Getting to know Wonder & Rah
‘My ultimate goal was to offer something fun and different in the world of nursery prints.’
Getting to know Wonder and Rah…
Getting to know Wonder and Rah…
At This Modern Life we have always been passionate about supporting other small businesses, and are constantly on the lookout for new brands that match both our style and values. In March this year we were thrilled to welcome Wonder and Rah, a.k.a. Natalie Cardew, into the fold – it just so happens that she was a fan of our work and we were a fan of hers!
Despite being a Mum of two and personally creating each Wonder and Rah piece, Natalie recently took some time out to tell us a little more about herself, her inspiration and how Wonder and Rah came about. (She also let us have a sneak peak into her home – spoiler: prepare for some serious décor envy!)
Pre Wonder and Rah…
I was a Senior Merchandiser at Kurt Geiger. It was a very analytical role which focussed on range planning, trading and stock control to drive profit; it was a really interesting position with lots of lovely perks but completely different to what I’m doing now.
The birth and journey of Wonder and Rah…
I decided against returning to work after having my second child Robyn. I had returned to work four days a week after having my first, Leo, but a combination of working hours, commuting and nursery fees made me rethink my career path. I took a year’s maternity leave with Robyn which gave me lots of thinking time. I really wanted to get back to my creative roots having studied illustration at University and have always had a huge passion for interiors, especially in prints and pattern.
My first illustration sold on Etsy, and it was my first time ever selling any of my artwork. I created a shop, uploaded about 20 designs and told all my friends and family about it through Instagram and Facebook. Soon the word spread and I started to sell. In truth it was all very organic. I didn’t start with a business plan, more with a hobby that quickly grew into something that I could see had a viable future. I had no idea how much I would enjoy doing my own thing.
I get my inspiration from everywhere, I love fashion and am inspired by emerging trends, but it could also be something I see out and about or something the children mention. I keep a visual scrapbook on my phone to collate them all.
When I do have the initial idea for a new design, be it colour combination, pattern or subject matter, I start sketching ideas out. Nearly all my prints begin their life as a painting, either in ink or watercolour. I then scan them and adapt them in Photoshop. I love the flexibility this gives me as it means I can work in sections – handy with small children around! Sometimes they end up really similar to the initial idea, other times they completely change, for example my whale print actually started as a turtle!
So many things have surprised me about running my own business. Wonder and Rah evolved so naturally, I never expected to be doing this as my job. I’ve been so pleasantly surprised at the amazing support I’ve received from customers out there who make a point of choosing to support businesses when they shop, there are so many amazing small business brands out there!
Challenges along the way…
For me, I think everything was a challenge at first. I felt like I knew so little even though I came from a retail background. Print quality is hugely important to me so I had to do a lot of research into papers and printers, then there’s the practicalities such as creating your own webshop and doing tax returns.
Something I hadn’t anticipated being a challenge was working alone. It can be lonely working solo but that’s why I love Instagram, for the small business community I have met through there. I’m also part of Southwood Social Hub which is a brilliant network of business women who all share knowledge in their specialities.
Being approached by stockists was a really exciting moment for me. As a long-term customer, I was thrilled when This Modern Life got in touch. I was also really excited to see my work at Liberty, my first bricks and mortar stockist. I love getting the chance to personalise my prints at their ‘Meet the Founder’ events – it’s such a thrill to chat with my customers in person.
The future of Wonder and Rah…
I love to collaborate with other businesses so I’m currently working on some really exciting projects for the summer. I also have lots of plans for my shop, I will continue to expand my range and hopefully look at other product areas.
We hope you have enjoyed getting to know Natalie and Wonder and Rah just as much as we have! We are so inspired by her journey and happy to now be a part of it. Don’t forget to follow her on Instagram @WONDERANDRAH as it sounds like there are many new and exciting things to come! You can buy your own Wonder and Rah print online now, all you need to do is click here. Love, TML.