FK chats with lovely lady Jodie Etchells about her accessories label, Whiskers Lane
Tell us a little about your label, Whiskers Lane.
Having grown up in a crafty household I think creating was in my blood from a young age. After years of dreaming and planning, Whiskers Lane was finally born in 2010. What began as a one woman show has grown, and now my lovely mother Tricia has joined the team. She is truly an inspiration, and taught me everything I know. If you have a crafty question Tricia is one of those ladies that either knows how to make it, has done it before, or will find a way! Tricia is the crochet & ceramic Queen at Whiskers Lane. She hand pours and glazes all of our ceramics and crochets all the teapot cosies. I (Jodie) make all the jewellery and accessories; and hand-pour the teacup candles. We use only vintage and pre-loved fabrics, doilies, and teacups, and our candle wax is soy so I like to think we are a little eco-friendly. It’s all about mixing old with new and adding a dash of whiskered love.
Tea, cats, sewing… can you tell us more about your creative process and surroundings?
I don’t have a set creative process but usually an idea or design will come to me when I least expect it. I find if I try to sit down and plan new designs they don’t usually work out. Depending on what I’m working on sometimes I’ll start a design with the fabric or sometimes I’ll sketch it first. I never follow the rules. Sometimes I make my own technique up and mum will tell me later “you could have done it like this”.
I work from home where my spare room has merged into the “Whiskers Studio”. The room is decorated with an antique desk that I restored myself, vintage plate wall hangings and cute wooden shelves housing ornaments. Most days my cheeky cat joins me on the window sill whilst I sew and sip tea. Most people find it hard to believe that I actually pour the candles in my kitchen! It’s definitely a very homemade environment and I kind of love that. Tricia pours the ceramics in her own home studio and she also has whiskered feline friends for inspiration.
Where do you draw inspiration from for Whiskers Lane?
We both have a love for vintage items and old world crafting techniques so often an old piece of fabric, embroidery, children’s story books or ornaments contribute to our designs. There is also a strong influence from whiskered animals in my embroidery, hence the name. I really love to bring pre-loved pieces to life. All the teacups are vintage and it’s nice to see them used in a different way. My great-Aunt passed a lot of vintage fabrics & embroidered doilies onto me and I was inspired to give them a new lease of life rather than letting them collect dust in the cupboard. I believe creativity is genetic, and can be passed down through the generations. Both of my grandmothers were amazing at sewing, embroidery and crochet. I would hate to see old crafting techniques fade away, which definitely gives us the drive to keep creating modern designs whilst still incorporating the techniques of older times.
What advice would you give to other small labels about finding stockists and getting your label out there?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and approach stockists. I think some labels sit around waiting to be “discovered’. About 80% of my stockists I have approached myself and mostly not even in person. I have found emailing stockists to be really quite successful. Don’t just find a whole bunch of shops you love and send out a group email. I’m talking about really researching the type of stores your product suits and finding out whether they already stock a product similar to yours. Find out about the company and be interested in their business.
What have been some valuable lessons you have learnt since starting?
Don’t always expect things to go as planned. Whiskers Lane almost began as a fashion label and look at us now! Being prepared is a big one. I think I underestimate how long some of my designs can take, particularly in the busy times, in the lead up to markets or Christmas. In the end, I feel it comes down to always doing what you love and creating what makes you happy.
What can we expect from Whiskers Lane in 2012?
We will be trying new markets – possibly outside of Sydney this year. We have a few new stockists on the cards – hopefully reaching other states we haven’t yet explored. We will be experimenting with new products we haven’t tried before. We will be incorporating some new mediums and techniques. Think along the same lines as embroidery and crochet.
As always, hunting down beautiful vintage fabrics & teacups is inevitable. A personal trip to Europe for me may bring new inspiration into my designs at the end of the year and also I may sneak a few special vintage fabric finds into my backpack for you all.