Mollie Makes meets Jane Foster

Jane Foster

Mollie Makes Handmade Awards judge Jane Foster reveals how winning a Mollie Makes award boosted her business and how she stays inspired…

Jane Foster’s Scandi inspired illustrations have earned her not only an army of fans, but a Mollie Makes Handmade Award too! This year the talented designer is on the other side of the panel as one of our judges sorting through all the handmade talent the UK has to offer.

Not only do her simple, retro designs always pop with colour (and have been sold in the likes of Ikea and John Lewis), but her seaside home in South Devon is our minimalist living inspiration. We caught up with Jane to get her advice for this year’s award hopefuls, find out where she gets her design inspiration from and even discover why stuffing toys is her form of therapy!

Jane Foster cushions

Hi Jane! How do you feel to be one of the judges at this year’s Mollie Makes Handmade Awards?

I was absolutely thrilled to be asked. I won the Mollie Makes Established Business Award in 2014 and it was a super exciting event. This year I’m looking for individuality and a strong sense of drive and enthusiasm. Having a good idea isn’t enough these days – you need determination and a strong work ethos too.

Jane Foster colouring book

As a previous winner how did the award help you?

Winning definitely gave me more self-belief. I almost didn’t enter, but I know a part of getting ‘out there’ is to take these chances and opportunities. I’d been working in a bubble and the award made me see myself in a different light and take myself a bit more seriously. I was encouraged to take my toy kits further which resulted in a collaboration with a company that produced a haberdashery range with my designs that sold in John Lewis stores and other shops.

Have you ever won any other awards?

No, but I had never entered any either! I came to this career in my late 30s from being a music teacher for 15 years. I was very naive, taught myself and learnt as I went along. I was determined to make my new career work.

Jane Foster products

What would be your top tip for makers who will be presenting to the judges?

Firstly, don’t be scared. It’s a wonderful, kind and supportive atmosphere where everyone is super keen to see what you create and isn’t there to judge how well you speak. Bring along the best examples of your work and practice telling your friends and family about what you do as a mini rehearsal. The story behind your brand is very interesting, so don’t be afraid to mention this.

Jane Foster studio

We’re obsessed with your minimal home on Instagram, how does your workspace work for you?

I’m incredibly fortunate as a few years ago, we moved to a house with a wide garden with the soul purpose to build a timber studio in it. My partner Jim built the whole thing from scratch, which not only fulfilled a dream of his, but a dream of mine too. It’s a large enough space for me to have an office area, a screen-printing area, a space to illustrate and a space to sew. Sometimes the whole family are in it as our eight-year-old daughter has her own desk to create at and has her own sewing machine too! It’s only a few metres from the house, but the fact that it’s separate means I don’t get distracted. It also means I can work and watch my daughter jump on the trampoline and also creep in when she’s asleep and work till the early hours if needed.

Jane Foster screenprint

When did you learn to screen print?

I initially did some at secondary school using cut out paper stencils. I loved it and my wonderful art teacher would let me print onto fabric and T Shirts. I even screen printed a pair of curtains for a boyfriend I had at the time! I rediscovered it when I was 34 when I took a six-week evening class and was hooked again!

Jane Foster prints

What inspires you?

My daughter, fabric and ceramic designs from the 60s and 70s, Scandinavian design, vintage children’s book illustrations, the work of Dick Bruna, 60s architecture and much more.

Who are your favourite makers?

I’ve always loved the ceramics by Stig Lindberg, fabric and furniture by the duo Lucienne and Robin Day from the 50s, the furniture by Alvar Aalto, but there’s really too many to mention.

ane Foster colouring book

What’s your favourite thing to make and why?

I particularly like making stuffed toys. I love transforming a flat piece of fabric that I’ve designed into an actual 3D stuffed toy and I find it quite therapeutic stuffing them!

What has been you proudest project?

I was very proud when my first two baby board books ABC and 123 were published as secretly I’d always wanted to illustrate children’s books but hadn’t ever imagined my dream would be realised. It was also a special time as my daughter could watch me work and feel part of the whole process. (She did her own versions alongside me!) The proudest moment of my career was when I got one of my prints into IKEA, which sold worldwide for over a year.

Jane Foster books

What are your top three tips for running a creative business?

Show your work often, keep believing in yourself (avoiding the comparison trap and worrying about what people think!) and work at it every day, even if you get rejections. Everyone in this business gets rejected at times, but the trick is to keep going!

Jane Foster printing

What does making mean to you?

Happiness and living in the moment – living with intention.

See more of Jane’s work at www.janefoster.co.uk or follow her on Instagram and Twitter

Running a craft business? Promoting and supporting handmade through an online boutique or building a community of makers through a hashtag? Enter the Mollie Makes Handmade Awards 2017

Read Pinterest’s Communities Manager, Kate Allchin top tips for creating a winning entry.