I admire people who are crafty and legitimately really, really good at it. It might be because I have this high energy mind that is full of creative ideas that just frustratingly jumbled whenever I try to implement them into something tangible. I just stick to admiring and buying now… It’s just a whole lot easier. 😀
One of my favourite local artists Jessica Davies of Winnifreds Daughter agreed to let me interview her about her journey through the handmade world. It’s a tough gig. Handmade items certainly don’t come as cheap as things mass-produced overseas but it is so important to nurture creative talent and encourage those who continue to press on in creating art for us to enjoy. Those who are creative, like Jess, tend to always be trying new things.
Jess : “Winnifreds Daughter opened its doors on the 19th of August 2010. It feels like before that I had dipped my toe into every creative pool there is… I’ve studied and worked in film and television, makeup artistry, visual arts and photography.”
“One of the things I most loved about starting Winnifreds is that it gave me a platform to pool all of my creative ideas and skills in a refined way. I had always struggled with what to ‘do’ with my artistic education, creative passion and range of crafty interests; I don’t feel that way now.”
Sechy : What inspired you to create Winnifreds Daughter? And how did the name come about?
Jess : “Those lovely folk who have followed Winnifreds since the beginning will know that the first of my creations were very different to what you’ll find in the shop today. In the midst of 2009, I was reading one of my mum’s crafty magazines and came across a profile article about a softie artist. She sewed beautiful toys and soft sculptures and sold them on a website called Etsy, which at that stage I hadn’t heard of. I became hooked on the idea of sewing and making things and selling them online and everything that came along with that.The following year I opened my online store and attended my first market.”
“In choosing a name for my little enterprise, I wanted to choose something that was essentially a describing word for ‘me’, without using my actual name. My mother’s name is Jennifer, but when she was small her brother couldn’t quite pronounce such a mouthful, so he used to call her Winnie instead. The name stuck and to this day she is referred to as Winnifred by her family. So I am actually a daughter of Winnifred,” she said.
The one thing that is most noticeable about Winnifreds Daughter is how the brand is constantly evolving with a constant flow of new designs and ideas. It is certainly never boring, there is always something new to look at which is one of the reasons why so many people are inclined to check in again and again…to see what Jess has dreamed up now.
Sechy : What inspired your current collection?
Jess : “In the five or so years we have been around, I have dabbled in everything from stitching, sketching and snapping the list goes on. I have always made a point of trying to catch the ebb and flow of the times and trends – as well as keeping myself creatively stimulated and satisfied. However, with these changes one can lose a sense of purpose and definition of what ones trying to achieve.”
“At the end of last year I took a small break to really hone in on what I wanted Winnifreds Daughter to be. A family vacation at Christmas really brought home to me what is most important, and therein lay the foundation for my current collection. All of the new work is based on experiences and memories from my past.”
“It was like a bolt of lightning had hit me. My work had purpose and meaning again. It is a culmination of creative mediums and I could not be more happy and proud of the direction Winnifreds has taken.
Sechy : Winnifreds Daughter has grown so much in the last few years, what are some lessons you have learnt being in the handmade biz?
Jess : “If there is something that has fascinated me most about starting Winnifreds, it is that I am still learning every day. One thing I am happy to say I’ve learned is that I now value my work enough to price it accordingly. It is so essential to have the confidence to see the work you do as special and important.”
“Something else I’ve learned is that details count. Details in your market stall presentation, in the execution of your work and it’s packaging, in bookkeeping and business and above all in customer service. There is nothing more powerful than simply remembering someone’s name. I feel I still have a lot to figure out and learn in the handmade business world but that’s all part of the fun.”
Sechy : What has been the highlight of your journey so far?
“There have been so many ups and downs as is to be expected. I thought the highlight was the new life that has been breathed into the business in the form of the new collection but nothing can compare to the overwhelming nature of reading an email that reads ‘Successful Brisbane Finders Keepers A/W 2015 Application’. In this tiny email headline was five years of very hard work and highs and lows felt worth it and several hours of hysterical laugh-crying ensued. Even though it hasn’t happened yet, I am already so happy with the work that has been created for July’s Brisbane Finders Keepers market that this will remain the highlight for quite some time.”
Sechy: What do you see as the future for Winnifreds Daughter?
“I was once imparted a small piece of advice from my dear friend Kim, during one of our arty chats. We were discussing what it takes to make a real go of it with art and handmade. She simply said “Jess, just keep doing the work”. Nothing has resonated with me stronger than those few words and I find myself repeating them daily. While people like what I do, while I keep meeting wonderful people and while I am able to keep creating and making things…then this is all I can really ask for the future of Winnifreds.”
I encourage you to check out Winnifreds Daughter on Facebook where you can often find lots of interesting and inspirational content, check out her online Etsy shop or keep your eyes open at the markets around Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The next market is Finders Keepers in Brisbane on the 4 – 5th of July and Jess has told me she has LOADS of new creations in store. It is guaranteed to be huge!
Do you have an Etsy store or have you been considering starting one?
I would love to know what you are creating in your spare time so share your story below. I love nothing more than discovering and supporting artists and designers. 🙂