Tash Hatcher - Hatchling Makes
By Kate Marsden
Another hopefully familiar face for you this week as we meet Tash Hatcher of Hatchling Makes. Tash is a regular on our #justacard Twitter hour (Thursdays 8-9pm UK time) and often pops up during my forays into #handmadehour too. Tash’s colourful and distinctive embroideries are beautifully made and hard to miss! So whether you’re a fan of a dinosaur or two, or just like a pretty necklace, read on to hear more about Tash, her work and why she loves our campaign.
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
Hi! I’m Tash and I am the owner/maker/brains behind Hatching Makes where I sell hand embroidered dinosaur and animal themed home décor and gifts.
My business started on my sofa in March 2016 after I had left my career in theatre and I started selling on Etsy soon after! I now sell through my Etsy shop, my own website and at various craft fairs around London where I’m usually accompanied by my ever patient husband.
What does a typical day involve?
My day starts quite late as I still keep theatre hours due to my husband still working in the industry. I’m usually am up by 8:30/9 and in the studio by 9:30. Though I have been known to not get into the studio until 10:30 on occasion!
I start by checking to see if I’ve had any orders come in overnight to pack, if not then it’s straight onto emails. I like to write out a big to do list at the start of the week and then assign all the jobs (like if I have a commissioned piece to finish, or catching up on my accounts) to particular days. They say that for every minute spent planning you earn an hour later in the week! This way every day after I can just check in my diary to see what I have planned for that day.
I always break for lunch and make sure I eat outside of my working space. I take a half hour to do things like scroll Instagram, check my Facebook and chat to my mum during this time so it’s really important that I am not being distracted by work!
My afternoons tend to be a little looser in terms of routine. I like to finish off any big tasks by 5 so I can do some exercise – I really hate the gym so I work out at home but I have to do at least a little light yoga every day to stretch out my muscles so I’m not sat at my desk all day! I tend to spend more time on social media in the afternoon as more people are around then so I find I get better engagement and I always think it’s nice to touch base with your community. In the afternoons is when I tend to get ideas for new products or designs so I always have a notebook (or several) nearby for me to scribble in!
I like to make a point to always finish work in my studio by 6. I take part in several twitter hours during the week and I like to have a few hours for “me time” before I get back online. After a twitter hour I like to pack any orders that came in during the day and make up a post bag ready for the next day – my husband does my post runs for me so I like to have everything prepared for him to grab and go. Then I like to clear my desk for the next day. I’m not particularly tidy all the time and I always seem to be collecting things but I find that if I at least sit down at a clean desk the next morning I don’t tend to be as distracted!
Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
I’m so lucky to have a home studio (which was a spare room created as part of a loft conversion we did years ago!). For years we’ve been using it as a spare room/dressing room but I managed to convince my husband to let me have it as a studio. He agreed but only if I make sure I contain all my work within it’s 4 walls! Sometimes it’s a struggle!
One of the first things I did was paint the walls a pale pink – it’s actually a reflective paint which makes the room seem bigger than it is (and is great to help me take photos). In the summer it’s a great little sun trap as it gets the morning light through my little studio window and the mid afternoon light comes through our master bedroom window which is almost directly opposite the door! It’s tiny, I can basically stand in the middle and stretch my arms out and touch the walls but I love it. It’s filled with all my tools and fabrics and the walls are papered with prints and artwork from other small businesses. I love surrounding myself by work from other small businesses as it reminds me that I’m not alone as being self employed can be very isolating. Plus, it’s a daily dose of colour and inspiration and never fails to put a smile on my face.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?
I think the biggest problem is the shrinking of independent shops in the public eye. It’s so hard to get noticed by the public, both in person and online. Everyone wants to shop local and support small but when there’s nothing around for them to visit and see on the high street then they default back to big stores and supermarkets. So many times I see people in my nearest big grocery store mindlessly pick up a greeting card and I can’t help but think about the hundreds of independent card sellers that would have skipped for joy at that sale. That’s why keeping the “Shop Independent” and “Just A Card” message out there throughout the year, not just at Christmas or during Small Business Saturday, is so vital. It’s a big reason why I do as many craft fairs as I can, and try to do as many twitter hours as I can. If you don’t keep putting yourself out there and reminding your community that you’re around eventually people will forget about you. It’s a sad reality.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
I’d love to be able to teach a workshop! I think embroidery is having an incredible revival right now and I’d love to be able to share what I have learnt with others. It’s not just for grandmas anymore!
In the ideal world I’d love to have a small shop of my own. I’d love to have a space where I could stock my own products and also stock the other small businesses out there. I love supporting other makers and I think this would be that perfect way to not only help out my fellow makers but also to bring more awareness of what incredible small businesses there are out there to a wider community.
One of my main goals is to do more charity work. I have my pet portraits where I donate a portion of the proceeds to charity and would love to keep doing that. I’m forever inspired by the world around me and the animal kingdom and I can’t imagine a world where future artists don’t have that inspiration to draw from – so I’m in the process of figuring out how I can do more to support environmental charities and animal conservation groups.
Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/ small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?
Make work you’re passionate about, not art that’s fitting a current trend. It’s hard not to compare to others but remember, you don’t know all the hardships behind that Instagram account that got them to where they are now. Remember, trends come and go but if you truly love what you do, then others who are of the same mindset will find you. There’s a quote that I love from a movie (the animated Thumblina from the 90s if you’re curious) that goes “you’re sure to do impossible things, if you follow your heart” which I think is a great way to epitomise the creative industry.
Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.
I live close to Greenwich so in the summer I love to walk down to the market and see who’s exhibiting! I always make a point of swinging by Things British to see if there’s anything new. Makers can rent out shelf space there which means there’s a fairly good diversity of goods and I’ve found some amazing makers by browsing their shelves!
I’d also highly recommend that anyone who hadn’t already, check out the #justacard hashtag on twitter. There’s always so many incredible and inspiring small businesses on there and it’s a great way to help support small if, like me, you prefer to shop online!
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 I have! And I often adapt the hashtag to #justanecklace or #justabrooch when I talk about the campaign with others. I know from my experience that all these small purchases really do make a difference! Especially at markets where folks might not have lots of cash but can pick up a little trinket – it can be the difference between making a loss or making a profit that day in these cases!
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
I can’t overstate how important it is! I genuinely do a happy dance (and send my husband a text) for every single order I receive. It might be just a card/necklace to someone but it means that I can keep going on making art that I’m passionate about and creating a career that I love. Like so many other makers out there, what I sell isn’t just a product, it’s a part of me. So when someone buys even “just a card” it’s not just an item for me to sell like it might be in a large store, they’re buying into me and my business and that is utterly priceless. I always make a point of writing a thank you note to every customer who buys online so that they know just how much I appreciate their support!
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?
The first time I heard about Just a Card was at an Etsy market! It was on Plant Prints For Peace’s stand and I remember reading the poster and taking a flyer (and feeling bad because I hadn’t intended to buy that day so I had no cash on me). I looked up the campaign on google when I got home and it came up with the twitter hour but it was a few weeks before I had the guts to join in the conversation! I’m glad I did though!
I’m most active on Instagram (particularly stories as I’m quite visual) and twitter so I try to mention the campaign on both platforms frequently. I definitely think more small businesses need to get involved. So many other makers I have spoken to have gone “oh but I don’t sell cards” but it’s not about the actual item, it’s about the message of supporting small businesses and that all the little purchases adding up over time! As a group our voices are much louder and the more people stand behind this campaign, the stronger and louder the message becomes.
I made a pledge to purchase only from small businesses from Christmas and it was so successful that I’ve naturally carried it over – I aim to only buy from small businesses wherever possible, and also to spread the Just A Card word at every market that I’m appearing at this year. Plus, of course, taking part in the weekly twitter hour. I have an alarm set for every week and that time is always blocked out in my planner so I rarely miss it!