The Queen of sparkle talks everything creative!
We love a fellow creative and so we are thrilled that the brilliant Kristal from Sparkle Child is this months #ourspacetocreate interview.
Kristal makes sparkly delights from wands and crowns to notepads and jewellery. She also runs workshops and events and is a real champion of other small businesses. Kristal is incredibly talented and I love the fact that everything is handcrafted and packed by her in her home studio. The love and attention to detail that goes into every single item is unique and wonderfully special. Sparkle and creativity is without doubt her thing!
Kristal lives in London with her husband and three children.
Please could you tell us a bit about yourself and Sparkle Child?
I make luxurious but affordable sparkly treats for children and adults from my studio in Hackney, East London. Each piece is handcrafted and wrapped like the best Christmas present you ever received. I want people to be totally delighted when they receive something from SparkleChild no matter how small the sparkly piece is, and if they don’t instantly feel more sparkly then I haven’t done my job properly.
I realised a while ago that I am a designer, an artist, an entrepreneur and an eccentric. In one word, I am a Sparkleist.
Did your creative journey start with sparkle Child or was it before that?
My parents nicknamed me the SparkleFairy when I was younger but I had a head for business. I grew up with the heady heights of shoulder pads and hairspray sneakily watching Dynasty and Dallas over my mums shoulder and then lusting over those awesome power suits of the 80’s. The fabulous shoes and a pencil skirt drove my ambition to work in an office. I went on to spend 20yrs in HR before sparkle gradually crept back into my life. When the glitter eyeshadow became distracting to my colleagues I realised it was time to finally embrace the sparkle.
I started making tutus for my daughter and her friends and some local shops began to stock them. That was five years ago before our third child was born and we had a ‘spare’ room that I could store enormous tutus in. Wow they took up a lot of space, so when I discovered the sparkle fabric and began to experiment with dress up accessories to go with the tutus I quickly found that I was finished with tutus and I just wanted to make things with this sparkly fabric.
Why is creativity important to you?
It’s important to us as humankind. Without it we would not have evolved. It makes the world beautiful, it makes us fascinating. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning and leads us into our dreams. It has always been an important part of me, just as it is you, but I think it is a part of ourselves that needs nurturing and developing. The time I spent in HR problem solving all connects and even though the output of my job is different today to what it once was, the creativity is just the same.
It might be a cliche to say this but my children push my creativity enormously as they grow, crave answers, and seek to shape their world. A lot of my designs are because of or inspired by them and then there is Mr Sparkle who is an architect with an incredible brain who makes me think about bigger world issues and before I know it I’m designing products inspired by our discussions. I bet he says the same about me too.
Could you tell us about your studio and how you have it set up?
We live in a 3 bedroom Victorian house and although we’ve toyed with the idea of putting my studio at the end of the garden we’ve kicked the kids out of their playroom aka the back living room and have given the room a new life, my studio.
I have my sewing machine, a cutting and sticking table, a packing area, shelves with boxes, the computer and a mountain of sparkle fabric. I resisted taking over this room for a couple of years not wanting to put SparkleChild at the centre of our family home, but actually now it’s there it’s wonderful and it seems to work.
The downside is that I am prone to distraction mostly from my adoring and absolutely awesome father who passes by the house regularly, looks after the kids, makes me tea and hovers until I finish it. He is an inventor and a poet and he is great company but just sometimes all that poetic drama and energy interrupts my creative flow and productivity falls short. The inventor and creator that he is cannot help redesigning my products, finding new places to store things or getting rid of bits of essential equipment for safety reasons.
What’s your favourite thing in your studio/creative space?
That would be Soffia De Rossi! Can I say that?! She’s my assistant. Taking her on was a big deal. Working at home around the family, stopping for the school run, cooking for the kids, potty training, making homework happen, and sorting out tantrums is all part of being mum in a home studio and so having an assistant in that space is revealing. I have to trust anyone not just to do the job and to work with me and my SparkleChild baby, but also to be able to put up with my eccentric family. She gets us and that is priceless. I know she won’t be with SparkleChild forever so for now, she’s my favourite ‘thing’!
When she leaves me for a ‘proper’ job where other young people go to the pub on a Friday, my favourite thing will be my artwork particularly ‘you are Fabulous’ print by my best friend and SparkleChild illustrator Rachel Gale, and the beautiful Choose Love equality hand-cut poster by Rob Ryan which my husband bought me for my 40th birthday. It has a beautiful message in it which I feel very deeply about.
Where does your creative inspiration come from?
Oh goodness that’s hard, so many places. It might be good to talk about my Sparkle Collectables because I bring out a new piece each month and I did this to challenge my creativity.
This moon was big a few weeks ago and I just stared at it. It was a beautiful night and I felt a pull to just go and lie in the park and look at it. See I said eccentric. From there I ended up thinking about constellations, the zodiac, ancient Egyptians, our Earth, climate change and well before I knew it I had designed the piece for May, a Taurus with the APIS Bull Crescent Moon, and a mantra that sums up the thinking behind the piece.
The complicated bit is taking all the inspiration and turning it into something that I love and hopefully that others love too.
What do you need to create?
Just me, some love, a little bit of sparkle, scissors, and if you give me a camera I’m on.
Do your children have their own creative spaces? Could you tell us a bit about them?
The kitchen is where most family creativity happens. That wonderful thing the kitchen table. It’s a nice table, made of walnut, we bought it with the money we got when we got married, and so we’ve a well used laminated tablecloth that the kids are free to create on without worry that they’ll make a mess. That said they do puzzles on the living room floor, they read everywhere, and they make flower dens in the garden. This space is theirs to do what they like …there’s only one rule and that is no SLIME on the sofa!
We’ve also found that they each need their own shelves to keep their treasures and their creations. Discovering this was a genius turn for us as we gave this task to my dad who got to create different shelves for each of them and the project is still keeping him going.
What creative activities do your children like to do?
It would be odd if I didn’t say that they love it when I sit with them and we create with sparkle wouldn’t it! They love my pre-cut shapes and we’ve just got into UpSparkling our denim which is basically them putting their designs onto their own clothes. Next it’s baseball caps they tell me.
Aside from sparkle all three love a canvass and acrylic paint. They love to dance and come together to search the music library each taking it in turn to be DJ whilst the rest of us practice our dance moves.
They boys adore baking with me whilst my daughter likes to read, write stories and plays, or do maths games.
Why do you think it’s so important that both kids and adults have a creative space?
Each of us need a space that reflects us. We are similar in many ways but we are also very different, inspired by and fall in love with different things. Our spaces are reflections of this and if we are lucky enough to be able to influence how our space looks and feels then how we feel in that space.
Many people don’t have the space to just turn over areas to playrooms or to set up home based studios and having had to make this three bedroom house work for five of us there are times when I feel we’ve ample space and then other times when we all need more space and more rooms. My advice would be to just give it a go. It wasn’t until I tried the studio in the living room that I found it could work. Subtle changes to the kids room like giving them their own shelves and encouraging them by putting their art and creations up on display around the house helps them to feel confident in their expressions and abilities.
It takes all of us to make a home, and so this house is really just a dynamic canvas for my family to share our own little artistic or Sparklistic imaginations with each other and all those that visit.
Head over to Kristals sparkly Instagram feed (@sparklechildlondon) or head to her website to view/buy her gorgeous designs.