I love animals and I have this thing about cute animal illustrations. I like simple, quirky drawings, and couldn’t resist doodles of hedgehogs, foxes, and fawns. So, you could imagine my glee having stumbled upon this shop called Gingiber (adorable shop name, isn’t it?). And here today, Gingiber’s one-and-only doodler, creative director, and owner Stacie Bloomfield talks about what she loves most about being a shop-owner, the challenges of running a business, her favorites from her creations, and more.
What’s the story behind the shop name?
When I was in college I had to “brand myself” and create a magazine all about me. I was stumped, so I just opened up an old Latin dictionary and found the word Gingiber. I liked the “g’s” and went with it. Years later, when I was yet again stumped about what to call my new art print business, and also not wanting to pigeon hole myself into a name that would limit what I could sell in the future, I just went with my old standby, Gingiber, and never looked back!
The animal illustrations are absolutely adorable! It makes me wonder, do you have pets?
I do have a pet. His name is Wallace, a white curly haired dog that my husband and I adopted 9 years ago. We just love him! He is getting older, and in the past 2 weeks has had some serious health issues. I’ve shed more than a few tears as I’ve watched him go through a surgery, recover, and deal with a neck injury. I don’t know how much more time I have with him, but gosh he is an incredible family dog.
What are your top 3 favorite picks from your shop?
1. The sheep pillow is a great seller, and a personal favorite.
2. Any of the illustrated desk calendars, because they are a great gift item, look good on a desk or shelf, and ad a bit of color and fun to a creative space! Plus they are functional and come with an adorable wooden easel.
3. The Gingiber tea towels are a product that I created because I LOVE large screen prints, so our oversized flour sack cotton towels were the perfect medium. They are super soft, look great in any kitchen, and can also double as inexpensive wall art!
Can you share with us the process of creating these items?
My products are illustration based, so every product starts with me, a pencil, and a piece of paper. I’m mostly inspired by animals, texture, and interesting color combos. After I’ve sketched a design, I ink it, then I digitally scan it and clean it up in Photoshop. I color my illustrations in Illustrator, then I send them into production.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love that I’m building a brand where the products simply make people happy. Sometimes they solve a problem (like finding the perfect artwork for a nursery or a kid’s room). Sometimes my products are used to send a bit of encouragement to a friend (like our greeting cards). But mostly, I like the connection that I feel with my customers. I am so thrilled that I’ve found an audience for Gingiber, and am always so excited to launch a new product to see how they respond to it.
Is there anything you dislike about it?
I work a LOT! There is no real consistency to my hours, and because business is always in flux depending on the time of the year (the holidays are CRAZY busy, where as the Spring might feel a little slower), I am always working really hard to make sure that we are selling enough to pay the bills, pay the employees, and to save a little away for future projects. Honestly, owning your own business is stressful, but I think I like a little crazy in my life. I thrive under pressure.
What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
Learning how to delegate was a huge challenge for me. I am the type of person who likes to have my hand in every part of the business, so the first time I had to hire a contractor to help with sewing, I had to learn to let go a little, but still have high standards for what I wanted. This forced me to learn to communicate more directly, and consequently has made me a slightly better leader. Now as there are so many more moving parts to the business, I realize that communication is the key.
Where do you find inspiration?
I feel inspired by ideas. I like to find a theme and run with it for new products. Like recently I’ve been thinking about the zoo a lot, so most of my new illustrations revolve around the things you would find at the zoo. Animals, colors, the energy. I try to match it and see what I can come up with.
What is the 52 Weeks Of Dogs Illustration Project all about? What is the inspiration behind this project?
In 2011, I set out to illustrate a dog breed each and every week, with a portion of every sale being donated to the humane society. My earliest memories involve drawing dogs and collecting dalmatian stuffed animals, so dogs hold a dear place in my heart.
Could you tell us a bit about the companies that you’ve partnered with?
I’ve partnered with a few companies where they “license” my artwork and put it onto awesome products like bedding, wall art, home decor, etc. It is very exciting because by partnering with other companies who have different production possibilities than I do, I get to see my illustrations come to life on so many more products! And in turn, more people get to know the Gingiber brand. I love collaboration and am always looking for the perfect partners.
Does Gingiber have a brick and mortar store?
Yes! Gingiber has a little store connected to our Springdale, AR studio. We have limited hours (because I am only 1 person and can’t be open all the time) but I love having a place where my hometown can come and see Gingiber products in person.
What new things can we look forward to next year from Gingiber?
Next year we will be launching even more amazing products, like gift wrap, journals, and more home goods.
Your message to customers and friends:
My message would be that finding something you love to do is important, but hard work and an iron will to keep pushing forward even when you feel stagnant is the key to finding success, no matter how you define the word. Also, surrounding yourself with supportive friends, and hiring the right team, is super important if you want to see your brand grow into something more than what you can do with just your two hands. Also, if you are not having fun, your work will show it! So I like to remember that if I’m loving what I’m creating, maybe other people will love it, too.
Thank you so much, Stacie!