Ink + Spindle – Melbourne

ElkInk & Spindle - Studio HomeDesigner Lara Cameron – one half of Ink + Spindle. Tegan Rose was absent due to Pirate ship duties. …… 

My visit to the huge brick warehouse of the Young Husband Studios in Kensington, Melbourne is not one I will be forgetting in a hurry. Not only was I getting to visit the studio of Ink & Spindle who I have faithfully stalked online for years – I was catching them at a pivotal time where they were developing an exciting new way to offer their products with some cutting edge collaboration! Ink + Spindle is the resulting brand of two designers looking to explore their personal creative goals in such a way they could also earn a living ( “Ah Ha! that same old conundrum” I hear you sigh!) I learnt one half of their story first hand from Lara Cameron however the other half; Tegan Rose was on sabbatical aboard a pirate ship, skirting the east coast of Australia. ( I am not kidding on this…you should follow her instagram: @teegs3) Ink & Spindle - Studio HomeInk + Spindle - Studio HomeInk & Spindle - Studio HomeLara Cameron began by studying multi media and web design – graduating in 2003 she decided to chase freelance work with gusto. Unlike the experience of many other young designers, contracts snowballed her way and for a few years she was kept busy producing quality results for other people. However, her need for tactile, hands on projects wasn’t getting met and she wasn’t at all satisfied by the creative work she was doing. To give purpose to her own extra curricular work she decided to start a craft blog which at the time, was virtually an unknown concept in Australia. It was here that she would post pattern designs she had been working on and the positive feedback she fielded gave her the confidence to take her project up a notch. Ink & Spindle - Studio HomeInk & Spindle - Studio HomeInk & Spindle - Studio HomeInk & Spindle - Studio HomeAfter researching then finding a screen printing studio she took the huge leap to produce 20 metres of fabric printed with her own design. She listed it on Etsy and it promptly sold out overnight. This was a light bulb moment! Perhaps her passion for pattern design couldin fact translate into a viable business and allow her to pursue it full time?!

Ink & Spindle - Studio HomeInk & Spindle - Studio HomeDuring my visit Lara was familiarising their new intern with the studio. …… 

It was mutual friend Bianca Van Meeuwen that bought Lara and Teegs together. Tegan had taken her Fine Arts training and combined it with an education degree to work as a secondary school teacher. Like Lara, she had felt un fulfilled and was just as keen to follow and develop her own creative passions. The two began to collaborate and recognising a great friendship and partnership, decided to establish a print studio. A dreamy notion with a pretty intimidating reality!

Ink & Spindle - Studio HomeInk & Spindle - Studio Home

They found their space and fell head over heels in love with it. But it was totally bare and needed a full fit out including printing equipment and right down to plumbing. A small business grant from the City of Melbourne gave them the financial boost needed but how to spend that wisely was the real question! They reached out to local printers for advice and were met with an overwhelming culture of sharing and support. The studio began to take shape but next they were confronted with the realities of what they were entering into. It was no longer a case of designing at home and sending off to someone else to manufacture – they were now responsible for their tools, materials, producing quality results, selling annnnd paying the bills!

Ink & Spindle - Studio HomeInk & Spindle - Studio Home

But as intended, being hands on at every level of their business meant they could take full control and shape it to match their brand and values exactly. Their initial challenges included sourcing quality organic fabrics, water based/solvent free inks and beautiful but environmentally friendly packaging. All these options are now well catered for in Australia but in 2008 and their first year of producing as Ink + Spindle, it was a bit of a mission! Their hardwork prevailed and it wasn’t long before their products gained a hungry customer base. By combining their personal designs but shared aesthetic under the one brand they were able to offer a substantial collection of prints translated onto homewares or simply on fabric by the metre. Ink & Spindle - Studio HomeInk + Spindle - Studio HomeInk & Spindle - Studio HomeIn the years following the start of Ink + Spindle there has been an explosion of small printing studios producing covetable work in Australasia. Lara and Teegs have acted as an information resource for many of them and held open studio evenings where they have shared, without reservation, their techniques, processes and sources.  As Lara pointed out, information sharing can only have positive results – by referring people to their suppliers they are bolstering demand which will effectively help those businesses maintain higher stock levels. Many designers would hold their process and sources close to their chest for fear of copying. But of course, no one can truly emulate original work and to maintain a spot on the front edge of an industry, brands need to remain future focussed in regard to their designs, styles and gaps in the market. This leaves “copiers” producing work that is outdated and often oversaturated in the market. Ink + Spindle - Studio HomeInk & Spindle - Studio HomeAnd future focussed these girls are! Seeing an unfilled niche they have moved toward the interior design sector offering their hand printed fabrics by the meter to both trade and retail customers. Their production process means there is a high level of customisation available however this has always proved difficult to communicate and offer online. That is until NOW! Engaging studio mate Guvnor(more on the studio mates in a few weeks!) they have bought to life a cutting edge website that allows buyers to create their own recipe of pattern, basecloth and colours and be able to view it onscreen before ordering. It is not only incredibly beautiful and easy to navigate – it demonstrates how Lara and Tegan have taken their very firm idea of what they want their brand to be and unreservedly chased it down! Big brands could seriously learn a thing or two about innovation here… I just have such an incredible crush on them!

Ink & Spindle - Studio Home
All photography by Julia Atkinson for Studio Home ……
 

WHAT I LEARNT FROM INK + SPINDLE: Being transparent and sharing your knowledge with others will not break down your brand. Try to avoid looking sideways at your competition and instead work at focussing your energy on building a business that is entirely true to you and your own goals.

 This interview was made possible with the support and partnership of Elk. …… 

Ink + Spindle website - by Guvnor

Ink + Spindle website - by Guvnor

The first glimpse at the new site! I highly reccommend you head in for a play…its seriously some computer time well spent! Credit for the new website goes to Tom Fitzgerald from Guvnor and Dominic Whittle from Weekends featuring photography by Sean Fennessy.

 

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5 Responses to Ink + Spindle – Melbourne

  1. Ed says:

    Love, love, love!!! Thanks for this post Ju. Wow Ink and Spindle’s new site is drop dead gorgeous! I have been following them for few years now and finally decided on the little wren to make my mum something special with this year! (I will have to take a photo? have been a bit slack) but it was a hard choice…and now its even harder!
    Hope you are warm and dry 🙂
    love Ed x

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