I have a treat for you this Monday. This month I had the opportunity to interview Hannah Bass, a new needlepoint/ tapestry designer. She just launched her contemporary tapestry business with a line of city map needlepoint kits at the end of 2014 and already has rocked the needlework scene. Her work is fresh, great quality and well priced. Why don’t we take the time to get to know Hannah a little bit better.
Jenny: What is your earliest memory involving needlework?
Hannah: Stitching in the countryside around a log fire with my cousins during the holidays. It’s pretty much a bit of a Jane Austin picture! I have a very big family – we have to hire a restaurant on Christmas day to fit us all in one room for Christmas dinner – so stitching was a way to keep us quiet for a bit as children.
Jenny: What was the main motive in starting Hannah Bass Contemporary Tapestry?
Hannah: I have always loved making things. As a child I was always making new homes for my Sylvanian Families. Coming from an Interior Design background, I wanted to make / stitch something that I could proudly show off in my home. I was struggling to find a contemporary tapestry to buy, which planted a seed in my mind. I made a London map as a hobby, and friends seemed to love it. It grew from there.
Jenny: What are some challenges that you face as a new designer?
Hannah: Time! There are so many factors involved in starting a company. Being a creative person, I have a lot of ideas – but I never have anytime to make them a reality. I have a long ‘to-do’ list and am learning to be patient. I have found that starting a company is ‘trial and error’, making mistakes is part of the learning curve. I have learnt not to be too hard on myself & grow broad shoulders. The biggest challenge for me is spreading the word of mouth. I would much rather spend my time designing a new tapestry than ‘marketing’ my product – I must make more time for this and do better!
Jenny: How do you view the industry as a whole in the UK? . . .internationally?
Hannah: I find the people involved within the industry are lovely. They are happy to give me time to share their experience and advice. I think this says a lot about the industry. However, I do feel that the industry could be ‘freshened – up’ & made more relevant to today’s trends to entice the next generation into stitching. I love selling my tapestries at fairs, to see my customers face to face. It’s so interesting, all age groups seem to be attracted to my tapestries – which I love!
Jenny: Who are some of your favorite artists/ designers?
Hannah: Has to be Emily Peacock, she got me back into stitching as an adult. I bought her large ‘Hug’ and ‘Kiss’ tapestries, took them both on holiday with me to Spain and stitched for 2 weeks solid by the pool. I have them framed in my hallway and they make me smile everytime I see them.
Jenny: What is your take on the “slow movement?
Hannah: I think it’s incredibly important to take a moment and reflect once in a while. It puts thing into perspective. There are so many technological distractions, sometimes I find it hard to sit there and just enjoy the moment doing nothing. I think it’s very healthy for the brain to slow down every so often. Stitching creates this meditative calm inside me, my can brain drift off to a different place even though Im still stitching.
Jenny: What is your favorite color composition?
Hannah: I like change, so I don’t have a favourite. But Im attracted to the bright hues in nature. You can’t beat bright contrasting wild flowers growing in a field. I love bright colours they affect my mood, they make the world seem a more happy place.
Jenny: Can you describe a typical day at work?
Hannah: Tea in bed at 8.30 where I answer my emails & get a fresh piece of paper to write the day’s to-do list. I get tremendous satisfaction crossing the list off one by one as the day goes by. I tend to work on my latest designs in the morning in my pyjamas. As I work from home it’s important to get out the house and break the day up, so I go for jog at 12. After this I get the days orders together and walk to the Post Office to dispatch them. I always stop at my local coffee shop on the way back and work remotely from there for a good hour sending out the days emails. This involves marketing, tweaking the website, working with suppliers, costings etc. The rest of the afternoon is spent on designing. Dinner is about 8. After this I’ll watch a couple of hours TV whilst stitching a new prototype.
Jenny: What is the best part of your job / work?
Hannah: Designing. I love it. It’s wonderful to spend time creating something and then see it come to reality.
Jenny: Who are your kits intended for?
Hannah: For anyone. I like the meditation of stitching rather than the challenge of it. So it was important to be that my designs were simple. That’s why the design is printed on the canvas, to take the strain away. You stitch the text first, then put the roads in. After this, it’s just a matter of filling in blocks of colour – easy peasy! Having done a number of fairs now, I have no idea who my demographic is, all ages seem to buy it, as does men, as well as women.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me! xo Jenny