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Meet local maker Sparrow & Wolf
Birmingham based Sparrow & Wolf founder Cherie combines great design, quality products & fun illustrations to make drool worthy notebooks, enamel pins, cards and pom pom cushions.
1. What first fuelled your passion
I’ve always been creative loved making things. I started a business with my best friend when we were 16 creating earrings out of vintage buttons. When I started Sparrow & Wolf I was working as a freelance designer but the work I was doing wasn’t particularly interesting or inspiring so it was born from a need to scratch that creative itch.
2. Tell us about the origins of your business.The first product I made was wrapping paper. I was challenged by ‘The Poundshop Creative’ to come up with a beautiful product that could be sold at either £1, £3 or £5. They had a pop up store inside London Selfridges and took over one of their huge window displays. My origami wrapping paper in 3 designs was chosen for the pop up. It was amazing seeing something I’d designed in the windows of Selfridges and I decided to create more products.
3. What’s your motto?
I’ve sort of incorporated it into my designs. I feel like I’m one of those people that is always trying to look for signs from the universe (perhaps an excuse to do something) so I loved popping “If you’re looking for a sign, this is it” onto my pin badge. I love the idea of someone seeing it and feeling inspired to go and ‘do the thing’.
4. How would you describe your designs / products?
Fun & well designed. A lot of thought goes into my colour combinations and the quality of the final product has to be great and feel good in your hands.
5. What was the first success / landmark moment for your designs / product range?
After seeing my work in the windows of Selfridges, I designed a range of fabric items and secured my first wholesale order. It felt like a real confidence boost and propelled me to expand my brand further.
6. Tell us about your materials - where do you source your materials from?
All of my stationery is printed in the UK using FSC certified products and my fabric is printed by a family firm in the North of England. I have my prints beautifully foiled locally in Birmingham and all of the sewing is also done locally. I wish I could find an enamel pin manufacturer locally, especially having the Jewellery Quarter on our doorstep.
7. Tell us about your making process?
I hand illustrate most of my designs. I used to work with pen and paper as I loved the tactile quality it produced but now I work on Procreate with an Apple Pen as I can still get a great quality line drawing. I pick colours and experiment with different varieties or pick which cardstock it will be printed onto. There are so many decisions to make along the way. Sometimes designs come to me at strange times and my phone is full of random product design notes I’ve popped down that ‘future me’ has to decipher.
9. Have you ever had any interesting commissions?
My husband is in the Birmingham band Electric Swing Circus and it was fun to work together to design them a range of enamel pins to add to their merch stand.
9.Do you have a favourite of the Birmingham museums? If so, why?
You can’t beat Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery for a potter about the galleries and an afternoon tea.
10. And finally, a tourist arrives in Birmingham for the first time ever, where do you take them?
I love nothing more than having visitors to Birmingham so I can show them all the delights of Brum. Especially if they may have only heard some rather lazy and outdated stereotypes of our fair city. I would start by heading down the Canals on a barge we’ve hopped on into the City Centre popping out at Brindley Place to visit IKON gallery. There is always something great to see there. We would continue into town through Centenary Square and visit the secret garden in the Library of Birmingham. I would show them the Shakespeare Room at the top of the building and admire the views. A wander around Digbeth taking in the graffiti and some delicious burgers courtesy of Bonehead or OPM would do us nicely before I took them to see some greenery at the Botanical Gardens. We’d head to Moseley for a drink in the pub and see the day out with snacks in Moseley Park while the sun goes down over the lake. Bliss.