been born in the 1950’s! I also love to be outside in the garden, I’ve recently moved to a house with a big backyard full of trees and a large front garden as well. It keeps me busy, particularly at this time of year when all the Autumn leaves start to fall and need to be swept up. I also have a few pots of herbs and veggies growing, I love being able to step outside to grab some fresh basil or thyme to put in my dinner. During the warmer months I love to walk to the local beach, and in the cooler months I sit under my favourite blanket with a hot water bottle and a good book.
What is your favourite music, television show, film, book, website In keeping with my 1950’s housewife theme, I listen to old jazz and swing music by greats such as Ray Charles, Benny Goodman, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald.
I haven’t owned a television for a few years but I do watch quite a few documentaries and movies on my laptop, and the occasional TV series such as Mad Men. Favourite movies I’ve seen recently include Jane Eyre and Midnight in Paris. And of course, what girl can go past Dirty Dancing as an all-time favourite?
What would be your perfect day?
I’d wake up to a crisp, clear morning – after rugging up with a warm coat and scarf I’d take my cup of tea outside to see the sunrise. The day would then be gloriously warm (well, I do live in Melbourne, the weather here is quite changeable!). I’d pack a picnic lunch in my favourite picnic basket, which is lined with red & white polka dot fabric (of course). There would be cake, and pink lemonade as well. The day would be spent with a few of my closest friends; we’d sprawl out on a rug under a shady tree and have a nap after lunch. When I get home the dishes would miraculously take care of themselves while I had a relaxing bath, after which I would then head to bed with my favourite book.
Who is one of your favourite madeit seller, explain why in less than 10 words? Retro Print Revival – gorgeous lamps and homewares made in Melbourne from gorgeous retro fabrics.