Tiffany Clayton is the bright spark behindArowm, the lolly-jar dream brand sweetening up our store and social media feed. We were long fans of Arowm's soft, bright and radiant aesthetic, so much so we asked Tiff to create a range of pastel forever pieces, exclusively for Maker's Mrkt. It turns out you guys are big fans too! Arowm's limited run of hand made knot sculptures were such a sell out, we missed out on nabbing one of our very own!
Luckily, Tiff the creative wunderkind (and seriously we don't know how she does it all) came back at us with a restock of knots, some very clever candle holders and a range of candles in her signature delectable aesthetic. We talked to Tiff about the birthing of the brand, new business tips and a productivity playlist.
Our Series is called Meet the Maker. From the top, what do you make?
I make a few things including coloured candles, scented candles, candle holders, dangles, necklaces and bracelets made predominantly out of glass beads and fresh water pearls along with a some dangles made out of polymer clay.
You seem to be a creative renaissance woman - making music, creating beautiful objects and curating fantasy dreamscapes on instagram - what drew you into starting Arowm? Did you study?
Why thank you, that’s so kind of you to say. Due to being captured by a range of creative pursuits it keeps me pretty inspired since I am often mixing up my mediums. Fun fact: I have never studied, nor do I plan on it. I have always been open to it but I have just often chosen paths that I have felt it be better to just get stuck in and learn on the go, that’s my general approach. Arowmwas birthed out of, I guess what I might call an emotional growth spurt, about a few years ago. I had recently gotten married and this brought forth - as big changes often do, a bit of an identity shift. I used to wear predominantly black/neutral tones, all very drapey and avant-garde-esque. I found myself wanting to bring more colour into my outward expression, to imitate more of who I felt like I was and was becoming on the inside. So I started making fun earrings out of polymer clay which was just yet another form of expression I could use to communicate how I was feeling each morning when I was getting ready to go to work. As much as a physical adornment can appear somewhat superficial, I truly felt as I chose which earrings I would pop on each morning that I was reminded of the person I was becoming and choosing to be. It was a really significant time of my life and it always makes me feel comforted when I am reminded of the role Arowm played throughout it. Then long story long is that because I was wearing my dangles at Recycle Boutique, where I worked at the time, I would get customers asking me where I got my earrings from. I’d tell them I made them then they would ask if they could buy a pair and voila Arowm became more than just a journey of my own, I got to then invite people into the story and I am so happy for it.
What does your creative process look like?
I wouldn’t describe myself as a very organised creative (that being said I am working on it) so it can be somewhat mish mashy. If I am in the making mode already and I have an idea there is usually no planning to it, I’ll just give it a go and rework it until I get it right, I’ll ride the wave as it comes through. When I am dreaming up a whole collection on the other hand I really like to sit with it if time will allow. I start with a general feeling or motive around the collection then I’ll start piecing together a mood board to reflect the colour scape and vision I have in mind. I’ll look to other areas of design for inspiration such as spacial, interiors, graphics, photography, painting, fashion basically just every other “creative” industry apart from the one I’m in so I stay clear of jewellery and candles because I want to be creating a fresh place. Then I’ll start deciding on a short list of collection names that I feel reflect the meaning or feeling behind my intended collection. Then I will either write down a few ideas around what dangles or candles I want to make or I’ll just sit with my beads and wax and just start making and see what comes of it. With every collection the process feels slightly different and I am always trying to reinvent my approach so that it feels original to me.
Your use of colour makes us salivate! What role does colour play in your designs?
I almost feel as though the colours I choose play a larger role than the objects themselves. So much time, energy and trialing has gone into getting my colours just right and it’s the same way as when I am painting I’ll keep painting/tweaking a colour until it gives me the “Ah yes I see it now” feeling, and that’s when I know I have got it just right.
We fell in love with your incredible sculptures and then you hit us with your heart breaking candles! How and where do you decide to take on a new medium?
How did you know words of affirmation was my top love language because you’re hitting me with all the love right now. I have a lot of dreams for Arowm, I hope to keep constantly creating new products, so I would say that it’s always constant, the desire to just keep creating. But when I get an idea I usually start with asking myself or more realistically my husband will ask me “how realistic and financially viable is this?” And If It’s a bit beyond my current capacity then I just bank that idea for later. Let’s just say there’s a lot banked up, But my hope is that I will get to them all eventually.
Please tell us about your studio/work space. What do you need around you to feel inspired and motivated?
To be completely honest it’s usually pretty messy even though I know I feel a lot better when it’s tidy, I get one busy rush and it’s like a tornado has swept through it. But to feel my most motivated self I like to have my space freshly cleaned with the sun streaming in, surrounded by my artwork on the wall some created by me, some by my friends and others from the thrift store. I always feel more inspired when my shelves are adorned with lots of colourful orders, a hot or cold (depending on the time of year) cuppa coffee on the window sill, oh and plenty of snacks close by.
You look like you’d have a pretty ripper playlist - do you have some go to tunes to help you thrive?
I like to listen to pretty breezy tunes when I put grooves on so I’ll either just play my playlist curated by Spotify for me or to me more specific a few of my go to artists are Raveena, Yebba, Ashe, Jorja Smith, just to name a few and if I want to listen for something zesty I’ll pop on my fav - Elton John. but when I am making I mostly put on YouTube videos in the background or a podcast every now and again depending on how I am feeling. Lately I have been playing a lot of @lavendaire videos. She talks a lot on self development, organisation/motivation and realistic goal setting. I find it really rewarding knowing that I am putting life giving information into my noggin while I smash through making 40 or so candles.
What does a typical work day at Arowm HQ look like?
On an ideal day I like to start it with taking my dog Kazuki for a stroll around my neighbourhood, then I’ll make some breakfast and either post on social media while munching on my toast or just have a bit of a scroll/answer dms etc. Then If I haven’t already I’ll pop some wax on my stove top and get it melting while I set up my candle moulds. Then if I am still waiting for the wax or I’m mixing a colour in I will then make any other jewellery orders I might have. I probably take too many “tea breaks” throughout my day but around this time I’d likely be putting the kettle on and browsing my cupboard for more snacks, then if I am sending out orders I’ll get them ready, print off my labels probably take a few pics or videos of my makings before I send them out then book the courier once it’s all parcelled up. Each day can be so different depending on what needs to be done arowm wise or whether I’m rostered on at lush where I work part time, or if I am motivated enough to take myself to the gym, or catching up with a friend over a coffee - so it’s helpful having a reasonably flexible lifestyle.
What advice would you give to emerging Makers who want to start their own business?
I’d have so say the most helpful piece of advice would be to just keep going. I have had my fair share of dry spurts throughout Arowm, where I’ve almost had to reinvent my lil company, and often those dry spurts are when people kick their idea to the curb or want to just start something else. It’s way more exciting starting with a new idea, but it’s way more rewarding sticking at it and seeing it grow. It’s tough but far more worth while and I believe it builds resilience and adaptability because you have to just keep trying to figure out how to make it work better if it’s not quite hitting where you want it to. In saying that knowing when to just take a moment or 2 to step back is really healthy and helps to give insight into the direction you are taking your business as long as you are preparing yourself to get invested again with a clear vision.
2020 has been a year most of us won’t forget (albeit many of us will want to!) What have you learnt about yourself and your business in 2020?
As you have probably picked up I have mentioned a lot about organisation or the lack there of, so that’s been something I was learning a lot about in 2020, just how much it has held me back in certain areas, and how I have even let people down because I just haven’t had my ducks in a row. I tend to have a bit of a scatter brain so I have been really encouraged learning how to use that as a strength, have lots on the go at a time but focussing on how to do them all really well. It’s a process and I am excited about getting heaps better at it.
What are some of your goals for 2021? Anything new and exciting coming up we should know about?
You guessed it! Better organisation, better organisation and better organisation haha. But of course I have plenty more goals, but that will just essentially help me to achieve them! A lot of my goals are around growing arowm so getting into more stores around the world, creating more products, possibly doing collaborations, and I’d love to go full time for arowm - that’d be the dream for now, so that I can give even more to it. I am feeling rather optimistic for this year, and am looking forward to seeing how it unfolds.