Anna Vartiainen, 34, is a gifted nature-inspired cards, prints and homeware Finnish designer born in Paris who has built her successful business, ‘Anna’s Drawing Room’ in West Sussex.
Anna has spent the majority of her life in the UK, and although she is now living in Worthing, she moved to Brighton previously to be with the man she loved but then decided that Worthing might prove to have a bit more space to raise a family.
How would you describe your business?
“Designing and making nature-inspired prints, cards, gifts and homewares. I sell online, through independent retailers and from my open studio, beach hut number 45 on Worthing seafront. We also open our home for Worthing Artists Open Houses.”
How did you build it?
“It’s been a slow steady build, from selling a couple of things at local markets, opening an Etsy shop, and investing in plenty of good advice. Building is still very much in progress! The wealth of online courses, advice and communities for independent makers have made it possible to work and study around my young family’s needs.”
What were your influences and who were your inspirations?
“The emergence of a fantastic Brighton collective of young designers and makers, just as I was starting out, was one of the best influences. The wonderful people who run the Brighton Etsy Team in particular!”
“Inspiration has come from many places, including Finnish fabric and home design. Role models might be: Maija Isola, who created iconic designs for Marimekko, becoming a huge success in pattern design in the 1960s, as well as having a visual art career. And in the UK, Marthe Armitage who is still designing and making hand printed wallpaper in her 80s.”
Where would you like to see yourself taking your business?
“Having taken the first baby-steps into fabric and homeware, I’d like to develop that side. Selling to, or collaborating with one of my dream companies, perhaps. I also want to keep making artwork, and would like to take on a more serious visual art project.”
What makes you passionate about your business?
“Seeing the amazing work out there, and the possibilities of what could be achieved. Seeing the results of hard work and research, seeing people’s reactions to what I’ve made, and ideas for future projects that keep me going.”
Have you got any other hobbies? What are they?
“I love yoga, and need to do more of it! I love watching films, cooking, the bracing sea air, and a glass of wine with family and friends.”
If you could be an animal, which would you be and why?
“Maybe an elk! They are huge but wander around the forest largely unseen, they are peaceful and generally left alone by people and other animals.”
What effect would you like your work to have on the world?
“Small effects are fine by me: for someone to really treasure something designed by me, perhaps to appreciate where the materials are from, to think about making and buying in an ethical way.”
What makes you happy?
“When my family is happy.”
What is one of your biggest achievements?
“Organising a successful first Artist’s Open House, when our youngest was just a baby.”
What would be your message to humanity?
“Education is the answer.”
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