By Kate Marsden
A bit of a star of the designer/maker world for you this week, as I chat to someone I expect most of you have heard of, on Instagram if nowhere else! Joanne Hawker gets us all sharing our work every day each March, read on to find out more and about her recent award win!
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
Hello! I’m Joanne, a designer, maker and the creator of the hashtag and award winning Instagram Challenge #MarchMeetTheMaker. Wow that sounds weird to say! Thank you Mollie Makes! I also have a particular love of stripes, the colour yellow, and talking to every animal that I meet. I design and make special occasion greeting cards and pocket mirrors from my home studio in Somerset that I share with my infographic designer boyfriend, Ross.
What does a typical day involve?
Despite not wanting a 9-5 job, I am in the studio every morning at 9am where I check emails, social media (scroll for too long on Instagram), customer reviews and load up my programs for the morning. Between 9 and 11am, I print any cards that have come through, answer enquiries and order supplies. Between 11 and 1pm I make badges and mirrors and pack the orders for that day. After lunch I pop to the post office to see Lois who does my post for me every day. The afternoon is then free to do whatever it is that needs doing that day. It could be anything from catching up with my to do list (which is huge), writing a blog post, drawing, photographing new products, updating product listings or labeling packaging.
Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home. My boyfriend and I purchased a town house, which meant that we are able to have an entire floor for a dedicated studio space. We painted everything white, wallpapered one wall with white hexagon wallpaper and even bought white furniture. Can you tell I have a thing for white too? This helped to keep it nice and bright, especially in the dark winter months. When I’m not working I like being outside and going to places that I’ve never been to. I’m really rubbish at relaxing, so I always have to be doing something.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?
I think being seen is a huge challenge for designer makers and is something that everyone struggles with at some point. Social media is essentially a big shouting match where everyone is shouting for attention. But once you’ve got the attention you desire/need, how do you turn that into sales? #MarchMeetTheMaker can help with this throughout March, as it has such a large following, it’s a great time to get your work and small business out there. However, for the rest of the year it’s just about doing your best to try and intrigue people, draw them in and hope that they will become a fan and potential customer.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
Over the next few years I hope to grow my range of cards across all of my online avenues, and actually create a mailing list! I’d also potentially like to head down the wedding stationery route (my best friend is getting married and I’m loving playing around with her invites!) or add a completely different range of gifts to my stores. I haven’t decided yet. I’m just going to go with the flow and see what happens. Otherwise if I give myself too much to do I just get overwhelmed and nothing gets done! I also have a few things for #MarchMeetTheMaker up my sleeve, but I can’t talk about that just yet! I can say that it will be going ahead in 2018 though, and it’s going to be even better! I can’t wait!
Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?
DO NOT GIVE UP!! If things aren’t going so well, what ever you do, do not give up. Use it as an opportunity to work out why things aren’t working as they are supposed to, and figure out how to fix it or up your game. I nearly closed my Etsy store twice or maybe three times, I can’t remember, but the point is I very nearly closed the door on the lot, and look where I am now. Success doesn’t come over night; it’s a gradual thing that requires a lot of hard work. All you need is the belief you can do it and the determination to make it happen.
Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.
Ginger Fig, is a gorgeous little gift shop tucked down in Bath Place, Taunton and sells a variety of gifts and greeting cards from small businesses. I love going in there and seeing work from people I recognise!
Frame of Mind is also a great little gift shop in the small town of Ilminster. I can ALWAYS find a card in here without fail. As well as many other gifts that should be given to other people but actually I want to keep them for myself...
The Emporium in Wellington is on my to visit list. I haven’t been yet but I’m looking for an excuse to head in that direction. The Emporium is home to nearly 50 small businesses, many from the local area. As soon as I can free up some time and grab a friend for a brew, we’ll be heading over!
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
Yes – but that’s probably because I’ve known about the campaign for a very long time! I think I first saw it on twitter a couple years ago and have seen it about on various forms of social media since. I remember the stories of galleries closings and the owners saying that if only the people who said ‘that’s lovely’ actually purchased just a card, then they’d still be there today. I am guilty of saying that myself, but in my defense I do have a stash of cards squirreled away!
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
Being a card seller myself, it’s important because all of those little sales add up to the ability of being able to provide for myself, pay the bills and live my dream of being my own boss. With more and more handmade businesses out there, it’s more important now than ever to shop small and support handmade. Those sales are the ones that can allow someone to put food on the table, provide for their families or even pay someone a decent living.
Where did you hear about the campaign and which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently? What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
I first heard about the campaign on Twitter, back in the day when I spent my life watching my feed constantly refresh. Now I’m all about Instagram (I’m a bit hooked, especially after #MarchMeetTheMaker) and occasionally Facebook. I think what people need to do is, as your name suggests, just go and buy a card. Or when they’re looking for gifts try and shop with small businesses instead of chain stores. I’ll continue to support small businesses either online or on the high street when I can, and through helping promoting those who take part in my Instagram challenge when it’s running.