Posted on March 02 2021
A huge thank you for taking part in today's Journal Series entry Evy! We love your work but we want to know more about you! Tell us all we need to know!
Thank you for having me! My name is Evy, and I design products inspired by wildlife and nature. Pin badges are my favourite to make, and I adore working with both wood and enamel.
It's important to me that my shop has a positive impact on the earth, so I put significant focus on raising awareness of endangered species, using sustainably sourced materials whenever possible, and keeping plastic out of my packaging. I source all my packaging and the majority of my products here in the UK and frequently bring out charity pins to help rebuild natural habitats.
Researching animals is an obsession of mine, and I love bringing them into my work. I particularly enjoy featuring lesser-known species that I feel might not be receiving as much attention as others, such as pangolins and rhinos. In my practice, I try to incorporate one rule quite strictly: all animals have charming features, and no species is "not cute enough" to get featured. I'm aware that mammal bias is a thing, and that it's easier to gain empathy for a panda than for a sea spider. So, strive to ensure my work features a balanced variety of species representative of the world we live in. And then I cover them in flowers. I like flowers.
My favourite tools of the trade include Procreate, the iPad Pro, and the Apple Pencil, however, I also enjoy a good sketchbook session. My background is actually in video game development, and it was through attending games conventions that I stumbled upon the exciting world of merchandise design, which quickly became a passion of mine. And today, I work full-time on my wildlife-themed indie shop based on my own illustrations and designs. My partner and I recently founded our own little axolotl-themed games company as well, so I feel exceptionally excited to be bringing out merchandise for our future game projects.
What inspired you to create artwork based on wildlife?
I'm a big fan of going where your interests take you. My obsession with animals travels with me everywhere, whether I'm at a party talking non-stop about fish facts or on a train drawing penguins. The more I learn about a particular animal, the more I want to draw it. Especially if it's a species portrayed in a negative light, like great white sharks and hyenas. Inspiration also strikes when I spot animals I feel aren't being seen. And sometimes, I just come across a really cool fact that makes me think "I need to draw this!".
What is a product you have not yet made but hope to make some time in the future?
Standees! Oh my goodness, they've been on my list for so long, and I've got a fun little habitat-based design series in the works for them. This year I'm also making plush toys, and I think giving them an accompanying standee would be super cute.
What is something you know now that you wish you knew in the past?
The world is full of people, and you're bound to find an audience for the things you want to create. Your individual interests, personality, and ideas, and daring to share these with the world, are going to be what makes you stand out from the crowd. Also, hiring an accountant for your tax return is surprisingly affordable.
If you could live the life of one fictional character, who would you be and why?
My favourite bear of all: Baloo! Floating along rivers in the sun, surrounded by trees, singing jolly songs, and eating sweet fruit all day long: I'd be up for that.
What are your top 3 tips to helping save the environment/wildlife?
- Cut plastic out of your packaging, you don't need it. Glassine is a water-resistant paper alternative to plastic and is both biodegradable and compostable.
- Choose sustainably or responsibly sourced materials. It's often not even more expensive, and any additional costs can be added to your product price.
- You, as a consumer, have all the power. If you don't like how a particular company is acting, let them know.
What is something you wish someone had told you before setting up your small business?
Share the process, and do what you love. I read a lot of "start your own business" articles when first starting out, and I went to talks, and they all seemed to focus on a more "corporate and official" approach of creating products in total secrecy and then sell it through advertisement campaigns. In my experience, sharing your process on social media is way more effective than any paid-for ad. You can share your design process, or show how your products are made, or how you pack them. Your practice, structure, and workflow are interesting, and you can use these things to promote both yourself and your brand. And even better: you'll have fun in the process!
If you could have a lifetime supply of any Zap! Product, which one you choose? We’re just curious…
Wooden pins! I love wooden pins! I cannot get enough of that lovely scent of birch wood, and the colours come out gorgeously prominent. They're like little wearable drawings, and my goodness they're fun to peel. (By the way, if you ever launch glitter or metallic finishes on wooden pins, I will freak.)
Top 5 Etsy tips?
- If you depend on SEO to drive traffic to your shop, make sure you spend enough time on it and keep your product descriptions to at least 300 words. Most people might never read your description, but search engines will.
- Give yourself enough time to take product photos you're proud of. This is easier said than done but very important.
- Add your brand name in your product title and as a product tag.
- Have fun with it! Don't feel like your listing description has to be a formal declaration of what your product is. You are what makes your product unique, so be sure to add a bit of you into your descriptions.
- Set your own delivery timeframes. I cannot stress this enough. If you're not sure what your estimates should be, I would take whatever maximum estimate you're given and double it. I.e. 4-14 days = 4-28 days.
And finally, where can we purchase all your lovely work?
Ah, you lovelies! You can find my work at www.evybenita.com and through my Instagram!
I run a monthly animal-themed pin club through Patreon, so if you're into subscription boxes that might be an interesting one to check out. I also sell through Etsy and run frequent Kickstarter campaigns for new product lines. I 100% recommend Kickstarter to anyone just starting out as a small shop owner. It's an exciting and inspiring community, and very welcoming.
Thank you so much for inviting me to chat with you, this has been a blast!