Indigo: A lot! It’s in human nature - whether it be in the way you cook, write, live, dress or speak, I believe that everyone is innately creative in their own way. I create art, write short stories and music so it’s a large part of my life. In business though, we need to be constantly creative too - doing things differently can set you a part and there’s a lot of creative problem solving involved.
What do you think it is about your nature/habits/interests that makes you creative?
Indigo: I think my creativity lies in bringing a number of elements together to achieve the results I am looking for. This could be elements in my freelance graphic design - colour, texture, type etc - or skills and people within a collaboration. In terms of physically creating, I love making woodblock prints, black/white illustrations, painting and doing our store ﬁt outs with Wills. I am a super visually stimulated person and believe that what we see around has huge effects on our wellbeing, purchasing and mood.
Wills: Creativity to me is problem solving. I like making things and am constantly improving/perfecting them or the processes behind them. Maybe that helps me think out of the box but I just can’t stop thinking and making!
What ﬁrst drew you to your chosen ﬁeld?
It’s in human nature - whether it be in the way you cook, write, live, dress or speak, I believe that everyone is innately creative in their own way.
Indigo: I’m yet to know exactly what our best ideas are! But most of our ideas come when we step away for a bit. For me, that usually means running in the bush. When we take a break, we often come back early or start working because we get inspired in new spaces.
Wills: I’m continually trying to make a better product so I do a lot of researching and trials in the development stages. Generally I lie awake in bed for a while at night or in the morning and work through ideas in my head until I ﬁnd solutions.
What does inspiration look like for you?
Indigo: Inspiration is what moves us forward, gets us to try harder and try different things. It teaches us to look in different places for the solutions we are looking for. It’s uncontrollable though, just like creativity which it’s such a part of - it never works on demand and for me, often comes when I am nowhere near the thing I am hoping for inspiration for - or in the middle of the night ;)
Wills: It’s the drive to keep going - in many different ways - to get where you want to be, even if that ‘place’ changes over time.
Is there an ethos/motto you abide by in your work?
Our work must be of a high quality, as ethical and sustainable as we can and unique. It must be in-house made, locally sourced or fairly traded - made without costing the Earth or compromising the people we work with. (There is always room for improvement with any decision though! e.g cotton, even organically grown cotton, is not the best environmental solution and nor is importing/exporting. We’d love to make our t-shirts from locally grown and sewn hemp fabric.)
If there were a secret to success, what would it be?
We’re not sure how to measure success but the one thing we can credit to getting us as far as we have is the value of kindness. Our business is built upon relationships - with our suppliers, our collaborators, our guest artists, our (very few) staff and our wonderfully supportive customers. Kindness is free and the results of these relationships are what keep people talking about The Paper Rain Project.
What were some of the challenges that you faced early on? What went wrong? Any regrets?
What have been some of the highlights of your career?
We don’t really see it as a career, but the highlights of Paper Rain so far have been…learning how to screen-print our apparel ourselves (in our garage!), the relationships we have built with our ﬁrst staff and getting 531 percent of our Kickstarter goal. The very best thing for us is the continually growing relationship we have with our “tribe”- our guest artists, suppliers, staff, causes and audience.
What do you think New Zealand is like for creativity? Is there something about 'Kiwiness' that helps or hinders?
What would be the advice you’d give someone who wants to turn their creative passion into a full-time gig?
Go for it! Just be aware that it may not feel so good once it becomes your job. There is a ﬁne balance and many times, we have felt so far away from the creative sphere we started because we have been chin-deep in accounts, staff and stock management, order fulﬁlment and ﬁnancial planning. If you want to sell your creative work as a job, you need to be prepared to really get behind it! This can be hard as it can feel like selling a part of yourself but if you’re not prepared to get behind your work and get it out there, you’ll really struggle to succeed. Learn to price properly - people will value your work when you do. Also, get a feel for the industry standard and rate; if you sell yourself short, you are also selling the industry short… Finally, ask ask ask. We have been blown away by the replies and support we have received when we have asked for it. In turn, we now take time to pass knowledge and connections on to those who ask us - it’s a big circle.
What have been the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Enthusiasm and a gut feeling aren’t enough reason to do something. There is a huge amount to be said for getting third party advice and doing the proper research. We have committed to leases in places that almost killed us, sold stock to businesses that never paid us…. We now have a great ﬁnancial advisor and are looking for the right business mentors. We say this in terms of ﬁnance though - generally we have a pretty good instinct with people and love those we get to work with!
Where to next? Do you have a goal you’re working towards?
Hmm.. in all honesty, we feel like we’re at a point where our business could either tip (due to ﬁnance) or take off! We have been looking for the right investors but who knows where the business could go. We have big dreams of making clothing out of NZ grown hemp and fully manufacturing here….We want to be making quantiﬁable positive impact on the conservation and social projects we (and our artists/tribe) help to support.
Personally, we are looking to increase the time we spend outside - rock-climbing, hiking, kayaking and surﬁng - spending more time in the environment we are trying to protect and the lifestyle we advocate. Oh, & building a tiny house! Soon Indigo wants to hike a 2-3 month section of the Paciﬁc Crest Trail or Appalachian Trail in the USA next year while Wills wants to head to Thailand to learn Permaculture techniques. Watch the space!
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