We’re feeling nostalgic after checking out our interview with you back in 2011 here. Tell us how you’ve evolved as a label since then?
Such huge changes since then! I suppose the main one is the evolution of Soft Stories, my collaboration with Isobel Knowles. We make books for children (Owl Know How, Too Much for Turtle) and art installations as well as running workshops.
I’ve also explored the storytelling aspect of my personal work, making exhibitions and books based on stories and fun how-to guides with my characters as demonstrators. I really just felt like I needed to do more with my characters, instead of making them and sending them off straight away before their stories were heard.
What has been some highlights for Cat Rabbit since then?
A huge highlight for me was the chance to design and create a permanent installation for a junior girls school. I worked from the theme of ‘Literary Kittens’, referencing important female characters and authors (for example Anne of Green Gables and Beatrix Potter) and presenting them as cats. I designed the space to look like an old library, with portraits of the kittens on the wall, shelves full of felt books, felt pot plants and even a little felt taxidermy owl. It was amazing to have the freedom to so fully realise a body of work, and to have it shown permanently in a space where young girls are aspiring to learn and read is a great honour.
How much time a week do you dedicate to your label and what does a typical day working involve for you?
The time ebbs and flows – as in all small businesses some weeks are busier than others. As much as I have tried doing a 9-5 work day, it just doesn’t work for me – I find it’s very hard to work creatively that way.
I like to work into the evening and at night, and sometimes early mornings are good too – there are less distractions in these pockets of time. I usually get up and have a good breakfast (nothing good happens if I don’t have a good breakfast) and then go about emails, packaging orders and admin type duties. After lunch I get into the sewing and creating side of things – much easier to do when you don’t have a bunch of unanswered emails hanging over your head!
What would be one piece of advice you would give a first time seller at The Finders Keepers?
Employ a nice supportive friend to be your assistant for the weekend! There are practical reasons: they can cover you for toilet breaks + you don’t have to try and stuff food into your mouth when no-one’s looking.
But then there’s the emotional side – chances are you’ve been holed up in your studio all day and night preparing for this event, not seeing the sun let alone conversing with actual people. This vampiric lifestyle does nothing for your social skills, so it’s good to have a friendly face on hand to help ease you in to the real world again.
What goals do you have for your business over the next five years?
More stories! I want to explore more storytelling mediums with my characters – such as animation and comic-style books. It’s also fun to see how I can extend these storytelling elements into handmade merchandise for markets and my online store.