With just 4 Sundays left before Christmas we’re starting our Christmas recommendations here at ecomodernstudios starting with Hello Marilu.
Hello Marilu is a creative lifestyle brand with a strong focus on handmade. Created by Mary-Ann Aveline in 2015, Hello Marilu offers an eclectic range of textiles and paper goods that have all been designed, handmade or hand finished in her South London studio, using a variety of techniques such as screen printing, marbling and painting.
We put in a 12-bauble strong order as her hand-painted ceramics are just the sort of one-of-a-kind heirlooms that are treasured on the tree year after year (as well as perfect for thoughtful gifts for those who have ‘everything’). Intrigued about what drove Hello Marilu in its first year of business we sat down with a cuppa to find out more about what makes this British brand tick.
In a time when we’re so technologically advanced why do you think there’s been such a strong comeback of handmade with brands such as notonthehighstreet, Folksy and etsy championing the individual?
There is no doubt that technology is great; I can’t imagine living without my iPhone now, or the internet, but its is also kind of sad how much it dominates our lives. You might be working all day on a computer only to go home and spend half your evening checking social media or watching TV. Its addictive, and almost a bit overwhelming at times.
I think its this technology overload which is actually encouraging people to want to take up new hobbies, such as hand made crafts, or learning a new skill at a creative workshop. Being able to physically make something can feel so satisfying. There is a sense of achievement, something real that you can feel and touch, and it focuses your mind in a totally different way, almost like a meditation. The result is a finished product which you can feel proud of and that’s a good feeling.
The great thing about technology however is how it can help support and grow your handmade business. Years ago it would have been very difficult to know how to sell your handmade products or get any recognition, but with websites like notonthehighstreet, Etsy and Folksy, almost anyone can get their work out there.
It makes handmade products accessible to everyone and it also shows that it is possible to sell your own work – something which would otherwise feel very daunting. People that buy handmade are looking for something a bit different – something personal, unique, and original. It can be hard to know where to buy those things on the highstreet so websites that showcase products from independent designers are a wonderful source for both the buyer and the seller.
Creative workshops also really seem to be on the rise which is fantastic. Its lovely to learn a new skill and try something you never would have thought of before, whilst meeting other fellow creatives. There are some really unusual ones out there too. Earlier this year I went to a spoon carving workshop by Grain and Knot, which is something I probably never would have had the opportunity to try had there not been a workshop available!
Your work is bright, bold and playful with pops of neon and gold! What inspirations have you had in 2016 which has helped shape your brand and what are you looking towards in 2017?
I have always loved bright colours, neon red in particular and of course gold. I find colours like that can transform a simple design into something really eye catching. I tend to be inspired by so many different things – almost everyday a new idea pops into my head, or I see a new technique which I want to try. I am very curious with wanting to try different techniques and I have a long list which I need to work through!
It was Screen Printing however which really led me to start Hello Marilu and it is something that I always love to go back to in between other crafts. I recently discovered through trial and error how to screen print with gold foil. I was so pleased that I could finally get it to work, and I now have quite a few gold foil print ideas in the pipeline.
I also love how working on one idea can organically lead you on to something else. I am really enjoying hand painting my ceramic Christmas baubles at the moment and I now to want to decorate other ceramic items such as plant pots and coasters.
I would love to try the Japanese technique Kintsugi. If you are not familiar with it, its basically an ancient Japanese technique of repairing broken or cracked objects using gold. Rather than trying to hide the damage you make it a feature by highlighting it with gold. It is really quite beautiful, looks amazing on ceramics, and of course its using gold, one of my favourite colours, so I’ve just got to try it!
What is the product you’re most proud of from your collection and why?
My hand painted Christmas baubles are getting a lot of attention at the moment, which is great in the run up to Christmas. It feels very special to personalise a bauble for someone, knowing that gift will hopefully be cherished by the recipient for years to come.
I love the build up to Christmas and decorating the tree is my all time favourite thing, so it makes me feel very happy to know that my baubles will be decorating other peoples trees too. The hand painted design which I use was inspired by traditional Russian folk illustrations. My mum is Russian so I grew up surrounded by beautifully painted Russian figurines and matryoshka’s. I have always wanted to use this inspiration for a project of my own so working on my hand painted baubles holds a special place in my heart as they are inspired by things which are very dear to me.
There is a really strong creative community online in the UK. What social media accounts do you really love following and why?
The online creative community is amazing. Websites like Pinterest really help for inspiration and finding new craft techniques that I would love to try, and Instagram is just incredible for building your business and seeing what other like minded creative people are doing. I love how supportive the Instagram community is.
Its so encouraging when you post a picture and receive such lovely comments and likes from people that you have never even met before. Its amazing how it can bring people together from all over the world! Instagram is definitely my favourite social media outlet and I think i would be a bit lost without it. It was a huge inspiration to starting my own business because it made me realise so many people were following their passions, and that I could do that too.
Some of my favourite Instagram accounts to follow are @ohjoy for lovely bright colours and DIY posts. Her account is always so cheery – its a great happiness fix and it just puts you in a good mood! Jewellery maker @benumade is another favourite. She makes the most amazing, quirky leather jewellery. Her designs are so unique, I find them really inspiring. They make me want to work with leather. I also love @elizabethpawle. Her woven and hand stitched art pieces have so much depth and texture to them, you just want to reach out and touch them, and they incorporate some of my favourite neon colours which is always a winner!
If you’d like to meet Mary-Anne and have a go at your own designs at a Bauble Decorating Workshop then you’re too late to catch her at Anthropologie (sold out) but if you’re quick you can get a place at her workshops at West Elm on 24th November (only 2 places left!) or 8th December (only 4 places left!). Price £20.