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Art Business, conservation

My Decision to Buy Natural Fibre Clothing from Now On

All images in the blog came from Pixabay.

Like many people, I have done my best to avoid buying products in single-use plastic bags and opted for cloth bags when buying fresh produce, because of the damage to the environment and to wildlife caused by plastic bags.

Recently, nanoplastics from clothing, have been highlighted in the news. When synthetic clothing is washed, microscopic pieces, called nanoplastic, fragment from synthetic (plastic) garments and remain in the water, draining into water treatment systems and even the ocean. Synthetic (plastic) fibres are ANY fibres which not natural fibres like wool, cotton, linen, silk, etc.

Synthetic (plastic) fibres were created for several good reasons. They are not susceptible to moth damage, dry quickly, crease less (making them immensely popular with those who hate ironing), are cheap and not dependant on successful fibre crops and harvesting.

They are, however, unhealthy for humans, as they:

  • Are ‘airtight’ and prevent skin from breathing, leading to clogged pores and skin infections.
  • Create nanoplastics, through friction during washing, and while wearing the garment. Even handling or touching these fabrics in your clothing or cloths can cause microscopic particles to be inhaled, transferred to your hands, and then be ingested causing several severe health issues, including cancers. Microplastics are being found in the placentas of prebirth babies and in new-born babies.
  • Cause air, ground and water pollution through their manufacturing process.
  • Create air, ground and water pollution through their disposal.

THIS IS SERIOUS.

There are implications for wildlife and the environment, since most synthetic fibres are not recycled and are dumped in overflowing landfills.

I have decided any clothes I buy will be natural fibres, as far as possible. I live in a very cold, wet climate and I do not know if there are eco-friendly, natural windbreaker/waterproof jacket options – but I will keep my eyes open for them. Maybe we need to return to good, old-fashioned oilskins and quilted cotton jackets.

Yes, I may need to do more ironing – or I can embrace wearing creased and wrinkled clothes.

Yes, I will have to set moth traps to keep moths away from my wool wear.

Yes, I may not have as many choices, but how many pairs of trousers do I really need?

Currently I need very few clothes as I have a wardrobe full of them, and I will wear them until they perish. Only then will I selectively replace them, even if it means saving up and spending more for fewer, better quality, natural fibre garments and homeware.

Will you join me in turning away from wearing synthetic fibre clothes?

Recommended Reading:
1. https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/lifestyle/2021/07/washing-machine-filters-failing-to-stop-microplastic-pollutants-ending-up-on-kiwi-beaches.html

2. https://amberoot.com/blogs/blog/synthetic-clothes-and-the-consequences-to-our-health

3. https://www.trustedclothes.com/blog/2018/08/09/three-ethical-reasons-to-avoid-synthetic-fabrics-and-switch-to-natural-fabrics/

4. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/natural-vs-synthetic-fibers#what-are-natural-fibers

Art Business, conservation

Products and Pricing

‘Malherbe’s Parakeet’ ladies 100% cotton sweatshirt, doodlewear.

ARE MY PRODUCTS TOO EXPENSIVE?

Some people have commented that the products I sell are too expensive. Evaluation of expense is relative so what is too costly for one person is easily affordable by another. However, the last thing I want is to profiteer – and at present I am running at a loss because art involves such a huge outlay of time and cost for materials that it is almost impossible to recoup unless/until an artist becomes fashionable. To be perfectly honest, I cannot afford to buy my own products at the moment but I hope to bless those of you who can afford them. For those of you who are as cash strapped as I am, we may need to depend on big retailers instead of craftspeople.

There are practical reasons why my products cost more than those available through mass-production retailers.

My Decision to Only Sell Natural Fibre Merchandise on my Store

Since I paint endangered species, which are often affected by pollution and habitat destruction, it is ethical to ensure that my products are:

  1. Consistently raising awareness of threatened species.
  2. Created from natural fibres or products, which are not pollutive.
  3. Environmentally-friendly: producing little or no pollution during manufacturing and do not pollute when washed and finally disposed.
  4. Biodegradable.
  5. Healthy for the customer wearing or using them.
  6. Sustainable.
  7. Durable – natural fibres last longer than man-made (synthetic, plastic fibres).
  8. Where possible, are organic – just as nature intended, and not impregnated with nasty pesticides/herbicides, toxins, etc.
  9. Excellent quality, so that the merchandise is well worth the cost.
  10. Manufactured locally and/or through ethical manufacturers who do not exploit their labour force.
  11. Beautiful but useful – it is possible to create products that have both characteristics.
  12. By purchasing cotton garments, we are supporting farmers rather than fossil fuel industry.

My aim is to produce GUILT-FREE products that only positively impact customers, wildlife and the planet.

Currently, my artwork is available on a range of adult organic cotton t-shirts on my online store, Bumble-Bees Art and Crafts (https://www.bumble-beesartandcrafts.com/ ).

In a couple of weeks, organic cotton t-shirts with my artwork, will also be available from doodlewear (https://www.doodlewear.co.nz/collections/auntie-betty-illustration ).

An organic cotton & 100% cotton baby-wear and children’s t-shirt range is available on my online store, as well as 100% cotton adults sweatshirts and hoodies.

I am so impressed by the quality of these garments. All artwork printing is done in New Zealand by Digitees, using environmentally-friendly inks on ethically manufactured garments. My garments are only printed when a customer orders, so there is no waste, and Digitees ships the garments in a compostable bag to the customer, which is cheaper for the customer and better for the environment. Bumble-Bees and Digitees are both passionate about being as eco-conscious as possible.

Are you ready to start purchasing more durable, natural clothes and homeware?

Recommended Reading:
1. https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/lifestyle/2021/07/washing-machine-filters-failing-to-stop-microplastic-pollutants-ending-up-on-kiwi-beaches.html

2. https://amberoot.com/blogs/blog/synthetic-clothes-and-the-consequences-to-our-health

3. https://www.trustedclothes.com/blog/2018/08/09/three-ethical-reasons-to-avoid-synthetic-fabrics-and-switch-to-natural-fabrics/

4. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/natural-vs-synthetic-fibers#what-are-natural-fibers

Art Business

The Many Hats Artists Wear – Part 7 (Final)

In the concluding mini-blog of this series, my job as an artist involves the following:

Image from Pixabay

13. Struggles with technology

When I have a list of tasks to do in a day, there is insufficient time to deal with technology challenges. This is my biggest frustration and often makes me wish that we not be so dependent of technology. I was going to share my recent techno battles but took pity on my readers.

14. Finally, painting, drawing and embroidery

Yes, it is time to generate some artwork, but is 5 pm and there are dogs to walk and tea to cook. Maybe tomorrow will work out as an artwork day?

I do work in the evening; however, my artwork needs extremely good lighting, which is not relaxing for the rest of the folk in the room. I usually do my needlework in the evening as I find it less cognitive and more relaxing.

Before anyone has a chance to feel overwhelmed by my art business responsibilities, I would like to add, that even though I earn considerably less than I used to, my stress levels have also alleviated, and this is something I am not willing to trade for a fat salary. I sleep better at night; I am happy and enjoy life to the fullest. I no longer dread Monday mornings. I am surrounded by my best friends, Mum and the three hounds, Elza, Gaius and Quink, and I make the most of every day, grateful that I can be self-employed, doing what is most important.

I would really love to hear about your art business, or your thoughts if you are contemplating becoming a self-employed artist. As always, I am also keen to read any tips you may have.

At this point, I have not settled on the subject of my next blog but hope it will be an artist or conservationist interviews. Please watch this space.

Until next time…

Art Business

The Many Hats Artists Wear – Part 6

Following on from yesterday’s mini-blog, my job as an artist also involves the following:

‘Malherbe’s Parakeet’ DOODLEWEAR WOMENS’ CREW NECK SWEATSHIRT from my doodlewear collection

10. Retailers

Because of COVID, retailers are now reluctant to consider stocking any of my prints or greeting cards as they appeal to overseas tourists who cannot currently enter New Zealand.  As I think that artists need to spread their work as widely afield as possible, I hope to soon add my merchandise to Felt, and hope that Kiwis will be interested in buying merchandise displaying local flora and fauna.

Image from Pixabay

11. Packing and processing orders

When I receive a notification of a sale from my online store, I respond to the customer ASAP, as they have taken time to support my business, and I want them to know their patronage is valued. I like to process/package all orders within three days.

Image from Pixabay

12. Development

Artists are perpetually developing. We are planning artworks, exhibitions, product ranges, courses, marketing strategies or even just indulging in a little self-development (playing with new media, taking a marketing course, etc.).

Tomorrow I will share the last few ‘hats’ I don on a daily basis. Today’s blog is the sixth part of a series of mini blogs, which I will complete posting tomorrow.

I would really love to hear about your art business, or your thoughts if you are contemplating becoming a self-employed artist. As always, I am also keen to read any tips you may have.

Until then…

Art Business

The Many Hats Artists Wear – Part 5

Following on from yesterday’s mini-blog, my job as an artist also involves the following:

Image from Pixabay

8. Research

When I paint an endangered animal, I like to know something about them, so spend a little time researching them and their habitat so that I can create an authentic setting in the illustration.

Part of building an art business also means researching merchandising options and retailers. My target audience is animal-art lovers! I am aware that not everyone wants to buy an original painting or print, but most of us like to wear t-shirts, use tea towels and notebooks, build jigsaw puzzles, etc.

With that in mind, I am constantly researching manufacturing options for New Zealand-made, natural fibres, non-polluting, sustainable, reusable environmentally-friendly products. I am so grateful that I can work with Digitees (https://www.digitees.co.nz/), who print my designs on 100% cotton ethical clothing (the adult clothing is 100% organic cotton too!) with eco-friendly inks.

Image from Pixabay

9. Uploading designs to merchandise

Once a design is digitised, it needs to be uploaded for merchandise. Although I have designs on three print-on-demand platforms (Zazzle, Society6 and Redbubble), I only load designs on Redbubble now, as I hardly ever sell anything on the others. Redbubble is also, by far, the easiest platform to use. It costs nothing for me to put my designs on items, but in return, the royalties are small, and I dare not push them up for fear of chasing away customers with excessive prices.

Recently I started to sell my work on 100% cotton t-shirts on my own store, which are printed and drop shipped by Digitees (https://www.digitees.co.nz/), a Kiwi business. I am also proud to be part of the Kiwi artist collaboration, doodlewear (https://www.doodlewear.co.nz/) and sell my designs on 100% cotton sweatshirts and hoodies.

My endangered animals’ designs are also printed as giclee prints and greeting cards. These are sold on my online store (https://www.bumble-beesartandcrafts.com/).

All this merchandising work takes considerable time – creating merchandise options and entries on the online store and Facebook are very time-consuming, but it needs to be done so that customers can buy what they like and when it is done, it is rewarding.

Tomorrow I will share some more of the ‘many hats’ I don on a daily basis. Today’s blog is the fifth part of a series of mini blogs, which I will post over the coming days.

I would really love to hear about your art business, or your thoughts if you are contemplating becoming a self-employed artist. As always, I am also keen to read any tips you may have.

Until then…