Have you guys noticed my new homie over there on the right, Oktoberdee? It's the business baby of designer Lauren Ferry. Lauren lives just outside Melbourne with her partner Aaron and their cat, dog and chickens. They love to go on road trips around the countryside, hunting for treasure. (Not the chickens, Lauren and Aaron).
I don't know about you, but I'm super inspired by people who make a living doing what they love, so I asked Lauren to take us on a little tour of her home and creative space, and answer a few questions along the way...
Are you full-time with Oktoberdee Lauren?
I have been working on Oktoberdee for around eight years, and for four years now I haven’t had to hold down another job. Before that I usually had two additional jobs and, at times, three so it certainly has taken a lot of hard work to get to this point. Up until July 2012 I actually ran Oktoberdee from a studio that had my little shop attached to it, I had the shop for six years all up, and despite it being an easy decision to close the shop, I still miss it sometimes as it gave me a more diverse role, merchandising, ordering stock, direct customer service on a daily basis. With a shop you need to be creative in so many ways, with ever changing shop windows, clever merchandising and pretty gift wrapping to name a few. So when the shop closed I moved my studio into our home and now work out of the two spare bedrooms, I am still in the adjustment period that’s for sure. I am really looking forward to the sunny months, as my desk has a lovely big window to look out of. Slowly but surely I am working out my new routine, I am finding I have more time to spend designing collections, which is awesome.
One of Lauren's spare bedrooms has been set up as a supply library
What’s the biggest lesson about business or creativity you’ve learnt over the past few years?
The hardest lessons are the really black and white business decisions, the type that you’re given by your accountant or bank manager. It’s difficult to swallow that the product itself it not the be all and end all of your label’s success. Wouldn’t it be nicer if we could just make gorgeous things and the rest just fell into place? My decision to close my beloved store and focus purely on Oktoberdee came from one of these lessons.
I have always been inclined to put a lot on my plate and see how things went, but in the end having clear goals and some sort of plan really is the way to go. I am committed now purely to the growth and success of the label, and so all my actions and thoughts are aligned with that, which is a more empowered approach I feel.
I think it is also an important lesson to learn that we all have our own path to forge; others will appear to take a much faster lane than you or a lane that looks more like a parade with people cheering from the side lines. That hasn’t been my lane, but mine is winding, pebbled, a little lost and curious. There has been the occasional tumbleweed, but the view has been amazing and I can only hope that the path looks this unpaved in time to come.
A really important lesson is the one where you recognize what you are great at and the things which aren’t so great. Illustration, for example, I can draw excellent technical drawings, demonstrative and accurate, but ask me to illustrate something and I am in struggle-town. Once you have recognized this you can go about ensuring that it doesn’t impact your work, for me, I collaborate with artists whose work delivers a nice balance. Basically, work out your weaknesses and seek help in those areas, of course you can also take actions to improve in that area yourself or simply delegate when you are in a position to get some assistance.
Don't you just want to visit her? Yeah, me too.
Lauren creates clasps from these timber panels, framing custom illustrations by independent designers.
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to people wanting to follow a similar path?
I started my designing my own products straight out of university, back in 2003, after graduating with a degree in Industrial Design. If I’d had my time again, maybe I would have worked for someone else in the design field, however, doing it this way I have really nutted out exactly the type of product I am passionate about and the type of business model that fits my life the best. Yes, it has taken my entire 20’s but if I had been designing what other people wanted me to all this time I may have never had to opportunity to discover my love for this niche. So, advice is thus, BACK YOURSELF, you are going to have to work really hard, sometimes for very very little, but if you are passionate about it and believe in what you are doing then it will pay off in the end.
What was the last thing you saw, did or experienced that got you really creatively inspired?
I love participating in design markets, there are so many great things you can get out of them. Firstly, you get to meet other creative folk who understand the pleasure and pain of having your own business, and for me I don’t have a lot of people like that around me day to day. Hearing about others achievements and disappointments helps you realise that you’re not the only person out there trying to get your work known. Others too, are working in entirely different creative fields, be it print, fashion or crochet, and just seeing how others are exploring the limitations in their own mediums can pump you up to sharpen your grey-lead and delve immediately back into your sketch book.
Archer Satchel, convertible to a larger bag, convertible again to a backpack. LOVE.
Lauren's giving Fancy readers 20% off the Arizona collection for the next two weeks.
That's all the bags I posted above (my personal faves) and more, including wallets and purses.
Just enter the code fancyfree at checkout.