Next up on my tour of MADE London was sitting down for a chat with Zoe Larkins from ‘Love from Hetty and Dave‘, an amazing handmade range of textile accessories and jewellery. With cheery animals and more than a little humour, I knew Zoe would be as awesome as her creations. And I was right!
Why ‘Hetty and Dave’?
I bought a photograph from a junk shop when I was at uni of this couple on what looks like their 60th wedding anniversary. She’s got really brilliant cat eye glasses on, and he’s got like magnifying glasses on and I just fell in love with it. When I got home, I took the picture out the frame and saw on the back it said, ‘To Mary and Bill, love from Hetty and Dave’. The photo was a bit of a standing joke in our student house ‘cos it was on top of the telly, and everyone asked, ‘Who are they?’ and found it hilarious. So we just called the business that!
Ace. What uni did you go to?
It was KIAD – Kent Institute of Art & Design, it’s Surrey Institue of Art & Design now. I studied silver and goldsmithing.
French Kitty Brooch // £14
That’s obviously quite different to what you’re doing now – how did that little journey happen?
I just hated it! I did my 3 years, just about scraped a third, don’t know how I passed at all, and just really wanted to work with textiles. But well, you pick up different skills on the way and meet different people at uni, so if I hadn’t gone there, maybe I wouldn’t be doing this now. You just don’t know do you?
You don’t. It’s the way that life works and I think that’s how it should be!
Someone said the other day ‘If your path is clear, you’re on someone else’s path’.
I haven’t heard that before – it’s really reassuring! That’s why I’m doing ‘Meet the Makers’ – I just have so much admiration for people like yourself who have a passion and are following it, and you’re not sitting in an office going ‘I really wish I could do that.’
Well, I used to work in offices and all the time I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to be doing this’ so I worked every hour of the day and night. Just worked in the office during the day, got home and started making. And I don’t know how I did it now, it was really full-on until I could do this permanently and full-time. It’s definitely been worth it! Yeah, I love it. I’m so pleased I put in the hours.
Apple of my Eye necklace // £28
What do you get up to outside of Love from Hetty and Dave? Do you have any other hobbies?
Well, I have just started a ceramics evening class, which I absolutely love. I used to really love doing ceramics at school when I was about 16. I teach workshops and one of my friends was actually coming to my workshop and said she was teaching ceramics courses and I thought, ‘Ohhh I’d quite like to do that’. So I do that at the moment and I think I’m just going to keep enrolling on her course every 12 weeks cos it’s soooo brilliant! I’m just always making, I can’t relax unless I’m doing something with my hands.
Do you ever feel like it’s become too much like work? The inspiration’s not there so much and sometimes it’s harder to get into than other times?
Occasionally, but I am really motivated so I don’t really ever feel, ‘Uhhh, I don’t want to do it today’. That’s really rare for me. There might be the odd week where I’m just knackered out, but no, I’m just always making stuff. I suppose when I’m not I spend quite a lot of time with my sister hanging out with their dog, I just like being around animals.
Cuthbert: dapper slug draft excluder extraordinaire // £28
And where do you get your inspiration from? Slugs, for example…
All over the place really. The slugs actually started when I was doing these little cat beanbag things from old cashmere jumpers and I had all these off-cuts of cashmere. I didn’t want to chuck them out but I couldn’t really make much from them and there were some slug-shaped off-cuts and I thought, ‘Well I’ll just make them up and see what happens’. Did not expect anything, I thought, ‘Oh well I’ll have these for years hanging around the shop’, and then they just went instantly. So I actually don’t bother making the cats anymore. But they’ve sort of grown into draft excluders. These ones are actually very English ones, but I do do French ones, black and white stripy ones, I love them. They look amazing – you’ve actually made slugs cute and that’s quite impressive!
Was this always your plan? Do you have a plan B if it was all to change tomorrow?
I don’t know. There were times when my Mum was like, ‘Right. You’ve just got to give yourself a time-frame and if it’s not working out by then you’ve got to rethink it.’ But I wasn’t really prepared to do that! I thought, ‘I’ve got to make this work’.
So are your parents quite creative as well?
Yeah, they are quite actually. That must be very supportive. Yeah, really supportive actually. And my sister (who I’m sharing a stand with) is obviously creative. We all are really. My parents don’t do creative jobs as such but you know, it is there.
Otis the owl leather clutch bag (one-off) // £120
One thing I’m interested in is social media. How do you find doing self-promotion? Do you find it quite difficult/time-consuming to put yourself out there? Or is it easy?
To start with, I found it really hard. I found it hard to let go and sort of… I don’t know, I was a bit embarrassed about it, like, ‘Ohhh what are people going to think?’ But now I’ve kind of got over that and I find it quite easy, because it’s so visual. I really try to put something on every day, just to keep people interested, and I really enjoy that. I like Facebook because it connects with everything like Twitter, but Facebook is really what I enjoy.
I can imagine a lot of creators finding the ‘technological’ side of things quite difficult, as it’s not really something you used to have to think about with crafting.
Some people do struggle with it, but I always say to my friends, ‘You’ve got to do the social networking’ even if you hate it. It’s so important now.’ And I see the drop in my sales if I don’t do anything online even if just for a few days, I see my online sales drop dramatically. Really? That’s really interesting! Yeah, it’s such a powerful tool for me. I try and do Instagram, but I’ve got a rubbish phone!
Bumble bee leather shoes // £32
Is there a reason you’ve gone for quite unusual animals – badgers, foxes…? I like that they’re not your usual cute puppies.
I like all the woodlandy stuff, and I’m sort of a bit of a country girl at heart, living in Dorset. I like foxes, hedgehogs, squirrels…
Are there any other crafters, magazines or blogs that you read or recommend; anything you particularly follow and get inspired by?
(Laughs) Do you know what? I’m so in my own little bubble that I don’t know too much. Someone bought something of mine and my sister said, ‘Do you know who that is?’ and I said, ‘No’. Apparently it was quite a famous embroiderer! I’ve got some really crafty friends and I just really adore their work. That must be really nice. Yeah, I think because I don’t get up to London so much now and there isn’t an awful lot going on down there (in Dorset), I do just sort of get caught up in my own little thing.
I read a lot of magazines, especially ‘Mollie Makes’
Ah yeah, I think I’m in that next month! Oh, brilliant! And is that them approaching you? Yeah. That must be a really incredible feeling when that first happens. Yeah brilliant. I think in Mollie Makes I’m in like nearly every month (laughs), which is great. And I do really like that magazine – it’s lovely to flick through when I get it through the post,
I think I’d find it quite hard to let go of, when you’re making stuff that you love.
I think I have that a lot with my workshops. I teach workshops and people say ‘I’m going to make this for a friend’ but at the end of the workshop, they’re like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna keep this, and I’m just not going to tell them.’
Brilliant, thank you so much for your time Zoe. It was really really nice to meet you!
I’m now currently sat here wondering exactly why I don’t have a giant kingfisher brooch to cheer me up every day, and wishing I lived near Bournemouth so I could check out one of Zoe’s workshops.
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