Meet the Maker: Sakarma Handmade
Sakarma is a Sanskrit word that means “with passion” and it’s an apt choice for Alison Chopra’s homewares business Sakarma Handmade, as it’s clear she is passionate about interiors and bringing more pattern, warmth and texture into our homes. In this week’s Meet the Maker interview, Alison tells Leanne Warren from Rose Filtered how her limited edition range of handmade fabric storage pots, crochet vases, tin can cosies and accent cushions is designed to create a more positive home environment through layers of rich textiles, tactile yarn and carefully considered colours…
Get 15% off all Sakarma Handmade items with the code ‘Sakarma15’ when you order by midnight on Sunday 14th July 2019. Click here to shop Sakarma Handmade on Folksy – folksy.com/shops/SakarmaHandmade
I moved back to Cheshire from London in 2011 and I’m now lucky enough to work from home, making limited-edition products designed to bring pattern warmth and texture into the home.
Hi Alison. Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
Hello, I’m Alison and I run a creative business called Sakarma Handmade. After spending 15 years living and working in London, I moved back to my native Cheshire with my two young children in 2011. I’m now lucky enough to work from home, making limited-edition products designed to bring pattern, warmth and texture into the home.
When I decided to start my own business it made sense to use the name ‘Sakarma’ as its meaning in Sanskrit, “with passion”, embodies how I feel about what I do.
How did you come up with the name of Sakarma Handmade? What does it mean?
I actually can’t take credit for the name. Years ago my husband was doing some consultancy and had to choose a name for his company. He chose ‘Sakarma’, which I really liked. It’s a Sanskrit word that means “with passion”. Some time after that I had a little fantasy about making and selling cushions and decided to have some labels made up using the name Sakarma. Nothing happened with this (apart from a few for my sofa) and the labels sat in a cupboard. Years later when I decided to start my own business, it made sense to use the name Sakarma, as the meaning, with passion, embodies how I feel about what I do.
Layers of pattern and texture help create atmosphere in interiors, and it’s why I love to work with fabric and wool
What’s the main inspiration for your makes and do you have a preferred medium among the textiles, crochet and jewellery you sell?
Interiors, pattern and texture are my inspiration. I just love interiors. I find my environment is very important to me personally, and I enjoy experimenting with ideas around the house to create the right atmosphere. Layers of pattern and texture really help with this and it’s why I love to work with fabric and wool. The bracelets come from a lifetime love of jewellery. Inspiration for pattern can come from anywhere, particularly cropping into photos of plants and also buildings.
I’ve designed a bee fabric which is drawn digitally on the computer. Designing fabrics is an area I plan to explore more – it’s nice to have a contrast between working digitally and hands-on making.
How do you source the fabrics you use in your textiles? Do you design any of them yourself?
Most of the fabric I use is end of rolls or remnants that I’ve been able to source, often expensive fabrics that I wouldn’t normally be able to afford. This is particularly satisfying as it’s good to be giving purpose to something that otherwise may be wasted. I have designed a bee fabric and also a cacti print and designing my own patterns is an area I plan to explore more. I’ve drawn both these prints digitally – I enjoy creating repeat patterns and playing with the possibilities on the computer. It’s nice to have a contrast between working digitally and hands-on making.
A cuddle with Jasper my cat helps if I’m ever stuck in a rut. He’s never far away and often keeps me company while I’m working.
Do you ever get in a creative rut? What do you do to re-find your groove?
Yes! I think this normally comes about from external influences that affect how I see my own work and question everything too much. Photography is a passion of mine and I naturally seem to find composition and pattern in my surroundings, particularly nature. This normally brings me back to a creative space. A cuddle with Jasper my cat helps too. He’s never far away and often keeps me company while I’m working.
The hardest thing about being a self-employed creative is feeling like you’re giving your family and your business the attention they deserve. Inevitably one or the other takes priority and it can be difficult to not feel like your attention is divided.
How do you find being a mum and being self-employed? Any survival tips for any parents out there thinking of starting their own business?
For me the hardest thing is feeling like you’re giving your family and your business the attention they deserve. Inevitably sometimes one or the other takes priority for whatever reason and it can be difficult to manage the impact of that and not feel like your attention is divided. I think being very organised and disciplined with your time is the key… and I should listen to my own advice.
I think it’s more important to stay true to your core values than to follow trends
Do you think it’s important to follow the latest trends in order to be a successful seller online?
I think it’s more important to stay true to your core values than to follow trends, so that your brand doesn’t become diluted.
In your experience, what are the pros and cons of being a self-employed creative?
Inconsistency in income is the biggest downside and one that affects a lot of self-employed people, not just in the creative sector. You just have to do all you can to protect against this, but be aware it will happen. It’s unrealistic not to. Flexibility is the biggest pro, especially when you have a young family.
Can you tell us your favourite and the most unusual thing you’ve ever made?
The most unusual thing I’ve made is a probably a donkey costume for my son’s nativity. It wasn’t that great but it did the job! My favourite make changes all the time, depending on whether I’ve got some new fabric or wool.
I love getting a new remnant and deciding how to get the best out of it.
I love getting a new remnant and deciding how to get the best out of it. They are sometimes not very big pieces and if patterned it’s nice to consider how the pattern composition would work when sewn.
What’s the best feedback you’ve ever received from a customer and what does it mean to you when someone buys one of your handmade items?
It means so much when someone chooses one of my makes – I smile all the way to the Post Office. Or if I’m at a craft fair, it’s just lovely to see that person pondering over my products and then looking delighted when they’ve decided.
I think being very organised and disciplined with your time is the key when you have your own creative business… and I should listen to my own advice.
When I was at a market a few months ago a customer told me that my stall and, in particular, a storage bag they’d seen online was the reason they had come. That made me ecstatic.
I learnt recently that one of my customers has, over time, bought one of my Tin Can Cosies for each member of her family.
Returning customers are amazing too: I learnt recently that one of my customers has, over time, bought one of my Tin Can Cosies for each member of her family. I hope that people get as much pleasure from buying something I’ve made as I do when I buy from other makers.
I do love bags and I want to experiment with linocut printing on to fabric.
What’s next for Sakarma Handmade?
Bags! I do love bags and I want to experiment with linocut printing on to fabric. I’d also like to make more bracelets. There are lots of other crafts I’d like to learn and play around with too, but I think it will be some time before they make it into the shop.
Alison is offering 15% off all her items while she’s our featured maker on Folksy. Just add the code ‘Sakarma15’ when you checkout. Valid until midnight on Sunday 14th July 2019
Shop Sakarma Handmade on Folksy
Meet the Interviewer
The maker asking the questions this week is Leanne Warren from Rose Filtered. Leanne is also the creator of our Folksy Friday Films and the Mr Mouse animations. Rose Filtered is an outlet for the feel-good photography and art that Leanne creates with husband Steve, celebrating life, love and the great outdoors.
Shop Rose Filtered on Folksy here – https://folksy.com/shops/RoseFiltered