Makers Corner: Caroline Walters

We have only a few days until our makers market this Saturday 6 July at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, and still so many makers to introduce! Let’s go!

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What is your link to Haringey?

I lived in the Borough of Haringey for 7 years from 2009 to 2016, and loved the diversity of the area and its many parks. Then in 2016, I moved across the marshes to Walthamstow, which is where my shop (‘Caro Art & Gifts’) is based.

What inspired you to became a maker?

I’ve always been a maker in some way, though I didn’t pursue selling my work for several years while I had a career in academia. I knew that I needed to make for myself, as exploring my creativity brought a sense of fulfilment and well-being. At the beginning of 2019, I decided to practice calligraphy more thoroughly. The act of drawing letters, phrases and words has steadily brought my voice back, as I’ve been finding that the more calligraphy and painting I do, the more I write.

My research background means that I seem to spend a lot of time exploring how a medium works, which plays into my making process. For example, I love the way that different pigments and types of watercolour paint move differently. This led to the creation of many of my abstract pieces because I’ve always loved colours and patterns.

Earlier this year, I realised that my love of writing and calligraphy married well with my abstract watercolours, which has been the latest line in my work.

As a maker, I ensure that I do something creative everyday even if that is just some calligraphy practice or playing around with ideas. This helps to revitalise myself and allow for surprises to happen where work can be created from an unexpected avenue.

What is it like owning your own business or like many, juggling multiple jobs?

It’s been a journey to run my own business with the amount of new things involved. I love learning, and enjoy throwing myself into the wonders of marketing, brand development, and designing new products. My business has evolved from its origins in Wood Street Indoor Market to now sharing a shop with another designer. There is a real thrill when someone comes in asking for a commission, or I sell a piece of my own work, or am recommended to others. I really do have that ‘happy dance’ moment every time.

How are your products sustainable?

Everything is handmade by me in my small studio in Walthamstow. All of the ‘kraft’ range is produced on recycled card that is made in the UK. I buy all of my art materials from UK suppliers and distributors to minimise the carbon footprint involved in my work. In turn, all prints and cards are produced in the UK.

After a long day designing and making, what do you do to switch off and relax?

I’m an avid reader, and even won the school ‘bookworm’ award. I’m sure that was made up for me, as I was rather quiet at school. But through reading I’ve loved the journeys into new worlds, lives and ideas.

I love baking for friends, as there’s something about a chat with a piece of cake that makes everything feel better.

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What challenges have you faced, and what has been your biggest achievement?

A challenge that I have faced is that people buy more online than in the high street. This is why I am a proud supporter and advocate of the Just a Card campaign. It makes people more aware that each of those small purchases make a real-life difference to the sustainability of small independent businesses. I believe this is important because I love the diversity that we can find at markets but I want this to continue all the time, so we aren’t just reliant on markets. One of my achievements was that the Just a Card campaign did an interview with me on my shop and the ethos of me running my own business. It felt good to join such an important campaign.

What is your top Christmas prep tip as a maker?

I have noticed that the summer period tends to be quieter, so use this time to create more stock and design new products. Use this time for more of the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff: mailing lists, brand development, website sprucing etc. In turn, remember to book your markets in early, as these tend to fill up quite quickly.

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Can you impart a quote or words of wisdom to inspire?

‘Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world.’ (Brene Brown)

Take some time to think about what your core values are for yourself, and for your business. This can then help to reframe all of your work in relation to these ideas and to ensure that you are fulfilling each of your core values for the business. My core business values are: creativity, education and kindness. I want us all to remember that we are ‘enough’ just for being ourselves, and to remember to show yourselves the kindness you do others.

Instagram – CaroWoodStreet

Thank you, Caroline’s and we look forward to seeing you this Saturday 6 July at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Town Hall Approach Road, London, N15 4RX

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