A Look Behind the Scenes of Wallfry

behind the scenes wallfry

An ‘Inspiring Indies’ Interview with the Unique Wallfry.

This week’s ‘Inspiring Independents‘ interview is with Wallfry founder Kylie Jackson. A look at how the company was founder and the motivation behind this unique brand of wall art for kids.

What inspired you to start WallFry? When did you begin?

My husband and I were living overseas when our oldest son was born, and we couldn’t find anything to decorate the apartment to make it more welcoming for our new baby, everything was too cutesy and babyish! Eventually I decided to paint some canvases myself, and when we moved back to Australia they received a lot of compliments, so I decided to try selling them online.

It took a while making new designs and learning how to set up a business online before it really started to take off, but when it took off I then found it hard to keep up with demand. I had to stop doing actual paintings because I simply didn’t have enough time (not to mention trying to raise two boys, by this stage). We decided to start producing prints after that, which has allowed us to grow to where we are today. But at the heart of all the prints and designs we make, it always comes back to those first canvases and trying to make something stylish that would be welcoming to a new baby and look great for the parents!

What can you tell us about your indie business? What sets you apart from your corporate contemporaries?

Running an indie business has allowed us to always remain close to our customers, which is mutually beneficial. Most purchases involve a conversation of some kind, which is great for the customer to feel that personal connection with the artist. But it helps our business too, because we get direct and immediate feedback which we can use for things like different product design, or different packaging options, or even different products. We’re busy working on a new range of Wallfry cushions, for example, which is a direct response to many people asking us for them.

That’s probably the main difference from other corporate businesses. As a customer dealing with a corporate you may be able to get a good level of service, but it’s unlikely you will be able to speak directly to the creator. And that’s a real shame, because it’s often through that conversation that you can get a product that is bespoke or that you are able to share a story about when you show it to other people.

What’s your role in the business? What’s your favourite things about your job / running an indie business?

As the founder and artist of Wallfry I really wear most of the hats, depending on what the needs are at the time! Any given day could find me handling customer enquiries, designing new artworks, printing and packaging – all on top of raising my children. Fortunately my studio is big enough to have a little space available for them to create artwork at the same time as I do!

There are two main things that I love about Wallfry. The first one is the humbling experience I get when I realise that someone has chosen my artwork to decorate the space for their little one. Customers often send in photos of their beautiful nurseries and amazing play areas with Wallfry artwork on the walls, and it’s wonderful to think of families around the world sharing my art in this way. The second thing I like about it is the fact that I can pursue my creativity and combine it with raising my family. Obviously this means a lot of late nights, and my children are very familiar with the post office, but there are not many other jobs that let you work while your children are busy painting right beside you.

Are there other people in your business? What can you tell us about the rest of the team?

My husband helps out with the business looking after social media and public relations – and he built our website too. One of the products we are working on is a line of children’s books, which he has written and is illustrated by me. Thankfully we work well together as a team so we can divide what needs to be done between us.

Here at Piccadilly Lane, we believe that independents offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. Do you agree? How do you ensure this happens at WallFry?

Unique design and high quality are intrinsically linked to independent business, not only because it is a key competitive element to set us apart from large-scale operations, but also because it is a matter of pride and principles that guide what we do. We’ve spent a lot of time trialling different production processes before we settled on our current inks and paper stock, for example, and we have been working to create packaging that protects the prints and keeps costs down for customers.

Because we are a smaller operation we are able to be fanatical about quality control. If a print comes out with a small speck on it we would rather re-print it than ship it, and we are able to see each order before it goes out to prevent any issues. We can also check that the customer’s expectations are being met, as we have been involved in the order process right from the start.

You feature a lot of ‘how to …’ tutorials on your blog. Do you enjoy creating these? What inspires the features?

As an online business, obviously we love the internet. But it’s not just great for business, it’s great for finding out how to do things or getting inspiration or instructions on all sorts of weird and wonderful things. One of the best things about being a parent is making stuff with your kids and as a family we have a lot of fun being creative and experimenting with new ideas for décor or birthday parties – and it’s fun to share these and give others some ideas for their own parties or décor ideas.

Some of the tutorials are entirely unrelated to what we do – for example a light fitting made from patty pans and a how to make a dip that looks like an octopus is coming out of it. It has nothing to do with our products, but it was a lot of fun!

You currently specialise in nursery decor? What inspires you about this area of design? Do you plan to continue in this area or do you have plans to extend your collection?

Nursery décor has always been important to Wallfry, because it is such a big part of what we are (and what we enjoy). As I mentioned before, having our artwork chosen for someone’s first bedroom is an honour. And it’s such an exciting time for everyone involved – we often get orders that we know are racing through the post system to get there just in time for the nursery to be ready before the delivery.
We are constantly extending the collection with new products and new ideas, but in the short-term we are still very much focused on décor for children’s spaces.

Your products feature a wide range of themes. What can you tell us about the process of creating these designs?

Looking at the different Wallfry products we have available now, it certainly seems eclectic, but at the time it felt logical and it often mirrored what was happening in our family at the time. For example, when my son was interested in various dinosaurs we created the dinosaur series, and when a niece was born I created the original doll paintings as a gift for her. For some time the creative process was really driven by the materials I used – I found it interesting to experiment with mixed media, for example by adding buttons and paper to paintings on canvas.

Now that each print is created to be printed, the process has an added step of digitizing my sketches and working out appropriate colour schemes, for example.

Because of our size we would find it too difficult to respond to every new trend that comes up, but we are able to respond to some of the trends with more longevity – for example, when we released the chevron backgrounds for many prints.

At its most simple, though, the creative process is the same as it is for a lot of people – a blank page and a pencil, and a lot of rough sketches.

All of your artwork is professionally printed. What can you tell us about the materials and craftsmanship involved in creating your range?

When we started producing prints we went to a lot of effort to design a printing process that could meet demand and produce the level of quality we needed. Subtle changes in paper stock, for example, made dramatically different results, and we were also concerned about being able to ship each print safely around the world. We use Epson archival inks and papers, which are guaranteed to maintain their colour and brightness for years. We also hand cut and package every print, so we are able to notice any defects or marks before each order is shipped and make sure it is packaged safely to reach its destination in top condition.

Why should people shop with you? What makes you different?

I think one of the key differences to our product is that it appeals to both children and adults – cute without being ‘cutesy’. This also means that the artwork will grow with the child and won’t need to be replaced as they grow. But I think the main reason that Wallfry is different comes down to customer service, because we take a lot of pride in what we do, and we are always deeply respectful of the customers’ needs. Perhaps this is why people should shop with Wallfry, because we are able to help with the entire process from concept to delivery. In the beginning we can help match colours, for example, to create prints that might match an existing rug or curtains or wall paint. Then we assist with the checkout process, because even though our business is an online retail shop, there are still many people who are not comfortable buying online. Finally, we are there to answer queries and follow ups with our customers, and to enjoy the photos they send us of their special spaces with Wallfry artwork included.

We LOVE independents and think more people should be supporting them. Why do you think people should shop with independent businesses like yours?

On the one hand there are the obvious answers – the quality of products is often better and you can get a custom service. But I think supporting independents is also a fantastic way of supporting community spirit (whether that be in your local market, or even on a global scale). Independents are often producing their goods because they are passionate about them – they might love the product itself or they might love the crafting process that goes into the production cycle. Supporting people who are doing what they love and what makes them happy will ultimately make the world a much happier place too. And besides, it’s often fun for the customer too – it’s a win for everyone.

Last but not least, what’s your favourite independent business and why?

My husband has an unhealthy fascination with all the Etsy businesses that produce metal guitar picks – he would probably have a hard time nominating just one business. Personally, I love so many of the independents and am constantly discovering new ones that I couldn’t choose just one.

Thank you Kylie!

Now you’ve read the interview, pop along and see the collection on their website.

Posted by Charlotte 10:00 18/05/15

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