Home-based business owners always face a challenge when it comes to finding their business space. Local clothing designer Shauna Jones works from an unusual location – under her bed
Jones made the choice when she moved into a place that had only her own bedroom for an office. She had a loft bed made, and underneath it is a cozy little space with a big comfy chair, piles of work in progress, and a lot of paint: the working headquarters for Angry Sheep Designs.
The idea for painting clothing designs came to Jones, a self-proclaimed jeans and t-shirt girl, after a failed shopping trip in Halifax, where she then lived.
Annoyed at how hard it can be to set yourself apart in jeans and t-shirts, Jones grabbed a brush and some paint and literally became a more colorful character.
The first item she ever painted on was a blue jersey knit tee with her now-infamous logo, an “angry sheep.” She was grocery shopping when a clerk happened to mention she liked Jones’ shirt.
The next question was, “Where did you get it?”
Jones explained that she had made it the clerk then wanted to get a t-shirt made for her sister. They exchanged contact info and voilà! The birth of Angry Sheep Designs.
That was in 2004. Since then, Angry Sheep Designs’ tagline, “custom clothing for a cookie cutter world,” has expressed the designer’s idea of setting yourself apart by outwardly showing people your personal interests.
The company’s products are a wide variety of hand painted items that range from evening gowns to onesies for babies.
Each hand-painted item is unique in both design and fabric. One of my favorites is an all lime green summer dress with an adorable light brown sparrow painted on the bottom corner near the hem.
Halifax and Whitehorse have many differences within the crafting communities. In Halifax Jones started out in a well-established weekly Farmer’s Market that was 40 per cent secondary vendors (crafters). The building was a like a brick rabbit warren filled with tunnels.
There, she shared a table with two other crafters and if they each sold one piece each for the day it would pay the rent for the table. It took Jones seven months to feel comfortable enough to have a table on her own.
Once there, she had her table for over two years. Her customers viewed the merchandise like a catalogue – they would see a design they liked and then request it on a hoodie instead of a skirt, for example.
In Whitehorse, Jones has participated in the Fireweed Market, and the Spruce Bog Christmas craft fair.
Still, most of her sales come from her website, www.angrysheepdesigns.com. Jones even has the ability to fill wholesale orders, and prefers it.
“It’s great to produce something that is still ‘me’ but is less labour intensive and less risky than a one-of-a-kind item,” she says. She also sells her products on the popular craft site Etsy (www.etsy.com).
Jones completed an MBA at St. Mary’s University in Halifax and moved to Whitehorse in January 2009 for a new start.
“In Halifax I was an indoor girl; now I am a (reluctant) outdoor girl,” she says, laughing about how she arrived in minus-40 weather.
Jones participates in many of the arts including the performing arts (you can see her as the Baker’s Wife in the upcoming musical presented at the Guild Hall).
She draws inspiration for her clothing from many sources. “Lately it’s been vintage woodcuts of animals, delicate drawings … I like the incongruous,” she says.
But it’s the act of painting and drawing that really gets her to that “Zen place”.
One of her favourite creations is a painting of a pelvic bone on a striped baby onesie.
“It’s like a picture of home,” she says, offering a poetic thought about a child’s earliest memories.
If you are a local crafter interested in selling your wares, Jones advises: “Look for low risk sale opportunities [such as a farmer’s market]. Having the one-on-one contact with your customers allows you to tailor your product more precisely.”
She also offers this tip for pricing items.
“A lot of crafters undervalue what they make and don’t think about the labour hours that go into each item. If you underprice your products, your customers will as well.”
One way to get an idea of what your art is worth, Jones suggests, is to “do a round table with strangers, have them silently write down what they think the item you’re presenting is worth, gather that information and find the happy medium.”