The series LOOK WHO MADE IT is designated to create a space where I introduce and interview creative minds that I admire. People that work in the creative field, as Makers and Doers.
If you’d like to be featured or know somebody I should introduce, please let me know. You can write me here or on any social media channel.
The fantastic thing about this series is that I get to help people such fantastic and inspiring people. Like Meghann Halfmoon who’s born in the US, lived a long time in the Netherlands, founded her Atelier making bags and clothing and moved to Saba while she builds her creative business – and on the side she’s raising two kids. Talking about someone who’s doing it all. But how does she do that? Read this interview to find it out. I love her detailed tipps. So much to learn from her.
1 | You founded the Halfmoon Atelier and create bags and clothing: what drove you to do so?
Looking back to my childhood dreams now, it almost seems obvious that I would be doing this. However, I was not at all on this path in my young adulthood and definitely took a very round-about route to get here. In 2013, I had a promising career in the International Development sector, writing project proposals for grant funding, which took me to amazing corners of the world. But it didn’t fit me anymore. I became burnt out and depressed. I hadn’t created anything with my hands in years. I needed to make again.
Having learned to sew as a child from my mom, one of the crafts I turned back to was sewing. I really wanted to make simple, yet somehow unique, leather bags. So I took a short workshop in leather bag making, and that was that. I loved it! I started with scrap leather, and now work exclusively with vegetable tanned leather. In early 2015, I added clothing to my line. In 2016, ceramics will make their debut.
2 | How are you working creatively? Tell me more about your working process.
I find a lot of freedom in structure. It helps me to know when I can and cannot be flexible with my time so that I don’t overstretch myself too much. Once I have clear parameters set, it’s much easier for me to just relax and create.
I’ve recently gone back to a paper calendar to help with structuring my process. I write down my over-arching goals for the year. Then, on a more micro level, I mark the days of the week that I should post photos on Instagram, when to start preparing my newsletter, which days I should fire ceramics, etc. I can safely say that I’ve not been able to follow my set structure perfectly, but I can see that I am working towards my goals. It’s also nice to have a visual idea of how to get back on track.
3 | Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
I am most inspired when traveling. Feeling free and „on the road“ really sparks a creative flame for me. Also, looking out at any sort of landscape from high up, whether that’s across the sea, or out at a city from a window above.
4 | What’s your educational background? How did you become a designer?
Well, my educational background has in fact very little to do with my current work. I did my undergraduate degree in the US, where I am originally from, in Business, finishing in 2001; and did my graduate degree in European Public Affairs in the Netherlands, finishing in 2005. Although my business degree was more focused on the corporate sector than on entrepreneurship, I am thankful to have that background. I am quite happy, in fact, that my path has been so non-linear.
I have a hard time calling myself a „designer“ because it’s not something I ever officially studied. However, my high school had a strong art program, which allowed me to take classes in pottery, photography, textiles & weaving, jewelry and more! Growing up I was also just very creative and crafty. I painted a lot and designed and made some of my own clothes. I didn’t really follow patterns.
In 2013, the need to create just came back full force. After finding Etsy and reading all the inspirational stories on their blog, I decided that I could give it a go.
5 | Who or what is your biggest influence?
Design-wise: Denim. Anything and everything I design, from bags to clothing to ceramics, goes well with denim. I like to, very subtly, channel the late 1970s and 1980s in my designs. This has more to do with the lines than with the color though. I am also very intrigued by the fashion and architecture of the 1920s and 1930s and would like to find a way to integrate those lines into my designs. As long as it works well with denim.
Business-wise: podcasts. I love listening to podcasts, especially while I work. Some of the podcasts I subscribe to are more industry-specific and the interviews on these have been very inspirational and influential in my work. One of these is the While She Naps podcast by Abby Glassenberg. Others are Creating Your Own Path, Dear Handmade Life and CraftSanity.
6 | What do you love the most about your creative business?
That I built it from scratch. It’s a lot of work, and I often feel like it’s not growing as quickly as I’d like. But it’s mine. I built this. That’s something I am so proud of.
7 | What were the first steps you took to be where you are today?
The first steps involved taking the time to read a bit on Etsy, creating a shop name and taking photos of a product.
8 | Could you give some practical advice to someone who’s just starting out or considering being a creator for a living?
- Set a date. Decide upon a start date for your business, write it in your calendar, and tell a few friends about it. That gives you something to work towards rather than just an abstract idea of „someday“. Telling people about it adds accountability.
- Don’t be self depricating. It’s okay to say you’re not entirely certain of the exact direction or even the core product, but don’t say things like „I am sure nobody will want it, but I’m just going to try.“ Rather, say „I am just going to put it out there and see what the response is.“
- Don’t wait till you’re an expert or until it’s perfect. Put it out there! Start with one product. See what it looks like on Etsy (or your platform of choice), then make changes.
- If you are just „testing the waters“, you probably don’t need to worry about formally registering your business. However, if you want to fully dive into it, go for it! Register. This will also allow you to purchase supplies at wholesale costs.
- Start tracking your expenses right away. The financial aspects can be a real pain, so it’s a good idea to get a grasp of this side of the business while it’s still very small. Free accounting software, like Wave, are very helpful!
9 | Were there any hardships that you had to overcome? How did you manage to do so?
Starting a business from scratch is its own hardship. I manage this by trying to take one step at a time.
We also moved internationally last year, to a small island whose postal service has a bad reputation. That made me a bit nervous at first, but I’ve found the reputation to be unfounded. I make sure to send all my packages as registered post so that they can be tracked. I’ve never lost a package yet (knock on wood!).
10 | With what did (do) you struggle the most?
Stress with uncertainty. I would love for my business to grow more, and to be able to contribute more to my family financially. But this all takes time, so I am trying to be patient.
11 | What’s next? Any plans for new projects?
Yes! First, my ceramics. I sell these in my brick-and-mortar shop here in Windwardside, Saba, already. But I am working to develop a more cohesive ceramics line that I can post in my shop on Etsy.
Also, I am working on developing my clothing designs into PDF patterns that I can sell. This way my designs can live much longer!
Now. Carry on!