Hey! Let me introduce you to my small home studio in South Liverpool, a sentence I've only ever dreamed of being able to say. Believe me when I say, my studio (please definitely read that with inverted commas) really isn't much to look act. In fact, it's not really a studio at all, it's our conservatory that I gradually converted it into my own crafting space. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
After purchasing a set of 4 terrazzo coasters from TK Maxx in February 2020 (and inevitably being unable to find more of the same coasters because, well, it's TK Maxx), I figured, okay, I can't find these but how hard can it be, I can surely make these myself? Little did I know, that question would be the very start of my journey into building, crafting and designing my very own homewares!
I spent months researching, I'm talking heaps of research.
What material do I source?
How do I find the perfect shaped silicone moulds?
What is the aggregate inside the coaster made from?
How do I pigment the coasters and the aggregate?
What greener alternative can I use on the base, instead of little plastic feet?
It took a lot of wrong answers to finally find the right ones. Sourcing the right materials in the right sizes was probably the hardest. As I started making, I'd discover more questions I needed to answer. It was very much one step forwards, two steps back. It sounds quite disheartening when I phrase it that way, but I was indeed enjoying myself. I want to stress that, I am genuinely enjoying this journey. Discovering and learning and making things from scratch is such a rewarding way to be.
Instagram, particularly Instagram Stories, were honestly the most meaningful tutor for me. Once I had found the word terrazzo, pieces really started to fall into place.
It was after this revolution I discovered Jesmonite AC100, a powder + liquid composite, once mixed creates a wonderfully hardy yet versatile material. It pigments wonderfully and can imitate virtually any surface property.
The process suddenly became quite simple; I pour Jesmonite into 1-2mm thin pigmented sheets and crunch these down into little chips, mixing these chips to my product base to create the aggregate look, sand away the top layer and reveal a beautiful and expressive terrazzo piece.
I couldn't stop making them. Honestly, there isn't a surface in my house without a handmade coaster on it. It's such a joy to experiment with colour combinations and to reveal how the pattern has fallen during the sanding process.
I'm making this sound easy when I reflect. Honestly, it really wasn't. There was a lot of failure at this point. I couldn't figure out how to make pastel colours, my ratios were all wrong and the terrazzo chips were scarcely visible. I also really wanted to make specific shapes but was limited by my moulds. This is very much the Dunning-Kruger effect at play. It felt that as soon as I started getting better and understanding the process, the less I actually knew about anything at all.
When I compare what I was making 12 months ago to where I am now, I can't actually believe the transformation (I also can't believe some of the pieces I used to be really proud of...) I'd made a lot of items by this point and I had nowhere to store them or use them, especially once I started making plant pots just for fun. On a complete whim, I decided to book myself into a Maker's Market after the second lockdown. Just to put the feelers out. I was a hit! People who weren't family or friends were actually buying my things! They were taking my little handwritten business cards and they were telling me they loved my pieces! That was the moment everything changed.
I set up my Etsy stall, I booked into a Christmas Market at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral (and almost completely sold out) and I was getting large volume order requests. Hey Kiddo Co. had arrived and I'm still stunned by every single person who likes or comments or messages me something sweet and to those who order with me, I feel like I have to repeatedly pinch myself.
Named as a nod to my little brother, Hey Kiddo Co. has been an incredible creative outlet for me and has only pushed me to be bolder, braver and believe more in all that I do.
Life doesn't happen to you, it happens for you.