Hayley, the Kiwi in Derby-based Kiwi and the Bear, chatted to us about operating a “bizarre little vibrant indie biz” with husband, Aaron (Bear). K&TB began as a passion again in 2015, they now promote artwork prints, reusable face pads, scrunchies, pin pennants and extra…
I’ve all the time been a craft lover and cherished making an attempt new issues till one thing lastly caught which turned out to be tie-dye. After I spent a few months tie-dying all the things in sight, I needed to take it a step additional by including paintings to the dyed material, so I taught myself handy embroider. What adopted was a wall filled with embroidery hoops containing tie-dye and 2005 emo lyrics with a little bit little bit of Taylor Swift thrown in, in some way that Taylor Swift hoop made its method onto Buzzfeed and shortly after onto her authorized group in order that hoop was swiftly retired.
Round this time we invested in an iPad Professional and an Apple Pencil, this proper right here was the sport altering second for me, I simply didn’t realize it but. I began to float over onto a clean canvas and started taking part in round with little doodles and ultimately including extra artwork to my lettering which, was bizarre for me as drawing simply wasn’t one thing I ever did – like, in any respect.
I didn’t research artwork, I didn’t think about myself creative – artful sure however artsy by no means. At this level I had been following tattoo artists and illustrators on IG that I discovered a lot inspiration in and it had by no means occurred to me that I may add my voice by way of my very own paintings to the neighborhood. I used to be so nervous about placing my illustrations out into the world, I believed individuals would assume it was a joke.
It was discovering the unimaginable artistic neighborhood on IG that taught me artwork was no matter I needed it to be and it may imply no matter I needed it to imply to me, and abruptly I used to be free to simply create. I used to be having probably the most enjoyable and eventually felt that feeling of being someplace you have been alleged to be the entire time.
So in 2018 we determined to take Kiwi and the Bear a little bit extra critically, we needed it to really feel extra like a model, one thing that actually mirrored who we’re – a few weirdos making an attempt to dwell life a little bit extra positively whereas nonetheless remaining sarcastic and foul mouthed. We simply needed an area the place we may actually simply be our obnoxious selves!
We made a number of of my illustrations that can be purchased as prints alongside the embroidery hoops and it felt liberating, so new, so scary, however so thrilling! We began creating extra merchandise utilizing our hand dyed material, purely for egocentric causes as we have been making issues that we needed in our own residence. It’s egocentric nevertheless it’s additionally the easiest way to seek out ‘your individuals’, people who love the identical issues as you, clients and pals and even higher generally each!
Our new merchandise and new path got here on the good time for us as I needed to take a step again from hand embroidery as a consequence of my continual sickness making it close to unimaginable to hold on. I’ve had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since I used to be seven, two hip replacements and two shoulder replacements later, what hasn’t been changed is painful and awkward and ready to get replaced!
I dislocated my thumb whereas drying my hair, that’s all it took, they couldn’t get it again into place in A&E and shortly after, I noticed a specialist that confirmed me my x-ray, and defined that I really had 5 continual dislocations. I’d simply discovered to dwell with them. Whenever you’ve been disabled because you have been a child you turn out to be actually adaptable particularly if you’re a cussed Taurus, so when somebody tells you that you may’t do one thing due to your incapacity you discover methods round it. I couldn’t bodily keep on with the hand embroidery, I used to be grateful we’d found issues like our pennants and illustrations, so eradicating the hoops didn’t need to be the tip for us, if something it felt like the beginning of a brand new chapter and I discovered a approach to maintain drawing and making even with the dislocations.
When individuals realise I make and create what I do with my unhappy little palms they typically don’t imagine it, however for me it’s probably the most pure factor to maintain going, keep optimistic and keep medicated. Plus, having a excessive ache threshold actually helps. It additionally helps with actually lengthy tattoo periods, I believe almost each tattoo artist I’ve hung out with has stated that I sit like a rock, I imply come on I’ve to search for the positives on this illness proper?
Positivity is a large a part of what we’re about as a model, it’s unusual to say as two emo youngsters of their 30s who virtually all the time go for black all the things, however someplace round my thirtieth birthday I needed to be kinder to myself. Day by day is a battle for my physique so I actually needed to give attention to the optimistic issues, nevertheless small. It was round this time that I fell in love with color which was tremendous out of character for me, as the one place I ever had color was my pink hair, however abruptly I used to be sporting vibrant enjoyable dungarees and I realised I might be a colourful emo. I discovered my candy spot and I’ve stayed right here ever since.
It was round my thirtieth birthday that I acquired considered one of my favorite tattoos, it was an actual life altering second for me, like real-life film montage materials of me popping out the opposite aspect a foul ass b!
For the longest time I had left gaps on my physique that I used to be too afraid to get out in a tattoo studio, one thing switched in me once I turned 30, I learnt to like my physique it doesn’t matter what dimension it was, I learnt to separate the illness I hated from the physique that housed it.
I made a tattoo appointment with Mike Love to get my first hand poke tattoo on my sternum, I used to be actually, actually testing my limits and I cherished it. This piece is so necessary to me, it marks the start of a brand new period for myself, I confronted my fears and received ‘1989’ hand poked into an area I by no means thought I’d be capable to get tattooed, sure it’s my 12 months of start (I’m a proud 80s child if solely simply clinging on to the very finish of the 80s) nevertheless it’s additionally a nod to my favorite Swift album, and this one her authorized group can’t take away.
We’ve got been a pair since I used to be 16 and Aaron was 17, so the longest stretch of our tattoo journeys do find yourself intertwining at instances. We’ve got a number of “couple tattoos”, as an example he has “Participant 1’ on his internal wrist and I’ve “Participant 2”. We’re enormous nerds and play video video games collectively any likelihood we get, and after 15 years collectively it feels fairly secure to incorporate our story on one another’s our bodies. We do have plans for a few matching items that relate to our favorite Walt Disney World adventures collectively. Throughout our journey final Halloween I received to point out Ariel my Ariel piece and Aaron received to point out Mary Poppins his bag and umbrella piece by Lady Chappell Tattoos, yeah we’re these kinda nerds too, and it was so freaking magical!
The one factor I’ll all the time thank youthful me for was being obsessive about filling my arms leaving my legs naked for once I was extra educated concerning the trade. So my legs are house to my most favorite items that I’ve collected by means of my 20s, my absolute favorite is my Rachel Baldwin piece.
Tattoos have 100% had an impact on my relationship with my physique, I started getting tattooed once I was underage (I do know, I do know!) I believe as a sick child this was to have some management over my physique once I felt I had none.
Ultimately getting grew right into a approach to love my physique, my physique artwork performs an enormous half in my physique confidence and I’m lastly at a degree of accepting that I’m like a vibrant bizarre little marshmallow and proud.
Often somebody will ask why I describe myself as a marshmallow, it’s really a type of sneaky approach to check with myself as chubby (additionally fluffy, plump and pink it’s the precise meals model of me). I don’t use it to switch chubby as a result of I’m ashamed, as a result of I’m not, it’s been a very lengthy journey to dig who I’m. I take advantage of it as a result of if you check with your self as chubby or fats in a optimistic method, you’ll greater than probably expertise somebody with good intentions making an attempt to let you know you’re not fats. Most individuals have acquired an “omg you’re not fats babe” as soon as of their chubby and proud lives, some individuals can’t see it as something however a adverse, so it’s simpler for me to check with myself as a “leel marshmallow” so I simply get to dwell my fats and proud life. Additionally marshmallows are fairly dang cute and if simply makes somebody consider one thing pink and chubby properly, duh, hey!
We’ve got lots of plans for the way forward for Kiwi and the Bear, firstly nap with the pups, then have fun our 15 12 months anniversary that we labored by means of, AND then we need to maintain including new illustrations to the store. We are going to nonetheless take commissions (hand lettering, illustration, customized dyed pennants) most issues within the store you may make a customized request on. I hope to be fortunate sufficient to hold on doing freelance illustration for corporations with the identical values as us.
The most important plan we’ve is to make a zine about being chronically in poor health which we began engaged on at first was flipped the other way up. There’s additionally speak about probably releasing our first ever pin, which is sensible with our ever rising assortment. Actually we simply goal to maintain being part of the neighborhood that we love and making the issues we love whereas making new pals.