Ahead of the British Craft Trade taking place at the Yorkshire Event Centre in Harrogate from April 7-9 we preview some of the fantastic new designers who will be launching to the trade at this gem of a trade show. The founder of ItsBalderston, Amy Balderston, talks Furious Veg with GGR.
What challenges have you faced in setting up your business (what has the learning curve been like)?
“I am incredibly lucky that I have a day job that (A) I love, and (B) supports their team to develop and explore their own creative practices. So long as I’m not firing up the laser cutter (our #motherfrickinlaser) in work hours, and I am focussed more keenly on community management than pens while I am working – they 100% back me with advice and encouragement.
“Due to this, it hasn’t been too brutal. I have been able to ease it up and reinvest without depending on its success to pay my bills. I work long hours, and packing cards/tea towels etc has had me in tears of frustration when I am worn out. But – It is worth it. Every moment you see a face smile at your work, get a ‘Like’, a new follow or review – it feels like pure joy.
“One big learning curve, it’s ok to be rejected. It stings a little less each time a craft fair, show or shop isn’t sure you’re quite the right fit – there will be others that are perfect. It takes a while to find your happy place in such a busy world of talented makers, but pushing your energy into working hard, developing your brand, building your collections is far more productive than wallowing and feeling that burn.
“I live in a wonderful small town called Otley, right on the brink of the moors and work in central Leeds at a creative workspace Duke Studios. I am lucky enough to have space and inclination to work in both of these magical spaces. Though I have consistently created illustrations for most of my life – I only really started taking it at all seriously in Autumn 2017 – when The Furious Vegetable Army was born.
“I am a real glutton for something that is aesthetically pleasing AND practical. The everyday items that can be made a little unique and bring a smile to someones face. My first product following prints was The Furious Vegetable Army tea towel, designed to be a useful and comic item for pals and family to have at home. Hysterically, half of them ended up framed. I suspect I have since developed my product range further into objects that they will struggle to do that to- and will actually use as intended.
“The Furious Vegetables all started with BIG TOMMY – and while I have to concede that a Tomato shouldn’t really reside in a Vegetable range – he was the start. My then partner, now husband, was experiencing one of those grumps – a consistent but powerful cloud of cantankerous moods. In answer to this – homemade burgers. The crowning glory was an heirloom tomato of chronic proportions that he whisked off and theatrically brought to life as BIG TOMMY – a Scottish and incredibly furious character to grace the top of our tea. From that point, I recreated Tommy, then all of his pals each and every time there was a whiff of a foul mood to cheer him up. I genuinely had no idea how much joy fury could bring – it was out of sheer demand that they were sent on their first print run”.
We were naturally keen to know whether Amy is herself a vegetarian and if that is that why herr veg is so angry!
“I have to admit, beyond a spell in my early twenties – I am not vegetarian. We do eat consciously, and fiercely love food – which is part of the story behind the fury. Both my sister and a number of our best pals are vegetarian or vegan – it has been wonderful to see the ripple of furious gifts spread from them to their pals”.
My collections currently consist of The Furious Vegetable Army, Garden Birds, Hostile Houseplants and Jolly Leaf Pals. A happy rounded four.
That said, I also have an alphabet of flowers currently just produced as prints, a small series of Peeping Veg, and a sniff of a new range called Pesky Fruit Squad. In the next few weeks I will be receiving samples from a very exciting new supplier – which will hopefully see a brand new range of trays, tea tidies and boards to welcome in Summer. It is a very exciting time for me as we start to tip and explore what else we can create, and which designs to step up with next.
“The collections range from £2.50 for a card, to £25 for laser etched serving boards. I like to keep it as affordable and approachable as possible with prints, tea towels, rolling pins and mugs from £10-£15, coasters at £3.50 and utensils at £6.50.
What attracted you to BCTF and do you have any other exhibitions planned?
BCTF came strongly recommended by a ceramist pal I met at a retail fair in 2018. Katie Bentley Ceramics (pictured below) creates the most beautiful wares, and works solidly on her creations full time. She said that exhibiting with BCTF was invaluable to her reality. Everything I have heard, and experienced, gives such a solid level of support and guidance for the big step of your first trade fair. Harrogate has always been a special place to me, nestled up here in Yorkshire. It felt good and right to aim at something so carefully crafted and curated – so close to home.