I have had a life long passion for fabrics and print. So it was no surprise that my eye was drawn to the work of this weeks Creative Corner Interviewee. The products produced by Cotton Sox are just beautiful and I’ve put on of her notebooks down on my birthday list!
1. Introduce Yourself
Hi, I am Sharon, a South African by birth, free-spirited individual by desire, nomad by circumstance, creative by design, and all with a newly revealed 91% British DNA! Life and wanderlust has seen me living in South Africa, Scotland, Uganda, Ghana, and I now call England home.
Taking inspiration from all things beautiful, magical, and whimsical. I love nature and photography, I can often be found with my camera taking photographs, absorbing nature, and meditating. I am drawn to the sea and long to live close to the ocean and beach again. Crazy about dogs, elephants, and most crafts. I am happiest when being creative. My earliest creative memories are as a child being absolutely over the moon with a gift of wax crayons … nothing much has changed.
2. Tell us a bit about your business
Cotton-sox is my online African textile inspired home décor and accessories business. Having grown up in South Africa I have fond childhood memories of a 100% cotton calico fabric known as Shweshwe. My main source of inspiration is channelled by this African fabric which is produced in and imported from South Africa.
Shweshwe was introduced to South Africa in the 1840’s which was influenced by the French and German missionaries. The Xhosa women gradually added this ‘blue print’ to their blanket clothing and further integrated Shweshwe into their traditional weddings and culture. Today’s Shweshwe is printed in many vibrant colours and characterised by intricate geometric patterns. It is widely used in home textiles, and clothing which have been seen on the fashion catwalks of Paris.
The Shweshwe range have the unique traditional characteristics of taste, touch and smell which are all identifiable by the authenticating 3 CATS back-stamp that confirms the products are ‘original Shweshwe’. Only ‘original’ Three Cats™ Shweshwe fabrics are used in my products where Shweshwe is incorporated.
I am always in search of new ideas and designs hoping to inspire you to incorporate a little bit of Africa into your home.
3. What made you start your own business?
I am an entrepreneur by heart, and after working in the hospitality and service industry for many years I opened and ran my own coffee shop eatery business, followed by two bead stores all back in South Africa. After our relocation to the UK I was inspired to bring a bit of Africa with me and cotton-sox was borne. I am passionate about what I do, and I love the freedom that working from home gives me where I can manage my business and my home simultaneously.
4. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
With the knowledge and experience of having run a couple of my own businesses before and the need and want to work from home I decided the time was right for me to put my African
dream into place in the UK. I am self-taught in most creative endeavours; however, I was taught as a young child by my grandmother to sew, which I then followed through with at school. Later in life I was often found sewing for both myself and my daughter making anything from toys to clothing and homeware.
5. Explain your creative process
My creativity and ideas mostly come to me late at night. These are then documented, usually sketching is involved with plenty of note taking. In the morning I will do research sourcing the supplies that are required. After washing and ironing the Shweshwe fabric loses the starch and distinctive smell it has and becomes soft and ready for use. Once everything is in place I can begin my designing processes. After each item is completed they are photographed and uploaded onto my website followed by social media marketing.Cotton Sox #CreativeCorner Interview Click To Tweet
6. Describe your typical day
First a necessary cup of coffee, followed by catching up with the news, and responding to social media comments and queries. Orders are naturally my priority and are carefully packaged and posted. Any unfinished projects would follow in between house work, shopping and taking our dog for a walk in the nearby woods. I try to cook our main meal as early as I can that then leave me free to do more crafting and sewing before bed.
7. What is your biggest seller
My cushion covers are a firm favourite followed by the Shweshwe trimmed guest and tea towels. The Africa box frames are popular with those who have an association with Africa and the notebooks seem to go down well too.
10% discount on a minimum spend of 20 pounds use code CRAFTCORNER10
8. What have been the high and low points of running your own business?
For me the biggest high is getting a great review from a customer and knowing that you have met or exceeded their expectations. I am always excited to see a new idea materialise with the desired result achieved.
Low points would be when sales are slow and fresh marketing ideas are required.
9. What would be your top tips for running your own creative business?
– Don’t be afraid to take the first step; ask family and friends for honest feedback.
– Do as much research as you can beforehand, and then do more.
– Always be organised and present your work well.
– Don’t be afraid of competition, competition is healthy. Remember your product is only unique for around 24 hours after that it can be brought to market by anyone who is out to copy you.
– Always go the extra mile its tough out there and only the best will succeed.
– Most importantly be passionate about what you do and have fun, this is your journey.
10. What are your aspirations?
cotton-sox is a fledgling business that opened its doors in October of last year. My dreams and plans are to take cotton-sox to the interior design markets, growing it into a business where I can give back to a vetted charitable organisation in South Africa. Since a child I have had it within me to want to give back and to help others less fortunate than myself.
11. Where can we find you?
I would love for you to pop in and visit my website. Connect with me on my social media platforms. If you have any queries or requests drop me an email. I will do my utmost to help where I can. I look forward to meeting you. Sharon xx
Website : www.cotton-sox.com
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/cottonsox9
Pinterest : https://www.pinterest.com/cottonsox9
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/cottonsox9
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