anita chew, knitting machine

Textile Translation: Leaf Cover

It's possible and necessary to use the same inspiration to create different knit outcomes. By using different techniques and yarns you can end up with a completely alternate swatch or ones that can sit together within a range.

Over the next few weeks we'll look at different outcomes from the same inspiration. Like this one, which the inspiration of, has been posted before. 

INSPIRATION: Hand painted croquis

INSPIRATION: Hand painted croquis

OUTCOME: Two colour Shima knit

OUTCOME: Two colour Shima knit

anita chew, handmade, knit

TT: Fashion Illustration

Textile inspiration can start with anything really. But normally, for me, it begins with either an illustration, croquis (which is a small test pattern) or photo. Illustrations, especially fashion ones give a lot more information than the other options. This can be really helpful in deciding things like fibre, density of the fabric, and even how much detail may or may not be added. Like any form of design outcome (and probably like most things in life?) the more you know, the better off you are. 

INSPIRATION: Hand drawn fashion illustration

INSPIRATION: Hand drawn fashion illustration

OUTCOME: Lightweight silk with hand embroidered weaving in 

OUTCOME: Lightweight silk with hand embroidered weaving in 

anita chew, handmade knitwear australia

To Etsy or not

So this week I joined up to the Etsy Creative Courage Challenge. Which fingers crossed means that by the end of the challenge, in a month or so, I'll have my very own Etsy store. With products in it and everything. 

Initially I wasn't sure I'd use Etsy as a store front. I'd done a lot of reading in the lead up to launching my brand and I had read a few things that slightly put me off being a Etsy vendor. The research I found indicated that if you had the ability/resources to set up as your own online shopfront, then do it. It allows for a stronger brand identity.

The other thing I read that scared me a bit was people saying that for whatever reason Etsy had shut down their store. In that moment they realised that even though they thought they 'owned' their store, they really didn't. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there were circumstances that Etsy did what they thought was right in regards to a seller breaching contractual rights. But at the end of the day, Etsy has all the power. 

Recently though, I had been thinking about joining up. People were asking if they could find me there and with winter coming to an end here in Australia it makes sense to try and tap into a wider marketplace. Coincidently I saw that Etsy had just launched their Creative Courage Challenge so I signed up. I figure what's the worst thing that can happen, right? And to be honest they had me at ALTA PAPERCRAFT's awesome promo animation. 

AND THEN this morning  Pip Lincolne told me she thought I was a genius (see visual proof below)! So that's that, now I'm completely sold to this whole Etsy thing, add me to the list with the other 1.5 million sellers and let's see how we go. 

anita chew, knitwear, queensland

First market

So we (the knitting and I) stepped out into the world of retail at our very first market stall a few weekends ago. Not one to do things by halves, for some reason I decided that the first market we’d go off to was Finders Keepers in my home state of Queensland. With a crowd of over ten thousand people expected, I found the experience overwhelmingly positive.

Probably the biggest surprise of the whole experience is that the actual retail sales over the weekend weren’t what I feel was the most successful part. Don’t get me wrong, making sales was excellent but there was so much more to it. It was interesting to gauge people’s responses to product and price, which gives you so much insight for development. It was amazing to get specific promotion from the Finders Keepers team and then visually see the flow on effect of that in social media numbers. And it was super exciting that a sale of a beanie on Saturday turned into a wholesale enquiry on Sunday.

Clearly, after just one market I’m no expert but here are my top three tips from a first time market stallholder to any other first time market stallholders out there:

1.     Build a team.
You’ll NEED your family and your mates. So don’t be coy when people offer to help. Just say yes, and then apologise to them later when they realise what they’ve let themselves in for. And if you’re lucky (like me) to have friends in the events hire and styling industries all the better. Make use of them, but be nice about it and promote them as the best stylists in the world. Best stylists in the world = The Styled Group.

2.     Talk to everyone and try and find your people.
Whether it’s customers or other vendors, you just never know where a conversation will lead. Other stallholders can offer great advice and the same goes for customers especially if they’re professional fields are things like marketing or pr. As for finding your people, it’s a matter of seeing where your target market is (mine, not so much in sunny Queensland), where your contemporaries are, and finding those people that ‘get’ what you’re doing. These will be the people that will help you move forward.

3.     Think about the logistics.  
We spent hours and hours and hours building a backdrop for the stall, which looked amazing but turned out wasn’t super practical. I didn’t think about the fact that other stallholders would be butted up to our space so it made it difficult to get to anything we had stored behind it. So I’d definitely think about different storage options and how to really maximise the space better.

But really if I could give any advice to someone who’s thinking about creating a market stall, it would be to just do it. For me, it was a really positive experience and something I’m looking forward to building on.