Meet Your Makers : Frances Dickinson of Frances Felt

Posted by on Jun 16, 2017 in Blog, Textiles

Every few months we try to feature one of our Shiny Fuzzy Muddy makers. This month we had the chance to do a short Q + A with SFM co-founder, Frances Dickinson AKA Frances Felt.

 

Frances in her studio loft making silk and felt shawls. Circa 2005.

How did you get started & how long have you been in business?

I started my business Frances Felt in 2003, right out of art school. I loved the idea of incorporating hand-crafted, unique fabrics into everyday clothing. I loved dyeing, felting, sewing and all surface design. I didn’t see much of that in the local clothing scene so I dove in head first and worked my butt off for 6 years and loved every minute of it!  It was all rolling along pretty smooth until I had my first child. The domestic, nesting instinct took over and I really struggled to find the balance between home life and my business. I had a second child shortly after and basically became a full time mom. Over the last few years I have stepped in and out of Frances Felt when pockets of time have opened up or when appropriate studio spaces have come my way, but it has still remained a struggle to stay in it full time. It is still there, hovering in my heart waiting to be nurtured once again.

Why do you make the art you do?

I love creating, producing and experimenting. Surface design for me is all about the surprises that happen during the process. You do your part-  prep the fabric, find the right  supplies, apply your hand and your eye and then process takes over and the final results are always interesting! How I use these results is another fun part of the puzzle.

 

Signature Frances Felt wrap skirt, 2006

How do you balance art practice and business practice?

Definitely a struggle for me! (all balance is a struggle for me! ha!) The best thing I can think of is I surround/align myself with successful business people and by watching them move forward in their businesses inspires me to keep trying to tackle the business side of the creative dream!

Where do you find your audience(s) and what is the most effective way to reach them?

I have always found my audiences at craft shows. Meeting people directly gives me so much information on who my customer is and what they are looking for in clothing. It’s a great way to meet store owners and also to collect email address for future promotions. I have tried to tackle the social media beast but have not had much luck. I’m sure long term endurance and persistence is key!

 

Surface design by Frances Felt using rusted metal, 2015

What do your customers love about your work?

People have always loved the functionality mixed with creativity in my clothing. I am a very practical person at heart so I need to be comfortable in my clothing but always love a little flare of uniqueness! Also good solid construction. My clothes last!

What tips/advice do you have for people who want to start their creative business?

Just jump in head first and give it all you’ve got! Surround yourself with people you admire and can learn from. Be a part of other things so that you don’t get lost in the isolation of a solo studio practice. Get some fresh air everyday! Try all sorts of different ways to sell your work. I had several “fails” with early shows, but in the end I just knew they weren’t my customers and that it wasn’t me, it was them. Use your head and be a smart business person. Respect yourself!

 

Scarf by Frances Felt using rusty washers and natural dyes.

Do you have any mentors?

My mentors are my creative peers who constantly amaze me with their dedication to their craft. I love organizations like Maiwa Handprints on Granville Island. I love ALL that they do. I am inspired regularly by Ulla Clark of Luprints who is such a dedicated creative and entrepreneur. I get mentored all year round by my fellow SFM team Kari Woo, Janna Hurtzig and Arleigh Wood who are always doing new things and growing creatively.

What informs your work/inspires you?

Travel, nature, people watching in urban landscapes.

Where do you find your creative community?

Instagram and The Shiny Fuzzy Muddy Show!

What do you do for fun?

I am lucky to live in the mountains of BC where we are surrounded by amazing, awe-inspiring nature. I get to ski and hike and swim and bike in complete pristine environments! I love to garden in the summer and cook for food appreciating grown-ups. And travel…i’ll go anywhere 🙂

 

Frances in her natural habitat 🙂