Hello! Today for the Inspiration column, we have Jacqueline telling us about her wonderful world of dolls, delicate floral designs and more! I especially adore the dolls she designs, which you can dress up and colour in. Her work brings me back to childhood when all a girl has to think about are dressing up her dolls, and buying more clothes and colouring books.. and lazy play days. (yes, that would sum up quite a large portion of my childhood days too, haha!) So when I found Jacqui’s work on instagram, I had to contact her to find out a bit more on her process. I really appreciate the fact that her work started off (and still very much is) a source of inspiration not only for her, but also for her children! Let’s hear what she has to say.
I am a 30 something, stay at home mum to three children. As a family, we have moved lots for my hubby’s work. This has meant that we have lived in quite rural isolating areas and I have been affected the most by this. Living away from friends and family and unable to really make a new social circle my children and our home really have been the focus of my life. As much as this is a blessing, I do struggle sometimes; feeling very much like Jacqui has just ceased and the Mummy has just been autopilot mode for all of these years. So, desperate to have a bit of ‘me’ back and to get back to a talent that I didn’t want to waste, I started ABOEdesigns.
I love your lovely dress up dolls and all your products really (bunnies, florals and all)! What got you started in making them?
My youngest was a tiny baby when I started ABOE. I had made lots of things for her and her room; just like I did with my other children. I always had other mothers asking me how I made these items and it seemed obvious to me to create products to encourage crafting and make the process seem less daunting and more fun to do. I began selling baby shower kits. Beautiful bespoke boxes filled with all the goodies needed to create unique decorated onesies. These pieces made such thoughtful keepsakes for little ones. I created example vests to show what the kits could create and to my surprise found the vests in demand too.
Wanting to create pieces to encourage crafting in all ages – and of course because I have three children I was also toying with a kit for the older girlies. It was after my eldest daughter was bought a gorgeous paperdolls set that the #colourcouturedolls became a strong idea! My daughter spent ages beautifully colouring the outfits. But her stubbornness wouldn’t allow my help and on cutting the pieces out there were accidents followed by tears 🙁 The outfits that did survive didn’t last long with the card ending bent or ruined somehow. So my daughter genuinely completely inspired the colourcouturedolls! It was producing something that she wanted to play with that wasn’t available.
What was the hardest (and easiest) part while starting your business?
My work starts in the evenings when the littles are sleeping. Sometimes this can get frustrating, especially when I have lots of orders. I also panic sometimes because my family does come first and should one of my littles get poorly it means everything stops while I naturally dedicate myself to them.
I’m not sure I could describe any part as easy – well the coming up with ideas, what’s that saying “too many ideas, too little time!!”
What makes you the happiest in your creative process?
The dolls and the dresses took over a year to perfect! I never imagined it would take that long; but I am a perfectionist! I draw every part of the dolls and their outfits. Including the prints for the dresses and even creating the dolls dress pattern myself. They really are made with such care and attention to detail. I find these initial stages my favourite! I like designing and drawing and I could sit and draw florals for hours; but as much as I love this part I cannot described the feeling of accomplishment on seeing all the finished components together – each time I package a doll I cannot help but smile!
How do you balance your creative business along with regular life?
I enjoy the balance I have created in our lives now. On a daily basis I do all of the usual Mummy duties, the house hold chores, the school runs and play dates etc. Two of my children are at school and I have only my youngest at home with me now. On days that she is happily playing I can package orders, or do some sketches but if she doesn’t want me to then I don’t get to do any work. I get to be in ABOE mode when the littles are all sleeping.
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
While my youngest is still at home I will continue to grow ABOEdesigns. I’m uncertain what the future holds. My studies were in contour fashion (lingerie design) and surface pattern design; so I will always be doing something creative this is where my passion lies and I just love drawing and designing. Thanks to Instagram I have also developed my love for styling and photography and have had some product photography jobs, which I really enjoyed! ABOE designs is A Bit Of Everything! So I really am keen to develop and open to new avenues and ideas.
What motivates and inspires you the most?
ABOE began completely inspired by my children and my life with them and I’m proud of that creative detour. In the future I might return to what I know best. Although saying that, at the moment my current inspiration really is the wedding industry! Since eloping with my Hubby I cannot stop ‘pinning’ wedding themes and inspirations! I’m very keen to produce pieces for such special occasions and I have a major crush on tulle!! I think I’d be very well suited to this industry; quite often describing myself as ‘unashamedly girlie’ – a true lover of all things blush, letterpressed, gold foiling and of course peonies……just screams wedding doesn’t it 😉
How long has making and designing been your hobby? How did you think you could convert your hobby into a business?
I have always been artistic. Never one to have phases of this career path or another it has just always been design that I have wanted to follow. I found my niche – lingerie when I was 16. However I found studying in the fashion sector very hard, it is an environment that very few thrive in and I preferred the free and messy art side of print and textiles. I don’t think for one second I ever had the arrogance enough to say im starting this business and it’s going to make it and be fantastic! I am simply a Mum who wants the enjoyment of creating and making and if I can earn a small income whilst staying at home with my babies then that’s just amazing and more than enough…for now 😉
What’s your favourite food, colour and flower?
I am a chocoholic!! I cannot resist chocolate and am constantly on a diet as a consequence!! Blush is my favourite colour and peonies are my favourite flowers; I cannot resist all those ruffles!
Could you share some advice for people trying to start a business?
After just two months of launching ABOEdesigns I received an email from a lovely company called Belle and Boo, announcing the launch of their Boo-tique. Where they collaborated with other designers to create new Belle and Boo inspired handmade pieces. I couldn’t help but send them an email and ask if they would consider a collaboration with my baby shower boxes! This would be my first piece of advice to any other start ups – be brave!! You never know until you try! To my delight they loved the boxes and a special edition was created and is still currently for sale on their website www.belleandboo.com.
I launched the colour couture dolls in July and the response has been amazing! The colour-in products have completely surpassed the baby products which I have now had to stop doing in order to keep up with demand for the new products. My second piece of advice would be don’t be afraid to evolve! My initial products becoming part of a very saturated market meant it was actually exciting for me to concentrate on the new unique products!
Another piece of advice is to be open and honest with your customers if you are able. Thanks to social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter it is possible for people to get to know you, the person/the mummy behind the makes and not just your products and I think people would be pleasantly surprised at how much customers can be supportive and understanding!! The Instagram community in particular being my favourite and most supportive!