CHAT: NERIDA HANSEN

About a year ago a sweet friend messaged me and said, ‘have you heard of the agent, Nerida Hansen? I think your work would be a great fit for her’. I hadn’t previously believed my work would ‘fit’ anywhere. I don’t do the typical butterflies, love hearts and kitty cats that win wrapping paper competitions. I’m more the kind to include an ibis or a Hills Hoist – purely for the challenge… Anyway, I popped on over to Nerida’s website and I was obsessed. The artists’ work was fresh and vibrant, there were a host of styles and oh, the colour palettes and visual gymnastics…so much life! I dropped her an email immediately and the rest is history. Over the past year Nerida has become a friend and mentor and I’m so grateful for the way she advocates for us and pushes all of her artists to keep their work fresh and ahead of the pack. 

At recent trade shows Nerida’s clients have been blown away by the unique offering she brings to the landscape and I know even bigger things are coming for her agency. I decided to have a chat to figure out what it is that drives this UBER busy Mum of two, creative shepherd and powerhouse:

Tell us a bit about your background and where you first developed your interest in design/licensing?

I have always been interested in design, dabbled in fine art and dreamt of studying textile design, but none of that has eventuated – so far anyway.

After playing with my own small fashion label for a few years I landed a job as a buyer for a major retailer where I was purchasing for major licenses such as Disney, Warner Bros, Hello Kitty, Eric Carle etc. This introduced me to the world of licensing, which was really where my business today started. 

The long hours as a buyer  didn’t suit my family life at all,  so after I resigned I tracked down 2 designers from the USA and Sweden who I had been following on social media, and pitched their fabric collections to a manufacturer for Spotlight. They accepted the work and within months I was doing my first licensing deal as an Agent.

From the start I wanted to see more creative and independent designs on commercial products, and with such a homogenous retail landscape, it is what drives me today to not only represent artists, but educate retailers on the power of licensing and purchasing independent art. 

  Image by artis  t    Pattern People   ,   via Nerida's  instagram .
Image by artis t Pattern People ,  via Nerida’s instagram .

Would you consider yourself a creative person?

Absolutely, but I don’t dedicate the time to developing my creative self. With small children I find time management the biggest challenge in life – and I always choose beach time over any other creative pursuits. My creativity lends well to my business where I have to curate what I present, set up trade show booths and preparing files or presentations that clients are wowed by. 

  Nerida's Kids' booth at  Heimtextil.
Nerida’s Kids’ booth at Heimtextil.

How would you describe your job?

It is an interesting mix of administration, marketing, mentoring and design. There is no single approach when It comes to customer needs, and I need to try to be on top of who has what opportunities where, which ones are a priority and what preparation i have to do for meetings or phone calls coming up. In the past i have not had as much time, but now with 2 children in school I dedicate those school hours to working on this agency, and I am fine tuning all my processes to make marketing and sales a priority. I am also known to be up at 4am to catch up on some work:)

I have legal and financial administration, as well as many artists to mentor and talk through project and presentations with. All in all, it is a very exciting business, and I love every minute of it. But at the same time, it is a lot of hard work. Licensing is also a real the ebb and flow of income, so many hours are sometimes spent working towards something where you won’t see royalties for 6 months. In saying that, I am really starting to build on so many more projects and have been converting more sales, so I am looking forward to that becoming less of an issue.  

 What do you look for when considering whether to take on an artist (what makes a good design, collection and portfolio)?

The design aesthetic needs to be completely original and with a contemporary edge, which is what I want my agency to be known for. As far as skills and capabilities go, I look for technical expertise, and I love artists who can incorporate low and high tech – for example, someone who uses an interesting fine art approach like painting, etching, collage or screen printing, then has the skills to creating digital repeats out of it. For vector-based artists, I just want a unique look that is not something an in-house design team could achieve. It is so important to have a strong sense of colour, with a very good understanding of fashion and the importance of incorporating fashionable colours into your surface art. More and more I am finding buyers are drawn to pattern design because of colour, as much as they are the structure of the design. Even though in most cases they can change the colour to suit, they are buying it because it will sit right in with the collections they are building.

 

  Designs by  Danielle Kroll ,  Carolyn Suzuki ,  Anne Waters ,  Isa Form  and  Karma Voce .
Designs by Danielle Kroll ,  Carolyn Suzuki ,  Anne Waters ,  Isa Form  and Karma Voce .

What is your point of difference from other agencies? 

My clients tell me how fresh and contemporary my presentations are, which is the aesthetic I always want to be known for. I want to keep growing my focus on art repeats, quirky kids designs and fashion colour.  One point of difference is the connection I have to my artists, I love to work with, and develop emerging artists where I think they have something really different to offer, and I love learning from the more experienced artists too. 

 

  Work by  Emily Isabella .
Work by Emily Isabella .

What’s the best part of being an agent?

Seeing beautiful independent designs on commercial products that are available for all to see and buy! Knowing that I played a part in that is very rewarding, as is, helping artists create income from their art. 

  One of my babies (said Ibis) that Nerida found a very nice home for :)
One of my babies (said Ibis) that Nerida found a very nice home for 🙂

You recently attended Heimtextil in Frankfurt and are soon headed to Surtex in New York along with other trade shows, can you describe the vibe of a trade show and what happens? 

Trade shows are very interesting, they are generally buzzing with buyers walking the floor and talking to the design studios they might be interested in. The big ones I have done can also have a fair bit of down time, where you get to see what everyone else is doing, and who else is in the market. Mind you, you know the minute you walk away from your booth, some very valuable and interesting clients will pop by! Which is why you always have people working with you!

 You learn so much from the shows, and they are an invaluable experience for all designers. But they are not a short term solution to launching a surface art career, they are a marketing investment. The show I was at recently is full of studios who have been doing the shows for over 20 years or more. They are earning amazing income, but they all encouraged me to stick at it year in and year out, as each year builds and the customers always come back. I am in the process of selecting 2 more shows to do each year, which I intend to do every year, to ensure my clients know where to find me.

 You’ve recently moved from Victoria to Queensland, how have you found the change in the creative vibe?

I haven’t been here long enough yet to fully understand it, but I am very excited by the conversations I have had and the connections I have been offered. I am very excited to roll out my workshops and really get to understand the creative scene around Brisbane and the gold Coast- there is so much happening here!

Finally, you and I have been talking about a textile design course…what kind of content are you hoping to provide to the residents of the Gold Coast and beyond?!

I am running a series of workshops which are designed sequentially. They aim to educate and prepare both emerging and experienced designers for creative careers. I think for all designers wanting to make a lifestyle from their art, having a diverse approach to what they do is the key. So my first workshop is introductory, looking at creative career pathways and all the different ways an artists can create income from their art. I follow that workshop up with one specifically more tailored to the Surface Art Licensing business. For many designers, it is a bit of an unknown territory, so I aim to enlighten participants, and hopefully give them the tools they need to move forward into surface art licensing. These workshops are followed up by some of the more technical aspects of designing for surface art: Creating Collections, Using Illustrator to create repeat patterns, and using photoshop to digitise and prepare repeat patterns from original art. These will initially be run at Warehouse 5 in Burleigh Heads, so hook up to their facebook page and instagram and stay tuned for dates and details. 

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Please also stay tuned to my Instagram, where I will continue to provide Instagram Live content including, ‘Why do I need an agent?’ and ‘The Basics of Creating a Pattern- without a computer!’. 😀 But it’s live, which means it disappears once I’m done! I’m a ninja like that….catchya soon, pattern lovers!

 

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CHAT: DOO WOP

My respect for Doo Wop Kids was born before they launched, in the form of a crush on Astrid’s baby, @paperplayground on Instagram. When it became clear that the girls were launching a kids’ clothing brand I knew I would be in love. Astrid and Wendy have such a strong grasp of trends, colour and form mixed with some very serious skills in styling and marketing: it was a recipe for success and the girls have moved Doo Wop from strength to strength with each season. I love watching this relatively new brand explode and knew I had to pull the ladies aside and ask them how they do it al, before they were too famous to answer my questions!

Tell us more about yourselves. How did you meet? Are you creative soul-mates or the balanced ying and yang?! 

WENDY: We are both! haha. Ever since get go we just clicked on the creative tip. We both come from different creative backgrounds but have the same work ethic and passion for creating. I think our ideas flow together without effort, which makes it super easy. Ive known Astrid since my teens – I still recall those U18s parties we went too, wild times haha! Fast forward a heap of years, throw some kids in the mix and Doo Wop was created one sweet afternoon over hot chocolate and a fat notebook.

ASTRID: We met a very, very long time ago! I think we were 12 or 13 at the time. Our mothers are friends and so we became friends! I think we are the balanced yin and yang..but when we come together I feel we bring the same creative energy to create what we both truly love..so in that sense I feel we can say we’re creative soul-mates!

 Doo Wop legends!
Doo Wop legends!

You both sound like very busy ladies, what made you start Doo Wop?!

WENDY: We are notorious for taking on too many things at once Haha! We both have our hands dipped in so many different projects at the moment but we wouldn’t want it any other way. I still have one idea sitting in the back of my head for almost 1.5 years now I’m itching to find time to work on. I started Doo Wop initially to dress my son and his little gang of friends and I keep having to pinch myself to sit back and see what its become in just over a year.

ASTRID: We’re definitely super duper busy! But you know what they say…you have to MAKE time!! Wendy had the idea of starting Doo Wop after having a baby boy of her own and she saw a gap in the market for cool, colourful, graphically well-designed UNISEX kids clothing. It literally just came about of her approaching me and saying hey what’s good, let’s do this, and I was like, hell yeah!!!!! haha

I love that your graphics are bold and unisex. What influenced both of those decisions?

ASTRID: Well Wendy has a boy and I have two little girls..it had to suit both of us hahaha!!! But in all seriousness, we feel that boys miss out on a lot of the fun, colourful stuff and they always look great in the more ‘girlier’ colours..I mean, have you seen how dashing the boys look in our pink bubble tea tee?? =D

WENDY: We design to suit our kids personalities. Our kids are loud, so our tees are too. There are no rules in fashion or colour and that gives us so much energy to be us when designing! Ive always put my son in Pink, since he was born. It suits him so I roll with it.

 

  The famous bubble tea design as party theme...these girls' creativity knows no bounds! 
The famous bubble tea design as party theme…these girls’ creativity knows no bounds! 

 Do you wear pattern? What’s your favourite at the moment?!

ASTRID : We do wear pattern! We love it but I feel Wendy loves it more =) It really depends on my mood and what I’m doing. For example, if I’m heading out for a photography job, my staple is all black – black tee, black skinny jeans. I love solid colours as well as they’re strong and make a statement on its own. I’m obsessed with Emilio Pucci and I can’t go past Gorman.

WENDY: Yep, I wear a heap of pattern. But also each day depends on my mood. I like to switch it up a lot and dresss differently each day or week. Flowy dress one day,  sporty the next and ghetto the following day. Haha I’m weird and so is my wardrobe.

Can you think of patterns from your childhood that might’ve formed your aesthetic?

ASTRID: My childhood was surrounded by Sanrio characters and all things Japanese. At the same time, I spent my first 8 years of living in Indonesia so I was influenced and love traditional Batik patterns. My first school uniform was Batik! So I really feel this has shaped my aesthetic to everything in design, really – I love colourful, kawaii things but I also love the organic, earthy colours and a deep appreciation to handcrafts and design with history and meaning.

WENDY: We are both big kids at heart. So what we love back then, we still love now. As a dancer, Ive been around costumes all my life. Everything on stage had to stand out and we always helped with making our own costumes which ruled! So many different styles, textures and materials! So I think those early beginnings have shaped the way that i design because Doo Wop keeps things bright! All the music clips i watched on TV in the late 80s also – Patterns and colours were everything!

  Image by  @jolinarica  on Instagram.
Image by @jolinarica  on Instagram.

Where do you go to for design inspiration?

WENDY: Outside! Anywhere and everywhere. I usually love the hustle of the city only because I hardly experience it as much as I used to. Both our fams are always out discovering new things, eating at new places and adventuring around Sydney – we love to explore and discover so many things along the way!

ASTRID: I don’t really go anywhere specific – it’s everywhere! The other day I was at the pools and saw the pool dividers all rolled up together and was inspired by the texture and combination of colours it created. 

Which country’s fashion are you most inspired by at the moment?

WENDY: Japan hands down. But so many creatives popping up everywhere its so hard to keep up!

ASTRID: Forever inspired by Japan and all things Mexico!

What are your top 3 favourite Instagram accounts right now?

ASTRID: Well, funnily enough they’re not fashion insta accounts! I love @taramilktea, @janellemonae and @paulhiltonphoto

WENDY: non kids fashion related also, this is more personal i think! haha! As you can see both mine and astrids style is totally different haha: @riehata and @avanope and @mstr_of_disguise

 Inspiration, @janellemonae
Inspiration, @janellemonae

What’s THE DREAM for Doo Wop?!

WENDY: I think Doo Wop is a dream in itself. We never planned for it to be where it is today let alone for it to even be here. Within the first year we had stockists worldwide when all we wanted to dress our kids and their crew! But yes, what Astrid said – give us a fat done up warehouse where we can build a creative hub for the kids. They are our future.

ASTRID: The dream is our own creative hub where we can create, play and doo wop all day, every day!!

 

 

CHAT: GOOSEBUMPS

I’ve long admired Goosebumps Boutique Bedding. In fact, when I received an email from Inga asking if I would be interested in designing for her company it was because she had seen me liking her pictures on Instagram! Of course I was over the moon and honoured. Goosebumps is very well aligned to my core design values: designs that are bright, happy and nostalgic but in a contemporary fashion. As a fellow catwalk trawler, I love talking trends with Inga and receiving her briefs in the (snail!) mail is like Christmas Day: I carefully open the tube, unfurl the A2 sheets and grin as I pore over her concepts. So I thought it fitting to pick Inga’s brain and share some of the inner-workings of my fellow colour lover.

Would you describe yourself as a creative person?

A creative mad hatter more like it! I get inspired by so many things from film, art, fashion and other like minded creatives. I have tear sheets all around my house, it’s like a forever changing mood board.

Do you recall some of your favourite patterns from childhood?

Well having a Russian background I can safely say that leopard print runs in my blood! I’m a 90’s aficionado and ex-dancer so I’ve always loved colour and print and had some hilarious costumes over the years. My favourite print of all time would be this white two-piece I had which was a crop top and long pants that was all white but had this 90’s hip hop, pop print! I thought I was the bomb!

 

Pac Mate design detail for Goosebumps Boutique Bedding.

Where are your favourite, obscure places to gather information?

Definitely the good old people-watching. It’s all about positioning yourself in the right spot and observing everything whilst looking like your actually not looking! Sounds creepy. I sound like a nanna but I love young kids’ street fashion. They are so much more fearless. I love the runway and follow everything fashion from around the globe.

 Ladybug design taken from Runway inspirations.
Ladybug design taken from Runway inspirations.

 What are your first steps in planning a range?

I start with aspirational images and this is created visually on a mood board. The we look at colour combos and fabrications for the season. I then start to create a theme or storyline about what the collection is going to represent. We always look at what new products we want to introduce and start to map out the entirety of the collection. It’s an arduous labour of love but amazing to start the process from scratch and give it life.

 Goosebumps 'Billie' duvet cover and cushion styled by  Tini Trader  for Fantastic Furniture.
Goosebumps ‘Billie’ duvet cover and cushion styled by Tini Trader for Fantastic Furniture.

Do you wear pattern?

Yes, always. I love florals and vibrant colours. My go to is @misterzimi. Easy, breezy and cheerful fashion.

What is your favourite thing to dress the boys in? Do they ever match?

My 5 year old twin boys are very rambunctious so I dress them in clothes that will stay on, wash well and not tear. It’s usually a pair of jeans, tee and sneakers or shorts and tee. Because they are twins, I never dress them the same same. They are different little dudes and deserve their own personality!

What is your favourite design so far?

This is tricky one because since we’ve started working with @elliewhittaker there’s not much to dislike. You’re the bomb and bring our vision to life like no one else has done! If I had to choose it would be Ladybug Love and Mr Toasted. Our SS/16 collection was the first time we did novelty cushions and Mr Toasted was hot (pardon the pun) and such a cutie. 

What would be the ultimate dream for you/Goosebumps?

A huge, creative team in an equally huge warehouse space that had sexy arch windows. And to crack the U.S market! Not asking for much!

  

You can see more of Inga’s gorgeous range at www.goosebumps.net.au and on Goosebumps’ Instagram.

CHAT: NEXT STATE PRINT

When I discovered there was a fabric printer in Australia who could match international prices and quality with speedy turnarounds and only a 1m minimum order I had to give them a buzz and check if they were legit. Absolutely. No catches. AND phenomenal customer service to boot. Chole and Geoff, who run Next State know their stuff, are helpful as can be and are dedicated to progressing the Australian textiles industry. A shared dream we have is that manufacturing in Australia will boom…but more on that later – I’ll let Chole do the talking…

Tell us what Next State does?

Next State is a digital textile printer; we print customer’s artworks onto fabric. Our customers might be fashion designers, interior designers, home ware brands, students, artists, or from a variety of other industries. We get to print all sorts of artwork for all sorts of projects; it is amazing to see what people come up with. We have natural and polyester fabrics that can be printed on.

 A blue  Pigface  sample fresh off the press.
A blue Pigface  sample fresh off the press.

Have you always loved textiles? What sparked your interest and where did you go to learn more?

I’ve always been a textile lover. My grandmother worked in textiles and on the other side of the family I’m a third generation printer. I think there is ink and fibres in the blood. My professional studies were in Fashion design so I could get a holistic industry approach and understand garment construction, textiles and design. I’ve worked for fifteen years in the Fashion and textile industry. My true love I learned very early on is in how manufacturing happens and how things are made. I love the technical component design whether it be knit, weave or print and have been very fortunate to work in textile manufacturing companies in Australia, which are not all that common.

Do you wear pattern and if so, what’s your design of choice?

I love patterns and wearing them. I have a wardrobe and house full of our customer’s designs. I definitely lean more towards bold and colourful and really like contemporary design and modern prints. I love a photographic element in a print and seeing it paired back with a texture painterly design.

Where do you go to for inspiration?!

I’m lucky I get to look at beautiful designs all day coming off the printer! Our customers are so talented and inspire me on a daily basis.

I get a lot of business inspiration from talking with people and hearing their stories and experiences. Successful business people always have time to share their story and I really enjoy talking with them, especially those that have been at it for a long time and can provide valuable insights and lessons learned.

What do you think makes a good design?

Whatever you are designing understand how it is manufactured. Know the strengths and weakness of a product/technology/process and design accordingly. I definitely think that research is the most paramount step in successful design, I often see with creative people they start at the end with a concept and then have to work backwards to fill in all the gaps, it is much easier to be informed.  Even if it is a print design you may be painting, work with the correct paints, on the right paper stock and use good quality scanners for the best result.

  Alison Turnbull's  amazing artwork printed by Next State.
Alison Turnbull’s  amazing artwork printed by Next State.

What design trend do you love right now?

I’m really excited to see what next year will bring in the design trends. I think there is definite change coming; we have had a lot of bold geometrics, and tropical plant elements so I think there is room for some really fun new ideas. I’m starting to see a lot of cultural influence coming through in design, which makes for a really eclectic mix of colour and texture, which I would like to see more of.

 

 Various designs by myself and Next State Print.
Various designs by myself and Next State Print.

What is your dream future for Next State and the Australian fashion industry?

Gosh I feel like we just managed to develop so much in 2016. We are about to launch a web to print platform and collaborate more with designers. We are also about to launch a range of polyesters which is really exciting.

I hope into the future Next State can continue to grow and fulfil the needs of the industry we are guided by what our customers want and feel there is a lot of potential for us to offer more in the printing sector, and collaborate with other organisations. The future of mass customisation is a really exciting area for growth in manufacturing and it is underpinned by such wonderful sustainability principles, we feel privileged to be in this space.

I would love to see more “on-shoring” in the fashion and textile sector. I would love to see other companies invest in technology and expand the capabilities of what is available in Australia. It would be amazing if the industry could grow instead of contract, there is so many hungry designers that want to produce in Australia and I think with the right technology, guidance and support we could become a very innovative design hub. 

You’re due with your own little bubba in March, will you be sewing your own threads for him or her (in all of your spare time!) or what trend are you most looking forward to trying out on him/her?!

Yes, my first baby is due in March, it is very exciting. We are lucky enough to print for lots of fantastic children’s wear and baby businesses so I can’t wait to dress them in all the amazing creations our clients produce. 

Finally, your other baby is the new website! Tell us how it will work?!

We wanted to make it easier for customers to print with us, so we have developed a new upload tool and fabric creator. Customers will be able to go onto our website, upload their files and select all their print requirements and submit them to us. For those that love digital printing and support custom design, yet lack the design skills they can connect with designers and buy their prints to print on our fabrics. Even though digital design is something which is becoming easier to do and more accessible, it is not something we are all skilled in. So to be able to select a print off an Australian designer and print it onto a textile of your choice makes for great collaboration. Our focus is on quality design and supporting good designers to create a cohesive collection of prints.

 Next State Print swatch booklets. I highly recommend purchasing samples and swatches before making a big order :)
Next State Print swatch booklets. I highly recommend purchasing samples and swatches before making a big order 🙂

How did Next State get its name?

We wanted something that was positive sounding and related to development. We work with the latest in print technology and wanted to bring that element into the naming while not sounding to tech heavy. It is really important for us to be an open company and have a name that is approachable for customers from all levels of industry. We are part of a process in bringing a design to life. A designer will have an idea then next an artwork, then next a print, then next a product. We had great advice when naming the business to reflect on the name for at least two months to make sure it still sat well and encompassed what we want to be as an organisation.

CHAT: KAPOW

Babes love the comfort and Mummies love the designs: KaPow is certainly the word to describe this bold and exciting kids’ brand. What started out as a hobby for designer Andrea Goulding has now turned into a buying hobby for Mamas who can’t get enough KaPow in their closet. All of KaPow’s prints are exclusive, distinctive and cohesive: not just within seasons but from one season to another.  (They’re also often unisex, making them a fabulous gift for new babes!). Andrea kindly agreed to answer a few questions about where she gets her inspiration and what’s next for this exciting Aussie brand:

KaPow has a great, cohesive vibe. How would you descibe the KaPow look? 

I think the KaPow look is bold, a little quirky, and never plain or boring!
 

What inspired you to start designing kidswear? 

I was working part time as an Architect after having my first child, and just wanted a little hobby for something to do: to be creative. So I bought a sewing machine and taught myself to sew! My first pieces were really bad. But I started an Etsy store and sold some things, it quickly exploded and I had to quit my job. I was in heaven! I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.
Working in pyjamas is living the dream. People thought I was crazy but things kept getting busier and busier so I hired sewers and got stockists…so back to your question, I started kids clothing out of boredom! I needed something to do…and I have always loved fashion.

I recently learnt that you had a past life as an architect! Do you think that influences your work now? 
Not at all! But at least the things I learnt in Archi hasn’t been a waste. Lot of lessons learnt in Archi can be applied to fashion. But theres still so much I don’t know.

What’s the hardest part about running your own label? 
Finding time to do things is hard. Theres always so much to do, the list is never ending. Also, I have no one to bounce ideas off.

Where do you find inspiration for your prints?
I just choose themes that I like, say leopard print for instance, and compile a little mood board of all the leopard prints that I like the look of, then it sort of evolves from there. Im always thinking about prints, looking at prints, Ill be walking down the street and ill say to my husband, check out that print, that would be a cool KaPow print!

How long is the KaPow process from idea to season launch? 
Its about 6 – 9 months, kind of like making a baby I guess. It takes ages..

What’s next for KaPow?! 
Not much for now, just trying to enjoy Willow (6 months). Im pretty happy with where it is now so just hope that people continue to like it.

What was the inspiration behind your AW16 Winter collection (below)?
We have just released a cool new AW16 collection which features a cute penguin, a cheeky raccoon, a leopard print and a Boom Pow! print for the little superheroes. The collection was inspired by my childhood, some of my favourite animals growing up were Raccoons and Penguins, and then I loved reading and collecting comics, hence the Boom Pow print. The leopard print was a must because everyone knows that leopard is a neutral and goes with everything! The colour palette this season is minimal with black, white, beige, charcoal and grey.
 

 

Lastly, whose Instagram are you loving right now?!
I love @twolittleducklings, such cute stuff. 

UPDATE: Last night KaPow launched their AW17 range (none of these designs are by me, I just adore them, particularly the unicorn!), keep scrolling for some graphic goodness!

 

 

To see more of KaPow’s range check out the websiteand instagram.