Tell me a bit about what you do.
Originally I started out as an artist, and I do still carry out some commissions and workshops. But more recently I have been working as a designer and my company Powder Butterfly takes up most of my time. I use the skills I have gained over my art career and apply these to the products that I design.
What kind of things do you make?
I use British manufacturers to create a variety of products, from fine bone china to material goods such as aprons, tea towels, tea cosies, tote bags and cushion covers.
How did Powder Butterfly start?
It came about because I wanted to use the qualifications I gained at Northumbria University and Sunderland University to do something creative. I had tried going down the arts route but this was a bit too niche, and I found that I had a real passion for creating products that lots of people would really love. There’s nothing better than people coming to look at your products, and they leave you with their purchases and a smile on their face.
What are you working on at the moment?
Some of our most popular products are made of wood, and I’m currently working on an exciting collaboration with a local company to create some beautiful wooden chopping boards. Our current collections are landmark themed – so far I have created Newcastle, York and London collections. I also created a capsule Paris collection recently as I went to Paris with the Department for International Trade on a Trade Mission. It’s really important to me to create gifts that are great quality and convey my signature style. I only create products that are black, white and gold, and the gold that is hand applied to our china is real gold.
Where do you find inspiration?
All of the collections have some sort of connection to me. I grew up in London, and I’ve lived in Newcastle and Gateshead for 20 years. I love to visit York, and the Paris collection was inspired by my recent visit. I choose landmarks that I love and that have a great overall look. Creating a new design is a bit like a jigsaw – you have to find the right fit, and as soon as you do, that’s when the magic happens.
Can you describe your design and manufacture process?
I design all of my products – I’m based in Gateshead. My fine bone china products are made in Stoke-on-Trent, my material-based products are made in Lincolnshire, my candles are hand poured in Northumberland, and all of my laser-etched products are made in Blaydon. Where possible, I try and source local suppliers to work with.
Do you have a favourite product or design?
My favourite design has to be my Newcastle tea towel. It is the very first design I created with the flying Angels of the North on it. I created this design in my head before I even went near a computer or a sketchbook, and because this was my first design it has the most sentimental meaning to me. It’s the success of this design that led to the creation of everything else. And it is my tribute to the place I have called home for the last 20 years.
Are you bringing anything new along to Living North LIVE?
Yes, I’m re-designing one of my Newcastle teapots, and I’ll also be bringing a new mug in celebration of the Angel of the North’s 20th birthday, and I will have a new Angel of the North necklace which I am bringing back by popular demand. And finally, I’m designing a new Newcastle T-shirt, which I’m very excited about.
Powder Butterfly will be at Living North LIVE at Newcastle Racecourse from 11th–13th May. Go to living north.com/events for more information and to buy tickets