Camille Condon loves bacon and milo (although not together) and has trouble enjoying her vegies.
Much better known around the interwebs as CurlyPops, Camille says she’s been called that since she was small. “It’s a moniker that my father gave me when I was a wee little one because I had straight hair (obviously a dad joke). He still calls me CurlyPops to this very day, and since I’ve started blogging, a whole lot more people call me CurlyPops!”
It’s the perfect name for her label – bright, fun and eclectic. Camille not only designs for fabric yardage, she also designs her own panels for use in cushions, babies bibs, sunglasses pouches and more.
I asked her how she ended up here.
“My business sort of came about purely by accident! Somewhere around 2005, my younger sister was getting rid of her old sewing machine that she never used, and so I put my hand up and slowly taught myself to sew in my spare time. Then In 2007, as I was about to retire from my career for health reasons (I’m currently on the waiting list for a double lung transplant), one of my colleagues gave me a newspaper article about craft blogs.
“Craft blogs were a whole new world of creativity! I was quickly addicted to reading them every day, and then in January 2008, I decided to take the plunge and start my very own, and the first name that came to mind was CurlyPops. Once I started blogging my creations, people started asking whether they could buy them, and that was the early beginnings of my little home-based business.”
Prior to starting CurlyPops, Camille studied Manufacturing Technology at Uni, and then worked in manufacturing for more than eleven years. She says she chose manufacturing “because I’m really fascinated with how things are made. I’ve always loved to make stuff. Some of my earliest memories are from Kinder – especially the smell of Clag glue! If there was ever cutting up paper, paint, or glue involved, I was there. I remember making my mum a pen holder out of toilet rolls in primary school. I painted it red and added black stripes as she barracked for Essendon. She still has it.”
Cam also worked for Nicole Mallalieu from You Sew Girl for a few years, and said it was wonderful training. “I may have just been packing the patterns and hardware, but over those couple of years, I learned so much about better sewing techniques, different types of interfacings, and visual merchandising.”
Cam is inspired by myriad things, but seems especially fond of the 70s, and bright, rich colour. “Most of my ideas pop into my head when I least expect, especially when I’m lying in bed at night. I try to have notepads stashed around the place in different locations as I have a terrible memory. When it comes to designing fabric, I use a mix of hand drawn and digital design techniques. I try to only colour digitally so that I can colour match accurately. I print some of my designs through Spoonflower, and others through Frankie and Swiss in Melbourne. It all depends on the basecloth / colour / delivery time. For my handmade items, they usually just start as an idea. I then sketch out what the finished product should look like, add dimensions, and then draw a fabric cutting plan. As I’m not a technically taught pattern maker, I just use the method that works for me.”
She has immense admiration for artists who have built a strong business based around what they love. “I really admire Nicole Mallalieu from You Sew Girl, and Nic James from Yardage Design. They’re both really hardworking and love what they do. I really admire my great artist friend Cathy Kirwan from Tinniegirl. I’ve learned a lot from her about confidence in what you do, and pushing yourself, and making big ideas a reality. There are a lot of fabric designers whom I love, but I’d probably choose Jennifer Paganelli from Sis Boom, and Heather Bailey.
“From a design/learning point of view, I’m currently doing an online course The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design [ABSPD] with Rachael Taylor and I’ve been completely inspired by her work too.”
I asked about her worst and best experiences for CurlyPops.
“I’ve been quite lucky not to have too many bad experiences. But, I think the worst thing is when you work really hard on a new design, and you’ve fallen in love with it, and then you release it into the world, and no-one wants to buy it. Ouch.
“I’ve learned not to take it personally. I have a very definite design aesthetic, and not everyone is going to love it all the time.
“And the icing on the cake? Gosh that would definitely have to be the day that I spent at the Frankie and Swiss Studio in Melbourne, watching my first lot of yardage being printed. It was so exciting, and the start of a whole new world of design.”
“The hardest single obstacle to everything at the moment is being on the transplant waiting list. I would love to be able to move forward with my design business and start marketing myself more, but I can’t because I’m waiting for one phone call that will not only save my life, but will also require me to take a long break from the business while I recover. I have big plans. They’re just waiting in the wings at the moment.”
So, her best piece of advice? “Do what makes you happy.”