It was fascinating talking to Shakira about her journey into craft from childhood with her nan and Great Aunt, the inspiration she finds in her Afro-Caribbean heritage and some wonderful advice that has filled us with hope.Grab a cuppa and read on...
How did you first get into print design and embroidery?
My background is in printed textiles and surface design. I followed this pathway throughout secondary school, continued with fashion design and then university. Before that, as a child around 8 years old, my nan used to let me use her sewing machine to make hair bands and my Great Aunt would always help me sew things.
Can you tell us how your first project went?
Stepping back into embroidery after many, many years was wonderful and like therapy. It happened naturally that I didn’t realise I was doing it. I designed a symbol inspired by ancient Egypt with the words 'Become'. It symbolic to me because it marked a transitioning for me towards becoming stronger and acknowledging my growth, becoming an mum of two boys and stepping into my acts of creativity which are within me.
My son was about one and I would put him to sleep and then take my sewing out. It was really something I looked forward to in the evening, plus I was remembering stitches that I hadn’t used for ages, stored in my brain bank of memories.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from my heritage and wanting to have images around me which connect to who I am.
My grandparents are from the Caribbean, and it became important to explore and show a sense of pride who I am. I realised that I had grown up in a world where at home being Afro-Caribbean was always a really proud thing but outside of that you really wanted to fit in - this meant shrinking that pride and adopting more British behaviours and values to feel accepted within institutions or peer groups.
What do you love most about the process?
The process of making and designing can either be the best or the worst experience dependent on your relationship with perfection and control. When I think of myself as a young creator when I was a teenager, my mind was so much more free and willing to go with flow and I could accept failures very easily and I’d recover quickly.
What would be your best advice for those starting out?
My advice is to just do it! Get creating and make it happen! Thinking about it and procrastinating can be a hindrance because we can give ourselves a thousand reasons why something won’t work.
Just take a small step each day doing as little or as much as you can. Don’t get too bogged down with not having special equipment unless you really really need it. Sometimes this can also stop you from starting because we convince ourselves that we need shiny new tools when we have some lying dormant in a box somewhere.
Don’t be intimidated by other people’s creativity by thinking yours won’t be as good. You have your own special talents to share which are unique so get creating and share those amazing talents with all that love you.
What’s next for you, any upcoming projects you’re working on?
There is so much I plan on doing from long awaited craft kits, new craft tutorials and blogs, a book and more workshops and my list continues. I need to remember there is just one of me but I can do it! I’m excited and really hope it’s all well received.
Right now, I working on a collection of beanie hats with a brand which will launch in Spring, and also working with LoveCrafts.com on more tutorials and my blog. I have a collection of craft kits which I’m working on branding and fine details, they should launch in early spring too.
Thanks so much to Shakira for sharing her creative story with us - it was really lovely to hear. We're feeling very inspired!