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madeit designer spotlight Zuri

Tell us a bit about yourself

Hi! I'm Holly, wife of an Air Force Engineering Officer and mumma to three babes, Zane (8), Zuri (5) and Fox (1). I'm an Oxford-born, Australian bred chick hailing from the West Coast (Perth!) Our Defence lifestyle means we move every 4-6 years so we are currently stationed in very cold Canberra! In fact it snowed this week in the 'burbs!

madeit designer spotlight Zuri

Can you explain your craft/art and the material you like to use?

Since 2012, I'm a modern jeweller of polymer clay.

I also occasionally source bamboo laser cut shapes and paint them. I'm currently enjoying creating bohemian gemstone style jewels, most recently designing the first clay-made Druzy....the Cluzy!

Creating Scandinavian inspired pieces with different textures and natural shades of clay like concrete, stone, timber and granite. Also in the past I've designed my own hand drawn shrink plastic earrings.

Where do you get your inspiration and what is your creative process?

I have a very creative mind so I find inspiration in everything I see. I'm a die-hard lover of particular colours which I always return to even after trends have come and gone. (ie: Black is the new Black!) I strongly believe metallics are everlasting so I can always be counted on to have gold somewhere within most designs! The current Copper trend suits me to a T! Pastels have also found a way back into my heart along with textured clay like granite and marble, plus I recently discovered gemstone style clay and once baked, it's translucent glisten is exquisite.

My creative process is pretty simple, I sit down, I pick a colour, and I start rolling! My husband says I should streamline my designs to be easily recreated and make life easier with children, but I very quickly find it a creative 'death' and fall back into my random ways! It makes me happy to sit and let the designs fall into place. No pressure. Just fun.

How long have you been creating and how did you get into craft/art?

When my daughter was born in 2009, I had a little love for fabric button hair ties but couldn't find really unique ones so I went browsing for luscious fabrics. I stumbled across the most exotic peacock fabric with lashes of metallic gold detail and they made thee most amazing buttons! I wanted to share them with other mums and decided to open my own store on madeit! For many months after I had so much fun buying swatches of gorgeous unique fabrics, probably too eclectic for most tastes!

Like most creatives I've been interested and good at art since school. When in year 12 (college) I won first place for a clay sculpture at the local Easter Show (and was given the award by the Mayor!) so I knew I could be quite good with clay and once I started experimenting with it, I was hooked. My daughter had grown out of buttons but my thirst for handmade design was raging! So Zuri clay jewellery was 'born'.

How did you come up with your business name?

Pretty straight up and similar to a lot of hand made business'! My daughters name is Zuri which means 'beautiful' in Swahili and the peacock fabric buttons I had so much love for, were indeed incredibly beautiful, and so is my daughter :)

What resources 'have or do you' use to help your creative pursuits (i.e. groups, classes, shops, websites etc)?

I love to spend time browsing the Internet at night looking for new supplies that inspire me. I also love looking at fabric even though I don't sew and have been known to buy fat quarters simply because the fabric appeals to me so much! I have a bunch of go-to sites for such supplies including madeit sister site craftumi :)

But mainly I find my own path, following my 'creative heart' and always allowing my designs to develop naturally year after year as my skill becomes more refined. I try not to expose myself to other clay designers and 'taint' my mind to ideas or colour combos that can't be un-seen.

What's your best advice for someone starting up?

I cannot express enough how much it takes time for most new business'. Years even. I am a little guilty of thinking once I opened a shop, I would sell quite quickly and that's not from being ignorant of the hard work it takes, it was because I was excited with no knowledge at all about hand made from a sellers perspective. I quickly learned and now have hindsight to see its constant work. When sales would lull, I know it's because I became busy elsewhere in my life or designs were lacking. So I would then work harder on it. Promoting, designing and pumping out those jewels! Then I would sell.

I think the most important thing, is that for me, the success part has never worried me because regardless, I love what I do. I make jewellery because I love to. I wouldn't quit if people didn't buy, then it's me who's lost?

I would just do something different and keep creating until I found the right design that tickled people's fancy.

Do you have any advertising/promotion tips for sellers to be successful?

Promote via Instagram daily. Several times daily. Make it your best friend. Be creative. Don't be afraid to share images (legally!) of things that inspire you and give people an insight into your life and tastes. You might lose followers here and there for posting 3 times a day, but you'll gain lots more. People love Instagram, it's a visual online shopping Mecca. But it's also important to stay grounded, it's a tool only.

Facebook is still a good way to interact with those likers who remain connected to Facebook. I post once a week or so.

Become involved within the hand made community. Join groups, attend markets, chat online. There is a whole world of awesome talented people there to enjoy creative energy with and this is also how we become known!

Advertising within madeit also gets your product noticed and providing your photography is spot on, helps get you into front pages and newsletters.

Can you share any lessons that you have learned the hard way?

To make sure I don't forget a whole tray of pieces, painstakingly and lovingly designed and made over a few days, are in the oven!!!!! (That was just a little devastating!) I've also realised my oven timer is not louder than my family so I only bake during quiet periods so I can hear it and it's not left to burn to a crisp.

What do you like to do besides creating?

I'm a stay at home mum so I love to be at home with my children, raising them, nurturing them. I love to bake and keep our house tidy. Call me crazy, it gives me pleasure! We are also big campers and adventures, we love to hit the beach as often as we can. Which is hard when you live in Canberra.

What is your favourite music, television show, film, book, website, phone app?

Music: Flume, Coldplay, Chet Faker, Peking Duk (then there's the oldies I was raised on, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin!)

TV show: I am a serious TV show buff! (I dig loads of foreign shows like The Killing) I'd be hard-pressed to pick an absolute favourite between True Detective and Sex & The City. Plus Game of Thrones and Mad Men. And I love period TV shows like Downton Abbey

Film: Stealing Beauty, The Abyss, The'Burbs!

Book: I love reading but my book collection is pathetic. I don't have the energy for anything deep so I'm into light hearted reading like chick lit and Mills & Boon!!

Phone app: Instagram obvs, Pinterest, houzz

Website: Madeit, craftumi, eBay, My lovely little lunchbox

What would be your perfect day?

A secluded tropical beach with shallow crystal clear water, blue rock pools, a perfect 28C, a neverending PiƱa Colada, reading 50 shades of Grey and a foot massage from hubby! The kids would be building sandcastles. And for dinner a crispy pork belly and apple coleslaw before snuggling up all together in our lovely big, dry warm tent! Not too much to ask for right?!

Who is one of your favourite madeit seller, explain why in less than 10 words?

Sunhaze - Lana from Sunhaze is my all-time favourite seller. She clothes my whole family! Is always available for custom designs and not only is she talented, she's a wonderful and caring girl!

18 August 2015

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