Mollie Makes meets Tiff Manuell

Tiff Manuell

Tiff Manuell has taken her love of colour and painting to create unique accessories to brighten up your day

Tiff Manuell’s bold, bright and utterly beautiful bags, can’t help but catch your eye. From her studio in ever-sunny Adelaide, Tiff hand paints colour popping canvases, which are then turned into eye-catching accessories guaranteed to animate any outfit.

We caught up with Tiff Manuell to find out how she choses her colour palettes, where she finds inspiration and how crafting even helped fund her wanderlust…

Bright clutch by Tiff Manuell

Hi Tiff, can you introduce yourself?

I’m a painter based in Adelaide, South Australia. I have an accessory business where I hand paint artists canvas and cut it up to create bespoke one of a kind clutches, tote bags and neck pieces. My little business is all about creating dynamic, unique, artistic pieces that reflect the customer’s personality.

How did you get started?

I studied fashion design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and spent a little time in the fashion industry, but after a while I knew it wasn’t for me. When I was 26 I started a product company called Happy House. We designed and sold all sorts of products internationally and eventually ended up licencing the designs for other people to produce. After spending many years managing the growth of the business I decided I needed to spend some time experimenting and painting. The Tiff range started accidentally after I made a clutch bag for a girlfriend. She loved it, so I made a few more and girls just started knocking on the door!

Hand painting canvas

Describe your workspace and why it works for you?

Our studio is pretty compact, but it’s highly productive. There’s plenty of wall space for painting canvases and large tables for painting and cutting. There’s a sewing machine station, an area for wholesale and a small shop area too. It’s light and bright and lots of people comment on how happy it feels.

Design wall at Tiff Manuell

What does your average working day look like?

I’m always determined to spend as little time as I can sitting at my laptop, so I start my day with a coffee before jumping straight into painting. Our products are very labour intensive so we spend as much time as we can on making. I answer emails generally late in the arvo or at night and break my day up chatting with customers in our little shop. It’s super fun and everyday is a different painting.

Necklace by Tiff Manuell

What’s the first thing you ever made?

I think it was jewellery from miniature plastic toys when I was little and I sold them too to make extra pocket money! When I lived in London I worked in a wine bar and one day a customer bet me I couldn’t make something from the lead tops of wine bottles. The next day I presented him a broach I’d made from the lead. He bought it for £20! From that day onwards I made a whole collection and it helped pay the remainder of my travels around Europe!

Laptop case by Tiff Manuell

How do you stay inspired?

I’m a sucker for magazines from all design disciplines, but especially interiors and architecture. My main inspiration come from colour palettes that are all around us – street scenes, urban culture, pop culture, fashion, movies and of course travel and landscapes. I’m always looking for new ways to create texture and patterns. I love all colour palettes, but I’m mainly drawn to brights! I grew up in a very hot climate and I think this affected the nature of how I design. My mum also collected amazing beautiful bold pieces of art, which I think this impacted me too.

Shop display at Tiff Manuell

What’s been your biggest craft fail?

I’m useless at knitting. I usually last three rows and throw it in the rubbish!

What are your top tips for running a creative business?

Never be complacent, always find the gap in the market and be as unique and true to your own style as you can.

Leggings by Tiff Manuell

What does making mean to you?

It makes me feel complete. I’m annoying to be around if I am not working at something that’s worthwhile. Its kind of a disease but it makes me feel better as a person – more resolved, complete and happy!

Connect with Tiff by visiting her website or follow her on Instagram and Pinterest.