Random Ink Productions
1. What is the name of your shop or business and what do you sell?
My name is Karen Bowery and I am the owner and operator of Random Ink Productions based in West Lorne :)
2. Where are you located? or where do you sell?
I sell custom vinyl'd items; hoodies, hats, socks, jackets, car decals, home wall decals, business sign and window decals, water bottles, mugs, can cozies, home décor, signs, I could go on and on.
As mentioned I am based out of West Lorne but I also have two shops in London that stock my wares and both are available during their store hours for my customers to pick up their custom orders as they are kept behind the counter and labelled.
The two stores are The Been Garden on Dundas and Oh Baby Boutique located in the Western Fair farmers market on Saturdays!
I also have a local (to me) gem where my base of operations is (not that I'm ever available lol) which is Corner Consignments in West Lorne owned by my darling and loveable Aunt, Bonnie.
3. Do you have your own website/store or online link?
4. How long have you been doing your craft/art and how did you get started?
I have been in the custom clothing business for close to 10 years.
It started as a second career program through unemployment after being laid off from a factory job straight back from maternity leave.
I started a silk screening business.
This idea came to me one day when I was shopping in St. Thomas with my mother (who is my not so silent business partner, my biggest supporter, and my best friend) and I walked into an alternative clothing shop. The woman was young and did her own silkscreening.
But a single tank with (and I will never forget cause I wanted one so bad) "Zombies eat me brain" was going for $30+... If I knew then what I know now about time and expense etc I would not have been so shocked at the price.
Instead I said to myself...I can do that...(having done silk screening for a week in art class grade twelve haha)
But I can do it..better.
Because not only would I make my own clever sayings and such, but I would do what other people asked of me. Custom shirts.
So from there I rented a shop uptown in West Lorne with the help of my dad, I got a lot of silk screen equipment with the help of my mom, and I got to learning.
After two years the program was long done and I couldn't make a go of it (being 22 I really didn't give it my all) so I closed up shop and went back to school.
Fast forward through a medical office degree and five years (after the diploma) in a factory as a forklift driver/shipper receiver I had hit my peak. A ceiling. I could go up no further...and I had been doing a few tees again. My mom nagged me once more to look for a vinyl cutter. So I did..and I got back on the learning curve.
Taught myself how to use it, made business connections and worked hard.
I was added to a London facebook group that was all about supporting local and handmade businesses. And that's where it all changed.
Worked extra hard to make a great product with great customer service and built a name for myself. Got so busy I had to quit the factory job.
Been stepping it up a notch ever since.
5. Who or what inspires you to create?
I get inspiration from everything, haha. Media especially. I love a good tv/movie reference or inside joke that not everyone will get. I love doing the off the wall or slightly offensive tees that not everyone would get or like. But I have never been asked to make a tee I felt was morally wrong. And if I was I would refuse.
6. Do you listen to music when you work, and if so what kind?
No, all the tees I make bring nothing but great joy :)
7. What do you like least/most about your craft?
The thing I love most about being a crafter is the freedom.
I worked five years in a factory and it meant so much time away from my son. And even when I could be with him I wasn't as happy as I should have been. It was hard.
Now I have a lot more time to spend with my son, I get stressed but it's a happy stress because not only am I doing something I love I'm doing it for someone I love.
A. my customers who to me are all like family and friends, and
B. my son. so he can have a good life filled with love and laughter and so he knows that if he works super duper hard even when he would rather sleep or go to the park with his kids hahaha that he can create a successful business and live a happy life. And he already starts his own little businesses, we work together and I love it :) the older he gets the more I can get him to help me with the "family business".
My least favourite things are the same as my favourite, my customers and my son. lol
Yes my job allows me to be there for my son a lot more but at times it also takes me away from him. when there is a Christmas rush because twenty people forgot to order stocking stuffers until the last minute then it's on me to get their orders done and to them before their deadline or I am letting them down and I can't have that.
So sometimes my relationship with my son suffers but he has my mom and step dad two blocks down and they take him whenever he wants so it works out well.
And my customers. Lord I love them. I think I have some of the best ones. My customers appreciate what I do and they are patient with me. But they can be demanding haha and I hate to let them down. It happens very rarely but when it does I take it very personally. So that can be a lot of pressure and it can be very hard at times. But the rewards always outweigh the worries :)
8. Describe your workspace?
hahaha ....It is a table.. much like a kitchen table..with a laptop, a cutter... random cups and vinyl scraps, list of to do and been done, kids toys, dog treats...it's the center of a room of craft stuff, all somewhat organized and somewhat chaotic.
I sit at the same spot on my couch day in and day out on my laptop (when I'm not loading or pressing or cutting vinyl) clicking away, designing the next project and listening to whatever is trending on Netflix that week.
9. What is one of your best moments as a crafter/artist?
Some of my best moments as a crafter were taking part in events that helped others.
I love supporting For the Love of Laundry.
I think it's a great organization and I will always help them with whatever I can.
Also hearing peoples stories about how the shirt or engraved signature made someone cry...it just warms my heart. I also get photos of people enjoying their creations and there is just nothing better.
I did a onesie and shirts for a family... the baby came.. I made more shirts.. the baby grew.. I made them more shirts.. we became good friends obv and they asked me to dj their wedding. I said absolutely. It was an honour.
Also as a side perk is when I trade my craft for other ladies crafts. Food, crochet, cookies, massage, sewing, custom clothes, I have traded for almost everything. The past two years 90% of my kids Christmas gifts have been handmade homemade and traded for some of my goods :)
10. What advice would you give to anyone thinking about starting their own craft business?
My advice to anyone who wants to get into a craft, any craft, take in all that you can. don't shut anyone out.
Learn everything you possibly can and make friendships and connections everywhere you go.
Some of my newest and best crafting friends are my straight up competition. And we have nothing but love and respect for each other.
Also you will make bad choices. It's called a learning curve for a reason. it takes time. and we are always learning. It's not easy to make your own path. If it was easy it would just be called the way.
Thanks for reading and sorry for rambling (that's an artist for you haha)
Love peace and chicken grease