Sunday, 15 April 2012

Designer Interview: Stephen of Soy of the North

Today's interviewee is . . . well, let me hand you over and he'll tell you himself . . .

Who are you and where can we find out more about you?  I'm Stephen, owner and designer for Soy of the North, (website: ; blog: ; Facebook: ; Twitter:

I seem to be all over the web :-)

What do you make?  I make candles from eco-friendly soy wax in a variety of colours, scents and styles, (votives, chunk candles, aromatherapy candles, etc). I also design hand-painted, glass candle plates and candle holders.

Where does your inspiration come from?  A lot of my inspiration comes from when I'm walking around, either in the nearby woods or down my high street. I just spot something out of the corner of my eye that draws me to it and I ge an idea from it. I also get some inspiration from images and photos I see when using the Internet. I was recently inspired in this way by a photograph of a bright blue poison dart frog.

What tips do you have for generating ideas for designs?  The best tip is to keep your eyes, ears and mind open at all times. It may sound kind of spiritual but you never know when an idea may spring up. It also helps if you can doodle. Draw little images of whatever idea pops into your head and pretty soon those doodles may merge into a brilliant design.

How do you record your ideas?  Most of my ideas are recorded in my mind, as once I get a new idea that I'm excited about, it tends to stick around there. Of course if I'm near a pen and paper or sitting at my computer, it helps when I write my ideas down, just in case my mind loses an idea or two. It hasn't happened yet though.

What tips do you have for motivating yourself?  If I find I'm starting to lack motivation, I go for that great British classic - a cup of tea. A complete break from designing, where I can sit down in a quiet area, just me with my thoughts and a cup of tea, helps recharge me and brings back my motivation.

Do you have any time management tips?  Whenever you think to yourself that a task is going to take X amount of time, double it. Time can seem to speed up, leaving you rushing to get things done. Always give yourself more time than you think you need. If you then end up finishing with time to spare, you'll feel a bit better about yourself and you'll have time for another all important cup of tea, (sorry to any coffee drinkers out there. I just don't like coffee : -) ).

What’s your workspace like?
 I'm afraid I couldn't call what I have a workspace. Living in a small house with quite a lot of stuff means I have to work on whatever surface I can find free. I use a small area of my kitchen for candle making, which then gets taken up by food at meal times, while I have a small space in the attic for glass painting, on top of a small set of drawers. It's quite chaotic but it gets the job done.

Where can we find your designs for sale?
 My designs can be found on my website I also sell at various arts and crafts fairs and markets in the Tyne and Wear region, details of which can be found on the Events page of my blog.

Do you have any top tips for other designer makers?  Don't be afraid to try new, bold or unusual designs. We live in a country where everyone is unique and has their own sense of style and design. That design you have been considering but have not made yet, may be just the thing someone out there has been searching for. We are a nation known for our quirkiness, so let that show in some of your creations.

Anything else you want to add?  Never doubt yourself. With your designing, you are doing something that very few people in this country do, so you should be proud of what you have achieved and of what you can create. A big thank you of course to Wendy for this opportunity and for all she's doing to help and promote the handmade world we live in.

Thank you for taking your time to share your tips and insights, Stephen. Oh how I wish my mind didn't lose ideas - I think my ideas are a bit like naughty children: running around all over the place and trying to escape as soon as my back is turned!  Or maybe it's just my age and I can't remember anything any more!

Don't forget to pop over to Handmade Monday for a whole load of craft blogs to inspire you.


Highland Monkey's said...

Thanks for your interview Stephen. I will have to start writing down ideas. They sometimes get lost in something called my brain it's so full!

Carolee Crafts said...

A good read Stephen and inspirational thank you

Fiddly Fingers said...

I think your time management tips are spot on!

Unknown said...

Thank you Stephen. I write my ideas down but then forget where I've written them. Your time management is so true. Why do we always think it will only take half the time?

sue said...

Thanks Stephen, for an inspirational interview. Thanks for giving me the encouragement to believe in myself, as I am always very self critical.
Hugs Sue x

lovetartan said...

Thank you Stephen. I like these interviews as you can get to know so much more about people. Mich x

Handcrafted by Picto said...

A good interview, I so agree with the 'cup of tea' break, it's something I do too.

Jan x