How wonderful to engage in a creative life fulled by a penchant for donuts and high tea parties! But Suzanne Anderson of Kate and Rose has done just that. She has forged a rather unlikely business from making polymer clay foodie treats, vintage teacups and bespoke vintage upcycled cake stands. It is her iced donut studs that have proved such a hit, she can’t make enough of them. And I certainly can’t think of a better way to indulge a donut addiction than by wearing them. Meet Suzanne …
Please introduce yourself – tell us about your background and how you’ve got to where you are today.
Before I started my family I worked professionally, mainly in contract roles in telecommunications, in a variety of roles such as market research, project management and as a business analyst. I worked in London and also in New Zealand, and finally settled back in Melbourne in 2001. After I had my two girls, I decided I didn’t want to go back to this type of work. It also didn’t really suit the demands of my family. So I decided to work towards a more creative life.
I started my business in late 2011 upcycling vintage items e.g. cake plates into cake stands and teacups into teacup candles. Over time I decided I wanted to add some jewellery to my small trinket stands for display at markets. It seemed appropriate that they fit into the tea party theme e.g. donuts, cupcakes etc. Over time these pieces became more popular than my vintage items – hence the slight shift in my business.
When and why did you begin exploring with the idea of making tea-party inspired jewellery?
I think I added chocolate sprinkle donut studs to ‘The High Tea Party’ event in July 2013. I also sold little polymer clay cupcakes too. The chocolate donuts were such a hit – even before the donut trend. To be honest donut studs are still one of my best sellers and I have added many colours of the rainbow since. The cupcakes and donuts seemed like a good fit with my tea party theme. Plus, I’m just partial to a good donut.
Can you share a bit about the creative process …
Where do your ideas come from?
Usually in bed late at night, or when I’m in a cafe and looking at treats like macaroons, or even travelling. I don’t think I have any online now, but sometimes I set an Eiffel tower with a macaroon, jar of Nutella, or a bread stick (this came about after a trip to Paris in 2015). Some pieces have come out of everyday life. Like breakfast: setting a polymer clay toast with jam-like resin hanging from a miniature cup of tea set on a necklace.
How do you like to work?
Messily. I have to fit it between appointments with my daughters which can be a little hectic. So I often leave little piles of half-finished jobs/work around the house which I slowly finish off over time. I also stock a number of shops, so I juggle online orders with retail orders. I love getting the chance to go out and visit stockists when time permits. Some great ideas also come from customer requests.
What inspires you?
Food (obviously), other makers, being a mum (my kids can have great ideas). I also believe there are all types of work and you can choose a more creative life. You should always try and find passion and joy in the things that you do. I love that this job lets me be flexible around my family.
What are some of your important tools of trade?
Clay, fimo, resin (for the sprinkles, coffee fills etc), findings (lots of cups of coffee and tea), other makers, Instagram – looking at food accounts and junk food trends, especially in the US.
What would be your ideal tea party?
Putting together a children’s high tea party. I actually made my first tiered stand when my daughters turned 3 and 5, as back then you couldn’t really find high tea stands. I thought, how hard would it be to make one? We had a fairy high tea party. My version of the perfect high tea would be lots of vintage china, tiered stands, lovely treats and champagne and pretty pink champagne flutes while wearing my prettiest tea party studs.
It’s not very cool, but I really like …
Reading lots of books, both non-fiction and fiction from topics that affect my life like ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) to books where I can totally escape (I’m more your stay-at-home girl than your go-out-and-party girl). Although I’m always happy to go for a coffee (with or without friends).
Have you ever had a ‘who’d have thought’ moment?
I’m still completely blown away by how popular donut studs were and have been. I find it a little amusing that sometimes I’m actually ahead of some trends. I added avocados to my store last year. Not tea party but I thought they looked cute. Yes, another donut moment.
Thanks so much Suzanne! You can find Suzanne and Kate and Rose Vintage on Etsy.