It’s always fun meeting new people, which is why we came up with the idea of The HTF Hot Seat – a regular post to introduce you to the creative dynamites behind some of your favourite hardtofind products. This week’s seller in the spotlight: adorable designer (and dog lover!) Heather Alstead.
I’m known on hardtofind for my… since last month, I’d have to say our new personalised Christmas Dog wrapping paper! Thank you so much for making it our number-one seller in less than a week, guys!
Right now I’m inspired by… life! I tend to design for what’s happening in my life – my first ever card was produced for my mum, we started doing personalised baby wear as soon as I became an aunty, and I drew the first dog image when I bought my first pup three years ago.
My favourite part of the making process is… a lot of our designs are handmade by us in our family run studio, which is time consuming but amazing. It’s so fun being able to produce our designs and seeing them grow from an idea into reality. We have built up a collection of machines as the business has grown and are now able to produce personalised baby clothing, mugs, prints, wrapping paper and Christmas jumpers, all in-house! We still have a list of suppliers (all in the UK) to create our non-personalised products, which gives us the freedom to design a wide range of products that we could never produce alone.
I work from… an old barn! I started the business just after finishing uni (seven years ago now!), when I was still living at home. I am very lucky that my parents have an old barn – my gran used to live in here, and prior to that a donkey! It was converted before my gran lived in it… 😉 This has been my workspace from the very beginning, I hired my mum and we all work in here. We have a couple of stock rooms/machine rooms and our office space where we pack the orders. All in a little village outside of York, England. I love it as I get to take my two labs, Luna, and our latest addition, Fleur, to work each day.
A typical day for me involves… up at 6am (now we have a new puppy) get ready, faff around, have breakfast, load the dogs in the car, and drive to the studio only four miles away. Then it is the all-important cup of tea, before printing out our online orders, answering our enquires and starting to make orders. I do the wrapping paper, mugs and baubles, my mum does the prints and baby grows. We do help each other out, and switch and change, but that’s the routine now. Our post is collected at around 3pm, then it is onto either trade orders, or now, Christmas planning, before I head home to make dinner, and chill out with a cheeky gin, my husband and pups.
My proudest business moment was… going full time. I began right out of uni with no idea about anything to do with starting a business. I worked part time to begin with but, after two years, I went full time and that was the turning point. I finally started to believe that this was my actual job and I could make it work.
When I started my business, I wish I’d known… that it would work! It would have saved my parents’ sanity. I would ask them most days, ‘are you sure I am not wasting my time?!’ I still harbor this fear and never get complacent about how lucky I am to do something I love. We are always looking at ways we can evolve and move with markets.
I’d describe my personal style as… Scandi and I’ll buy anything with an animal on it.
My last purchase was… a leopard-print Whistle’s jumper – I love their clothes.
The first thing I do when I wake up is… avoid eye contact with the dogs. They like to eat as soon as they hear the alarm.
The motto I live by is… love what you do and you will never a work a day in your life
I’m hoping 2019 will bring… more of the same, to continue to do a job the I love and be happy!
Everything tastes better with a little… cake/chocolate/gin/rum.
Hardtofind is Australia’s leading online curated marketplace for gifts, fashion and homewares.