Thank you so much, Morgan, for stopping by to chat with us about your amazing business, Open Hands Creative!
For those in our audience you haven’t yet heard of your incredible sustainable small business, please introduce us to Open Hands Creative! What is your focus as an arts-centric business?
Open Hands Creative is an art experience business based in Perth, Australia. We focus on running eco-friendly art workshops in person and selling DIY art kits online. We found there was a gap between art and sustainability, so we decided to bridge this gap. We help people unlock their creativity, reconnect with themselves, and reconnect with nature. We are passionate about protecting mother earth and educating our community on different sustainable art practices.
How did you first get the idea to start Open Hands Creative? What led you on this crazy sustainable journey to share art with others?
It all started with 2 girls and 4 hands. OHC was established in 2019 by myself and co-founder Jordan Alice Fyfe. Working in the events industry we saw a lot of waste, single use plastics, food consumption, mass flower installations and so on. This really woke us up to the environmental impact of our actions as humans and we wanted to do better! On our days off we would sit for hours drinking tea and dreaming about a creative collective we would one day build.
We started collecting all the left-over flowers from event industries in Perth, hanging them upside down in our house and then giving them new purpose. Soon after was born our first workshop Botanical Fine Line Drawing, where we would use the dried flowers for décor and teach customers how to draw them using eco-friendly pens!
Jordan is still very much involved with the business as our main illustrator and workshop facilitator. We are currently taking a new journey towards opening an online eco art supplies shop.
I’m sure you had a vision of how Open Hands Creative would impact you, your creative practice, and your community when you started, but what has been the most surprising thing about running this business?
We have had a few surprises and realisations along the way. The first hurdle was the lack of eco art supplies; we had all these ideas for art workshops, but first had to find the supplies. It took us ages to find Lousy Ink, and it took us ages to find Natural Earth Paint! But the more we are exposed to the eco art world the more we found. This is why we are excited to bring it all into one space and one community. We love sharing!
Tell us about your favorite workshop Open Hands Creative has ever hosted!
Oh, that’s a good question! It is a toss up between the one Mural Workshop we ran and our Papermaking Workshops! I love our papermaking workshops because they are so hands on and messy. They also use up the paper waste we create in our drawing workshops. To be honest, the best part is watching people fall in love with paper-making as much as we have.
We’re lucky enough to be one of the sustainable suppliers for Open Hands Creative. Why did you choose Natural Earth Paint for your business?
A few reasons! We needed natural pigments for our papermaking workshop, but we also wanted to start making our own watercolour paints! Jordan is a watercolour artist and has wanted to facilitate a watercolour workshop since the beginning of our journey, but we couldn’t find affordable watercolour paints that were sustainable, so decided to make our own! You can read more about that process on our blog. We love your range of colours and helpful recipes, it just made sense to start using your products.
One of the core values of your business is sustainability, which really resonates with us here at Natural Earth Paint. In your practice and business, what does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability vs. eco-friendly is interesting. Things can be eco-friendly but not necessarily sustainable. We really do look at the big picture and try to balance environmental, economical, and social aspects of each workshop and each product we put into the world. We do our best, but it is far from perfect, though we try every day to make educated decisions that do right by all living and breathing things. That, to me, is what living a sustainable life is all about.
Open Hands Creative also offers some gorgeous handmade natural watercolor palettes with a quirky twist; the paints are dried in bottle caps! Where in the world did you come up with that lovely idea?
We were playing around with designing our own watercolour kits and using magnets + tins, and bottle caps are magnetic.... so, I guess that’s how the idea popped into my head! Also, most watercolour ramekins are plastic, and I was searching for an alternative when a friend of a friend gave me a huge box of bottle caps asking if I could use them for anything!
Do you have any tips for creatives who might be thinking about starting a sustainable small business of their own, but don’t know how to start? What were the challenges you faced when you started, what made the process easier for you?
Sometimes you have good days and sometimes you don’t get anywhere. All in good time you start to find the things you want and start to refine the process. Don’t be so hard on yourself, the fact that you are trying to do something sustainability means you are already doing better than a lot of other people!
Where can our audience see more of your story or sign up for one of your workshops?
I understand you have a worldwide audience! We are currently based in Perth, Australia so if you are ever visiting, please come to one of our workshops! Otherwise, we have a few online courses on Skillshare.
We are planning big things for 2022 with the launch of our online shop! We would probably only ship to Australia to start with, but if you follow our journey and support us with patience, we hope to one day be a global platform for all eco-friendly art supplies.