Claire Madill is the founder of the eco-chic company heyday design. She creates both objects for the home and jewellery out of reclaimed vintage objects and gleans inspiration from her 93-year-old grandmother. Here's what Ms. Madill, a graduate from Emily Carr University of Art & Design, has to say about being a small business in Canada and turning the ugly and broken, into something truly precious and unique.
What is your title and role within the company?
I call myself a designer – maker, but I literally do it all: from design and mold making and making clay and glaze and every piece by hand. Also web design, photography, social media, shipping, invoicing, bookkeeping.
Where are you located and how many employees work there?
My production studio is in the Mergatroid building in east Vancouver; I work entirely alone, but the whole building is filled with other full-time makers. I need only look out my window at who’s bike or car is there and I can have a quick meeting or tea with a colleague to bounce ideas around, both creative and business. When everyone else is also an army of one, sharing is vital.
Where do you sell your products?
My products can be found in the gift shops of cultural institutions such as shopAGO, the Centre Shop at Harbourfront, Craft Ontario and the Burlington Arts Centre, as well as independent boutiques and design stores across Canada. I take my work on the road between 20 – 50 days a year, selling directly to consumers at shows such as the One of a Kind Show (Toronto) and Circle Craft (Vancouver) and, of course, my work is available online 24/7 through my own online store.
What is something new/innovative that heyday design does?
I love finding patterns for my line of jewellery in unlikely places: where someone might see an ugly, broken lamp, I see a riot of possibilities for modern, geometric earrings in the glass body so I get to work making molds and – voila! – the 'crystal’ series of earrings is born.
What is heyday design’s design philosophy?
Clean lines, subtle punch. And mostly monochromatic colour schemes where the subtleties can punch a little harder.
What is your biggest challenge as a small business?
Being everywhere at once. My work is very labour-intensive, so I find it hard to focus on the other many important parts of the business when I’m in production-mode. All I want to do is make make make.
What’s something most people don’t know about your company?
I try and source packing materials from other local businesses – that bubble wrap that safely protected your porcelain vase originally came wrapped around a river boat! It not only saves me money, but the material gets at least one more important job to do before its potential demise.
Any advice for entrepreneurs in this business?
Find great mentors to guide you and make sure you turn to look around and help others as soon as you’ve got your bearings.
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