I love hearing stories of people who stumble upon their creative business never before having thought it was something they wanted to do or, perhaps, thought they could do. Melanie Brophy is one of those people. As a single mum, working full-time you’d have thought she’d have enough on her plate without starting her own business. But when she couldn’t find a pendant light she liked for her living room she decided to make one herself. Not only did she find the process therapeutic but found others wanted one too!
She launched Mel’s Creative Designs in 2012 and has made beautiful paper lights for not just living rooms but all sorts of rooms and even specialises in weddings and functions. What I love about her lights are that they’re so fun and vibrant and expressive. As you can see from the pictures of them in situ they really help make a room or a setting come alive! And how wonderful to be able to have something lasting to take home from your wedding or a special function! Come and find out more about Mel …
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and live in Sydney. I’m a single mother and my two sons Jarrad, aged 20 and Callum, 18 also live with me. I have a full-time job working for Plastral Pty Ltd, which imports and distributes specialty acrylics and plastics etc. I’m employed as a sales rep, calling on a variety of industries that use our range of products.
What made you start Mel’s Creative Designs when you sound like you’re busy enough already as a single mum with a full-time job?
I started Mel’s Creative Designs without even realising it, to be honest. It wasn’t something I had been thinking about or had even planned to do, it just happened. I guess it started and evolved based on a couple of things. I was actually looking for something to put on my lounge room wall but had no idea what I was after, just knowing that it had to be original and stylish. Having had no luck in finding anything that grabbed me, I decided to make something myself. The second reason I started this was as a kind of therapy. I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression a few years ago and designing and making things has actually become cathartic. I truly do love what I do and look forward to the next piece I make.
Tell us about any challenges you faced in setting up the business and how you overcame them?
There haven’t really been any challenges other than time. As the business is entirely run by me, I have to try and manage my time between making things and marketing the business.
Have you always been creative?
I’ve always loved to draw and studied art in my senior years at school. Upon leaving school I did a course at TAFE called ‘Showcard and Ticket writing’, where you learnt calligraphy and how to paint sign cards, which were used by department stores for their promotions and sales. That was, however, before the age of computers and digital printing so the profession has now become obsolete! I’ve also been interested in interior design and decorative items for your home, preferring to buy a home décor magazine rather than a fashion or gossip mag.
Why lights and why paper?
I started my business with no lights at all but soon found that I was better at this than any other crafts I was making. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else but lights. I use paper because you can use so many different types and colours and each one lends itself to a different design. I also love using paper products because each one radiates the light in its own unique, different way.
What sort of paper do you use? Explain.
I use lots of different kinds of paper and am always hunting out as many types and colours that I can find. I love to work with Vellum. I select the paper used for each design, based upon the light itself and where it is going to be used. If a customer is going to use a certain light in their lounge or dining area, I will use paper that will block a little more light out as opposed to a light that will be used in a child’s bedroom.
Tell us about the different types of lights you create?
Once again, this is ever evolving. What I initially used to design and make is different to the designs I create today. There are, however, a few designs that will always remain true and original. Most customers actually tend to purchase more of my first designs than they do the latest designs.
Explain your creative process. Where do your ideas come from and how do you bring them to life?
My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. I look at the world around me and am constantly thinking of ways to incorporate things into lights. I even wake up in the middle of the night to draw something that I was just dreaming about which is why I now always go to bed with a pen and pad close at hand!
What or who inspires you?
To be honest, I inspire myself. I have a constant desire to better my designs and to go on creating new designs.
What would be your dream project/commission?
I’ve recently been commissioned by a lady in Queensland, north Australia, to do six lights for her home. I’m excited about the project as she has kindly given me a lot of creative license, which is fabulous. I can’t wait to see them all in situ as I think they will look very special.
Have you ever had a ‘who’d have thought’ moment?
I think I have a ‘who’d have thought’ moment every time I make something and every time someone writes a feature about me or compliments me on my work.
Thanks Mel! And if you’d like to see more of her work or even commission a piece, visit Mel’s Creative Designs.