A short while back I came across the wonderful Gill from Gills Emporium on Etsy, if you haven’t ever seen her amazing products then I urge you to RIGHT NOW (well after reading this please)! Gill makes the most wonderful stuffed heads in her studio in north Wales of… well everything! Forget about old spooky moth-eaten taxidermy and think of bright happy cruelty free loveliness! She was so kind as to make a unicorn for my twins and a Welsh black cow for my son. I love them, they love, everyone who sees them loves them! I love them so much I want to create an entire wall filled with all of her amazing creatures…..Problem is, where do I start!
Whilst I’m thinking, and before you pop over to her Etsy shop please have a read of our interview with Gill about her, her products and inspiration.
What was the inspiration for your business?
Born and raised on Anglesey, I moved to Liverpool to study a Performance Design degree at LIPA uni. I went on to become the head of props for a theatrical production company for 10 years, which is where I honed my making skills, but moved back to North Wales 5 years ago after a bit of a personal and family crisis.
I found that there was little in the way of work for prop makers in the area (one of the reasons I left in the first place) and so decided, after encouragement from friends, to start my own little business making wall mounted animal heads to run alongside my freelance work. I set up my Etsy shop Gills Emporium in 2013 and started off with a handful of felt heads, some proving more popular than others, and slowly grew my range to what is now over 60 different designs.
I love being back in North Wales, and when the sun shines there’s no nicer place to be, and being back home means I get to see more of my family, and my niece and nephew who I only saw a couple of times a year when I lived in Yorkshire.
Describe your style in 3 words?
My style in 3 words… Bold, Bright and a bit Bonkers!
How have you planned and developed the business?
My business wasn’t really planned, it just evolved out of a necessity to regain an income after my move. But my training, my jobs, all my hobbies, have always been creative and arts driven, so if I was going to set up on my own, it was always destined to be a business based around my creative skills.
Why faux taxidermy?
I absolutely love making three dimensional objects, things that are tactile and can be held, and enjoyed by people all over the world. I love that I have nearly 1000 of my faux taxidermy scattered all across the globe, from Dubai to New Zealand and the USA.
I also love the freedom that comes with working for yourself, yes its solitary, and you find yourself working longer hours, but the work feels less like work when its something you truly enjoy doing.
Is Instagram a good way to promote small businesses?
Yes! I am a little bit obsessed with instagram! Its such a massive treasure trove of images and a huge source of inspiration for me, I tend to not notice trends until its too late so I just make what feels like a good idea at the time!
Is this your full time job?
These days my sole focus is on running my little business, trying to gain some exposure to help it grow.
What other Welsh designers and makers do you follow and like?
There are so many amazing welsh makers and designers out there… @perisandcorr have some wonderful screen printed fabrics and designs, @skratchceramics, also @marianhaf is a great printmaker, I’m fortunate to have one of her mackerel prints!
Is this a good time to be an independent maker?
It is a great time to be an independent maker as there is a growing desire for people to have things that are handmade, with a bit more love, care and attention than the mass produced high street fodder. I also think that people are becoming more understanding that yes, handmade is going to be more expensive, but it shows in the craftmanship and detail of the items they invest their money in. I’ve definitely noticed since starting my business that there has been an increase in similar types of independent makers, so I try to stand out by offering the largest range of animal heads from the popular safari animals to the more random and obscure, like PUFFER FISH and ANGLER FISH!
Where can our readers see and buy your work?
I sell online thru my Etsy shop as I found this the best way to reach a broad audience…
www.etsy.com/shop/GillsEmporium I also have a facebook page @gillsemporium which showcases many of the custom orders and random requests I do that aren’t listed in my Etsy shop
@gillprendergast is my Instagram where you can see my work with the occasional snippet of beautiful North Wales!
If you could choose one wall to see your work being displayed, where would it be?
I’d love to see my products hung up in the home of (McFly’s) Tom and Giovanna Fletcher as they come across as a cool young family and have a great instagram prescence.
What would be your perfect day?
A perfect day for me would be to wake up in some tropical south east asian location, put my flip flops on and go and see the sights and sample the foody delights in the sunshine… More realistically though, my perfect day would be to wake up to multiple ‘ker-ching’s’ from my Etsy shop, spend the morning making in my sewing room, a stroll to Newborough beach in the afternoon with my family, followed by dinner with my bestie and a gin based cocktail! Its the simple things!
By Ashleigh Edwards, Mam Cymru