From hand-made 100% organic cotton fabric cushions that are stuffed with recycled plastic bottles to super cute and colorful tote bags and pencil cases that are decorated in eco-friendly water-based ink, Ashleigh Clark from Lil’ Leigh Designs is all about creating screen-printed goodies that are sustainable and environment-friendly, in addition to being beautiful, quirky, and eye-catching statement pieces that can appeal to children and adults alike!
In anticipation of their appearance at the upcoming Gathered SA Markets next weekend (March 30 + 31), I was fortunate enough to conduct an interview with Ashleigh via Jenna O’Dell (owner of Gathered SA) – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, Ashleigh?
Ashleigh: As a kid, I was always drawing, sewing or cooking. This naturally progressed into a strong passion for art. I discovered the art of screen-printing as a teenager. Screen-printing soon became a creative outlet and naturally progressed into a hobby, which combined a love for animals and sewing all into one. After a few years of career searching, this hobby began to be seen as a potential job opportunity. Thus Lil’ Leigh Designs was born! I have continued to explore the creative arts through university study and private classes, which has grown a strong interest in ceramics. I hope to incorporate ceramic ware into the Lil’ Leigh range this year, featuring the classic quirky characters and patterns.
Tema: How long have you been running Lil’ Leigh Designs for? How have you found the journey of your business so far?
Ashleigh: I have been running Lil’ Leigh Designs for about a year now. I am still in the early days of developing and refining my products, as my skills and business knowledge grow with time. So far, I have found the journey really rewarding, as I have met so many amazing people through markets – all of whom have been so welcoming and always willing to give advice and feedback to help grow my business.
Tema: What would you say about Lil’ Leigh Designs to someone who may not have heard of you before? What do they need to know about your business, straight away?
Ashleigh: Lil’ Leigh Designs focuses on originality and sustainability. Creating original, sustainable, screen-printed products for children and adults alike. The designs are lovingly hand screen-printed, using water based 100% eco-friendly inks. Lil’ Leigh Designs produces a variety of handmade textile products, such as plush teddies, cushions and children’s library bags. All handmade items are made from 100% organic cotton fabric. Lil’ Leigh recently added kids clothing to their range handmade using organic cotton/bamboo fabric. Lil’ Leigh Designs prides itself on producing sustainable products and hopes to keep finding more sustainable ways to work.
Tema: What inspires you to create your goodies?
Ashleigh: My animal prints come from my love of animals. Dogs are a favourite of mine, which is why there may be a few extra dog prints… I can’t help myself! I also love colour and making things that are a little quirky to add a bit of brightness and fun into the world. The general process for me to produce a finished product is reasonably lengthy. Once I have created an illustration and had this exposed onto a silk screen, I can then use this to print my design onto fabric. Each colour is a single print, so most of my designs require multiple prints to achieve the end result. All prints need to be heat set to prevent the ink from running – this is roughly a 3 minute iron on all prints, which can be a task in itself; especially when I have had a full day of printing!
Tema: What does the creative process look like?
Ashleigh: I pre-cut the fabric before printing. Once printed and heat set, the final task is to sew to product. This is where my Mum is a life saver, as she often sews the bulk of my products when I have a market coming up or teaches me how to sew the particular item.
Tema: What would you say are some of your most popular goodies?
Ashleigh: My signature goodies would be the children’s teddies and library totes, which feature my animal prints. The teddies make a great baby shower gift and are very popular with the kids who come to markets.
Tema: Do you have a physical shopfront? If not, where can people purchase your super cute goodies?
Ashleigh: My products can currently be purchased from the Tangerine Fox retail store located on Pulteney Street in the Adelaide CBD. I also participate in a variety of Adelaide markets and have a small Etsy store.
Tema: How did you get involved with Gathered SA?
Ashleigh: I was recommended by fellow stall holders to apply for Gathered SA when I was breaking into the Adelaide market scene. Gathered SA is one of my favourite markets to participate in, so I’m really excited for next weekend’s market and I can’t wait to meet everyone who comes and visits us!
Tema: What do you hope for your customers to experience, when they purchase from Lil’ Leigh Designs?
Ashleigh: I hope for my customers to experience a product that is unique and ethically made. I also want them to feel good about supporting a small local business and know that each product has personally been hand-printed and handmade with love.
Tema: What do you think is rewarding about being a small scale business in SA
Ashleigh: Being able to have full control over what you produce and how it is produced. Networking with amazing small businesses and becoming part of the small business community in SA.
Tema: What do you think may be challenging about being a small scale business in SA?
Ashleigh: Getting your name out there is probably the hardest thing. It takes time to build a following. Learning how to get your products out into the public eye. For me, it also means knowing when to apply for markets and which ones to participate in.
Tema: What do you think helps your business stand out from the rest?
Ashleigh: I believe that Lil’ Leigh Designs is able to stand out, as the prints I produce are original illustrations. I also am not afraid to play with colour and allow my quirky nature to show through my work. I take great pride in producing my products from start to finish, which is something I believe also helps my goodies stand out from others.
Tema: Why should people support Lil’ Leigh Designs?
Ashleigh: My business revolves around sustainability and producing products that are made from quality, sustainable materials. Supporting small businesses also helps keep money in the community.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like our readers and your customers to know about Lil’ Leigh Designs?
Ashleigh: I would just like to thank everyone who has supported Lil’ Leigh designs. Every sale means I get to keep turning something I am deeply passionate about into a career. All the kind words and amazing advice I have received has helped me grow as a small business allowing me to work on what I love.
Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan
Photos by Meaghan Coles Photography + Ashleigh Clark.
With thanks to Jenna O’Dell from Gathered SA