Alice 8 Years Blank Goods
I have, since I can remember always had a little obsession with stationery, packaging and gifting items. I recall as a child the excitement of preparing for the first day back at school with fresh, crisp new notebooks, pens and other accessories and don’t get me started about my ‘stash’ of papers, printed tape, stamps…..you get the drift.
It was with this same excitement that I first stumbled upon the BLANK Goods range and contacted Danie to learn more about her journey.
I love that the simple yet inspiring range of BLANK packaging and project supplies enables one to create and decorate just the way you like. The range includes gift boxes, bags (I especially love the cotton muslin bags), wrapping and embellishments, craft, party and play supplies. As Danie puts it, ‘your toolbox for personalised goodies, projects and play’, as I put it HEAVEN!
We visited Danie in her colourful, light filled studio to see where she creates and learn more about BLANK Goods.
How did BLANK Goods come to be?
BLANK Goods is a combination of my life long passions! My stationery obsession that started when I was very young, spending all my pocket money at the local newsagent and the wonderful Granny May’s store! Also my love of baking and packaging food gifts, the utter joy I get from organising DIY parties and my own wedding, the special creative projects with my daughters and my career in graphic design.
I have always been a keen internet hunter for hard to find party, craft and stationery supplies and started building quite a collection. I was also motivated to create BLANK Goods so I could design some unique packaging for gifting my Christmas baked goods.
I really enjoy sharing ideas and inspiration on how to have fun with our products. I didn’t want BLANK Goods to simply be a store selling craft supplies. With our online inspiration galleries we hope BLANK inspires you to create your own personalised goodies.
What is your career background?
I studied graphic design at Swinburne University for four years. After graduating I worked in various design studios in Melbourne before starting my own graphic design business in 2000. Over 10 years my design projects were predominantly books I designed and illustrated for Penguin Australia. Most of these books were lovely cookbooks. I was very lucky to combine my love of cooking and design.
Who makes up BLANK Goods team? Management, number of staff?
Me, myself and I. Well most of the time! As a small business I juggle the many roles within the business: designer, photographer, production manager, marketing, sales, website manager, and accountant! Needless to say I look forward to the day when I am an employer!
I do have a small team of lovely helpers I call on to assist with packing product and filling orders. My number one helper is indeed my amazing mother in law who quite happily packs product because she finds it relaxing! My husband Martin is the king of design markets! He’s the happy chap with the dapper hat on and super keen to assist you! He has been incredibly supportive (and proud) of BLANK Goods since it was a twinkle in my eye!
What inspires you creatively and personally?
Most of my creative inspiration comes from creative blogs, magazines, Pinterest, my Japanese Paumes book collection and cook books! My girls also inspire me with their quirky little drawings, notes and their unique perspective on life!
Right now I am super excited about our family trip overseas in August. I will be like a very thirsty sponge! It has been 17 years since I last travelled. Tokyo will be our first stop and I am beside myself with excitement!
I am personally very inspired on this BLANK Goods journey and very steep learning curve! I have stepped out of my safety bubble (aka hiding behind the computer) and started to make some wonderful connections with very inspiring and clever people. Attending Clare Bowditch’s Big Hearted (un)Conference this year was also incredibly inspiring and empowering!
What has been the best thing about being your own boss both before and after children?
The best part about being your own boss is the flexibility of how and when I work. I find the daytime is for emails, errands, working in the business and of course mum and home duties.
I enjoy working at night where I have no interruptions or distractions. It is also when I am most creative. I am relaxed and have more time to develop ideas and less pressure or time constraints.
Working for myself means following my heart 100% and is incredibly rewarding. I also believe it is so good for my girls to see how dreams can come true! They have seen BLANK Goods from the very beginning – the hard work and determination involved in working towards dreams and goals.
How do you balance (juggle) family time and work time? Who is your ‘village? ie Grandparent, Friends, Nanny?
I launched BLANK the year my youngest daughter started school so it was good timing. I spend every weekday in my Malvern studio. Mondays have always been Daddy days. When the girls were younger Martin stayed at home on Mondays to look after the girls while I worked in the studio with my graphic design work. Now the girls are at school Martin leaves work early on Mondays to spend the afternoon and evenings with the girls while I work back in the studio.
When times are crazy busy I also have the help of my Mother-in-law who looks after the girls after school and cooks a meal and helps out at home so I can spend a few extra hours in the studio.
It is very difficult to do work on the weekends. I always try and squeeze work in but it is very tricky! we are just too busy with sports, domestic boringness, school projects and meeting up with friends and family.
The school holidays is when the village really comes into play. Co-ordinating swaps with children with my sister, my mum, mother-in-law and friends so I can still fit work in there somehow! The girls also spend a lot of time during the school holidays in the studio making the most of the art and craft supplies!
How are your days structure around your children and family?
After the girls have left home to walk to school I head to the studio. The girls walk home from school and I meet them after I have done the post office run! There’s the usual mum stuff until the laptop comes out again around 9pm.
What exciting things are coming up for BLANK Goods, tell us about any new styles/products etc
I have a very big wish list for BLANK Goods. So many product ideas which I hope to see fruition in the near future. I am currently working on our new Christmas packaging products and kits!
Best piece of advise you have been given; professionally, in reference to raising a family and in reference to how to make it all work
Comparison is the thief of joy. For a small start up business it can be very intimidating and it is important to keep focused and believe with all your heart in what you do.
I definitely struggle with the demands of a family and running my own business. So the best advice I have ever been given about running a family is to focus on quality time. Be in the moment. Really listen and really play. Be in the trenches with them and be in tune with what is going on in their lives.
Every day may not be good but there is something good in everyday. Telling myself this stops me from being too hard on myself and reminds me of the good things going on.
What are your goals for BLANK Goods in 2014, 2015 and beyond.
We are currently working on a range of products to be available for wholesale. This is taking us a lot longer than we expected but I do hope the wait will be worth it for the many retailers that are so keen to stock our products!
I am also excited to be hosting some fun BLANK Goods workshops for the Christmas season.
Do your children influence the way you design/create?
My girls definitely bring out the big kid in me. They are great fun and I am particularly inspired with the way they observe the details in life. I also love their bookshelves and games cupboard! A great inspiration for kids creative projects.
Tell us about the creative process, how does it start, who is involved, how long does it take to produce one item?
My creative ideas are filed away and are slowly fertilised over time! I collect A LOT of inspiration and sketch ideas that are the beginnings of new product ideas or creative inspiration for using existing BLANK Goods products.
Danie’s Petite Edit
Best place for Sunday breakfast? If this is at home, in bed we want to hear how you spend your Sunday mornings.
South Melbourne Market and St.Ali are probably our all time favourites but we are always on the lookout for new cafes for brunch. My favourite new discovery is Millstone Patisserie in Malvern. Very lucky to have this gorgeous new cafe just around the corner from my studio!
Best place for a family getaway?
Point Lonsdale. We have been hiring a holiday house with friends at Point Lonsdale over Easter for the last few years. It’s so easy with the beaches and the shops all in walking distance. The kids love it when the tide is out to discover the rock pools and we have plenty of walks together. We love cooking up special meals with our friends, reading and playing a few rounds of the card game Canasta! SO relaxing.
What is your go-to resource?
Instagram and Pinterest usually!
Favourite childrens fashion range
The girls’ clothes are usually a mix of basics from Target and Cotton On! Occasionally I invest in some special pieces. I recently bought Alice a gorgeous polka dot peacoat from the fresh new Melbourne label Tanner and Teague
Give a shout out to another inspiring business (ran by parents)
Anna Walker – Illustrator and Author. I studied Graphic Design with Anna and have been friends since uni. It has been so wonderful to watch Anna along her journey of her Illustration career and seeing her dreams coming true. She is a mum of 3 beautiful kids and knows the true art of multitasking! An inspiration and a friend I am so proud of!
BLANK will be at Finders Keepers Market later this month.
Friday 25th July 6pm – 10pm and Saturday 26th July 10am – 5pm
The Royal Exhibition Buildings
9 Nicholson Street, Carlton, Melbourne
Stay tuned for soon to be revealed creative workshops.
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