We're so thrilled to welcome Melissa Waudby of Simply Vintage to the Hochanda family! We took some time to sit down with her and get to know her before her first live show on Thursday 21st April at 10am!
How did you get into vintage up-cycling?
I come from a long line of hoarders and make do-ers, so it is in my blood. I can never throw anything away or recycle without first thinking ‘what can I make with that?’. I have always been creative and resourceful, as a teenager I tried my hand at making jewellery to earn a little extra pocket money, then after a spell at Drama school and working as an actress i used my creative thriftiness to make costumes and props for our theatre production company - which usually consisted of huge wild plans, but with teeny tiny budgets!
The turning point for my career was during preparations for our wedding in 2010, we decided to have a big celebration back in my home county of Yorkshire after getting married in Las Vegas, with just our close friends and family. We wanted fun, informal and reasonably priced event - that looked lavish and different! So i pretty much organised and made the whole thing, from the flowers and cake, to the table settings, invites, games and more. It was exhausting but exhilarating - I loved it, and so did the guest with many taking home the centrepieces and decorations - and others asking where they could buy the items from!
So later that year Simply Vintage Designs was born.
I started with items made from teacups, then china cake stands which were hugely popular at events due to the ability for customers to choose their own plates and create their own designs. Furniture and linens followed until i had an eclectic mix of products, which now includes cutlery jewellery, garden ornaments and many more designs. The kits began 2 years ago with the upsurge in creative crafting and up cycling. i now love helping customers create they own beautiful items from everyday things!
What do you love about working with vintage items?
The quality of vintage and antique items are just terrific. They were built to last a lifetime and some items are still serving their purpose 100 years on! The attention to detail on things such as tea ware, linens and clothing is just a delight - from hand painted tea cups to painstakingly embroidered tablecloths and napkins. The pieces that evoke an era of care and respect for things are my most favourite items, a lace hankie that was handmade for a wedding or christening, a tea-set that was built up piece by piece during a marriage, the scrupulously cleaned cake knife that once graced a wedding table. I love the memories that vintage items bring back - i show my items at a lot of public events and I never tire of hearing ‘This reminds me of Aunties kitchen’ or ‘My Nan served us Sunday tea in one of those’ the smile on the faces of people as they remember is priceless.
What is your design process? Where do you start?
I am constantly sourcing items for my own collections and for commissions - so for my own items I tend to let my imagination wander when I see something - which does result in a hoard of ‘things to do in the future when I have time’.
I have a core of items I am always making but I like to try new things and new ideas. I have a note pad that is covered in scribbles of things to try. The beauty of my ability to store things is that I can usually find the perfect piece of china, lace or button just when I need it.
What inspires you?
Everything around me. We recently moved from London to the Cambridgeshire countryside and as I love nature it is a haven for me. My items have become more nature inspired since moving here, there are a lot more animal prints and themes emerging.
I do spend a lot of time researching the past - how things were used in the early 1900’s, how they were made and who would have bought them. This gives me good insight into what they can be used for now - a Victorian sugar shaker is now a popular and useful olive strainer!
Teacups into bird feeders, milk jugs into pin cushions and beautiful cutlery handles into jewellery - each item will inspire me into what it could become.
What made you want to start up your own business?
I have always been self-employed - from my days of being an actress to the producing and now Simply Vintage. I love the freedom of working for myself, the downside is always being busy!
Running your own business can be scary but also hugely rewarding - I love the fact that one day I will be rummaging through antique centres then the next I will be creating a whole range of vintage cake stands for a show! Life is certainly never boring….exhausting but not boring!
What’s the one piece of advice you wish you’d known when starting up your own business?
Trust in your products and yourself - and be confident!
What’s a typical day like for you?
I am not a good waker-upper! I need at least two cups of tea to even think about getting going. I can work late into the evening but I hate mornings!! This is usually not good when a lot of my events and antique markets start before the crack of dawn! I usually go at least once a week to a large antique market or car boot to have a rummage and see what treasures I can find. So would be up and out by 6am with the hope of finding some lovely vintage treasures to inspire me. I really never go with a list as I like to see thing and then think ‘oooh I can make that from it’.
After a couple of hours mooching, it is back to my little nook and the cleaning and planning begins for the items. A few more cups of coffee and it is on to the emails and website work, plus all the paperwork for events and shows that are coming up. I would also find the time for a scamp at the local park with my beloved Barney, a 10 year old Springer Spaniel - always a great stress reliever and he never fails to make me smile and laugh each day!
Later in the day I would begin making some new items or if I have commission on I would continue with that. I have just completed a mammoth 11 full costumes in 10 days for a theatre show over in the UAE so that kept me pretty busy.
I hate to sit still, my fingers get itchy, so even in the evening if i am on the sofa i like to be stitching or drawing!
Do you have any upcycling top tips that you can share with us?
Don’t be afraid to try something different - sometimes the best things have come out of my trying something new and just seeing if it may work! I never worry about something failing - I can always re-make it or start again from scratch!
Try to keep a stash of lovely things - small pieces of lace, china, linens etc. as you never know when you may want to add a little vintage charm to something. Although this can be addictive - I am now the proud over of two storage units and a shed full of ‘you never know when I might need these’ things!!
What are the five pieces of equipment you couldn’t be without?
Pencil - I am constantly making notes and scribbling ideas in a little notebook (or any scrap of paper!) in my bag while I am out and about.
My little drill, my husband’s laughs at it as it is certainly not a boys toy drill - a small, medium powered one I picked up at a well know Swedish home store a few years ago for a bargain! It has lasted me and is the perfect size for cake stand drilling and jewellery making.
Sewing machine - from repairs of lovely vintage fabrics to reworking of linens into new pieces - plus all the costumes I still create with it!
A glue gun - I am always sticking and fixing and the ease of a good glue gun is invaluable!
Rubber Gloves! I am constantly cleaning china and cutlery and rarely a day goes by when I am not elbow deep in soap suds!
And for the future, what’s next on your to do list?
Hochanda! I am so excited to be bringing my new ranges to your audiences - I love demonstrating crafts and new techniques so this is a dream for me! And of course creating new and innovative items to add to my ranges.
Are there any emerging trends for 2016?
Vintage is still very strong on both the high street and on the media, the mix and match ability of china is ever popular for events and in the home.
The trend is less focused on the florals and chintz nowadays and more on the pretty pastels - greens, pinks and blues are being favoured this summer.
Catch Melissa with Simply Vintage on 21st April at 10AM and 3PM, and find all your essential crafting materials on the Hochanda website to get creating!
Make sure you watch Hochanda ever day 24/7 for lots of fun and crafty demonstrations and inspiration! You can watch Hochanda live online, Sky channel 663 or Freesat 817.