Tinch Design's Helen Riley-Duddin dishes on keeping the creative juices flowing and growing a small business.
My first job was... 'Weeder', age 6, I earned $2/hour on my parent's certified organic market garden!
I've worked a chain of interesting jobs since then which I think all contribute in funny ways to how I operate in business, but I think the first 'real' job that got me passionate for what I do now was while completing my Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing, and Bachelor of Arts in Design from Otago Uni - I was tutoring for the Design Department that I was studying in at the time. I loved contributing to the learning process of fellow design students.
And now the title on my business card is... Not printed; the list is too long! Owner, designer, maker, researcher, photographer, marketing manager, part time design teacher, admin, mum, cleaner, tea-lady...
(When I designed my cards I considered leaving a gap to handwrite on, depending on who I was giving it to!)
Which really means... I'm a self-employed perfectionist who can juggle. When I have to introduce myself to someone I normally use one of a few main titles; Designer (communication/ graphic/ product), Mum or teacher.
My day starts with... Coffee, kindy drop-off, checking emails, social media – often all at once with the help of my iPhone and husband.
And ends with... Wine with a few episodes of Community to laugh at on a good day!
And in between, I ... Try to fit about 60 hours work into a 20-hour childfree week!
I spend a lot of time at the computer; updating my order system, liaising with customers, suppliers & stockists, keeping in touch with lovely fans mostly through Facebook or Twitter, designing new wallscapes, editing product photos, dealing with suppliers & keeping the accounts sort of up to date.
Most of my work time is used in production mode, I wish I had more than two hands. A lot of my range is handmade. Bonus jobs are scouring local opshops for more unloved materials and catching up with my wee network of fellow teachers, makers and friends in the industry.
All while keeping creative ideas flowing, and keeping strategic about expanding and becoming more efficient along the way.
My first artistic memory is... Probably drawing a picture on our family yacht (about age 4?), telling my Dad to stop the boat from rocking because it was bumping my drawing!
From a young age I used the word 'tinch' to describe an intuitive measurement, I think I was probably thinking 'if Dad could steady the boat a tinch, I could colour better'.
'tinching' things is what I still do now.
If I wasn't doing this, I'd ... Probably wish I was! Or I'd be doing more teaching at the Otago Polytechnic design school
I'm inspired by... Demand actually. I find the more busy I become, the more it feeds new ideas. I think there's an amazing connection between demand and confidence for a small creative business like mine. Although this sort of growth may not be all that sustainable for a one-man-band, if I can grow another hand, or find another 20 hours a week, (or just hire someone), I could turn a lot more ideas into reality.
Visually, I'm most inspired by the unlikely materials I chose to work with. I create my wallscapes only from materials that otherwise wouldn't be used for homewares, the challenge itself is really inspiring. I work with textiles, mostly fabric offcuts, unwanted garments, or offcuts from vintage wallpapers. I aim to change their context, through a designed process, to reuse their best properties. I'm often inspired by the effect of nostalgia. Pattern, texture, colour and the effect they can have on the walls in daily life is as much of an interesting experiment as it is a fulfilling business concept.
I can't live without... My backyard studio, my iDevices(!), support from my husband, inspiration from my daughter (and also 20 hours ECE!)
True 'style' is... In the details.
My work in three words is... Available for purchase! Or, designed, 'tinchy', eclectic.
'tinch' is the concept unifying the works of designer/maker; Helen Riley-Duddin.
Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription, an Idealog t-shirt and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).