It’s that #FeatureFriday time of the week again where we say hello to an Etsy seller and get a look into their world, their inspiration and take a look at some of their lovely makes. I’m really please to be featuring Natalie North this week from Natalie North Design. Natalie is local to Rose Filtered HQ, she’s based up here in sunny Newcastle upon Tyne and I absolutely love her first range of geometric line designs. Welcome to Natalie North Design…
Hi! Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you and your Etsy shop?
Hello my name is Natalie and I am a designer; I’ve been classifying myself this way for so long because I’ve always felt like I was one. Now that I have my shop up and running on Etsy I feel I can back this statement up, not just with sporadic projects but a fully developed product line!
After I graduated from my degree in Architectural Venue Design I felt the same pressures as most to get that perfect job that made all the training worth while so I went
out into the world with the sole focus of getting a design job. Within 6 months of working for a playground design company I knew that I was on the wrong path and needed to reassess. I looked back at the projects I had enjoyed most and the work I was most proud of still. For the most part I realised the things I loved most were not the structures themselves but the imagery of them. Close ups, shadows, all the patterns that 3D elements make so that’s when I decided creating patterns should be my new path.
Since this moment I have been honing my process, and my Etsy shop is a reflection of this. I like to think of all my items as statement pieces adding a little bit of something extra to everyday items. I developed my cushions first as I love adding special touches to my home and hope to expand my business into a bespoke interior design service over the coming years. I added a range of items in the same launch patterns that I like to think add an element of style to someone’s everyday carry. At the moment my Etsy shop just stocks the 3 patterns I launched with but over the coming months I hope to expand with further patterns and products.
Do you sell on any other platforms and if so could you tell us about those? Alongside my Etsy shop I have built my own website to showcase my designs. I worked with the Squared Space platform to build it; not only for the flexibility when building but also their relationship with Stripe. The payment system Stripe allows me to take secure payments through my website and reassure my customers that I am a professional.
I also sell in a store in Newcastle where I am based. The shop Whosit & Whatsit is situated on the Quayside and supports independent designers. The shop is a cornucopia of treats and I often come away with something unique to add to my home or as a gift. All the staff are really friendly and have helped me to push my business further.
The shop sounds fab, I haven’t checked it out yet but it’s now top of my to do list!
I’m working hard to make my designs available in other shops and have meetings at the end of the month with shops in Guernsey so watch this space!
Ooh, that sounds exciting, I have my fingers crossed for you!
Tell us a little bit about how and where you work? My workspace is pretty flexible and I’ve actually found myself working in some pretty strange places like the ferry or a coffee shop! I create each pattern by hand using a stylus on my iPad. I researched a lot of
different applications and stylus before selecting the ones I currently used, created by Studio 53. I found that they simulated hand drawing as an action the best for me while maintaining the vector finish that my aesthetic required.
For me each design I work on is a balancing act with a moment of decision after almost every stroke. With each pattern I aim to create a striking yet minimal pattern so it is important to not overcrowd the space but also not leave the design feeling empty. I generally start with the colours; I like to work with 3-4 different colours as I have always felt that minimal doesn’t have to mean black and white! Once I have picked out the tones I start the process of building the pattern up; for this line of patterns I worked with lines only but for the next line I’ll be working with shapes as well.
The flexibility of my iPad means that I can work on my design whenever inspiration hits hence the weird workings spaces! When it comes to finishing the designs though I always work in the same space, my living room. Each design is refined and adapted for the various products on my computer at home which is hooked up to my television enabling me to blow my designs up to large scale and really get the details right.
After each file is finalised the work with my specialised printers begins; I chose early on to work with professional printers as I knew that I wanted to have a high end finish that I couldn’t achieve at this stage. I work with two printers to deliver my designs, one that specializes in high end textile printing and another for the items that involve paper. They are both British companies and I am proud to be an entirely made in Britain designer.
The process to finalise the items I currently have in my Etsy shop was a long one as I wanted to make sure that everything was perfect and consistent with each and every item that went out. I have to say that I am really happy with result and can’t wait to launch the next line of designs!
What inspires your work? Geometry, Pattern, and Straight Lines. When I look back at my work across all the fields I have dabbled in there is definitely one constant, my aesthetic. I have always leaned towards working with straight lines and geometry. From the scaffolding structure I built during my BTEC to the Stringwall I installed while volunteering at the Silk Mill Museum I have always worked with the straight lines and the patterns they make. This aesthetic still inspires me and I draw a lot of my starting imagery from architecture and modern art. I have always loved Piet Mondrian and I feel that it is his use of colour that pushes me to avoid the black and white of traditional minimalism.
So many things influence me on a day to day basis but if any of you are looking for a healthy dose of daily design inspiration you can never go wrong with Dezeen!
What are you currently working on? I’m currently developing both new designs and new products to expand my shop. The big plan is to launch a new line of three more designs by the end of the summer and, as I mentioned earlier, I am toying with shape for these designs and I am really excited about the way they are developing. Alongside this I am developing some new products to expand the range of my designs available for your home. Natalie North Design has always been planned to evolve into a bespoke interior design service so I’m hoping through the introduction of more homewares we can continue to move towards this goal!
That’s sounds like a fantastic vision you have for your business and based on what we’ve seen of your designs I’m sure it’s going to be great success.
How have you found your Etsy journey so far? In Etsy I have found a whole new community of supportive and fascinating people! It has been so much more than a vehicle for developing my business and has actually linked me to the people that I go to with my wins, my disappointments, and to ask advice. I couldn’t recommend it more highly to anyone considering it; not only is it a great place to show off your creations but a great way to meet like minded people! I have to agree with you on that one, it has been a little bit of a relief and inspiration meeting so many like minded people all on similar journeys facing different business and personal challenges, with the same doubts and insecurities. It really is a fantastic and supportive community!
Any lessons learned so far that you would like to share with other Etsy makers or online sellers? The biggest lesson I have learnt is to get your manufacturers form in early. It is easy to be daunted by it and worry that your printers won’t get approved but it is nothing to worry about! The team at Etsy are really good and understand that for some of us the creative process benefits from some professional equipment that we can not access on our own. Although the team are great the process can be lengthy and I made the mistake of trying to perfect my shop before submitting which ultimately slowed my progress down. So that would be my advice if you work with a printer or other outside help submit your manufacturer application early and perfect your shop while you wait for it to be approved!
Your favourite make so far? My favourite make so far has been the Asymmetric Scatter Double Sided Cotton Cushion.
Everyone that sees it in person comments on how much they like it and how they love how simple it is; I always smile politely and thank them while silently lamenting about how complex it actually was to finish!
The pattern itself wasn’t too bad as I had quite a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve in my mind although this is still 1 of 5 designs that I tried! The true complexity came when organising it on the cushion. I experimented with a few different placements before deciding that I wanted the pattern to originate all from one corner spanning out across the cushion. Working on the templates for this was a little trickier than another alternative but I was determined; the cushion then went back and forth with the printer several times, each time adjusting how the patterns met each other at the seam, until it was perfect. I’m so happy with the result and wouldn’t change a thing but can’t help silently cursing every time I hear how wonderfully simple it is!
Isn’t that always the way though? A lot of people seem to think that everything is simple, until they try it themselves! They maybe never appreciate how much time, effort and work goes into each piece, but I’m sure many, especially designers, will see it for the simple perfection that it is and appreciate the work it took getting there. Maybe now you’ve done this article hopefully your fans might have more of an appreciation too 🙂 Your best seller? At the moment my notebooks are my bestseller; I think the A6 size and slimness appeals to people. At this size they are great for slipping into a bag for jotting down your day to day thoughts. I even market them as ‘everyday carry’ because I know that I always have one with me for noting down my thoughts and important things to remember!
What’s next for your shop? The next big thing will be the launch of my new line of patterns at the end of the summer but also keep your eyes peeled for different products over the coming months! Very exciting I certainly will keep a look out and maybe you can come back and share your lovely makes after your new products are launched.
The concept behind EcoDeer, they make me chuckle every time I see them, paired with their minimal aesthetic makes them an awesome shop in my books. They make plant versions of mounted antlers, it sounds weird but they are great – check them out! I love these, as a veggie having an antler head on the wall, even a cardboard or felt one isn’t quite my cup of tea, but plants and flowers displayed in this way are lovely, so unique and right up my alley!
GingerbreadJewellery create beautiful and fun food inspired jewellery that make perfect gifts! I especially love their macaroon bracelets – so sweet! Excuse the pun.
Excused, I think every blog article should have at least one pun! I love the colours of the macaroons, yum! They really do look good enough to eat. The whole shop looks delicious and I hope my bestie isn’t reading as she’ll know what she’s getting for her birthday. 😉
Your favourite Etsy purchase? I have to say that my favourite buy from Etsy was a felt card from Mombi & Ted. Their shop is full to the brim with fun gifts and well worth a visit if you need something to smile at! When I saw their Lumpy Space Princess, Adventure Time birthday card I couldn’t resist! It sums her character up perfectly and when I handed it over to the birthday girl she really laughed! In fact I think she liked it more than the gift I had bought for her!
Where can we find you on the web to come and say ‘hi’?
Etsy Shop: www.natalienorthdesign.etsy.com
My Website: www.natalienorthdesign.com
A huge thank you to Natalie for sharing her story so far. Please, please, please if you have read this far could you (pretty please) take a moment to share this article to help spread the word about Natalie’s beautiful designs… the link to this article is: http://wp.me/p7t6oh-da
If you want to tweet it or post on Facebook that would be soooo appreciated. It’s hard work getting products seen and getting the message out with all the Etsy, Facebook and Google algorithm changes, it means we rely on readers to help spread the word more than ever! I hope you have a moment to browse the full range in Natalie’s shop and don’t forget to check back in a couple of months for her summer collection!
Next Friday we will be featuring Jes Hooper Pyrography, I hope you pop back for a read!
PS you might also be interested in reading about some gorgeous paper cuts that are showcased on my Leapup #FeatureFriday blog post. If you get a chance pop over and meet the very talented Natasha Sorelli from Natsula Designs…