Curious Pip - An interview with Sarah, an illustrator and nostalgic doll maker

 In the sprit of #shopsmall over the Christmas season I thought I'd celebrate some small businesses here on my blog. I've interviewed a jewellery business - Little Miss Delicious, and next I'm talking to Sarah, from Curious Pip.

1. Tell us about your business, Curious Pip. When and how did it start?
My name is Sarah and I'm the designer-maker behind the nostalgic art dolls and illustrations at Curious Pip.
I claimed my corner of the net in 2011 after starting a blog to keep myself creatively motivated. I'd not long become a mother and was struggling with the idea of going back into acting. I'd studied performing arts and worked on and off in the theatre for over 10 years. I'd lost a lot of ambition in my career and was desperate to stay home and create a niche for my ever constant sketching, making, and obsession with old movies.
I was studying illustration at night school and received so much encouragement from my tutor (who is a published children's illustrator) it gave me confidence to record my work in a blog. She also advised me to create my illustrated, storybook showgirls in different mediums - hence I began creating dolls. Each doll is fully imagined and my collection of vintage fabrics form a dressing up box of possible outfits. Every piece I create is entirely unique and reminiscent of another time. I make each piece by hand from a large table in my small nook of a studio space at home in Bristol.
2. Who is your average customer, and how do they find you and buy from you?
I think the majority of my customers are cut from the same mould as me, they enjoy that sense of nostalgia and appreciate the hard work that goes into creating one - off unique pieces. My website informs people how to contact me with regards to custom designs and links people to my blog, shop, and social network accounts.
3. How do you differentiate yourself from the vast amounts of competition?
There are so many amazing designer doll makers today and I feel so hugely inspired by these artists passion and focus on their work. At the end of the day they are just dolls but for a creation to truly have your stamp, it requires the artists thought process and their individual response to what it is that is inspiring them. I think people enjoy my work because it evokes a feeling of nostalgia and brings to mind an era of glamour and charm.
4. What have been some of the highlights of running your own business?
I guess I have always liked to do things my way. In the past I used to dream about creating myself the perfect job whereby I could indulge in my passions and make a bit of a living from it. Running your own business can be really tough at times. I'm not particularly business minded and am rubbish at keeping my accounts up to date but it's all a learning process. Winning Best Artist  at the National Vintage Awards was a real gem of a highlight back in June. So lovely to get recognition for all your hard work.
5. Is there anything you would have done differently?
I am a bit of a perfectionist and am far too sensitive for my own good. Maybe I should have been a bit more chilled out at times, but on the whole I'm happy with the choices I've made. 
6. What would you love to happen for your business in the future?
I've had quite a few 'moments' during this last year as to where I'd like to take my business and how I'd like to progress. I would definitely like to explore the idea of creating a published book. I need some time to focus on that. A collaboration would be good. It's a seed of an idea, but a path I'm excited and desperate to take. Because I work solely on my own I have difficulty in meeting everyone's requirements. With the run up to Christmas I have had to turn away some custom requests because there simply aren't enough hours in the day for me to create all the pieces I'm asked to design. Organising my time wisely as well as creating a line of smaller, simpler unique art dolls is a plan that dominates my sketch books.