Friday, January 30, 2009

Check out the Odd Bird's Nest

The Odd Bird's Nesty Studio

Hi there! I'm Tara of Odd Bird designs. I create mixed-media jewellery that's quirky & fun to's a behind-the-scenes peek at where I make everything!
The studio (aka "the nest") is nestled inside a nice lofty building where I also live. I find it much easier & affordable to have studio space in my home. The walls are blank as we recently moved into this space & I haven't had a chance to paint pretty colours or hang art yet! But really all I need is the space (to make a mess in) & music (to make a mess by) to be productive & then I'm good to go!

Meet my assistant, Loki (the original "Odd Bird") He oversee's all the jewellery creation from start to finish from his perch there....just don't tell him that it's really a toilet paper stand though,haha! I do have 2 other little assisstants but they are Camera Shy at the moment.

I finally have a much bigger desk to work on! It's a beautiful 1930's oak office looks quite clean & organized but trust me usually every inch of the desk is covered with jewellery findings, tools, paperwork etc. I made things "neat" to take these pictures!

Here's a tray of decorated dominoes ready to have findings attached to them.

Storage bins are essential for staying organized. I work more efficiently when I know I can just open a drawer to find what I need fast.
Don't ask about the Bear mask...that was part of last Halloween's costume & it really needs to be put away by now!

Here's some more decorated dominoes: one tray of completed pieces ready to pack & ship & the other tray contains ones waiting for the glaze to set. I have trays of jewellery all over the studio, as you can see these ones are sitting on top of my stereo system.....don't think I'll be using the turntable today!

OK, so I added this older pic (the first work table I had) to give you an idea of what my desk usually looks like: covered with stuff!

More storage drawers....I feel that you can never have enough of these things!

Sigh....packing supplies take up alot of space but since I do mail-order I can't avoid it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Behind the scenes at Fresh Baked Goods

My business is called Fresh Baked Goods, which is the name of my clothing line, and the name of my shop in Kensington Market. I also run Fresh Collective, on Queen Street, and make a line of kids' clothing called Bun. I've been making my living making stuff for about 16 years, and running stores for 10, and I love it! I run my shops as collectives, renting space to and sharing the work with other local designers. I find it very fun, inspiring and challenging at times!

Here's my headquarters:


Me and my knitting machine Cabinets full of yarn and supplies

My studio is in the basement of my house, which works perfectly for me right now with 2 year old Dexter being my other big focus in my life. The basement is set up like an apartment with a small kitchen and some built in cabinets, which work perfectly for storing yarn and fabric.

Although this is the biggest space I've had, we've already started to outgrow it. We have 2 knitting machines set up, several sewing machines, and finished merchandise hangs from rods on the ceiling (the left side of the left picture below). This blocks a set of shelves, and that gets annoying when we have a lot of finished merch ready to go!

Christine does some ironing .... and then she helps with bookkeeping!

I spend a lot of my time at my desk. Over the years, a surprising amount of "business work" has snuck up on me, and every day I have an insane amount of administrative work to do. There's endless organizing to running the collectives, making sure I have good designers involved and keeping things on track. I work hard to promote the stores, set goals for marketing and promotion and generally deal with whatever pops up that day.

Here is Christine, one of my two full time assistants, plowing through a mountain of paperwork. Although I have 2 outside people helping with bookkeeping, I find there is still a lot for me to do! I used to just hand over all the receipts to my bookkeeper, but found it hard to get my head around what was happening with my money, and where I needed to focus my efforts. Now I prepare my monthly receipts for income, and for expenses, and this keeps my eye on how things are going financially.

I love my desk because it reminds me how important the business side of things is. I used to have just a binder to hold all my paperwork, GST, PST, WSIB, payroll etc. and it was always overflowing and caused me endless stress because I always felt out of control! Now, I have a filing cabinet with a file for each, and I can sit at my desk and feel in control and organized.

Through the door behind where Christine is ironing is the cutting room with this big cutting table and shelves to store fabric. This room is always a mess, and every week on my list is "clean up cutting room" but I give up. Cleaning up is wasted effort in this room, because it all explodes soon enough anyway. For the first 6 years of having my shop in Kensington Market, we did all our production in the 10x12 foot room in the back. In the early days this had it's advantages, as we could run the shop and sell stuff when people came in, and get lots of work done the rest of the time. Slowly but surely we outgrew that arrangement, then kept doing it for another 3 years or so! We'd cut out dresses on the cash desk or floor of the store area, and store yarn and fabric in the changeroom. It wasn't great for shoppers, and it slowed down our production. So our current arrangement works well, especially now that Dexter's here!

I got a whiteboard to write our weekly goals, and I put it in the stairwell, which is visible from everywhere in the studio, so we could all keep our work on track. And then Dexter decided to add a few goals of his own. Oh, crazy work-family balance!

Thanks for visiting the Fresh Baked Goods team at our studio! We'd better get back to work now!