How he got started
I've always been creative. I have a brain condition called Synaesthesia which I think has a lot to do with that. My imagination has always been active, and I love to think, over think and build on ideas in my mind. I am forever drifting into daydream mode, but it usually leads to me finding solutions to problems.
I've worked wonderful jobs (Cake decorator) and I've worked absolutely terrible jobs (corporate financial services industry job) and after all these different jobs in between the awful and the great, I realised that what I most wanted was to work for myself. To create a workplace that was ideal. I've had a taste of a very good workplace, one that I looked forward to going to; that was fun; filled with laughter and productivity and reward. I wanted to recreate that work environment. That was number 1 on my list.
Number 2 was to do something creative. My mind is always creating things. Small ideas, big ideas, funny, sad, compelling, moving, boring, bad and terrible ideas.. just lots of ideas. But the medium I was using at the time (photography) just wasn't cutting it. It was hard to get all my ideas out properly. Sometimes, I didn't want to take a photo, but I wanted to get these ideas out. So I searched for a medium for me to tell stories with.
Number 3 was to do something environmentally friendly, and to merge modern living and bio-living to form a happy medium between the two. I think most of the general public believe they have to sacrifice too much to warrant being eco-friendly, and so don't do it. I want to prove that you don't need to.
Number 4 was to be able to provide excellent customer service. I had worked in cafes and in a call center previously and I always had a very high standard of customer service. But then, I receive terrible customer service from so many places and it really irks me. It's not hard to be nice. I get joy from giving, so to be nice means I usually get something in return (a smile or a lovely conversation).. I love to prove people wrong when they say customer service is dead.
So to merge all of this together, it seemed appropriate to make greeting cards! I had been a fan of Amanda Wright over at Wit & Whistle, and loved what she was doing and it dawned on me that greeting cards were the answer.
But I'd never designed a card before… It was a completely new skill for me to learn. But I approached it from a different perspective. A much more business-oriented perspective. I learnt how to make cards. I learnt how to use Adobe Illustrator. I sourced materials. I can't draw, but I bought some sketch pads and drew. Badly. I filled a whole sketch pad with ideas over a few months. Bad sketches. I can't stress enough the fact that I can't draw.
So, I had my business idea. I had core values that I wanted in the business. I even had a business structure. I had a product. I had a feel. I had intentions and dreams. I had room to grow. I had stability and control over it's movement. Over it's image. Now all I needed was a name.
How he came up with his business name
I wanted something that would evoke feelings of a warm home. Comfort. Trust. Compassion. But also represented Ecology. Paper. Trees. Nature. Earth. The word Nest came first. I felt nest was relative. I didn't want something related to humans, because it didn't spark the imagination very much. Home or House wouldn't have worked. It's filled with too many toxic images. It's not natural enough. Nest came up and it just stuck. But finding it's other half was a task that took a couple of months. Every day I was wracking my brain. Using the thesaurus and finding words that would relate to nature, that was magical sounding, that had great phono aesthetics (something that sounds nice to say). I went through heaps of options… and on one of the many tangents I went on, I came across Sylvan. It's to be associated with woods. A wooded nest. How perfect. It just slotted into place perfectly. I have the nature side, and the warm, comforting side, and overall it has great phono aesthetics that spark the imagination.
The logo was easy to create. Something that merges modern with nature. A sleek looking nest. It only had a couple of different designs, but the pitch of the twigs was important. I wanted something that not too shallow, but not too closed up. It had to look inviting, but protective should you be in the nest. The colours (#515151 and #fcfaf1 for you design geeks) were picked as two colours that reflect the warmth and bold nature of what this whole business embodies.
What it's like being a man in a woman's world.
Being a man in the girly world of online, handcrafted goods isn't too bad at all. Most people are just usernames, so I barely notice it, but I do always notice when someone addresses a group of people as "Hey Girls" or "Hey Ladies". I always point out that there are guys here too, but it's always in good fun. But overall it's not something I really notice.
Breaking down the creative process.
First, I need inspiration. I find inspiration in many different areas. Movies, TV, music, my friends, conversation, my dreams, imagination, desires… When I come up with an idea, I usually write it down straight away before I lose it. Then I'll get straight into designing. I always attempt to draft something with the intention of "just getting the idea down, but I'll redo it properly later" … but yeah, that just turns into me altering the draft over and over until it's how I want it. The thought of starting all over again with something after I've initially fulfilled that emotional need to express myself just makes me hurt inside… The idea of repeating myself within that small of a time frame… So that's why I don't redo my drafts… So I just continue on and on, hopelessly trying to make something out of the junk I originally created, until I'm happy with it and can look back and say "Yes, that's what I was trying to get out… PRINT" … and I'll undoubtedly forget to save my work, or not back up my hard drive and lose it all. It's happened countless amount of times.
Even when I'm happy with it, I'm not afraid of revisiting ideas after a while… If it's just to change the font or a colour or something. I'll happily make minor changes to everything, and keep that process evolving. I update my work as I grow and learn new techniques, and change through different phases in life.
What's in the future for Sylvan Nest.
My goals for Sylvan Nest are to reach a point where it is self-sufficient, and I can focus on it full time. I'd also like to expand my range of products to feature other eco-friendly products such as bags, other paper goods, and art prints.
I'd also like to get the business as sustainable as possible. Right now I am using some very generic mailers, and I'd like to change that to something 100% recycled, and then improve every process in my business to be as sustainable as possible. Right now I am using 100% Post Consumer Waste materials, and I'm about to embark on paper making with the off cuts... I have quite a lot of scrap paper left over from each card, and I've managed to keep it all to recycle, but I didn't wan't to just throw it in the recycling bin... I wanted to recycle it myself. So I am about to learn the art of paper making, and will create an entirely new product from the recycled paper, leaving me with very, very little waste from the whole process.
find Sylvan Nest