Welcome to a very brand spanking new section in tractorgirl, called Small Biz (check the menu item at the top there!). In this space I am intending to share all the excellent small biz advice I have come across, as well as lots of how-tos, gained over the many years I have been working for and in small biz (that’s *ahem* many years).

As it so happens, my first post is a guest post, from photographer Lix Hewitt in Spain – sharing with you first hand what it’s like to go from burning idea to startup biz. Thanks Lix!



Lix Hewett is a photographer working out of a small city in Spain. She has recently decided to move her images onto fabric in a new business venture that will see them turned into clothes and accessories. 

She’s jumping into this thing boots and all, and making some big discoveries about the processes and the pitfalls on the go. She shares with us her journey so far.




I have a confession to make: I don’t know anything about fabric.

I’ve dragged my mom all over town on each and every one of my textile shopping sprees so far, hoping she’ll keep me from doing anything I’d regret later. The one good thing is I know what I don’t like, and what I don’t like is anything flashy in pattern and anything that feels even remotely like it will catch on my nails on the unlikely event that one stays fractured long enough to catch on fabric. Turns out that means I’m into cotton and linen, mainly. I’ll take it.

It’s actually a bit of a relief, because most of the fabric Spoonflower carries is cotton-based, and if I have it my way, I’ll mostly be working with custom printed fabric. Apparently it’s not enough for me to jump into a new craft headfirst; I have to make it difficult, and I have to make it expensive.

In my defence, I think if I’m going to learn to sew, I might as well start simple; if I’m going to make simple things, I might as well make them stand out in some other way, like the prints. And if I’m going to go off on a new business venture, I might as well start with something that connects to my current work – something that makes my new products fit in with my photography.


A cosmetics pouch in linen/cotton canvas printed with "Blurred (Shadows and Rain)."

A cosmetics pouch in linen/cotton canvas printed with “Blurred (Shadows and Rain).”

 {from the original Blurred (Shadows and Rain)}


That’s how I landed on this whole thing, and that’s how a shelf of my closet has been taken over by fabric – even though I don’t know anything about that.

That’s also how an Indiegogo campaign has totally sucked all of my June. Like I said, I had to make it expensive, so I need funds, and I had to make it difficult, so I need a new laptop. Otherwise I’m not sure how I’m going to tweak a photograph thoroughly enough and on a large enough canvas to make the dresses I have in my head.


Basic combed cotton for a crop top – printed with “Puzzle Pieces.”

{from the original “Puzzle Pieces.}


I know there’s an art to pattern design, and tricks to make it a seamless repeat. Spoonflower offers mirroring, too, which I’ve seen on a couple of art dresses. I’m not a fan of straight mirroring – not on photographs. It looks rather psychedelic most of the time, which is the opposite of what I’m going for. As a fine art photographer, I like landscapes, I like nature, I like architecture. I like color and light. If I’m going to make wearable photography clothing and accessories, I don’t want those things to get lost in shapes and patterns.


A lavender sachet in Kona cotton printed with “Settled In”

{from the original Settled In.}


That means I have to edit everything before ordering, down to planning what I’m going to do with the fabric and the dpi my files need to print. That’s good considering I’m on a budget. It’s also been a good reason to learn more about fabric, and what goes with what.


Cotton poplin for a skirt – printed with “such small hands.”

{from the original such small hands.}


Right now I’m waiting on a shipment of all Kona cotton for a pillow cover (printed with “Days of Romance“), a cosmetics pouch (printed with “Seaside Sunrise“) and a number of other things – I was really fond of that fabric, so I’m sticking with it. My ambitious plans – the ones I need a new laptop to accomplish – involve cotton knit interlock fabric printed with “An Illusion of Stillness,” something printed with “Let Down Your Hair” (cotton silk?) and some good yardage of cotton poplin printed with “Blurred” – all for dresses. I’m looking at my almond blossom and green leaves photos for clutches and pouches, and my autumn leaves photo for a cotton knit shirt.

It’s not ideas I’m short on! That would be funds. And motivation, sometimes.

But I love, love, love this new adventure. I’m so glad I took the plunge.