Leanne makes colourful scarves and wraps and other beautiful rainbow items and i hope you will enjoy reading about her experiences as much as i do!
•How did you get into making scarves and dying?
I have been using dyes for quite a few years now…all sorts of things from bedspreads to clothing, curtains …anything that needed a bit of colour always went into a dye bath or got painted in some way. I remember first doing the classic tye dye styles when I was a kid at school. I enjoy doing scarves and wraps because I use a style of dyeing that is more like painting and I can get some really smooth blends between the colours which then creates new colours…I love seeing what colours appear between colours.
•What did you do before?
LOL I have done so many things but my work before creating this business was and still is to some extent as a Colour Therapist. I taught Colour Therapy subjects for some time in a Natural Therapies college in Sydney whilst working as a Colour Therapy Practitioner and Colour Consultant.
•Tell us a bit about your work as a Colour Therapy practitioner!
Well working as a Colour Therapist is quite fascinating. My main focus is to help people understand themselves through the colours that they choose and then work with that for personal growth. My main tool is Aura Soma which is one of the most beautiful forms of Colour Therapy that I have found. I have also worked with Coloured Light Therapy and have seen some amazing results. I find that colour therapy helps bring what is in the subconscious into consciousness and once this occurs we can work towards a life of greater happiness and peace within ourselves…clear away the layers that we don’t even realize might be holding us back from living as we are truly meant to live.
•When did you know you could do your business full-time? What kind planning did you do before the jump?
I have set out from the beginning to work in my business fulltime. I am a single mother of two teenage girls and feel very strongly about being ‘here’ for them as much as possible. The best way I could see to do that and to keep us all happy was to firstly do something I love doing and secondly do it from home.
•Where do you sell your products, what venues work best for you and why?
I sell my products all over the place now. I have wholesale customers all over the world as well as in Australia. Etsy has been fantastic for helping me get my products out there. All my international wholesale accounts have come via Etsy.
I also have a website which I think has been another good venue for getting myself known. For a long time in the early days I did a lot of markets and festivals which also gave me a lot of exposure.
I am finding now that online marketing is really shifting and social sites such as Facebook and Twitter are pushing me out there even further and more quickly.
•How did you hear about Etsy?
I actually don’t remember…I have a feeling it was while I was researching keywords and things for my website…I think it was truly a case of stumbling onto it.
•Worst business mistake you made? What improvements were the most helpful?
This has been the biggest learning curve of my life and many little mistakes have occurred along the way and I am sure there will be many more to come! One of the biggest mistakes would probably have to be with consignment. I will never do consignment again. I think in the early stages I was so happy that someone was interested in my work that I just said yes…very messy and challenging. Now I am much more discerning about who gets my stock..after all these are my babies..my creations….I want them to be loved and cared for. I like to be able to offer exclusivity to my customers so I don’t sell to two shops in the same area.
•What advice can you give people who just started or thinking about going full-time?
My advice is…HAVE PATIENCE! You have to allow at least three years to build your business. Don’t expect to set up your shop and then instantly have a full time wage. Be prepared to learn a lot and if you possibly can afford it hand out the jobs that you really can’t do to someone who can. I get an accountant to do my tax and I am about to get someone to do my bookwork. I get my mother to do my banking when needed. I also pay for ironing if I am totally overloaded. In the beginning it is very tempting to work very long days…be careful of burn out. You still want to keep loving your work!
•How do you get yourself through a creative/business slump?
Unfortunately this does happen…I think if it didn’t we would combust. I used to fight against it…kicking and screaming….but that never worked. Now I just let it be…If I have slumped I need to acknowledge that. I know it will pass and often a slump precedes a burst of creativity and energy. It is not in my nature to accept slumps gracefully and I do find it quite difficult to stop the creative cogs turning. To combat that I write every thing, every idea or design down in my big red book of ideas. That helps me relax because I know the idea will be there for me to come back to and not lost in the ethers somewhere!
•How does a usual day look like? How do you manage your time?
My usual day starts at about 6.30 am. I am up and I usually have a couple of hours on the computer attending to emails etc. The kids go off to school at about 8am and once they are gone I have my breakfast in peace! I am usually down in my workshop by about 9am. I try to have at least 3-4 days a week in production and 1 day a week to catch up on all the other bits and pieces. I usually finish my day by about 3.30pm when the kids get home. When orders are really coming in I do often work until about 6pm. It can be a long day but it is usually very fulfilling. Working at home presents challenges in itself. It is very tempting to look around your home and see all the things that need attending to but I have to say to myself that I am at work and the house work can wait until later. One thing that is on my list for the near future is to get a cleaner in regularly.
•What kind of dyes/dying processes do you use? How does it work?
I use fibre reactive dyes which are dyes that penetrate well into the fibre and not just sit on top. This makes them quite colourfast and fade resistant. Mostly I use a painting method to apply the dyes although I love to experiment with all sorts of processes. I recently started playing with making dyes from the flowers barks and leaves from my garden and surrounds.
This has been very exciting with some lovely results although the dyes are not quite as colourfast and I can’t get such a wide range of colours this way.
I usually paint one day and rinse and dry the next morning and then paint some more. I use natural fabrics such as cotton, hemp, silk, linen and bamboo.
•Random Question: At the moment i like the colour yellow, what does that mean?
Well…yellow is an interesting colour. It is a colour that a lot of people like but don’t feel comfortable wearing. It deals a lot with working with your fears and searching for happiness in life. It is a colour that helps us build self confidence and a bright outlook on life. Nervousness and day to day fears reside within yellow. Choosing it as a favourite colour can mean that you are wanting to look towards life more optimistically and positively and are feeling a bit more outgoing and happy.
Thanks Leanne for doing this interview with me, it has been very interesting and enjoyable!
Follow Leanne on twitter, http://twitter.com/rainbowrev
and her blog http://rainbowrevolution.blogspot.com
and check out her website and Etsy shop here,