Melbourne-based designer Suki McMaster is about to mark her 13th Finders Keepers event, spreading joy with her homewares, stationery, fabrics and more! This season, she joins the lineup with her friend and small biz cheerleader Beck from Fabric Drawer. You’ll find them side by side, selling their colourful creations at the Melbourne/Narrm Market this 7-9 July at the Royal Exhibition Building. Learn more about Suki’s creative expression and maker journey below.
What inspired you to start your brand?
I have loved drawing and making things since I was little. I was a very creative child, but growing up as an Asian kid, having a creative career is never an option. I didn’t know I could make this a business until we had broadband internet (the internet opened the world to me). I seriously started the business about eight years ago when I got fired from my job. I lost my job because I was bullied at work, and one day I told a workmate to F off, so I got fired. I was traumatised, and I started to draw to make myself feel better. At that time, I created a series of illustrations to make myself feel better, but later I found out many people found comfort in my drawing, so I decided to create a brand that makes people feel happy and content.
What did you do before you started your label?
I had been working in the medical field for a long time, from medical centre admin to hospital management. I’ve worked in places like radiology, dental, eye surgery etc. They are all very different from what I am doing now.
What’s the most special illustration you have created?
It’s difficult to choose because these are all my babies! The most special one is the platypus illustration. It was a platypus swimming in Great Barrier Reef. I know platypi don’t swim in the ocean, but that drawing is about the platypus bringing a love heart to the reef because our beautiful ocean has been badly polluted. This drawing means a lot to me because it makes me think of what we can do to make things better as a business and as a human. What’s the right thing to do so we can reduce waste and protect the ocean? And that leads to our reusable shopping bags and bamboo reusable cups collections.
What do you love most about being an artist?
The best thing about being an artist is when my artwork becomes part of people’s story. Most of the time, when people buy something from me, I’ll tell them the story behind the illustration, and then they take the products home or gift it to their friends, and suddenly they extend my story to become their story. It almost feels like people have adopted my babies, and knowing my babies are having wonderful lives around the world makes me very happy. I never want to create products/art as just an object. I always want them to mean something or others.
Tell us about your creative space. What’s your studio like?
My creative space is wherever my dog is; whether she’s in the study or on the couch, I’ll be there. I also have a little creative space at the warehouse where Daisy (my dog) doesn’t come. She hates the warehouse. That space is full of books, a sewing machine, fabrics, and paints. Everything that you can imagine a creative person needs, you can find it there.
This will be your 12th FK and your first as a buddy stall – what are you most excited about?
Is this my 12th?? Lol, I feel old already! Having a buddy stall with Beck from Fabric Drawer is super exciting because we’re each other’s cheerleaders. We chat online almost every day! Since our specialties are very different, she’s very experienced in licensing, while I have a lot of knowledge in wholesale and retail. So we kind of mentor each other all the time. Sharing a stall with Beck will be fun; we’ll collaborate together just for the Finders Keepers Market, so we’ll be cross-promoting each other’s work on socials, and hopefully, it will become something else for us together in the future!
What’s new for Finders Keepers this season?
I will bring a fabric collection to Finders Keepers in July, and if space allows, I hope to have some original paintings at the market too. I am in the process of using my fabric to make kids’ jackets at the moment, so fingers crossed they will be ready for the market!!