Spotlight on Bari Ackerman, Artist and Fabric Maker
Today's Spotlight is on Bari Ackerman or @barij, artist textile designer and fabric maker, utilising her very distinct style of "blooming art".
Like many small business owners Bari's career choice came later in life when she had her children, as a way of expressing herself, finding time out for her.
Earlier in life she had worked in advertising although majored during college in Theatre Studies, so falling into art, later in life was not what her 18 year old self would have expected at all.
In fact, Bari started making handbags originally and selling them through her own website, not long after it first started, only turning to art and design when she needed to make her own fabrics for her handbags. She has now produced 15 collections of fabric, art for wall paper, home decor, and wall art.
You can find out more or shop the collections through the button below and of course read on to see what she has to say on here.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
I actually started designing and selling handbags in 2005. It was right around the time Etsy had started. I was selling on my own website as well as boutiques. As Etsy heated up there were tons of handmade fabric bags on the market. So, in order to differentiate I decided to design my own fabric. I managed to teach myself how to do that and in the process realized I was more of an artist than a handbag designer. I licensed my first line of fabric in 2009 and from there started licensing my art for all kinds of home decor products as well as stationery and cards.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
I had a small studio in our house and I was sewing the handbags there by myself at first.
3. How did you fund your business?
Through savings. And then every dime I made went back in.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
At the time, there wasn’t much information out there about small-scale manufacturing or wholesaling. Now there’s classes on everything online. I was working in a vacuum making it all up as I went along.
5. What help was missing for you?
It was very hard to find seamstresses, pattern cutters etc. then when I switched gears to fabric/surface design, there was also no information. It was all trial and error learning.
6. What went wrong in your first year?
In handbags, my biggest issue was having to buy large quantities of fabric. I was very quickly over purchasing. But I’ll skip to after I started designing surfaces... I got the idea in my head that since I had fabric collections, I should also be designing sewing patterns. But while I was good at designing bag patterns, I loathed having to describe how I did it. I was side tracked for a few years by this, wasn’t passionate about it and it kept me from doing things I love.
7. What have you learnt?
It can be a journey to get to where you’re supposed to be, but if you follow your curiosity even the “failures” will have been worth it.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Have Patience and Persistence. Nothing happens overnight. Be prepared to invest money and time for quite a while before you see a return.
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
10. But worth it 100%.
Nicola Says “Bari has had quite the journey to get to where she is today, but that is not altogether unusual when you are starting out, I see it a fair bit in the businesses I fund too. You start out with a concept, find it doesn't work or the market has moved on, move on to something else, get a bit distracted and then eventually find what you are a) really good at and b) what everyone really loves. Bari's art and textiles are simply stunning, so I am very glad she chose art over acting in the end"
The Girl with The Green Sofa