Handmade By Me…

We would like to introduce you to yet another South African surface designer! We recently chatted to Sera Holland, the talented graphic and textile designer behind Cape Town-based design label “Handmade By Me“. Sera’s bespoke fabric designs has evolved into a full range of awesome products which includes cushion covers, tea towels, napkins and a wallpaper range which launched earlier this year. The most recent addition to the Handmade By Me range is a funky collection of chef and vintage-style aprons – too cute!

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself… any likes / dislikes?  (We understand you’ve been in Ireland for the past 6 years?)

A: Yes I have just moved back home to cape Town after living in Dublin for over 6 years. I like to think I am a pretty easygoing person and I love to spend time with my friends (specially as I have been living away for so long). I love to be outdoors and in the sunshine, or cooking and entertaining at my house. And I am obsessed with anything pretty AND functional! There are a few things I dislike…like olives, raisins, the leafblower guy from outside my old office but it is safe to say that I HATE the Irish weather!

Q: How did you get into the textile design industry? Do you have an art or design background?

A: I have a diploma in design and have been working as a graphic designer for the last 10 years.  I have always wanted to make something functional as well as pretty, instead of working so hard on things I never really got to enjoy after they were done. I found a sweet little course which was all about printing onto fabric by hand using different techniques which I really enjoyed. One of the designs I came up with then was my origami birds but back then I was cutting out each bird individually with a scalpel out of acetate (which is really not easy nor fun) and it looked pretty handprinted and messy too. Being the perfectionist that I am, I wanted to do it right and so began my quest and discovery of digital printing onto fabric. Having the background and expertise in graphics and knowing how to set up artwork it made transition into the textile design side of things very smooth. I have also since then done a course in Textile Design and Print at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin where I learned a lot more about manual printing methods and the fabric side of things.

Q: Tell us a little more about Handmade by Me, where did it all start?

A: When my sister’s wedding came along shortly after my new digital printing discovery, I designed her and her husband a very special fabric design inspired by their obsession with their 3 dogs (see my Barking Mad design). And I learnt to sew so I could give them cushion covers, napkins and 3 doggy bandanas as their actual gift. It really was something handmade by me and so the name stuck. I really want to highlight the bespoke side of what I can do.

Q: And what about your product range… I see you have also recently ventured into wallpaper?

A: Yes at the moment I make cushion covers, napkins and tea towels. And my wallpaper range has just been launched which is really exciting. There are a few other things in the pipeline but what I would really like to point out is that I can really make just about anything. The bespoke side of my business is probably the part that people don’t really know much about. I can custom make other products or different sizes using my current fabrics and I can also custom design something as well.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration from when designing? I’ve noticed several of African-inspired designs…

A: I pretty much get my inspiration from just about anywhere. Yes you may have noticed my South African nostalgia coming through with the proteas and strelitzias. Sometimes its a shape I like, or a colour, sometimes I know exactly what I want to do, and sometimes I just want to play around with different elements and see what happens. I would imagine that people probably think I’m pretty bird and flower crazy, but sometimes my designs have more (not so) hidden meanings like the “another rainy day” design which was inspired by the consistently rainy weather and lack of summers I experienced while I was in Dublin.

Q: Is there a certain style you admire or aspire to?

A: I just try to be different from everything else out there. I like all kinds of different styles so I like to explore and experiment! I guess it also just really depends on how I am feeling or the kind of environment I have been before working on an idea. Sometimes I go looking for inspiration and sometimes I just sit and think about things.

Q: Could you share your Secret Indulgence with us?

A: Sadly it’s brie cheese! I. just. can’t. STOP.

Q: Tell us five things on your Bucket List…

Visit Rome!!!! And south America! And just travel more really!

Buy a Mary Katrantzou dress

Learn how to hot-wire a car (always wanted to know how to do that)

Design and build a big piece of furniture from scratch

Drive a formula 1 car

Q: Any awesome future plans in the Handmade by Me pipeline?

A: Ha ha hopefully loads of awesome plans!!! I have so many ideas its ridiculous! Right now I am just establishing myself so its all about getting my brand out there and figuring out my little place in the market. And then hopefully onto some really awesome new projects! I would also like to do some really cool collaborations with other local creative types.

Q: Lastly, are your products available at local retail outlets, online stores or via people in the trade such as our company?

A: At the moment my products are available mostly online – Etsy, Hello Pretty, Meekel, Utique and We Heart This and in Durban I will be stocking Shoppe. I have only just arrived so I am currently in the process of supplying some interior decorator/designers and hopefully you will start seeing my items in more homeware style shops around the country.

And I would love my products to be available through your company : )

{Sera is also offering a Christmas present gift wrap and delivery service this year! Just send her your Handmade By Me shopping list and, when ready, your order will be delivered to you door – gift wrapped and all! You have till this Sunday to place your order! For more details see: here. Also be sure to check out the Handmade By Me website & Facebook page: here & here}

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