Meet the Maker: Textile Artist Zoe Larkins
Meet Zoe Larkins, the incredibly creative and talented lady behind the hand stitched jewellery and accessories brand Love from Hetty and Dave. Zoe primarily uses super soft (and incredibly vibrant!) nappa leather to create her fun and quirky designs.
Zoe takes on lots of commissions and has created bespoke pieces for the likes of Amy Winehouse, but also creates lots of jewellery and accessory pieces inspired by Mexican folk art and rockabilly, and has just launched a range of adorable plush cacti, all of which she sells on Etsy and also her self titled website.
Here we find out about what Zoe loves about working with leather, and what her top tips are for starting your very own handmade business.
Textile Artist Zoe Larkins
We love your beautiful jewellery and accessory creations. What first inspired you to start making them?
The final collection for my BA Hons in Silversmithing, Goldsmithing and Jewellery Design involved a lot of brightly coloured leather wrapped around domed metal. After graduating I incorporated my love of sewing with the leather, and eventually the metal work got completely ditched! Mexican folk art, rockabilly and 1950s kitsch has always been a big influence in my creations.
Any crafting disasters?
No terrible crafting disasters as such, but a leather needle slipping under my finger nail is always rather disastrous! I’d say my tatty looking fingers are the resulting craft disaster of my work!
What are the top five pieces of kit that are always in your craft stash?
Sharp scissors, leather needles, a thimble, Pritt stick and pliers.
A lot of your creations are made from leather, what do you enjoy about working with this material?
The nappa leather I use is super soft, and comes in the most scrumptious jewel-like colours. There’s no fraying which is always a bonus, and I think leather always looks quite special. It’s always a treat when my leather orders arrive from my wonderful leather wholesaler, Frankie!
Who taught you your amazing sewing skills?
I think a lot of my sewing skills I learned from watching my Mum and sister sew when I was a child. Mrs. Denning probably played a part in it too, teaching us how to sew a felt cottage needle book at primary school! I remember at a very young age, my Dad’s tailor telling me to use a thimble as it would make my stitching neater- now I can’t sew without one.
How did the idea for ‘Love from Hetty and Dave’ come about?
When I was studying in Rochester, I found in a junk shop, a wonderful black and white photograph of a lovely elderly couple wearing fantastic 1950’s/60’s specs. They appear to be celebrating a wedding anniversary, and so I fell in love with them. After buying the picture, I carefully removed it from the frame to see if anything was written on the back. I found a scrawling, ‘To Mary and Bill, Love From Hetty & Dave’. I’m not sure why, but it just struck a chord with me, and when my business started, it seemed like the obvious choice of name!
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
The best part is the creative freedom. I absolutely love what I do, and being able to do this as a full-time job is just perfect for me!
What would be your dream commission?
I would love to make something fabulous for Paloma Faith- I love her style, and if she were to commission a piece from me, it would be a dream come true!
What would be your top piece of advice for someone wanting to turn their crafting hobby into a business?
Starting a business is hard work, but if you love, love, love what you do with a passion, and can’t imagine doing anything else, you’ll make it work one way or another. Stay focused, give yourself small goals, and with baby steps you can make it work.
And for the future what’s next?
After the launch of my book, ‘Love Leather Accessories’ last Autumn, I am planning on teaching lots more workshops, showing people how to work with leather, and creating more ‘Make it yourself’ kits, so crafty folk can have a go from the comfort of their homes.