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Eat Work Art SPOTLIGHT: Celebrating Eat Work Art’s Inspirational Females

SPOTLIGHT is a monthly series brought to you by Eat Work Art; highlighting inspirational projects, residents and ideas from leading creatives at Netil House, Hackney Downs Studios and Old Paradise Yard.

This International Women’s Day, we asked leading female creatives about their career-defining moments, role models and business advice. The residents specialise in jewellery, weaving, spectacles, pottery, publishing and are keen to share their knowledge.

International Women’s Day should be everyday right? It’s still important to amplify the accomplishments of women as well as internationally recognising the call to action for accelerating gender parity.

Francesca Kletz, Founder of London Loom

Francesca Kletz, Founder of London Loom

Francesca teaches textile workshops for beginners - the workshops use all sorts of looms but the most popular is the freestyle weaving workshop which she teaches on Japanese looms. She likes to think of The London Loom as the bridge between textile artists, academicians and beginners who would just like to learn how to use a loom.

Proudest moment?
I wrote a weaving book called Weave This published by Hardie Grant in 2018 which was really wonderful - my masters was in creative writing and so to have a book that I wrote published felt amazing. The other thing that happened in 2018 (a big year for The London Loom) was that I got to take over a whole room at Tate Modern for their Anni Albers Tate Late, I created an entire "loom lounge" with talks, workshops and I hosted an amazing (if I do say so myself) weaving quiz and over 8000 people attended, it was a real moment for me.

Your role model?
Barbra Streisand. Sorry, completely not textiles related! She really defied her critics and fought to get where she is now. She came from nothing and had people calling her ugly and odd for most of her career, she was told to have a nose job so many times and just made jokes about it. I went to see her last year in Hyde Park and she was just amazing. I think women always get a harder time when they do something different and I think crafts is often treated like it's quaint or sweet but there's a lot of skill and creativity that goes into handcrafts and I've always thought of myself as championing crafts as a cool and creative skill and not just a twee past time for ladies.

Any advice for someone wanting to make a leap?
I think anyone would say the same things as me - just get on with it! It's constantly scary running a small creative business, will it work? Will anyone care/get it? But honestly my life now - with much less money than I would have from a regular job - is so much more rewarding. You can't buy the freedom that running a small business gives you - sometimes you're exhausted and stressed but you're in charge and it's yours and you can follow every creative whim that you fancy and that's the real joy in it. Also, you can only fail and failing will teach you an infinity of valuable lessons.

Bryony Lloyd, Managing Director of Antenne Books

Bryony Lloyd, Antenne

Bryony runs Antenne Books, which distributes books and magazines on visual culture to galleries and bookshops worldwide.

You love what you do because…
Where to start. I love the materiality of books. The stories behind the artists and subjects can be fascinating. It's a real skill to marry design and content so when it happens it feels like a special moment. Receiving a really great book lifts the whole mood of our office! It's an art form that's always pushing forward so you can always be surprised.

Proudest moment?
I feel proud of how far Antenne has come. I remember us working in a dark hole-of-an-office in Clerkenwell, cold calling shops and no one had heard of us or seemed to care. Sometimes I felt like it would never work out and we'd never be rewarded for the hard work. We're still a modest set up but now we've established ourselves as an important part of this niche world. Opportunities came our way because we stuck at it and people began to hear about us.

If it all ended tomorrow I'd feel proud with what we'd done over the last 10 years. Rather than one defining moment, it's been a journey of small but significant successes (and failures, of course!)

Any advice for someone wanting to make a leap?
Leap into something that gives you room to grow. Be open to evolving along with your career. Things aren't always easy but trust that it will work out. And stay inquisitive.

Tatiana Andrea, Owner of We Are Arrow

Tatiana Andrea, We Are Arrow

Tatiana hand makes sculpted jewellery that are often worn as markets of love-filled milestones using responsibly sourced materials.

How did it begin?
I started making jewellery using found metal pieces (discarded door hinges to be exact), after a random night out in Los Angeles. That tiny spark of inspiration grew a whole career and business on the other side of the world many years later.

You love what you do because…
We get to be a part of so many love stories! People come to us to design a special treasure for a loved one, or couples come together to design the symbols of their love that they will wear forever. We often see couples through engagement, weddings, births, and even loss. It is such an honour to make such special pieces and grow with our clients.

Best part of your day?
The best moment is when I decide to put my tools down and clean up the work bench. I can see the products of my hard work, take stock of what needs doing the next day, and cross items off of my to-do list.

Lydia Gluck, Editor and Creative Director at Pom Pom Quarterly

Pom Pom Magazine

Lydia and her all-women team run an independent knitting and craft magazine, and also publish knitting books. They present knitting and craft in a beautiful, modern way that we know they can be, and love publishing designs that people want to wear. They are an inclusive space where everyone is welcome, regardless of background, race, religion, body-type, ability or sexuality.

We love what we do because...
We love knitting! We genuinely love making things, and still get excited about yarn and new patterns to try. We also love bringing other people’s ideas to life when we commission them for the magazine, or in the form of books. We also feel lucky to be part of the knitting industry, which is a very interesting place to be.

The best part of your day?
The best part of our day is probably when we all hang out together at lunchtime and knit. It’s creating this sort of working environment that is very important to us. In terms of actual work though it changes so much from day to day and week to week with the lifecycle of the publications. It’s always very exciting when a new publication comes back from the printer! It’s also wonderful to see people sharing things they’ve made from the magazine or books we’ve published online.

Your role model?
Our role models have changed during the lifetime of the magazine. There are almost too many to mention! Someone who has always been a role model to us is Juju Vail. She’s a good friend and also an extremely talented knitter and designer (and these are just some of her many many skills). She helped us a lot when we first started the magazine, and has always given us her time and wisdom. Thanks Juju! Whenever we aren’t sure about something, we ask ourselves ‘what would Juju do?!’

Skye Corewijn & Jessica Joslin, Owners of Klei

Jess and Skye, Klei

Jess and Skye own Klei, a ceramics shop. The shop in Netil Market is an oasis where they can display and sell their pots and showcase other makers in their guest artist series.

We love what we do because...
Skye: It's deliciously messy and tactile and I love shapes and touch. Clay as a medium is pretty magical too as the possibilities are endless and I know I'll never stop learning. It's nice that there's so much to explore and so much room for growth and change. I also like being my own boss...

***Jess:*We get to share our passion every day. Ceramics is cool, you can make your own or maybe you just appreciate it and want to be surrounded by beautiful pieces every day. Through our restaurant work we get to work with local businesses and at the core of what we do is making functional pieces. We want our pieces to be used every day.

Proudest moment?
Moving into my first studio. I share the space with two other ceramicists and we've been there a year now. It was a lot of hard work setting it up, but we have made it a really amazing place to go to work everyday. Sometimes when I'm there, I look around and can't quite believe where I am!

Jess: My book launch last year. After being approached by publishers DK I spent 6 months working with them as the consultant and main author on my first book, Complete Pottery Techniques. We had a book launch and exhibition at Klei last year displaying pots made by myself and other authors featured in the book. As an educator, it was amazing to work with DK, the kings of the how-to book and figure out the best way to teach people how to make pots.

Best part of your day?
Skye: A nice coffee (and a hob knob)

Jess: Lunchtime. We have a bring and share lunch every day in the studio. It's a general rule that potters are good cooks so we have 3-4 dishes of yummy usually vegan food and then a good hour to enjoy it. We do a physical job so take our breaks seriously. Lunch is followed by coffee and sometimes a walk around the farm

Natalie Edwards, Owner of Worshipful Spectacles

Worshipful Spectacles

Natalie owns a spectacle shop with the aim of eventually designing frames and offering a service to hand make and design one-off spectacles to people who find it hard to find the right fitting frames.

How did it begin?
I met my life and work partner in 2015, his former job was as a cabinet maker. He says l forced him into the Optical business but l am not sure that that is true. He is an amazing craftsman and also ex art school so can create as well as make. So then we became a partnership Worshipful Spectacles LTD. I actually studied fine art but as a struggling artist l always had paid work in Opticians so my Optical career continued. I was a bit of a triangular peg in a round hole so to speak and l disliked the overly formal atmosphere of Optical shops but l always liked making customers look good and enjoying wearing glasses. I only worked in shops that had the best designer frames from all over the world. At their best, frames are like perfect little sculptures.

Best part of your day?
It’s always the final product for me. When l have designed and worked out the fit l am chuffed but it’s lovely to see how it comes to life and all the detailing and chamfers that Matt can put on them.

Any advice for someone wanting to make a leap?
Start small and work out what and who you are so you can experiment with the market place before getting investment. Always have a true love for what you’re making because ultimately there is so much admin and responsibility when you have your own business. Even if you have a day off you are thinking about what’s coming next. Delegate things when you can and use your strengths to the full. Take risks, but make them one at a time.

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