PAY IT FORWARD - Pretty Birds

Pretty Birds itself started with my husband saying “You’ve got too much stuff.  You need to sell some.”  I got together with my friends Emma and Christy and we pooled our ideas together and started Pretty Birds Creations.  They were going to be selling some of their craftiness under the Pretty Birds name too, which is why we are Pretty Birds Creations, rather than Pretty Birds Jewellery, but they both got caught up in other parts of their lives and now cheer me on from the sidelines (and give good advice!)  So now it’s just me and the bling.  It has grown faster than I expected, and isn’t the ideal way to start a business, but when I started I didn’t realise that’s what I was doing, however, I do now and I’m far more intentional about what I do and how I do it – I’m always tweaking!

Meet the maker | Lee of Pretty Birds
You are actively involved with Pay It Forward, what do you enjoy most about being involved with this project? I love being in the shop.  I’d been thinking that I’d like to maybe have a shop one day and then saw Hazel's call for interest in Pay it Forward.  When I realised it was in conjunction with The Neigbourhood Trust I definitely wanted to be on board because I had worked with NHT on another project a few years ago and knew they were very good at community focussed projects and that Ginny was amazing at getting things off the ground.  It’s a great opportunity for lots of us to learn and hone our skills and I’m really enjoying working with other artisans.  We’ve also had great feedback from the community and they seem really stoked that we’re there.  I can’t wait to move in to the bigger shop!

Where the magic happens
What does an average day look like to you? I love this question.  Now that all three kids are at school I’m finally getting a more settled daily routine going.  After I get them off to the school bus stop, I do a quick whip around the morning jobs -breakfast dishes, putting on a load of washing etc (although some days if you looked in the window it might look like I’m sitting on Facebook but really you’re hallucinating).  

I try to get out to the shed by 9am and work solidly until 3pm.  The best days are when I’m creating then look at the clock and it’s 2.45pm and I feel like I’ve only just started – looove that feeling of “flow.”  On other days I may do a few hours in the shed then come inside to the computer and either do accounts, email replies, designing, or packaging up parcels and taking them down to the Post Office in Kaiapoi.

Evenings often find me sifting around my suppliers websites re-ordering or seeing what’s new.  If I’ve had enough for the day I’m deep in a book or veged out in front of the television.

Who do you consider to be your muse?  Probably more like “what”, but there are a few “who” as well, including some of my stylish friends, who probably don’t even know they are!
  • My customers.
  • A colour or a colour combination.
  • Ikebana.
  • Chinoiserie.
  • Elie Saab (swoon).
  • Vintage Chanel.
  • Oscar de la Renta.
  • The latest runway fashions.
  • My 2014 Winter collection was inspired by a magenta coloured Cape Daisy that I saw at the plant nursery and bought home to put in my cobalt coloured pot - and voila! Inspiration for a collection based on those colours.

What does your creative look like? Do you keep sketch/recipe books? Have an online journal? Two ways: Pinterest (nuff said).  Also, I have a diary.  I write down inspirations in there, draw little pictures etc and make notes.  I generally disregard the date so I end up making notes I think of in July way back in February or where ever there’s an empty page.  I certainly don’t use it as a diary or appointment calendar – that’s what my phone is for!  I probably should just get a notebook and use that instead…

What is the best piece of creative advice you’ve learnt on your creative journey? I heard something I really liked the other day “Originality is the best form of rebellion” Mike Sasso.  It’s hard to come up with ideas that are all your own (really, there’s nothing new under the sun), however I know most of us crafty people try hard to be original.  I have lots of ideas, but I’m quite good at letting them sit for a while and then next thing you know someone else brings out “my” idea.  I need to act on my ideas quicker!

Where to next? Where do you see ‘Your brand’ heading in the future? I’m in a position to take on more retailers now with the kids all at school, so I would like to be stocked in more shops around the country.  I love the relationships I have with all my stockists and for the most part, different retailers suit different collections from my range which keeps things interesting for me.  Often when I’m designing I’ll have an idea of which customers will like which styles and which stockists the piece will suit.  It keeps things fun - places like Lava Gallery in Akaroa and Design Withdrawals in Dunedin, who have been stocking me from the beginning, are always wanting pieces that are new and “now” so that also pushes me to look for fresh new ideas.

As for other things, I’ll be working more in sterling silver and other materials too.  I’ve also been working on a range non-jewellery items for about a year now, and I’m getting closer to break through with them – all the stars are lining up – hopefully!
Portion of images by Jen at Utterly in Love

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