I love creative businesses and one of my favourite things to read is the story behind how a small creative shop started and the process they go through to create new products. I follow quite a few creative accounts on Instagram and one of my favourites is Leanne's shop Castle in the Stars which sells a range of beautiful homeware and gifts. I contacted Leanne a few weeks ago to answer some of my burning questions surrounding her business and creative process.
1. Did you always see your creativity as a way of making an income?
I don't think that growing up, I ever really thought about it as a way of ‘making an income’ but all I ever knew and would tell people was that I wanted to do something arty. I never really knew what that ‘arty’ thing was, and to some extent I still don't. I just go with whatever I am enjoying at the time. Since I was 15 I have studied graphic design, and pictured myself in industry designing branding and packaging, but more recently I can’t picture myself doing that at all as what I enjoy creating has changed. I just hope now, that people enjoy my creativity enough for me to be lucky for it to provide me with an income.
2. What have you got in store for 2017?
Oh man, I haven’t really got anything set in stone at the moment, but there are so many exciting things that I have in my mind that I would love to achieve and to be able to release in the shop this year. I guess I need to get my bum into gear and start with some planning aha! I would love to get some feedback on what everyone would like to see from me also, so that I know that I am heading in the right direction with my crazy thoughts. I am just going with the flow and letting my creativity direct me in the things that I do.
3. Where do you get your inspiration from for your work?
When it come to me sitting down and designing a new product range, I tend to just sit down with a blank sketch book, a paintbrush and my watercolours, pop some music on and let my mind and hand just paint whatever comes in my head. I tend to find that this way I get more things out of it that I like, than if I sit down to do something in particular. I also find that words/phrases from the songs I'm listening to stick in my head and trigger other things. Other than that, it's normally late at night, much to my frustration, when I find that things just pop into my head that I would like to draw/letter.
4. What is your favourite product in your shop?
Ooh, that’s a toughie. I absolutely adore my little wish jars, and are so something that people would buy for me as a gift. I'm a sucker for sparkles and magic aha! But more recently I have fallen in love with my new line of tote bags. I used some of the designs which I have on paper prints, went in the studio and screen printed them all myself, which I think has made me feel so much more connected to them as I have created them 100% (apart from the manufacture of the bags of course, aha).
5. I recently posted about my creative insecurities and how creatives can sometimes feel a little inferior as others don’t see creative jobs as ‘real’, have you ever felt like this?
Definitely! I feel like it is such a huge deal, especially when it comes to uni, as I feel like I can't really complain as it is seen as an ‘easy’ course, when after all, I have no exams. I was just saying to my fiancé a couple of days ago that I rarely feel like I can be proud of the things which I create, because I often don't have to try hard to create them, which makes me feel like an utter fraud. Although, success in this industry is never just handed to you and you have to work damn hard to get your name out there and be recognised for what you do, but people don’t seem to get that. At uni, just before Christmas I approached my course leader to ask if I could switch courses to the Illustration course. She recommended me to stay on the Graphic Design course as, as an Illustration graduate, I wouldn't be as respected in industry as I would be as a Graphic Design graduate, even if I had the same set of skills as an Illustrator, purely because of the title of my degree. And that was coming from a creative in industry, so what must the thoughts of others be like?
6. If someone reading this was thinking of opening their own shop, what piece of advice would you give them?
Be prepared for it to take over your life! Aha! Much to the annoyance of my fiancé, I see my shop as my hobby, so therefore want to spend every waking hour I have on it and improving it. I have fallen completely in love with (almost) every aspect of it, and could spend every hour of my day working, and yet not even feel like I'm working. It's pretty incredible. Another thing, that I am working so hard to take on board myself is, don't compare yourself to others, it only blocks your creativity and drags you down, when really, you should be building yourself up. Oh, and, Don’t ever give up.