The Fri-YAY Surprise presents… Claireabellemakes

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Posted on 22nd March 2018

I’m Claire and I run creative lifestyle brand Claireabellemakes from my home studio in Cambridge. When I’m not designing, I’m usually obsessing over stationery and planners or riding my bicycle Florence. I make colourful and positive products to bring a little bit of happiness into your every day life. You’ll find greetings cards, stationery, accessories and gifts in my shop, with a little glitter thrown in too!  OK, maybe a lot of glitter. 

Why do you create? What positives does it bring to your life? How has it challenged you?

I’ve always enjoyed having a project on the go, but creativity has given me so many things. It has kept me curious, given me an opportunity to learn, and enabled me to connect with like minded people. In terms of the positives, earning a living from creativity has been one of the most satisfying things in my life! I suffer with chronic migraine too, and creating has provided a distraction to my condition and has given me an outlet for coping at times. 

Share a part of your making or design process. What makes what you do unique?

All my designs start as a sketch in my Bullet Journal and usually progress into different versions as the idea grows. If I am working on a greetings card, I work with colourful patterned paper designs and physical Scrabble letter tiles to create a 3D image. I then shoot that image and digitally edit to create a 2D photographic card or print. I love that they still look 3D once printed. My goal is to make quirky cards with all the colours. For the Fri-YAY surprise I realised I had used orange for one of the items and it was a colour I hadn’t explored in my products before……I do have to push myself to use other colours than pink sometimes 😉

Who inspires you?

So many people! A lot of makers in the community inspire me – most recently Sarah from Geo Heaven. Sarah’s 3D printed geometric jewellery pieces are so unique and she nailed her branding right away when she launched in 2016. I look up to makers and creatives who push the boundaries and try something new because they have a genuine passion for it. You see the word ‘authentic’ used a lot on social media these days, but it really shows when someone is doing what they love.  I’m also really inspired by men in the creative industries! Guys like Christian from Stolen Form and Jamie aka Mr X Stitch are always up to something exciting and edgy and they some of my favourites to catch up with at events.

Which piece of work are you most proud of and why?

At Christmas I made laser cut bicycle decorations in glitter colours and hand painted wooden versions. They sold really well and I had some great feedback from customers. One family took the time to send me an email after they had purchased a white wooden decoration in memory of their husband and father. He had lost his life whilst riding his white bicycle and they wanted to share with me that they had found great comfort in hanging the decoration in his memory. I cried my eyes out reading that feedback, but it validated all the hard work I did during the Christmas rush and in the months leading up during the design process. You never know how much your creativity can touch someone else’s life and it was a pretty special moment for me that I won’t forget. 

If you could change one thing about your creativity what would it be?

Lately it would be my faith in running a creative business! Sometimes we experience creative funks which is all part of the process, but they are tricky to get past and often knock your confidence. If we could all have a creative life without the funks or ‘feeling stuck’ it would be amazing! Saying that, those funks and harder times keep us pushing forward 

Favourite material and why?

At the moment I am absolutely loving glitter fabric. It’s pretty versatile and non-shedding and I get so many ideas when I look at a roll of sparkle for some reason! It just feels a little bit magical and like it is waiting to be transformed into a glittery winner to brighten someone’s day. 

Sharing is caring; will you reveal one of your suppliers and explain why they’re great.

For my products that require laser cutting, I outsource to 2 really fantastic small businesses based here in the UK. Bespoke Laser and YEAH Laser both have amazing customer service, small minimums and quick turnaround times. Even though they both offer the same services, I still like to use both because I love supporting other businesses in our community.  

What tips would you give someone aspiring to lead a more creative life?

Just do a little bit each day! I do something creative for 10 minutes every day, even if it is a small practice like journaling or cutting fabric for a project. I am someone who loves learning new things and being creative lends itself to that. I try most crafts once and if they don’t suit me, I move on! 

Tell us something fun that your customers won’t know about you!

I once made coffee for Johnny Depp! As a student I worked in Starbucks in London’s Leicester Square where all the film premieres took place. His assistant came in and ordered so we added loads of drawings to his paper cup like giddy school girls. We caught a glimpse of him outside surrounded by fans and bodyguards, but never knew if he enjoyed his cuppa……

What’s the one thing in your workshop/craft room/creative space you can’t live without?

My pegboard and stand! It’s the focal point on my desk which holds popular stock that I can grab easily, as well as tools that I use regularly. The pegboard is from Amazon which I painted myself, then I had the guys at The Workbench Shop make a custom stand. It packs down so that I can take it to craft markets and use as my display, so it’s multi-purpose. I also love my packing cart (good old IKEA Raskog) and parcel scales. I always want to keep my space colourful as it inspires me.

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