FK talks to Dominique Antos about her Brisbane based toy label, Esbert’s Collection
Tell us about Esbert’s Collection and how you got started?
I started in early 2010, I believe it was around time I discovered Etsy and I went WOW This stuff is amazing! It inspired me to start working on my own ideas. It took me a good couple of months to come up with a name, I eventually settled for Esbert’s Collection, a nickname my sister had given me when I was little. I sold my first plush at the Suitcase Rummage which had been held for youth week in April last year, it generated a lot on interest in my softies and from there I continued to grow and develop my work further.
What is your background in and how did it lead you to working with softies?
I have always been a creative person, I was lucky enough to grow up with a creative mum who was always making something and she encouraged us to always get involved. I have a Diploma in Multimedia and enjoy working in Photoshop and Illustrator which has turned me into a bit of a computer geek. Currently I am studying my Bachelors Degree in Nursing, I love the challenges it brings but I find that it is a non creative environment and making softies and working on my art is a way for me to keep sane, it gives me the opportunity to relax and forget about all the horrible exams and reports that need doing.
What do you love about having your own label? and what are some challenges?
I love the smiles it brings to people’s faces when they see my products. Some of the challenges have been trying to build my business while studying full time; some of my products can take up to 8 hours to put together as there is a lot of hand stitching involved so I do struggle to get larger quantities of my product made. I think one of the major blow backs I have experienced while selling at the markets is hearing the not so subtle whispers from people talking to their friends about how expensive the products for something they think only took 5 minutes to make, I have even had someone try and bargain me down on a $15 plush!, it can really be disheartening at times especially when you put so much hard work into making something.
What materials do you like working with, and what are your essential ‘tools of the trade’?
I love finding and using recycled and unwanted materials, I would live at reverse garbage if I could! I use a lot of felt and fur and lots of fabrics I find at op shops, there is always an endless supply of amazing fabrics at op shops its incredible. The essential tools I use is my Husqvarna Viking Sewing machine that I got for my 21st birthday from my mum, it’s the best. I also love my bamboo crochet hooks and my little mouse pin cousin that got half eaten by my dog Augustus.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I always carry a notebook with me in case inspiration strikes, it’s a mess of black and blue ink you would think I was a crazy person if you ever looked inside. I always find it helpful just to draw down my ideas no matter how overtly insane they could be. I have been inspired by many softie makers over the past 2 years; their work encourages me to keep working on and improving my own designs.
Where would you like to see Esbert’s Collection in the future?
I would like to see the business grow over the next couple of years, once I finish my studies I will be able to focus on building the Esbert’s Collection label. I still have a lot to learn and look forward to what the upcoming Brisbane Finders Keepers Market will bring.