Meet the Creative: Ben Taylor
The next in this series of interviews bringing you inside the worlds of some of my favourite creatives.
This time I'm delighted to introduce you to the wonderful multi-talented designer and maker, Ben Taylor!
Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your business and how it came to be…
My name is Ben Taylor, I am based in Grimsby, northeast Lincolnshire. I run a small business called The Dandy Introvert. I started making products properly during lockdown while I was on furlough from my day job. I had been drawing and creating art prints for a while before this, however having this time on my hands allowed me to focus on being more creative and developing my product range.
I have recently moved into a new workspace within Grimsby Docks and we are in the process of setting up workshops for people to come and learn new skills and enjoy time with like-minded people.
Who or what inspired you to pursue a creative life and who or what have been your most important influences so far?
I started designing and printing clothing purely because I was so fed up with stereotypical 'dad' t-shirts on the high street and becoming fed up with never being able to find anything that I wanted to wear. I wanted to bridge the gap between 'skater boy' fashion and something a bit more grown up.
I have always loved making jewellery as well, so this was added into the range and allowed me to explore resin, a new medium that I hadn't used before. I wanted to make things that made people smile and bring that bit of sparkle to their day, especially during lockdown as it was such a hard time for a lot of people.
How would you describe your style and your products?
A lot of my clothing designs are tattoo and nautical inspired, two things I love and am very passionate about.
My jewellery is bright, bold and glittery, because everyone needs that bit of sparkle in their lives.
What was your first Dandy product and how have you progressed to the products you make and sell now?
My first official products were art prints; however the first popular items were my earrings! Since my first makes, I have tested and trialled loads of different resins, glues, glitters and colours to find the best possible ones and developed a product I am truly happy to sell and feel really proud when I see people wearing it.
From a printing/clothing point of view, I have also worked really hard to find the nicest possible garments to use as a base product, that is as ethical and sustainable as possible, while trying to use scrap vinyl to create fun and quirky designs to cut down on waste.
I've also pivoted into other areas as well such as creating project bags for crafters and I have developed a range of ergonomic polymer clay crochet hooks to help people who suffer from hand cramps or arthritis during their own makes.
Do you have a best seller or favourite to make?
My best seller was my 'not today boris' and my 'not today karen' sweatshirts by far!
But my best regular seller is definitely the crochet hooks, people have full sets which is amazing and they have been so popular since I released them.
I do love the printing though, it's definitely my favourite thing to do.
What’s on your workbench today?
I am currently printing tote bags for the people who helped support our fundraising for our new creative space at the docks.
I am also in the trial stages of printing my new Docks clothing range as well.
Would you let us take a peek at your workspace?
This is my current space, still very much a work in progress but it is getting there.
When are you at your most productive?
I have a 9-5 day job so although I think about making and creating all day long, I only really get to spend evenings and weekends in my creative zone. I usually find evenings are better for me creatively anyway, so it suits me.
What are your favourite materials/tools to use?
My absolute favourite bit of kit is my HappyPress 4 from happy fabrics, it's the best heat press I've used so far and always gives consistent results. I also use all their vinyl as I find it just so easy to work with and lasts really well on t-shirts etc.
Do you have a motto or favourite quote for inspiration?
In the words of RuPaul: "Unless they are paying your bills, pay them bitches no mind."
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
I love the freedom to be creative with no restrictions other than my own brain, creating what I want, when I want, and if I want to stay up till 4am sanding resin or printing t-shirts I can!
Sum up your brand in 3 words…
Friendly, relatable and fun.
What myth would you like to bust about running a creative business?
That creative businesses are 'real' businesses. They aren't always just a side hustle or a hobby as they are quite often regarded.
Our time is just as valuable, our prices are just as valid and our opinion counts.
What have you learned that’s been invaluable to your creative process?
Trial and error doesn't mean fail!
Things sometimes don't work or aren't popular, and sometimes things are just simply too stressful and not worth pursuing.
You just have to take the knocks, see the positives and keep moving forward.
What have been the greatest challenges for The Dandy Introvert so far?
My biggest challenge has definitely been getting a suitable workspace to allow me to grow the business and the product range and have enough storage space for everything I need. It's grown from the coffee table to a desk in the corner of the lounge, to a cabin in the garden, then back to my coffee table again and now I finally have the space at the docks and it is amazing.
What tip or truth would you tell past-Ben at the beginning of this journey if you could go back and give them a heads up?
Not to get so disheartened when things fail, it has been really hard at times pulling myself back up and it has definitely been down to having the right people around me. Having a good creative support network is so valuable as they get where your head goes too at times and understand it.
And probably don't let social media affect your feelings towards your business, it's hard to see people absolutely smashing it and not have that "what am I doing wrong?" feeling. The chances are, someone is out there looking at your feed and thinking the exact same thoughts.
What is it about The Dandy Introvert that you are most proud of?
I absolutely love seeing people wearing my clothes and jewellery, it makes me so happy knowing I have created that little bit of happiness in their lives. You really can't beat that feeling.
Also, seeing my products on the shelves in shops is absolutely amazing! I never thought I would walk in anywhere and see something I have made for sale.
What are you looking forward to next?
Getting the workshops up and running, being able to bring people into the studio and work with them to further their skills is going to be so nice. I can't wait!
What are your plans or ambitions for the future?
Ideally, I would absolutely love to make The Dandy Introvert my full-time job and be able to focus on that full time. It definitely has the potential to do that, but it will take a lot of effort to make that happen.
How can we find out more about you?
I'm always happy to talk about custom work and custom orders so feel free to drop me a message.
The workshops will also be shared on Instagram when they are set up so keep an eye out for them.
I am hoping to set up a newsletter subscription this year so keep your eyes peeled for information on that too.