My Life

Welcome 2020 and the Top Drawer Event

I hope you all had a lovely holiday season and a great start to the New Year.

2020 already! Where did last year go? 2019 flew by as I continued to develop my art practice and grow my business and in a blink, it was gone. So, welcome 2020, I am excited to see what it brings.

I love having my online shop and, even though they are very tiring, I love market days too, especially because I get to meet lots of the lovely people who support my business.

Markets and fairs are such a good way for makers to showcase their work. When I am at these events, I am often reminded of the Just a Card Campaign, which was set up by artist and designer, Sarah Hamilton. The campaign aims to encourage people to support artists, designers and small, independent businesses, by reinforcing the message that all purchases, even ‘just a card’, does make a difference. So, while I can’t buy all the goodies that I come across, buying something small, like a card, really helps creators.

Being able to support myself as an artist and maintain my practice through income generated from my illustrations, can be very challenging. Whilst I would really love to sit and make art all day, the reality is that, like makers of any kind, I must keep finding new ways to sell my work in order to make a living!

So last year, with the hope of increasing my wholesale business, I applied for a stand at the January 2020 Top Drawer event – ‘the UK’s leading lifestyle trade show for design-led brands’ – and I was excited to be accepted into their ‘Spotted’ location in this month’s show.

There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get ready for the show, as well as developing my new Spring / Summer 2020 designs (more of that next month) so I was grateful to have the support of my fiancé, Aneurin, especially with the technical side of getting the wholesale catalogue ready and preparing the stand plan.

The show, held in London, is a regular, bi-annual event where buyers and retailers from all over the country can come and have a look at makers of all types: It is a five day event – two days to set up your stand and three days for the actual show, meeting, greeting and networking.

It was very nerve-racking and exciting. Being quite a shy person, it certainly stretched my communication skills. We had a British Sign Language interpreter with us, which helped. I managed to say ‘hello’ to everyone who passed by and learnt a few things about networking along the way. We aimed to be easily accessible, clear about the range of illustrations available and take orders quickly and efficiently. Adding SKU codes underneath every product on the stand, with a clipboard stacked with printed order forms, a calculator and a card reader at the ready, led to some very positive remarks on our organisational skills!

The show went very well, far beyond my expectations. I met lots of independent retailers and gained EIGHT new stockists. One of them was the Royal Horticultural Society, which is one of my dream stockists. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I received an email from them placing an order! Happy, happy dance! It is a great start to 2020 for Katrina Sophia!

Whilst there wasn’t much time to have a look around at all the other exhibits, I did come across some fantastic new-to-me artists. Do go and look them up:

Both Emilia and Alice are now on list for items as we do up the house.

It was an exhausting five days. Luckily, we were glad to be able to enjoy some home comforts by staying with my mum in London! Thanks Mum!

A big shout out to my fiancé, for his outstanding support both before, during and after the show. I am looking out for something special for him for Valentine’s Day!

And lastly, but not least, as 2020 begins its sprint, a massive ‘THANK YOU’ to all of you who have supported and continue to support my creative business, from reading my blog to buying a card to commissioning art works.

You keep me doing a happy dance! Follow the link to a fun little video from the Just a Card Campaign

My 2018 & New Year Goals

I can’t get over how quickly 2018 seemed to pass. It seems to me that time goes faster as I get older, and last year is definitely the fastest year I’ve ever had!

I think it has to do with how hectic my year was. It’s not a bad thing at all – I just can’t recall when was the last time before Christmas that I had a moment to catch my breath, especially in the festive period when I had markets almost every weekend AND prepared to move house at the same time.

Buying a house is one of my biggest bits of news from last year! Aneurin and I also got engaged! I wanted a short engagement but we agreed to focus on the house first. Now that’s sorted out, whether we are going to have a wedding is on my mind and frankly, the thought of walking down an aisle does not do my anxiety any good, so I like the idea of eloping! Either way I really cannot wait to marry my love!

My 2018 word was “GROW”. My sales improved significantly in 2017 and I wanted to work harder on my shop, grow my product range, and partner with more stockists. That is exactly what I’ve done over the last year and I saw results from the hard work. I hoped for more stockists, and need to work on outreach and promotion, but I launched a lot of products in 2018 – a Valentine collection celebrating sign language and the Deaf community; wire bound notebooks; new collections of prints and cards; Plant Ladies and Potted Plants postcards; aptly named GROW tote bag; a weekly planner, and ceramics.

I am most excited about my ceramics – my first ever glaze fire in late 2017 flopped and it left me disheartened, but in the summer of 2018 I gave it another shot and tried another kiln firing place. This time my ceramics came out really nicely and they were fit for sale! I have had an overwhelmingly positive response to my ceramics, and while I still love designing stationery I’ve found I really enjoy the hand building aspect that comes with pottery, applying my illustration in different ways and bringing more one-of-a-kind pieces to my shop.

I am stumped what is my word of the year for 2019 and I haven’t come up with any new year’s resolutions either – but I do know that I want to be better at self care while I continue to grow my shop by carrying on what I am doing. I want to improve certain areas in my business, such as my online marketing and connecting with my audience through this blog and my mailing list. I am also looking forward to settling into my new home and studio. I am feeling optimistic about what this year will bring and excited to see what else I can pull out of my hat in my work!

We’re Engaged!

Look at this beautiful portrait of us I commissioned Natalie Harney to illustrate.

On Valentine’s Day, Aneurin proposed to me with a emerald ring and I said yes! Well, I didn’t say yes immediately, I actually thought he was kidding. I had to pick up the ring and inspect it first! It was dark, we’d just finished watching an awful romantic film with a good cheeseboard but rubbish red wine. Once I realised he was serious about wanting to marry me, I said, “yes, I will marry you!”

He meant to propose on our 5 year anniversary in Edinburgh two weekends before, but the ring wasn’t ready then. Looking back, I am quite thankful that he didn’t propose in public somewhere in Edinburgh – I am very shy and I probably would be a little peeved with him for putting me on the spot!

The proposal was a complete surprise. We’d agreed quite early in our relationship that we would not get married. But Aneurin changed his mind after five years for the tax benefits, but after some prodding I got him to admit he is a little bit romantic after all!

Back to this commissioned portrait – I’ve always loved Natalie’s illustrations and her minimalistic style so when I needed an anniversary gift for Aneurin I knew where to go! Working with her was a breeze. I asked her to base the illustration on this picture and because some parts of us are cut off I sent her few more photos of us. She captured us so well and I can’t wait to frame it and hang it in our forever house (we’re currently house hunting and hopefully will find something perfect by next year!).

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Introducing RMBLR

rmblr-backpacks

rmblr-bobble-hats

rmblr-socksphotos in courtesy of RMBLR

I have a love for the British countryside, despite living in and near London most of my life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to live in a cottage, look after pet chickens, make my own cheese, and have a field for my garden. I just wish that spiders as big as my hand didn’t exist!

I don’t go out to the countryside enough. Now that I live in Nottingham with a new car, it is more accessible and I intend to go out for walks and explore my local countryside as much as I can in 2017. I’ve been to the Peak District and Wollaton Park a few times this year, and loved them!

RMBLR, launching today, is a British made outdoor lifestyle brand and it is right up my alley. Everything about their products; classic designs, earthy colours and thoughtful textures, are gorgeous, and the brand’s whole feel has me craving to drop everything what I am doing and go out for a wintery walk.

The brand’s inspiration comes from the Mass trespass of Kinder Scout – in 1932 a group of ramblers led by Benny Rothman trespassed the part of Peak District National Park, where government denied public access. This act of civil disobedience was one of the most successful in British history and secured the right to ramble. Read their story here.

If you browse RMBLR’s products on their shop, you will know where exactly each of them are made in and the inspiration behind their names, which makes those carefully thought out products extra special. I look forward to trying them when I go out for a walk, celebrating the right to ramble and wonderful nature that is available to us for free.

“In the digital age where our purpose seems less defined, the need for us to protect our relationship with nature and each other is all the more important. Go forth, just as those who came before us did. Take a trip. Escape.”

Get to know to RMBLR more by reading their founder, Fred’s interview with Proper, and this article by Huck x RMBLR about hiking through the UK’s most iconic rave spots.

Are you a city, country or bit of both person? I think I am the latter. :)