We had a chat with local Melbourne creative, Megan McNeil, following the launch of her new homewares label, Trinket Solo. Megan focuses her brand around traditional craft practices filtered through a modern lens. She shares with us a bit about the process behind crafting her hand tufted homewares, how starting the label during the current pandemic helped shape her business and why sustainable consumption is important to her. We hope you enjoy our chat and we are so thrilled to be able to introduce you to Megan and the beautiful pieces she creates.
Tell us a little bit about yourself - who are you and what keeps you motivated?
My background is in textile design and when I’m not doing Trinket Solo I do a variety of different freelance work, creating prints for fashion and homewares brands. When I'm not working, I enjoy swimming laps at the pool, getting out of town for walks and antique shopping. I love a good Sunday trash and treasure market too, loaded with donuts, new plants and some knick knacks for my mantle.
I've always been motivated by my close group of friends, who are mostly creatives and small business owners too. It is amazing having their support and really keeps me inspired and motivated seeing them flourish and succeed. Running a small business as well as freelancing really helps keep my days varied as well. One day I can be looking at 18th century documents of botanical illustrations as inspiration for a fashion print, the next I can be driving out to see my rug overlocker at their factory (pre-Covid of course!)
Can you share a little bit about your professional journey with Trinket Solo so far - what is your day to day like?
I launched Trinket Solo this year as a project to explore homewares in a way that I wasn't getting to do in my more commercial jobs. Right now, my days are a mixture of tufting, researching and organising photoshoots. I am also working on a special commission to go in my friends' shop, it is a larger scale piece and I can’t wait to see it finished. Trinket Solo isn't working to the traditional seasonal cycle of releasing products, so I am in the early days of designing the next collection.
You started Trinket Solo during the current pandemic - how do you think that has shaped your business?
While it has been a slow start, I am happy it is finally out into the world. It is something that I have had on the backburner for a while, usually because of demanding jobs and then juggling freelance full time. I think the nature of the business being Made-to-Order has been beneficial in that I only make exactly what I need and there is very little waste. Also as all the pieces are made by me I have been able to continue creating from home which has allowed me to continue my exploration around the brand.
We are so amazed by your pieces - what is the process behind creating hand tufted homewares?
The process starts with choosing the colours of yarn from my dyer which I love doing. I have a large frame set up in my studio with a backing cloth pulled extremely taught which holds the tufted yarn in place. I use a tufting gun which the yarn is threaded into and a needle shoots through the backing cloth to create a soft, high pile. A lot of my time is spent on cleaning up the tufted sections so that they are nice and tidy. Then it gets a steam, then comes off the frame to be made into a cushion or I take it to my overlocker to get finished. It’s a real hands-on process but makes each piece unique and special in their own way.
Where do you find your creative inspiration comes from?
I look to the past a lot for inspiration, whether it's a tattered woven swatch with an unusual colour combination, or a beautiful hand blown glass vase in a museum that I can take something away from, even if it's a feeling. I love decorative architectural details too. Their shapes always inform my work in some way, so you can always find me wandering the streets of inner city Melbourne on the lookout for something to catch my eye.
You are a Melbourne local just as Lois Hazel is - what are you most looking forward to in the Melbourne summer?
I am most looking forward to balmy nights in the company of my friends and family sharing a lovely meal. I am also looking forward to my mum's pavlova. I am excited to get down to the beach for a swim as well and when I can't get down there, spend the days at the pool reading a book.
Since we are all stuck at home right now - what are your favourite at home activities to do?
I am lucky to live near some amazing walking tracks around Yarra Bend and Merri Creek, so I enjoy going for walks whenever the weather permits. While I'm at home though, I've been getting into hand-building with clay and I am restoring a chair as well. So lots of mess!
We are all about sustainability here at LH, what are your views on sustainability in the creative industry today?
I feel like as designers we have a responsibility to think about the repercussions of the products we design before, during and beyond its life. Whether it's the welfare of the people cultivating the raw materials, or how much energy is used or waste is produced in manufacturing, or how the product will wear, or break down a the end of its life. It is a crucial part of the design process to integrate sustainability. As a consumer, I look to buy pieces that will last more than one season, not only functionally but aesthetically too. Buy less but buy better is my motto!
It is an ever changing digital world - how do you think social media has helped your brand?
Trinket Solo is very much still in its early days, but social media has allowed my products to reach people overseas that wouldn't have otherwise seen my work. It is also helping me connect with other designers and it is always great to have the support of other makers and people in the industry.
Where do you see Trinket Solo expanding into the future - what are your goals?
I would love to get to the point where I can work with other makers and artisans and collaborate on products. I love to champion craft and traditional techniques, so I hope to work with people and communities who have really highlight their skills. I'd also love to offer a wider range of products for the home too.