Interview: Make In China
It's Monday! A super grey Monday where I am, but I would like to introduce Veronique Lebel & her beautifully crafted accessories to brighten up the day. Veronique hails all the way from Canada & runs her business, Make in China, here in Shanghai. Once I decided that the colour of March will be B L U E, I knew that I wanted to feature Veronique's work, because she hand dyes her string & other materials with indigo, as well as other colours. I did a short interview with her where you can get to know her & what she's about in more detail. Happy Monday!
Tell us more about yourself . . .
My name is Véronique and I am a fiber lover and a self-taught creative seriously addicted to handmade things and beautiful craftsmanship. I have launched my brand Make in China in 2015 and since then I am on a mission to inspire the maker in all of us! I host creative events where people can meet and mingle in a relaxed and fun environment with some nice food and drinks and I create, in collaboration with other artists and artisans, small collections of handcrafted objects. All the pieces are 100% handmade and produced in limited quantities in order to ensure their uniqueness.
What brought you to Shanghai & how long ago?
I followed my husband to Shanghai more than 10 years ago! We were both looking for new opportunities because we were not happy with our corporate jobs in Italy. I worked in communications and marketing for many years before launching my brand Make in China in 2015. At first I was only organizing workshops to share my love for yarn crafts but decided a year ago to also sell my own handmade products!
Do you have a spot somewhere in Shanghai that you always go to to get inspiration?
Not really! I am mostly inspired by nature and traditional techniques so I definitely feel inspired while travelling outside of the city! It can be discovering South East Asia, going back to my wild Canada or even staying for a couple of days in the bamboo forest of Moganshan. I also draw a lot of my inspiration from materials and colour combinations. I am a real textile lover, I can talk about the texture of a certain type of yarn for hours and nothing (and nobody) can stop me from meeting local textile artisans while I am travelling.
What are some of your work tools that you can’t live without?
The first lap loom that I bought when I started to weave 5 years ago. Since then I have learned and rediscovered other techniques but weaving remains my favourite yarn craft. I like the meditative aspect of it and how it can develop organically, without too much planning.
How important is it to be part of a creative community in a city like Shanghai?
I think that if you want to take your craft to the next level and get tips about running your small business, reaching out to other creatives and find a community to support you along the way is a must. It can be as easy as being part of a WeChat group designed for creatives or collaborate with other creatives on initiatives or products. My only regret right now is not figuring out if a Chinese version of that community exists...
What's your favourite part of your day when running your business?
Definitely the part where I get to meet people! I love teaching and inspiring people to be creative through the workshops. I want to go beyond the DIY workshop by providing a full creative experience, preparing a nice setup and homemade food, choosing high quality supplies, sharing tips/ resources, and making every participant feel special. I want people to be inspired to make something beautiful they will be proud of.
What do you do when or if you get a designer's block?
As much as I’d love for creativity to be this continuously flowing source that never ever dries up, unfortunately that’s not the case. And the trouble with a creative rut is that the more you search, the harder it is to find it! When it happens to me, I have one trick: do something creative just for me! It’s about finding an outlet for my creativity that is separate from my business so that I can feed my brain and also relax it a little. And a good night of sleep helps too!
Veronique runs her business from China where we use WeChat. Which is like WhatsApp/Facebook & other apps put together. But for those who are not in China, you can follow her in Facebook & Instagram or contact her directly by email.