Meet the Maker – Stephanie Sadler
Stephanie has been a member of the team from the start “I joined in spring 2015, near the time the London Local Team was originally formed, before there was a website or social media, or even a name set in stone. There were about 8 of us at the first meeting I went to and we had a couple in people’s homes. I joined because I love being around creative people and find all of the stories and business journeys inspiring. “
She has agreed to let into her beautiful West-London flat where she works once she comes home from her 9-5 job. When I enter, I’m welcome by Stephanie’s ginger and cuddly cat Oakley and enter into another London.
Stephanie’s walls are covered with large canvas of her photographs, where she captures her unique vision of London. It is stunning and I wouldn’t say no to a few of those in my house.
Saying that Stephanie is a workaholic is an understatement “I work 9-5, so a week day typically means shower, get ready, walk the 45 minutes to the office with a stop for my morning tea, breakfast at my desk, spend my lunch break blogging or working on freelance writing projects, heading home, making dinner, spending a few hours editing photos, setting up social media, blogging, participating in Twitter chats or working on Etsy. On a typical Saturday, I might wake up quite early and head out with my camera, spend four hours or so taking photos, stop in the nearest foodie market for lunch, come home, edit photos, set up blog posts and social media, and then spend some time with my Husband and our cat, Oakley. Sundays, I might try to relax, but it usually doesn’t happen.” But her passion for photography makes it worth it.
When you talk to Stephanie about her craft, she transports you into another world, another London that you wish you’ve seen too… Luckily she is there to show you “I love the creativity of photography, the fact that a group of people can go out and photograph the same area and all come back with completely different results. I love that it has made me more observant of my surroundings. And I love the storytelling that goes along with it, compiling images into blog posts or creating series that connect photographs through certain specific details.”
Originally from New-York, Stephanie moved to London in 2007 and like so many of us foreigners, fell in love with the city “I moved to London in 2007, so coming up on a decade in January. It was definitely love story rather than obligation. I had studied abroad here in 2004 while I was at university and, as soon as I graduated, I moved straight back with a plan to stay for six months. Like many other expats with London love stories, I laugh looking back at that and, so far, have no intentions of leaving any time soon.” And it’s in London that she discovered her passion for photography.” It was actually that same study abroad semester in London that triggered my love of photography. I took a ton of photos during those four months. When I had them developed back home, they were all really terrible. When I moved back, I was determined to capture this city properly. I spent a lot of time walking around London (and still do) teaching myself through trial and error, fine-tuning details like composition, lighting and focus.”
But photographs are not always easy to sell, even such beautiful and interesting ones. That’s why Stephanie is also turning these unusual London moments into little cards too. I really enjoyed seeing her make them “The process of cutting and gluing that goes into my mini notecards is a practice in mindfulness that hours in front of computer screens makes me appreciate even more.”
I wanted to know more about Stephanie’s process and vision and I fins there is an incredible focus and attention to details in her work. She sees the London I love as maybe only foreigners can see it.
“I like to head out with my camera without too many expectations, preferably to a place I’ve never been before. As I walk, I photograph the little things that I pick up on, the intricacies of urban life or nature, depending on where I go. Back home, I pop the images into Lightroom, delete many of them and set about cropping, straightening, reducing shadows and any other minor adjustments. I choose one or two that will go up in my Etsy shop, pop them into mock up layouts and set up listings. Then I sort. I pull some to share on social media, some for my blog, some for Etsy, some for all three and schedule content. If I’m doing a print run of images for mini notecards, I’ll crop some into squares for these. Card-making involves cutting the edges off of the images, folding cards, centring, gluing, drying, popping in cellophane wraps with envelopes, and, if they’re going on Etsy, setting up a light box and taking pictures.”
Running a small business and having a full time-job, you won’t be surprised to learn that Stephanie’s biggest challenge is time management. “My biggest challenges are probably that there’s never enough time and never enough space. Time to photograph, time to edit, time to craft cards, time to promote, time to list items on Etsy, time to build connections with people who typically seek out new photography like interior designers. And space to store large canvases, of which I have nearly none besides our much decorated walls! I’d love to be able to put more time and focus into my Etsy shop, sign up for more craft shows and hold another exhibition. I’ve been part of a group exhibition and had a solo exhibition, but it’s time for round three. I’d also love to get better at building connections with people who regularly buy art for interior projects like hotels, restaurants, offices, etc. and try my luck offline.”
Luckily, Oakley is here to help...
Well it might take her a little longer but I’m sure she’ll get there. With such determination and hard work, it’s bound to happen and when it does there won’t be no stopping her. Her advice to a starting artist is this “Make sure you’re passionate about what you’re setting out to do because it does consume a LOT of time! On that note, set boundaries with your time because there’s always something more that could be done. Time for yourself and spent with the people you care about is important. Also, look to others who are successful in your niche and make notes on what they are doing well and the lessons you can learn from them. “
But are the sacrifices and the afterhours worth it? She definitely thinks so “It makes my hobby feel purposeful. I love feedback from people who enjoy my photos and it’s always a nice day when I sell prints. I also love the community, connecting with other small business owners and supporting other creatives through the Small Business Breakfast features on my blog. “
And talking about community, has she found the London Local team helpful so far in helping her and her business? “Definitely! The private Facebook group is fantastic. The website and social media are excellent too. The leaders of the group are super helpful, always sharing information about upcoming opportunities, going out of their way to organize events for the team. It has grown immensely and there’s a wonderful variety of friendly, talented makers from all over the city who are involved.”
Unfortunately, it’s time for us to say goodbye to Stephanie but not before she has time to offer you some discount on her Etsy shop
Pop over to littleobservationist.etsy.com for 20% off when you spend at least £5 (20OFFLONDONLOCAL). Expire on December 1st.
You can follow Stephanie here and I can’t recommend her blog enough.
See you soon for another episode of Meet the Maker!