Hello and welcome to "Five Minutes With...", our meet the maker blog feature. In each post, we'll be having a brief chat with one of our marvellous suppliers... about life, the universe, and everything. By which I mean craft and travel, obvs.
We work with a huge range of clever and creative maker-types, who craft all sorts of beautiful products, from ceramics, candles and chocolate, through prints, pencils and planters, to soap, sculptures and... some other great things. Join us for a glimpse behind the curtain and see what makes them tick.
Today, we'll be talking to the very lovely Kalandra McFarquhar: the young designer-maker behind KLNDRA Design. We first came across Kalandra's work on Instagram, and we're delighted to now have a selection of her gorgeous homewares in our store. Check them out here.
Kalandra took the decision to turn her passion into a business in November 2019, and we're not at all surprised to see her work already gaining huge popularity. Especially her wonderfully unique rainbows! We're honoured to be amongst the first retailers to stock a KLNDRA Designs range.
Ok, let's skip to it:
Kalandra, can you tell us about your production process and materials?
So I make Jesmonite Homewares, currently just small scale items such as coasters, trays, pots and of course, Rainbows. All designed to add that splash of colour or decorative touch to your home. I do everything, from start to finish.
The process in which I develop my collections, always spans from pure exploration with the material. I discovered Jesmonite in my studies and I have continued that passion in testing the potentials of the material. I love to tackle new trends as a way to push exploration with the material and after all the prolific tests and trials (which there’s always a lot of), a new collection or product is born.
I stand by the essence of handcrafted bespoke design. I always curate my styles so they follow a theme of individuality, so even though the overall aesthetic value maybe set, when it comes to the details each piece is in fact truly unique and that is all down to process of making that provides a slight sense of serendipity.
The material itself is easy and fun to work with. The production includes mixing colours, weighing out and then mixing components (liquids and base). Then casting the mix into a mould and allowing it to set for at least 30 minutes, before removing the pieces from the mould to reveal your creation.
The most dreaded bit that I think all Jesmonite makers have a love-hate relationship for is the sanding! Depending on the surface effect, form and mould, the length in which you sand can really vary. Then it’s the final touches like sealing, branding and packaging. This part of the process is always most rewarding to me, knowing that my products are going to be appreciated by others in their home is just sooo surreal and only ever kicks in as I sign my thank you cards!
Ahh yes, I know that feeling well! Not that we're actually crafting here, but as a small business owner, the thrill of knowing your products are in people's homes never really goes away! Thanks for giving us such an insight into your creative process, as well as the production process, it's wonderful to hear. Now a question about your own space... which is your favourite room (or corner) of your home/studio and why?
KLNDRA is currently still a business run from the comfort of my own home, so literally areas of work for me are distributed between two rooms - my kitchen and living room with Peppa Pig toys and Mega Blocks scattered in between!
I recently upgraded my storage solution after finally braving a visit to IKEA to help organise my stock and tools, which for now provides me the space to keep up with the demand. In true spirit of being small indie business, small things like this 100% really make me happy and I now look to that corner feeling proud as I can reflective on my business growth.
You should feel proud! White Black Grey is run from home too, so I totally get where you're coming from, both on celebrating the small achievements, and balancing a small biz with small people. The juggle is real! Now here's a question close to our hearts... can you share with us a White, Black or Grey item from your life and tell us about it?
I mean a lot of my home is monochrome, with few accents on colour in places, so it’s so hard to choice just one! If I had to chose, I would choose my wax burner.
I have always been a fan of candles, buy loads and never use half of them till months later or only generally light them when I’ve done some cleaning. But recently I kept seeing these little melts pop up everywhere, so I thought I’ll buy a burner with a few melts and see what all the hype is! My first one bought was just a cheap bargain grabbed from B&M for like £3, I also bought some melts from there but wasn’t too keen on them, so I went on the hunt for a small business to support and came across Bear Burners, ordered a new burner and some tester melts and OHHHH MYYY GOD! I absolutely love them, it’s not until I had such lush and really unique scents that I fell into the habit of lighting them if not every night, every other night.
As a small business owner especially when based in your own home, it’s sometimes very hard to switch off and divide work life from home life, would you agree? For me I think this became more apparent during lockdown when I had to do my part- time job from home also, but with that I had a physical task of clocking out to end my working day! Small things like lighting my wax burner puts me instantly into wind down mode and reminds me to stop and relax. I now have 3 around the house as I can’t get enough of them, hehe.
This is such a good idea for demarcating your working time! The flexibility of being a small business owner is great, but too often it just means we never really stop working. Talking of time off... If time and money were no object, where would you take your dream holiday?
After the year we have had and I would definitely be jet planning to a remote island with limited signal to cleanse my brain from all the social media and news, somewhere like Tahiti. Maybe I have been watching too many Disney films during lockdown (thanks to my daughter and Disney+), but that destination just seems like pure paradise - relaxation enveloped in a culture driven by traditions that ooze vibrancy and love, but most importantly embracing the world’s natural beauty.
Yeah we've been bingeing Disney+ too... And switching off sounds like something we could all do with right now. What a beautiful part of the world to do it in! Ok, last question... could you tell us about another creative whose work you love?
As a Jesmonite Designer/Maker firstly I would have to say I love Katie Gillies. I mean if you know about Jesmonite but haven’t heard of Katie, where have you been? I followed her work in university when I was first working with the material and seeing what she has built up coming from a similar start up is amazing and definitely inspired and encouraged me to go for it. Her skill for the terrazzo style and eye for colour is next to none! I have to admit, I am a BIG fan! Haha.
Who doesn't love a bit of terrazzo? This is gorgeous work, thanks for sharing this with us.
OK, tea break over. Thanks for your time Kalandra, it's been lovely to chat. We look forward to seeing your business go from strength to strength.
Check out our selection of KLNDRA Designs homewares right ----> here. And here's Kalandra's Insta, she's brilliant at sharing behind the scenes stuff on her stories. Finally, would you just look at these epic tables that Kalandra made for her final project at uni. I NEED these in my life!
We hope you enjoyed this feature. Do feel free to comment with any thoughts... perhaps your own dream holiday destinations, beloved monochrome items, or favourite makers - go on, share the love.