Getting to know Suki from Suki McMaster
This month we catch up with Suki to hear all about how she discovered drawing and where she draws her inspiration from.
Tell us about Suki McMaster and how it all started?
My name is Suki McMaster and I am the creative person behind my brand. I have been selling my products at markets for 10 years but it’s always been a hobby. When my husband and I sold our house in Sydney, I decided to take the business side of things seriously. I always wanted a shop to sell my own designs, so we moved to Melbourne – the creative hub. We tried different markets and eventually opened our first shop at South Melbourne Market. Three years later we opened at Queen Victoria Market! It’s a dream come true for us.
Tell us about the products available at Suki McMaster
My drawings appear on range of different products including tea towels, cushions, cups, reusable shopping bags, prints, baby muslin, bamboo dining sets. Many of my drawings have stories behind them and I hope these stories connect with people in some way.
You have such a huge collection. Was your plan always to design different products? Talk us through how Suki McMaster has grown.
We have a wide range of products because I initially wanted a homewares shop! My drawings, however, attracted many people buying for kids, so we expanded into kids’ products too. When we first started Suki McMaster, we only stocked cushions, cups and cards and were doing a lot of interstate markets. We now wholesale to about 40 shops around Australia.
Who is Suki McMaster designed for?
Anyone who loves bright and colourful designs. I have never thought of a particular group of people when I draw. But when I draw, I do hope the receiver will feel happy and grateful.
Have you always been able to draw?
I failed my first art exam at kindergarten, so mum send me to drawing classes – I’ve been in love with arts and crafts ever since. As much as I loved drawing, I didn’t go to art school; Interestingly, I went to business school and, when I finished my Bachelor of Marketing, my mum convinced me to do a Master of Accounting. I hated it. Even now my husband looks at all the numbers and data for the business. I learned all my art skills through YouTube and books and magazines. I think when you truly want something, you’ll work it out, you will make it happen – just wing it.
What inspires you?
When we first started, love inspired me. A lot of the drawings are about love; it’s me and my husband. These days I am inspired by what happens around me or around the world – climate change, global warming, mental health. One of our popular designs, the platypus, is about climate change. The background of the drawing is our great barrier reef and because the platypus is in danger I’ve drawn the platypus in the middle to bring love to the reef. This is actually how we started our bamboo product range featuring sustainable products.
Why do you think supporting local independent design is so important?
There are heaps of talented artists, designers and makers out there doing different things and we need them to make the world more diverse and beautiful. Without local independent design the world would be dominated by boring mass production and everyone would be the same. Australia as a country has already outsourced so many resources, it would be incredibly sad if we stopped supporting our local creatives.
What’s your most popular product at Suki McMaster?
This year we are very proud to partner with the Koala Hospital at Port Macquarie. Our koala bamboo reusable cups will be sold at the hospital along with a new range I’m designing for them now too.
What’s the best part of your job? The worst?
The best part of my job is to see people love what I do. The smile on people’s faces when they walk into my shop. My followers who come all the way from UK, Japan, US, NZ to visit me. I am constantly busy but I don’t feel like I’m working. I can see we’re growing. I can see we have conquered all the challenges. The worst part of the job is I constantly run out of time – sometimes I just want to cuddle my dog.
Why did you choose Queen Vic Market?
We have been loving the diversity of the market since day one. We love the location and we love how the market is dog friendly and full of surprises.
Anything you wish to add?
I am very thankful for everyone who has become part of our journey. Running a small business is hard and we wouldn’t be here without everyone’s support and kindness.
Check out Suki McMaster here