‘I Love Rocky’ is run from a bedroom in Portsmouth, by one women. It has fans all over the world including performer and fashionista Gwen Stefani. So how did she go from sewing in her school lunchtime with friends to making her dreams a reality?
How long have you been a making and selling work?
I started selling things in 2005, via ebay. There used to be an incredible handmade community on there, until Etsy really took off and I transplanted myself over there instead. Before that, I would make things for friends and for myself, but I’d never even thought of it becoming a legitimate business.
You have a ‘day job’ how do you find managing the creative, social, work life balance?
Well, technically, ‘Rocky’ is the day job. I made a living from the things I make for a few years before I decided to get a ‘real job’ alongside it. Although it’s a dream to support yourself solely from the comfort of your spare room/ become studio/office, there are times when orders are slow, and it’s good to have a back-up income. It also means that when I overspend on fabric and all the crafty stuff that I like to hoard, I don’t feel quite so guilty and start wondering if the electricity company will accept some pretty buttons as payment instead of money.
You sell work worldwide and have over 21,000 followers on Twitter yet local people may not be aware of your designs, do you think more creatives should think outside of their ‘local’ scene?
Most definitely! My percentage of UK sales is something crazily low, like less than 10%. It was never a conscious decision though, just the way things rolled out. Once Myspace appeared, I made a page for my ebay shop and people joined it because they wanted to know whenever I had made new stuff, that eventually moved to Twitter, Facebook, etc, and that is where I am now. In a way, I’ve maybe limited myself by not really being part of any sort of ‘local’ scene, but I really am a bit of a hermit! I can lose myself for days on a new project, but I can only really spend a few hours anywhere else before I’m itching to go home again and get back to work on something.
Who or what inspires you most?
Mostly, my friends who also make and sell things. One of my best friends from my school days, who I would spend lunchtimes with in the sewing room, making our already flared jeans, more flared (hey, it was the early 2000s!), has built a bit of an empire through sheer dedication to doing what she loves (Steampunk erotica, Steam Girl.) and it’s shown me that nothing is impossible. If you can dream it, then there’s really no reason why you can’t build it. Although I couldn’t imagine ever not making stuff, there’s little things that sometimes happen, and will motivate and inspire me even more. I’ll never forget the morning I woke up to a message from a boutique in LA requesting an order for Gwen Stefani; I dropped my phone on my face and almost fell down the stairs. There was no one else home, so I told my dog and we danced around the living room for a bit.
What does the future hold for you?
First step is to re-brand. Although ‘Rocky The Zombie’ will still exist as a sub-brand. The new name of ‘I Love Rocky’ is less constrictive, and more open to interpretation so that I can happily take things in whatever direction I decide on that that particular day. I’d like to be able to work on more ‘one of a kind’ things, so once the festive season is over, I’m going to start working on some plans that have been brewing in my mind for far too long.