Snapdragon Life consists of both an online shop, and a membership community. How do you balance the two? Do they work together?
‘The membership community has become more and more important to the business and is the centre of what we do. The shop exists to support the community – a lot of the products we sell are craft kits and supplies which are linked to e-courses and tutorials. As we don’t add profit to our prices it’s a way to get more expensive materials at an affordable price – to use organic and vintage fabrics for example. I’m a textile designer, primarily a freehand machine embroiderer, but I don’t want to make lots and lots of products. Selling primarily within the community allows me to balance demand and production and to give people a view of the whole process.’
What links the two sides, I guess, is the idea of living a simple, slow and seasonal life. Why is this so important to you?
‘I believe that somewhere in the 1980s we all took a wrong path. That in the name of convenience and choice, we gave away a lot of things that we’re now struggling to get back. There are many, many aspects of life that have improved in the past 40 years, but there’s also been a disconnect from the simple things in life, in favour of a consumerism that’s all about more – more money, bigger houses, more cars, more Instagram likes, more Facebook friends. I think that deliberately slowing down, taking time, living with the rhythms of the natural world is the best way to connect back to ourselves – to find out what we are like and what we already instinctively know.’
You have a very eclectic mix of products! Where to do you get your inspiration for new products from?
‘I grew up making things – my mother is an artist and antiques dealer, and we were a very ‘make, do and mend’ household! The important part was always the process, the making, rather than the final result. Many of the clothes I made as a teenager had sellotaped hems, it was about having a go! A lot of the products I design, the craft kits in particular, are inspired by this – something unusual but simple to do. My own designs – embroidered and watercolours – are directly inspired by my garden, which is gardened on the wild side, so it’s a mix of wild flowers, weeds and chickens.’
How do you balance your business with taking care of yourself? Particularly in light of you suffering from Addison’s Disease.
‘One of the great things about having an auto-immune disease is that it’s taught me a lot about managing energy, and the way that stress saps energy like nothing else. I used to be a very type A person. I’m impatient by nature and it’s been very difficult for me to learn about stress management. I now know that I must not react to situations in a knee-jerk way – I must not get angry or I become immediately tired. I’m the opposite of the Incredible Hulk; when I get angry I go for a nap! I found the inspirational book Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl really helpful. So now I know I need a lot of sleep, I need to listen to my body, to eat regularly, to be outside, to be kind to myself, but most of all to have a gap between things happening and my reaction. I’m a much kinder and nicer person now.’