Going through the photos to write this roundup, I got a lump in my throat. This time last year, all that existed of the Cartography Collection was a pile of maps, a vague idea that I wanted to do something with them and a feeling that I needed to be doing something creative for myself.
Through January, February and March, I played around with some printed fabrics - getting used to sewing batches of products - as well as experimenting with laminating some of the maps that I had. I quickly realised this was unsustainable, but in April, the real journey began! Read on to see the journey that girl&bird has taken over the last nine months!
In April, after deciding that printing onto fabric was the way to go, I spent some time speaking to different printers and collecting different fabric samples.
I realised that, with a personalised service, speed was going to be key to making girl&bird work. I was lucky enough to find a fantastic local printers who could provide the quality and turn around time needed.
We've gone through several different fabrics, but the cotton and print are always gorgeous! Thank you Lacuna Press!
In May, I started making up batches of small purses - mostly featuring locations in Gloucestershire, and of Cornwall, where I went to University.
Whilst purses were the first products to be worked on, I also started to develop the range to include passport holders, tote bags and cushion covers.
This photoshoot features a vintage wooden box (bought for £3!) that was carefully sanded and oiled, and now houses some of my map collection.
June is when I think that the real start of girl&bird was. I was completely shocked to be shortlisted in the Creative Idea category of Mollie Makes Handmade Awards. I spent a week or so panicking and making, and then an amazing day in London meeting the other shortlisters and waiting nervously for my interview.
The day ended in a general feeling of elation, some bubbly and an exhausted journey back to Cheltenham. The whole day really made it clear to me that people did like girl&bird, and my framed shortlister award still serves to remind me of that!
Read Mollie Makes' articles on the event here and be sure to check out all of the shortlisters - they were amazing!
July saw a steady increase in the number of locations I was making, lots of learning and pattern tweaking, as well as costing and pricing the products.
I started developing my website, taking promotional photos and generally building the basics of the business.
These are things that will constantly be in development for any business, so any feed back you have is really welcome!
September was a hectic month. As well as moving to Bristol at the beginning of the month (and starting a three-hour-a-day commute to the day job), girl&bird took to the public with our first fair!
The Handmade Fair was definitely the 'deep end' for a first fair - but was a fantastic day. My first face-to-face interactions with customers was nerve-wracking - but hearing people responding to the products, and buying them, was such a boost of confidence.
October was the beginning of the ramp up to Christmas, with manic fabric ordering and product making.
Fair number two was Crafty Fox in Brixton - a fantastic day of meeting more lovely people.
As well as making stock for fairs, the list of stockists for girl&bird continued to grow. Seeing the products in the flesh is a great buzz, pictured here at Made In Bristol.
See the full list of stockists here! And if you're interested in stocking girl&bird, click here!
The manic making continued into November, with more sending of orders, and at the end of the month, the second Crafty Fox market in Dalston.
I'll take this opportunity to link to just a few of the fantastic people that I met in person across all of the fairs this year;
Floss & Mischief
House of Reverie
I Am Acrylic
Rhiannon Palmer Jewellery
With one final - and fantastic - fair, the year came to an end! Made In Bristol, at Colston Hall, was ranked in The Guardian's Top 10 Christmas Markets.
Sending out final orders, making up Christmas presents and final collapsing into a wine-dazed heap of exhaustion brought December to a close, but not after some origami Christmas decorations using vintage maps!
I'd like to say a massive 'Thank you!!' to everyone who has supported me over the last nine months - from the friends who encouraged, to the team at Mollie Makes for shortlisting me for the Handmade Awards, the people at the awards who were just utterly lovely, the visitors to all of the fairs who have reminded me that people love girl&bird, the stockists who believed in the products, to you lot online for liking photos, commenting (and buying! Let's not forget that!) and generally supporting.
I refer to girl&bird as 'we' - otherwise it feels too self-centered - but it's just me behind the computer, over the scanner, and at the sewing machine. But really, it's not just me. I know it's soppy, but I'd like to take the chance to thank my boyfriend and parents for constantly supporting and encouraging me, and listening to me constantly talk about hopes, dreams, fears and moans. Couldn't do it without any one of you!
Now, LET'S MAKE 2015 AMAZING!
To kick things off, why not enter the giveaway over at girl&bird's Facebook page? It's open until 31st January, and all you have to do is like the page and like the giveaway photo. Good luck!