Sunday, 3 April 2016

March Meet The Maker: In Pictures

I was really excited to discover the #MarchMeetTheMaker challenge over on Instagram last month.
It was exactly what I needed to keep the creative bits of my brain ticking over through a month of commuting to London (though admittedly even a daily instagram pic became a bit of an ask some weeks!).

Initiated by Johanne Hawker, the challenge was a simple way for makers to tell their small business's story via a picture a day.
It was lovely to be able to reflect back on all things FLW as well as discovering many, many great makers and indie shops.

Take a look for yourself and search #marchemeetthemaker , there's plenty to see!

Now the challenge is over I've decided to move the pics over here as a little reminder. 
(The original list of prompts is below!)



1. Brand Image : 

Four Little Walls has had a few different looks so far. The early ones were things I bodged together on a very old laptop before the lovely Kendra Grey came to the rescue with my logo (will share separately!) At the end of last year I had a bit of a tweak with fourlittlewalls.com so everything's a but cleaner and using my fave colours of a dusty rose pink and grey.
My little logo lives on over on the blog as I can't part with it yet! 


2. You:

Day 2 of #meetthemakertheme is you, well actually, me, but you get the drift!
So, I'm Kat, I'm 29, currently splitting my weeks between Kent and London.
I've been obsessed with all things mini since my first job at 14 in a local doll's house shop.
I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up (other than boss lady at Four Little Walls) and I really like gin.
I have a separate IG account for non-dollshouse related bits, if small animals and drunken selfies are your bag then by all means join me! πŸ˜‚ @katpicot 
That handsome, furry face is Bracken, he only likes dollshouses to chew on.


3. Workspace:

Im lucky enough to have very understanding parents who have allowed me to take over their attic with tiny houses and furniture while I'm staying at their's again! πŸ˜‚
That's where the messy, painty, gluey bits happen.
Everything else is on the Mac or the phone.
Maybe one day there'll be a little office/ shop space but for now, this is pretty good. 


4. Tools:

Here are a few of my essentials.
The great thing about mini's and dollshouses is that you pretty much get to create anything and everything, just smaller.
These are my current faves, I would not be without #modpodge , chalk paint, my pretty and practical hammer and a flat head screw driver.



5. Can't live without:

It's literally these 3 things.
The phone, tragically, is never really out of my reach. The diary is for important dates and detail planning ( and a back up for if the worst happened and I lost the damn phone!) and the calendar is my week to view, mostly for sheet term things to remember/ order.
Important lesson here is that these only work if I remember to actually look at/ use them!


6. Raw Materials:

Well that would have to be one of these babies!
What's more exciting than a brand new, un decorated dolls'house ? Umm nothing. (I'll tell you a secret, re-decorating existing, built dollshouse's is actually really tricky, fiddly and generally makes me swear a lot! The results are , most of the time, worth the effort which is the silver lining but I'd take a blank canvas over one that needs scraping, stripping sanding and general vandalising any day! ) 


7. How & Why:

This one was hard! πŸ˜‚
The how of having a doll's house business, well I'm still working on that! But FLW started as a blog, I did an enterprise course with the Princes Trust and just started making/ blogging mini's and houses that I really loved.
The why?
Well, I love mini things, I love making mini things and seeing those little pieces go off to new homes. That and I'm still basically 7 so will continue to do anything that means I get to play and call it work.


8. Home:

Home!
Since starting up FLW home has taken on a few different forms, born in my tiny, freezing studio in Brighton, then to Kent, to East London, North London, now back to Kent for a little while! 
With the odd fair thrown in for good measure, usually in Sussex, Kent or London, these mini's and I have clocked up a few miles in the last 4 years! 




9. Goals:

So many!
Ultimately I would love a bricks and mortar store, a thriving online empire and some creative side projects on the go at all times.
(A lottery win would really help! πŸ’ΈπŸ’Έ)
For the short term, the goal is to keep going and aim for at least X 4 fairs this year. (One down! Our next one is in Ashford, June 26th) 
Image found on Pinterest via Craft Projects.


10.

This was tough as there are SOO many, especially here on IG, but here's my top 3.
(In no particular order because I love them all the same!)
The miniature baking QUEEN. All hail@kimsminibakery . Those teeny tiny crumbs, the frosting. Oh my. Kim has an Etsy store that will leave you craving real life cup cakes in a matter of seconds.

Next up, the @blogtacular girls. I attended Blogtacular 2015, it was hands down the best money I've ever spent. Better for my soul and sanity than any spa break and just the biggest dose of creative, inspirational awesomeness I could have hoped for. If you're not close enough to attend there's pod casts and IG goodness for you to get in on the fun! πŸ™ŒπŸ»
Last but most certainly not least,@blockdesign, their peg boards have revolutionised my desk. (Who doesn't want to hang mini sofas on their office wall?! And covet pretty much everything in their range. 


11. Post Run:

Well, here's a couple of snaps of customer orders on their way to new homes.
There's not much that beats seeing FLW mini's with their new owners so I hope it's as much of a thrill for customers to revive their little orders as it is for me to send them. 


12. First Sale:

My first ever sale was over on #Etsy, March 2012. Nearly 4 years to the day. 😊
It was this little plate of French Fancies and I could not have been more excited ! 



13. Feedback:

It's so lovely to hear back from customers.
Especially when you've worked hard on those little items!
The majority of my feedback comes through social media (there is a review / rating feature in fourlittlewalls.com but it's a bit easy to miss! )
#Etsy of course makes it super easy to give feedback in a clear and constructive way so there's that extra reassurance for future customers + you get to display them like little badges of honour.


14. Creative Friends:

I'm excited to introduce you to these two beauts.
We have pretty much known each other since playgroup (kindergarten if you're reading across the pond! ☺️) and I love keeping up with their creative endeavours!
First up, the lovely @charlenehudson , make up artist extraordinaire . This lady can transform you into blushing bride, pin up girl, and perhaps provide a gory flesh wound if that's the look you're going for!
Give her some love if MUA's, tea and crazy cool, special-effect make up is your bag. πŸ™ŒπŸ»πŸ’„☕️
Next up, @lettuce_eat_veg . Aka, Jess.
This girl has been my wing woman since the dawn of fricking time!
Jess is a veggie born and raised, has a big love of good food. Also good looking food.
If you're looking for clean, cruelty free recipes she's your girl.
Another current project is a teeny bun in her proverbial oven so expect the food to be interspersed with adorable baby spam September 2016! πŸ‘ΆπŸΌπŸŒΆπŸŽπŸ‰πŸ‘πŸŒ½πŸπŸ‡πŸπŸ πŸŠπŸ“πŸ…πŸ‹πŸˆπŸ†


15. Inspiration:

I am inspired by so many makers, designers and styles for my mini's. (Wether I actually get around to making half of it is another issue though!) but one enduring source that never fails to take my breath away is the work of miniature artisans Mulvany and Rogers. 
The power couple of the miniature world if you will.
Their book, Magnificent Miniatures is available through Amazon, showcasing 25 yrs of craftsmanship.
Their work really is something else.
One of my top faves is this Miss Haversham inspired room. The detail is just πŸ™ŒπŸ»πŸ™ˆ❤️.


16. Time to Relax

Frankly, there is no place I love more in the world than my bed. 
Sleep has become super important with a 60hr commuting/ working week (currently getting the better of me hence it's all a bit quiet on the dolls house front!) I'm usually out as soon as my head hits the pillow but keep a #thisworks deep sleep spray by the bed to help lull me off! 



17. Photography:

In an ideal world I would take my product and styled up snaps in streams of glorious, natural, bright light.
But I live in the UK, where, today alone, we've had at least 4 different types of weather in 2hours including a warning from the Met Office, blinding sunshine and a rainbow. 
So my faithful resources are;
1. iPhone. The camera and editing apps are so versatile now it makes it really easy for someone with zero photography skills (such as myself!) to take a decent snap!
Also the size is handy for doing interior shots of the houses!
2. For brightening a grey day. (There are some gloomy shots no amount of over exposure or filtering is going to make right!)
and making sure I get a bright, clean shot (particularly for the website product shots) , I swear by my @photojojo #foldio studio.
It's packed down flat in the picture here but it basically pops up into the best, portable studio complete with daylight LED strip. It's the best investment I've made in terms of equipment so far!


18. Shelfie:

Well, one day I hope to have a beautiful mini showroom with gorgeous, styled displays.
For now I will make do with my little selection of stock. Furniture favourites are kept on the shelves, front and centre. 
If I get stuck on a project I'll just go and stare at all these little bits for a while, usually something will pop into my head!


19. Helper

Well, there's been a few these past 4 years!
The logistics of getting a car load of miniatures, dollshouse's and all the STUFF that goes with having a stall for a day actually takes a lot of prep.
(Did I mention I can't drive and don't own a car?!)
I owe my parent s BIG time for the days we've spent out flogging dollshouses.
Sometimes out in the cold.
Sometimes in a heat wave. (Guess what, nobody buys dolls-houses in a heat wave!)
Early starts.
Late finishes.
Long journeys.
Then of course there's the build up to a fair.
The pricing.
The packaging. My little sister elves come in pretty handy there.
I'm lucky to have them and even luckier to have friends that visit, keep me company (and man the stall so you can have a loo break! πŸ˜‚πŸ™ŒπŸ»)
Here's some of my faves.
Top, @thefairytalefair at@brightonopenmarket photo booth.
(I let my Dad and Aunty off for half an hour so they took some selfies.)
Bottom is the ever fabulous @shardi_v and of course Mama FLW.
😍 x a billion.


20. Sketchbook

This is a bit of a cheat as I don't really sketch ideas as such. (And when I do it's on the back of a bank statement / invoice that's sitting on the side!)
I use Pinterest to sporadically pull blog post ideas together or find inspiration for new mini's. 



21. 

Well, day to day I'm currently scurrying around London in something black, juggling office temping roles.
If I'm out and about with the dollshouse's I like to have a hint of sparkle.
The top and shoes are Christmas stall faves! 


22 & 23 got tagged onto the end! See below.

24. Milestone

This year marks FLW's 4th birthday (January for the blog, July for the shop!) and I'm looking forward to celebrating.
Here's some snaps from the 1st birthday! We had a little garden party, it's was ridiculously hot and my over the top pouffy dress had to be replaced with something more breathable within an 45 mins! πŸ˜‚πŸ’—πŸ™ŒπŸ»


25. Packaging

It's still evolving but I'm aiming at striking a balance between pretty parcels that are a pleasure to receive and unwrap, not too pricey, protective enough for the little mini's and ideally, recyclable materials. 
Work in progress!


26. Colour & Texture

Colour wise, I guess I'd return to previous posts on the branding of FLW. We like white, rose/ chalk pinks and greys. A dash of sparkle here and there. But not in a bling sort of way.
As for texture, well I'm a big fan of embossed wallpapers, real wood floor and gorgeous fabrics for interiors but my old faithful favourite is the brick wall.
Obviously white brick is all the rage right now but I still have a lot of love for the red brick counterpart!
Here's the exterior of a FLW original house. The brickwork was hand stencilled on using plaster than sanded, before painting on shading and detail by hand, brick by brick. 
Labour intensive but totally worth it. 




27& 28. (Cheated!) Routine & Organised

This picture pretty much symbolises where I'm at with both of those right now. πŸ˜‚πŸ™ŒπŸ»
There's an art to striking a balance between life, creative endeavours and you know, money to finance the two of those things via various day / night jobs. 
I'm always in awe of those that have this stuff worked out and the endless work that goes into keeping a creative business ticking over! 


29. In Action:
This was actually a video so apologies for the naff pic!

Here's a little time lapse of me (or at least my hands!) bashing up a tiny kitchen counter. πŸ˜‚


30. Blogs or Books

So when I first started collecting/ making dollshouse's the Internet wasn't really a thing and there was certainly no Pinterest or IG to see what other people were getting up to with their doll's houses!
Instead I had these. 
A pile of musty, second hand books with plans, projects and a lot of black and white! I literally spent hours with them! πŸ˜‚
Thank goodness we're now spoiled for beautiful blogs and inspiring makers on IG, sharing their mini projects and houses for us all to admire. (I still can't part with the books though!) 


31. Customers:

Well, thanks to the wonder of Instagram I get to see a lot of FLW mini's being enjoyed in their super stylish new homes, all over the world, which honestly is the best !! πŸ™ŒπŸ»πŸ’—
Goes without saying that without my lovely customers FLW would not have made it into its 4th year so a huge great big smooch to you all.
Here's just a couple of snaps from the tiny homes of @lindsaysdollhouse and@littlefishcreationsaus styling up a storm with their mini interiors.



Slightly out of sync:


22. Best Seller

Well, you saucy lot, it has most definitely been this little number.
(Followed closely by the mini hot chocolate / coffee mugs!) 


23. Studio Playlist
  • It's true, I'm partial to a spot of gangsta rap, I also favour 90's everything, Netflix box sets (just so there's some background noise, something I've seen before so I don't get distracted!) and recently, have been very unsettled by the realisation that I might be becoming a #belieber πŸ˜‚πŸ™ŒπŸ»πŸŽ€


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