Name: Sarah Austin
Name of business:Happy Days
What do you make?
I design fun greetings cards, personalised wall art and quirky cufflinks. Happy Days is all about making products that make people smile.
Where can we get our mitts on your products?
You can buy online at the great Little Majlis marketplace; www.littlemajlis.com/shop/happydays. It has a fabulous range of local artisans products, all of which you can shop from the comfort of your sofa and have delivered direct to your door.
I'm at craft markets about twice a month, ARTE and RIPE are the ones that I love doing. Both have a really good vibe and a great mix of local craft businesses. I post regularly on my Happy Days Facebook page and let my 'likers' know which markets and dates they can find me at next.
How did you get started?
I'm a Graphic Designer by training and undertook a degree at Kingston University many moons ago. Since then I've been busy working in creative agencies and more recently as a freelance designer. I've always wanted to start a card and wall art business. Since moving to Dubai I've really struggled to find well-designed and affordable cards that wouldn't make me cringe to give them to friends and family! Many cards you find in high street stores look like they were designed in the 80's and horrendously expensive. So, that gave me a push to put all the ideas I've had in my head for years into print.
Who and what inspire you?
Everything and anything! I particularly love Swedish-inspired pattern and design, think bright colours and simple shapes. I think this love carries through into my work, it's very colourful and bold. I also get inspired by the conversations that you have day-to-day with friends and family or in overhearing snippets of conversation in cafes or on the beach. In fact my best selling card 'you're my favourite husband' came to life as it was something I had been saying to my own husband Dan for years! A lot of the cards in my Banter range are tongue-in-cheek sayings designed to put a smile on the face of the person who receives it, such as 'You're such a Jumeirah Jane' or 'Let's hope this landlord is a good 'un' for people who have had a bad run with Dubai landlords and moved for the umpteenth time.
How do you split your time? Is there a day job?
I only launched Happy Days in October so at the minute it's very much a part-time business but one I hope I can build it over the next year to becomes a full time job. I still do some freelance Graphic Design work and am a Mum to two young children too. Life is something of a juggling act at the moment!
What is your workspace like?
I would describe it as 'organised chaos' much to the dismay of my ultra tidy husband. We have converted one of our bedrooms in our villa into a studio where I have my Mac plus a large worktable where I make my cufflinks and Scrabble Wall art. The room is filled with boxes of cards, envelopes, frames, Scrabble pieces and lots of sketches of future ideas yet to be put into action!
What are your essential tool of the trade?
Adobe Illustrator to design my cards and wall art, it's my essential tool - I couldn't do much without it!
Crafting highlight so far?
Being named as one of Little Majlis top sellers of 2015 having only been going for three months, that put a really big smile on my face.
Which UAE companies and creatives do you admire?
I love Clare Napper's Highlife Dubai artwork. Her range of tongue-in-cheek posters which poke fun at the amazing lifestyles we live as ex-pats in Dubai. She has made a big success of Highlife and now works full time on it having given up a successful career in an advertising agency in Dubai. I really admire her for making it such a success, she's a lovely lady too.
Why is supporting small businesses so important to you?
Buying from a local business allows you to find unique products with a local flavour. Artisanal products are typically produced with passion and packed with personality
Financial speaking, when you buy from a small business, the money you spend is going directly to the owner of that business, rather than to the shareholders of a large corporate.
What else can be done in Dubai to get more people buying local?
I think relevant features and articles in magazines and on websites like MyMicropolis.com really help to raise people's awareness that there is an alternative to the imported goods that make up the bulk of what's on offer in Dubai's marvellous mega malls. Encouraging people to put aside some time to explore a craft or produce market on the weekend. Promoting and supporting websites, like Little Majlis, that connect artisanal producers with people with a passion for buying local. These are the things we can all do to help turn Dubai into a city with a thriving local creative culture.