Friday, 25 October 2013

Rosa & Clara Designs

It's Follow Friday!

Jessica Haymen is the designer and maker behind Rosa & Clara Designs, a British-made homewares and paper goods company. Each product is carefully made by Jessica from hand-drawn to designing to hand printing to making. If the product is digitally printed Jessica makes sure she uses a UK based company to keep her company truly British.

You can also find Jessica on Facebook and twitter @RosaClaraDesign. Jessica also sells her products through and Etsy.

Have you always wanted to be a designer? 

I did always love art at school but I think I didn't really imagine it could lead to an actual job.  I set up a small handmade card business during a gap year, which was a lot of fun, but I ended up studying law and working as a solicitor for ten years.

Tell us a bit more about 'Rosa and Clara Designs.'
After I had my two girls (yes, Rosa and Clara!), I really felt inspired to get back to the creative life and to set up my own business.  

How have you got to where you are now?

I am still very much starting out.  I began by doing some local markets (I still have a stall at the Artisans' Market at West Norwood's Feast, a really lovely and well curated monthly market). Initially, I was making lampshades and cushions, using Liberty prints and other fabrics, but I always planned to use my own textile designs.  I have recently launched a new range of homewares and paper goods, using entirely my own designs.  There is a mix of handmade and manufactured products.  I love screen printing and hand print smaller items, but I also love the endless design possibilities offered by digital printing, so I use digital printers for my lampshade fabric, cards and notebooks.

What's the next step for 'Rosa and Clara Designs'?

The next couple of months are pretty significant as Rosa & Clara Designs will be exhibiting at some big shows - the East London Design Show at the Truman Brewery and Handmade Christmas at the O2 - and our products have also been selected by Handmade in Britain to appear at their pop up shop in the Christmas Arcade at Somerset House.  We are also launching our Not on the High Street Shop.

What inspires you?

I love mid-century design, architecture (especially Georgian townhouses!) and pottering around flea markets, and these influences are reflected in many of my designs.  My six year old, Rosa, is also a source of inspiration.  She is really creative and I love her completely uninhibited approach to colour and pattern - I am often tempted to nick her designs!

What motivates you?
Motivation is never a problem!  I love what I do and in order to keep doing it, I need to make a success of the business.  So that keeps me going when I am burning the midnight oil. 
What do you enjoy most about being a designer?

It's incredibly satisfying when you see one of your own designs on a finished product.
Do you have a favourite design that you have created?

That's a bit like choosing a favourite child, but I might go for my 'spice jars' design, which has a retro feel and features on a tea towel and a coaster.  Or maybe my 'South London' design, which appears on cards and coasters - it was inspired by the Georgian townhouses in Camberwell and the pie shops and pawnbrokers of Peckham.
What is your typical day like?
At the moment, I am in a pre-Christmas frenzy and am very busy making stock.  I'm packaging products, screen printing and sewing Christmas decorations and lavender birds/butterflies, interspersed with trying to keep on top of marketing and admin.  In the New Year I should have more time for working on new designs. 
What medias do you like to use?

My designs always start out as hand drawn illustrations, using my trusty Uni Pin fine line pens.  I then scan drawings and digitally manipulate them, playing with colour as I go.
Do you get a lot of support from family and friends?
I couldn't do it without them!  I have had a lot of help, with childcare and helping out at events, not to mention listening to me witter on endlessly about designs and plans for the business!  Plus my website is all down to my IT consultant, AKA my other half. 

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time?
I would love Rosa & Clara Designs to be well established, with an expanded range of homewares.  I plan to keep using British manufacturers and suppliers, although that will no doubt be a challenge in terms of keeping prices competitive.  I also hope to be in a position to license designs - I will be spending more time on developing a portfolio of patterns next year.
Do you have a favourite designer?
I would have to go for a textile designer who was working in the 1950s - Lucienne Day's work is amazing, of course, and I love Jacqueline Groag and Marion Mahler's designs as well.
Favourite blog?
There are so many, but two that I come back to constantly are Confessions of a Design Geek and Print & Pattern.
Favourite design book?
Can I choose a series of books?  I love the "V & A Pattern" series, with its beautiful images of patterns, especially the edition focusing on the 1950s.

Thank you for your time Jessica, I really appreciate it. 

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