I’m graphic design-trained and I worked at two companies before joining my then-boyfriend-now-husband to run a web design business. In 2011, my husband created an app that took off, so we bade farewell to that chapter. And it also left me “jobless”. While doing web design, I made wall-hangings that I sold on Etsy on the side. For some (stupid) reason, I didn’t want to continue making them full-time. I kept thinking that I should make a new product, yknow for like a new beginning. I took some time off to figure that out.
That’s how pom poms came into my world. It’s the complete opposite of what my wall-hangings look like and say. The poms made people feel happy and fuzzy and squeal with delight (I would sometimes squeal after finishing a pom too), so I kept making them. I re-introduced wall-hangings back into my Etsy shop, with new designs and using new materials. So I go back and forth between these two products.
I want to ask about the process of pom pom designs and the other designs you do. What goes into it?
My pom poms started out quite simple in design because I was SO focused on making them as fat and round and perfect as possible. I kept pushing and pushing the limits until my fingers hurt so bad, haha! After sharing my poms online, customers would write in custom requests and that’s when I really started to explore more intricate designs. Collaborations push me in ways I can’t do on my own so I welcome every opportunity.
Every pom starts out with a symmetrical sketch on paper then I quickly move onto a few rounds of trial and error. I record every step down so it’s easy to make adjustments.
As for my wall-hangings, they originated with the idea of combining the outdoors with the indoors. I hand-pick every twig and the shape, length, thickness, uniqueness of it always dictates the outcome of the wall-hanging. I also fold every origami leaf and combine the two elements together with string.
How did you get into this? Was it just a creative outlet that led to something more?
You can say so. I was doing web design at that point and I guess I’m ultimately more of a tactile person. It was fun to make something I imagined in my head, put it out there and have somebody buy it from another part of the world. I started with my wall hangings first and it fascinated me that someone else would dig it too. So I kept making more and more.
How was creativity a part of your childhood?
I was into sports more than anything arty. I think I only tagged along to art class because I wanted to do what my elder brother did. Strangely I gravitated towards taking art in upper secondary. And the first time I really truly thought I was any good at it was when I submitted drawings for my O Levels and my teacher pulled me aside to ask me who drew them. (You get the brief then you draw preliminary work at home, at your own time.)
That was when I kinda realized something about myself. That if I were to put my head down and quietly do my thing, I could produce something good. While there wasn’t anything actively brewing my interest in the creative world, I think the fact that my parents by and large left me to myself, led me to wade my way here.
When we look at people who do creative work for a living, it feels like a mystery. Do you feel like creativity is a spark or is it a continuous process of making it work?
It can happen both ways though I’d say the spark happens 5% of the time for me. Those quotes that go something like, noobs wait for inspiration, the pros show up and just get to work. It is true. I was a noob and now I get working regardless of my mood or my headspace. Because I know that a few minutes in and I’ll find my rhythm. It’s exactly like having to work out! You drag your feet but at the same time, you know you’ll feel great afterward.
If you could go back and do one thing differently, would you?
This is a toughie. For sure there are chapters in my life that could have gone the other way if I handled it differently. But I’m a big believer in the saying everything happens for a reason though. Because many aspects of my life played out that way. So, no.
What do you do for fun?
I read books. Occasionally magazines. I like to try new recipes in the kitchen. If it’s the holiday season, I’d bake cakes and cookies. Outside of the house, I like to go get coffee and ideally end up at a park but the weather’s usually shitty so we stay for half an hour before surrendering.
Do you feel a responsibility to contribute to something bigger than yourself?
Yes! Definitely. I’m always moved by stories of humanity and generosity. I hope I find a way to.
What are your days like?
Right now, I have a young baby to care for so I only get a few hours of free time after 8pm. And frankly, I’m exhausted by then. I’m not thinking about when I’ll be able to go back to work. I hope it happens sooner than later is all, because I miss it a lot.
Are you creatively satisfied?
I feel good about the things I can do but there are still so many things to experience, I’m starting to feel like I’m running out of time. I’m the sort who is never happy with a good result/outcome, I don’t know how to enjoy the moment, it’s terrible.
Any upcoming projects you would like to take on?
There are a few unfinished pieces from when I was pregnant – I’m frowning at the thought of it – so I would like to tackle that first. I have ideas swirling around in my head too and I should really really put them down on paper before I forget them.