Ah! Today’s interview gives me a huge case of wanderlust! New Zealand based textile artist, Jane Denton is our creative woman of the hour, and she is sharing her thoughts on creativity, craft and entrepreneurship. When I found out that Jane was living and creating her art in Wellington, the creative capital of New Zealand, I knew I had to reach out to her!
I was lucky enough to adventure and live in this visually stunning country in 2011. Luke and I had year-long working visas, and I had a blog back then too! I really wish I could link to it, but it was an Apple blog and doesn’t really exist anymore. A few old photos will have to suffice, and I’ve posted them at the end of Jane’s interview. Luke proposed to me in Wellington, and all of NZ holds quite a special place in our heart! I’m so happy to have connected with Jane, as her work is so modern and unique, and thinking of NZ brings back many good memories for us.
You may recognize Jane’s work from Emily Henderson’s adorable nursery, which is where I first saw her art as well. Here’s more from Jane and a look at her playful and colorful embroidery!
Women Who MAKE Interview – JANE DENTON ART
- Name: Jane Denton
- Age: 41
- Current title/company name: Textile Artist
- Years in operation: 5 years
What are your first memories of making/being creative?
There are a few things I made as a child that stand out to me now. I learnt how to do macramé at about nine as part of a craft week at school. I REALLY enjoyed the process and creating a finished product at the end. Actually about 10 years ago I considered doing a modern take on macrame before it became fashionable again. Also, as a teenager I loved making friendship bracelets – with the cotton thread and the endless colour combinations. I remember particularly loving tying the knots to make up each row – similar to the satisfaction now of seeing my work grow as I stitch.
How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business owner?
Growing up I never knew what I wanted to do as an adult. Through school I hadn’t taken any art subjects and by age 16, I was confused as to what direction to take. I was OK at school but it didn’t come naturally and I had to work pretty hard. There was a pivotal moment when I was about 17 that I think changed what I did from then on.
My older sister Lisa told me that if I worked hard I could do ANYTHING. It wasn’t a flippant remark and she emphasized the hard work part. I think that alone had a huge impact on me and was the perfect message at the perfect time. (Earlier Lisa had been told that she wasn’t suitable to study medicine and later regretted listening to that advice!) In my twenties I figured out my passion was art and from there I was always looking for ways to make it into a career…..
Tell us about the process of launching your business. Best parts? Biggest challenge?
It wasn’t so much as launching, as it was just starting. I set up a website, started social media and approached one of the most beautiful stores in Wellington (Small Acorns) to sell my work. It grew from there, and as my work was featured on design blogs and magazines the momentum started to build.
Best Parts – Creating artwork that I love and knowing that it’s in homes all over the world!
Biggest Challenge – I can’t think of one?!
What is your favorite part of the creative process? What inspires you and why?
My favourite part of the process is coming up with colours and shapes/design for new work. I generally have too many ideas and not enough time to create them! For me inspiration is everywhere – I constantly find patterns and colour combinations jump out at me when I’m out and about.
Embroidery is a bit of a lost art; do you think it’s regaining popularity? How did you first get started?
I think textile art in general has definitely made a come back over the last five years, but I’m not sure about embroidery specifically. In New Zealand it seems as though tapestry/embroider is less popular at the moment.
In my twenties I made some of Jennifer Pudney’s needlepoint kits and loved them. They were small postcard sized pieces which were super easy and the designs were colourful and quirky.
What is the best advice you have for other female entrepreneurs?
I have a few thoughts on this –
- I think gaining experience with other small businesses is invaluable. I worked for free at a children’s designer clothing company in Melbourne for a few hours a week and I observed and learnt things I would never have picked up in business/design school.
- Invest in good styling and photography right from the start.
- I don’t’ think you need to spend a lot on a website – there’s great templates available (eg WIX or Squarespace) and they’re super easy to set up. I’m the most un-techy person around (I struggle to play music on my phone!) so if I can do it anyone can.
- Be creative with your marketing.
Do you have a design/creative philosophy, and if so, what is it?
I try and make pieces that I’d love to have in our home and not focus on what I think would sell best. I figure if I love it then others will too.
Imagine your business in five years. How would you like to grow?
Mmmm I’m struggling to think that far into the future! But for the next couple of years I’m going to make larger artworks and I’d want to continue collaborating with other designers and companies. I also want to exhibit in the US as that’s where I send most of my work. I’m super excited about this year – I have so many ideas for new work!
Was there a moment you felt like you got your big break? What was it?
Yes, three years ago when Emily Henderson said she would like one of my pieces for her babies bedroom. Emily and her team have been great supporters of my work and I’m hugely grateful!
What do you enjoy most about the creative community in New Zealand?
To be honest I’ve been so busy with my own art/business (and young family) that I haven’t actually been involved in NZ’s creative community – something I’d love to change this year!
New Zealand is known for its beautiful and rugged outdoors; do you take inspiration from your natural surroundings? Do you have favorite parts of the country to visit?
Yes, New Zealand is so pretty and I would like to think that my surroundings are reflected in my work?! We spend a lot of time in Hawkes Bay which is really beautiful and warm. And pretty much anywhere is the South Island is stunning, particularly Marlborough Sounds and Queenstown.
Centered By Design is my business name, but it’s also the idea that we can find a bit of sanctuary each day through design, that good design can center us and make us feel great. Does your design process center you in any way? If so, how?
I find the process of creating new work grounding – I become so absorbed in it, it’s all I can think about. It’s quite a contrast to the rest of my day/week where I’m thinking about so many things at a time trying to juggle kids and work – I think most mums would relate!
JANE’s Wellington Favorites:
- Favorite spot to get inspired: The beach – any beach but I particularly like Plimmerton and Oriental Parade.
- Favorite florist: The local convenience store in our village has the best flowers and owned by the loveliest family!
- Favorite place to shop for home décor/furniture/thrift: Small Acorns and LET LIV
- Favorite place for coffee: My local favourite is Dunsheas Deli – a five minute walk from home and my first stop in the morning!
- Favorite place for a sweet treat: PreFab Cafe.
A big thank you to Jane for this lovely interview! You can order art and see more of Jane Denton’s art work here.
And here are a few of those old travel photos (including an engagement shot I love). We dream about going back and renting a camper van, and letting (our future children) run wild.
XO – CLAIRE