Melissa started her handmade Dog Accessories business whilst still studying full time.

Melissa started her handmade Dog Accessories business whilst still studying full time.

Introduce us to you and your brand/work.

I am a Product Design student at Edinburgh Napier University, going into my final year. I was first given the opportunity to work with the Scottish Design Exchange back in November 2020 when Napier design students were given the chance to sell work in the shop. With an interest in textiles, I created my own textile prints and got them printed onto organic cotton tote bags and face masks at Bare Branding in Leith. In January this year I started a work placement with the Scottish Design Exchange and started my own business making handmade dog collars and leads. I designed my own prints which I got printed onto fabric and handmade my own collars and leads from them.

How has your brand/work developed since you began?

Since starting with the Scottish Design Exchange I have moved from creating tote bags and masks to more of a niche market making dog collars and leads. I have learnt that having a specific target market has helped me focus my products towards a particular consumer. My Instagram page for Melissa and Jasmine has been a great way to build this niche community and get feedback on my products.

What do you consider to be your most popular product?,

My most popular product has been the avocado lead as this is what I have sold the most of.

Tell us a little about a piece you are the proudest of?

I am most proud of my avocado collars as they are intricate to make, especially the smaller ones! The stitching can be fiddly but with practice I improved!

How did you find out about SDX? And what made you apply to sell with us?

I used to frequently visit the SDX shop when it was at Ocean Terminal and always admired the work of the artists and designers, so it feels like a dream come true to be able to sell in their shop! I got the opportunity to sell through a partnership between my university and SDX that was set up by the Design Society at Napier.

What would you consider to be the most challenging aspect about being a working artist/designer?

The most challenging aspect about working as a designer is that you have many roles and steps you need to complete to be where you want to be.

Working as a freelance designer, and in my case hand making all my products by hand, you need to not only be a designer but a maker, a problem solver, an advertiser, an accountant and many more.

But I am gaining lots of experience doing this at a young age and am enjoying every minute of it.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspect to your business since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020?

The most challenging aspect was keeping motivated not only with my work but with my studies also. It has been a crazy year and a half working from home but it has also made it clear that this is what I want to continue doing after my degree.

How have you spent your time during lockdowns, any new hobbies or passions discovered?

It was during lockdown that I came up with the idea to create my own prints as my passion for textiles became clear. It gave me the time to work on my own designs as well as my studies as I was furloughed from my part time job for a few months on and off over the past year. I have also enjoyed taking up the gym and doing more exercise.

How do you think the pandemic will affect shopping habits and the retail industry moving forward?

I hope that now shops are open again they will be as busy as they were prior to the pandemic, however, I think with restrictions on footfall in the shops it may still be limited. I think an online presence is paramount at this time as it can always be accessed no matter if the shops are closed.

How did SDX being closed affect your business?

I lost out on a couple months of business in the shop during the Christmas time lockdown. However, this is when I had my interview to do a 5 month placement with the Scottish Design Exchange and when I came up with a new business idea. I was still able to make some sales online through my Etsy store which was great.

What do you hope to gain from working with SDX going forward?

I hope to gain more experience in the business and selling side which Lynzi (CEO of SDX) has already helped me out on throughout my work placement. I would love to hear more feedback from customers about what they like or dislike about my products. I would like to speak to more artists/designers who are successful in selling and learn from them.

If you could share just one piece of advice to aspiring artists/designers who want to make a living from their creative talents, what would you tell them?

I would tell them to go for it! If you have a passion and are enthusiastic about something it is more than likely going to work out.

Tell us your favourite inspirational quote or best advice YOU were given.

My favourite inspirational is “Start before you’re ready.” - Steven Pressfield. It motivated me to start so young and follow through with my passion for design.

Thank you to Melissa Halliday for participating in our Artist & Maker blog! You can shop her fab dog collar and leads in our George Street shop in Edinburgh.

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