Sugar & Vice {feature}

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Not a lot of people have it in them to make something great out of a bad situation, but Natalie Vice, from Sugar & Vice, did exactly that. After being retrenched in 2014, she decided to follow her dream and start her own design business. If you love ceramics and you love stunning design, then you will love Sugar & Vice as Natalie makes all things nice.

How did you start and how long have you been doing this?
Back in 2013 I was working full time as a marketing manager, but felt that I really needed a creative outlet and to find a way of pursuing my passion in a more permanent way. I was spending all my free time drawing designs and hand making samples for what would be become the basis of Sugar & Vice.  I also took time out to see some of Europe and to walk the Camino de Santiago. Anybody who knows about the Camino will know it is all about a personal journey.  For me that journey was about realising that owning my own business and being able to share my creativity with others is my true passion. 

After I was retrenched, it was just the push I needed to start focusing on Sugar & Vice. It allowed me to give Sugar & Vice the attention it needed to start to become a real functioning business without solely relying on it for income. A year later and I was finally ready to focus on Sugar & Vice full time. It was scary and it took courage but I was convinced that I had to follow my heart and do what makes me truly happy. 

I started out selling online through my own website and those of others, stocking in local stores and exhibiting at Decorex and Kamers vol Geskenke. It has been a long, exciting and insightful journey, which I would do-over in a heartbeat.  I am grateful for the experience and how well my designs and product range has been received by customers.

What sort of products do you make? Do you also provide services?

At the moment I only make homeware products, functional and decorative home d├ęcor.  All the designs are hand drawn by me and then printed on the various products.  I used to do graphic design jobs here and there, but my main focus at the moment is S&V.

Where do you find inspiration for your creations?

 I find inspiration everywhere, especially in Cape Town as it is such an inspirational place to live in. However I would definitely say my work has been inspired by tattoo art as well as Ndebele house paintings, the natural Cape fauna and flora and patterns gathered from my travels.

It is my love for patterns that has lead me to develop my obsession with nature, skulls and hearts. I keep going back to search for new inspiration from Mother Nature, human anatomy, mandalas, henna, tattoos and geometric motifs for my illustrations and are never disappointed with the outcome.

What are some of the challenges of being your own boss?

That I put a lot of pressure on myself and have to remember to chill!

How do you perceive the South African creatives/design landscape?
I find that there is definitely a competitive nature out there, as it should be, but every other creative person that I have met has been very welcoming.  As designers I think we need to stick together, encourage and support each other and do more collaborations together to keep things fresh for our customers. Artists are usually their own worst critics and that’s why we need each other’s support.

What is your favourite colour/ material to work with, and why?
I love drawing detailed illustrations with a fine liner on paper.  It’s very therapeutic and meditational to draw in such meticulous detail.  I also love working with clay and am planning to bring out limited edition handmade ceramics so watch this space!

Now, we always feel that there is too much month left at the end of our money. What would you do if you won the lotto?
Mmmm I have never entered the lotto and don’t think I will, but if I do get my hands on a big sum of money…I would get a gorgeous retail shop and studio where I can show off my products and meet all my lovely customers. I would also travel for sure!

Where to from here?
I am extending my product range to incorporate bags, t-shirts, clocks, wall art and wallpaper to name but a few.  Eventually I would like to get a store and create a beautiful space to sell my products and host fun social creative workshops. I’m also planning to partner with other artists to collaborate on new projects for limited edition products and also breaking into international markets.

I can't wait to follow your journey. Tell me, what has been your proudest moment since you started?

There were three proud moments – the first order that I got on Etsy which was a Deer Me Ashtray from a customer in Jerusalem.  The second was the first time S&V was featured in the media, in the Sunday Times. And the third time was the first time I interacted with my customers face to face – at the Oranjezicht market.



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