Do you come from a creative family?
I really do come from a creative family. Both my mother’s and father’s side of the family are creative, and good at making things with their hands: woodwork, painting, sewing, watercolor you name it!
Mum is very creative with pretty much everything she puts her hand to – sewing, embroidery, cooking jams and preserves and even painting when she was younger.
And Dad has an eye for colour and is great when it comes to wood or metalwork, he has also been fantastic when it has come to art projects... more on that in a moment! My sister is also very talented with free hand drawing in black and white.
How about you Mandy, were you creative as a child?
I learnt to sew at a really young age probably before I could reach the foot control. I would make things with the offcuts when my mum would make clothes.
I have always been interested in painting, jewellery and sewing and have always had various stashes of art supplies.
I learnt most of my skills through my family or have been self taught over the years.
In high school though - I got frustrated with myself easily because I didn’t learn “art skills” the traditional way, or it didn’t work the way I wanted it to.
There has been more than one instance where Mum has helped me finish Home Economics sewing projects, or my Dad has come to the rescue and helped me build a Junk sculpture out of recycled materials....
and between you and I –
Dad got an A+ for that one (not me!)
How would you describe your work?
Colourful! Lots of fun colour, and I’m hooked on the charcoal linen fabric, natural linens and denim. I'm also loving the geometric, or floral prints.
How has your work evolved since you started?
My product has had more definition, and my brand definition is probably the biggest change since Mandy Made began.
It sounds cliche, but I guess through art/sewing you get to learn more about yourself and understand your own personality, talents and I guess “what makes you, YOU”.
Being self taught, my skills and abilities have also been refined.
How did you start selling on Etsy?
I actually started selling handmade when I was in high school, I would make jewellery and sell my work on a stand at our local hairdresser who was so lovely and a huge support to me.
And with “Mandy Made” specifically, it started online through Etsy, and the same place most of us started – making for friends and family.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by making everyday life more organised.
Do you reduce, reuse, recycle as part of your creative process?
I’ve always made a point of using all my fabric scraps. In either smaller projects or jewellery.
Can you describe your workspace for us?
My workspace is in my spare room. It consists of 3 sewing machines and LOTS of fabric choices and is completely dedicated to Mandy Made:
production, stock, supplies and *ahem* my sewing LIFE.
It truly is more than a handmade business, or hobby. I could happily live in there... so long as there was coffee.
What is your favourite thing to make?
When I’m not making for Mandy Made, I really enjoy teaching myself new skills. For the last 12 months I have been teaching myself to make /sew clothes for myself. A slightly different skill set to handbags and accessories.
My favourite item for Mandy Made would have to be the “First Aid Clutch” love these little guys to bits.
How did your shop name come about?
My business name is a pretty self explanatory “Mandy Made” essentially meaning made by me, plus the alliteration makes it fun to say!
The tag line however is a bit of a play on words. It reads “handmade for Me and You” when you look at the Me and You it reads “Mandy”
Where do you see your creative journey taking you in the next 12 months?
Hopefully having the courage to try wholesale selling, and I’d love to try my hand at textile design / surface pattern design.
What’s your top tip to others wanting to break into the handmade/creative market?
If you can’t stop thinking about it... DO IT!
If it makes you happy... DO IT.
I thought about it giving it a go for about 7 years. It made me nervous but so excited. I didn’t want to have the regret of never giving it a go, and my only advice is to don’t try and do it all at once – add on little components in small manageable chunks.
Describe your typical creative day?
Creative day? .... Really it’s a creative moment, or a creative weekend.
I still work a full time job, I spend my weeknights editing photos and working on my online store / listing information, reading and doing any planning.
And my weekends are either spent with BrisStyle markets or in my creative workspace sewing when not spending time with the family or other commitments.
Do you have a favourite quote?
Quotes and positive affirmations can be something quite inspiring, of which I have many. So many fit our everyday or our creative lives. Here's a sample:
“just keep swimming” – Dory
“whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford
“Everything will be all right in the end, if its not all right, its not yet the end” - The best exotic marigold hotel
Do you like to listen to music or watch TV while creating?
Music + podcasts....
Music - I can't lie, I’m a sucker for Keith Urban while sewing. (Just don’t listen to my singing!)
Podcasts – I have many, but my top three that I Love, love, love, and won't miss, would be:
* create & thrive - great info and really inspirational and SO relatable
* she percolates - great girls, always a good laugh and interview some really creative people and even discuss everyday life
* elise gets crafty - love her interviewing style, and the subjects she talks about!
What is your favourite handmade item that you have bought?
I have many... also if I'm not making a gift, I generally try to purchase handmade.
My favourite items I've bought recently as a gift to someone, would be the little cement planters by “vessel and vine” or fudge from “I heart coffee, tea, fudge” - seriously good!
One item I would like to buy one day in the future is basically anything from “Hello Halsted Jewellery". If I can snap something up before it all sells out!
Where can we find you online?
How long have you been a member of brisstyle and what made you join?
Approximately 12 months. I participated in the Etsy pop up November 2014 and joined soon after as it was great to be involved and I felt it was a great community environment, everyone was encouraging and supportive.
How did you find out about BrisStyle?
Because I visited the city hall market one day when I was in the city, before I even had Mandy Made as a business.
Why do you craft Mandy?
SANITY! Honestly, that’s the short answer!
The long answer is – it’s a creative inspiration release.
I can’t sit still, and go a bit loopy if I don’t have the opportunity to do something creative.
Thank you so much Mandy for sharing your thoughts with us.
See you at the next BrisStyle market.