Jacqui-May Wylie of the Copper Otter weaves the dreamiest wall hangings and today her business turns one year old! I have known Jacqui-May for only a few months, but she is such a lovely soul. It is impossible to watch her grow and not be a cheerleader for her. She has built her business on craftsmandship, relationship, taking chances and a ton of hard work.
On this very special day, Jacqui-May talks the unexpected of owning a creative business, her process, and finding your own style.
How did you get into weaving?
I love creating things. My mum is the most creative person I know. She used to have her own business making curtains and was pretty much top of her game and so sought after. She made my sisters wedding dress and made me a stunning red velvet cloak for mine. She actually made it the night before my wedding because she had been so ill the months before it. One of my most treasured things. So much goes into handmade, time, love, effort, emotion and memories. When we were kids and needed costumes for anything she would just make them! Mini mouse costume, clown outfit! She just popped out to her workroom and came back with the most epic stuff! She also knits and can turn her hand to anything. My dad is also very creative. He was always fixing, painting and creating things for the house when I was younger… It took me until now to realise it’s been growing up in a home where they were just brave enough to make and create (even if it went wrong). That has spilled very much in to me. It was when the girls (I have 2 daughters 2 and 3) were really little I took up embroidery and stumbled across weaving. I ordered a loom and taught myself. The need to create had a strong pull. It’s so nice when you find your space, the thing that clicks.
What has been the most surprising thing since starting the Copper Otter as a business?
The background work. There is so much to do. I’m really blessed my husband is so supportive and helpful. He does all my accounting and banking things. Thank goodness!!! That alone is a whole other job. I’m very sure if I didn’t have him it definitely would not be a business.
Then there’s branding, social media, marketing, packing…..! It’s busy and you learn a lot! Sometimes overwhelming. But you meet people along the way like other small business owners who are so willing to support and advise, it’s great being able to glean off each other. I’m very blessed to have met some amazingly talented business women who are willing to encourage and give advice. @taylorit @whitechalklove @melwiggins to name just a few.
What is your process? (Do you start with materials or colours or an idea?)
I get most of my materials from local wool shops. I love to see what I’m buying, feel the texture and quality. I also love my usual wool shop as it’s right near where I live and been around for years so has some great little gems tucked away and the girls who work there are so helpful.
Then when it comes to making my bespoke pieces, customers send pictures of the space it’s for with colour samples and I go from there. I just warp my loom and start weaving. I have my own style for sure, but not one pattern. I like to do each piece free hand. No two pieces are ever really the same. I love that the most.
Do you have advice for newbie loomers wanting to find their own style?
It’s so important to find your own style and make your own mark. The best way to do it is to make lots of mistakes. There is no perfect way to weave. Make your own rules. Be brave and experiment. It’s great to admire other people’s styles, but so much more rewarding to find your own flow.
Where else does your creativity spill out?
I love to embroider when I get the chance and I also recently created a macrame backdrop for a bit of fun. It’s now available for hire for events and weddings. It was through that I realised creativity doesn’t just have to be focused in one direction, it has many outlets. I love styling, creating content (when time allows it) and now trust my own instincts so much more when it comes to styling. I know what I like and adore experimenting to find new creative loves.