August 1, 2016
Home is where the art is
When New Zealand-born Tani Klein first started putting her intricate designs on paper, never did she imagine they would eventuate into a successful clothing and homewares business.
Tani Klein, a talented mother-of-two started her kids’ clothing range, Doodle Bug, six years ago and has recently launched a range of beautiful wall art featuring her trademark intricate illustrations. Profile caught up with Tani to discover a little more about the new range and where she draws her inspiration.
profile: Where did your love of drawing come from?
tani: I always secretly drew and doodled “hence the name” and even though I didn’t take art classes at school, I used to hang out with the arty crew. But because I had “real” artist friends I didn’t want to call myself an artist or show anyone my work. It took a lot of encouragement from my husband and a lot of practice before I was willing to put myself out there.
profile: How did you begin the doodle bug clothing range?
tani: My first drawing was an elephant and I really loved it, so I figured out how to transfer it onto a top for my daughter, Mila. I got so many comments about it, so I transferred a whole lot of them onto baby onesies, took them to the Peregian markets and they completely sold out. The second time I was at the markets I was in the right place at the right time and a retailer approached me, so I was very lucky. Then I thought if I am going to do this I want to do it right. I didn’t want to put the transfers onto mass produced, bleached chemical-laden cotton. I came across bamboo and I have never looked back. It grew to a whole new range. Bamboo is a beautiful material, it grows like wildfire and it’s naturally organic.
profile: When did you decide to expand the business from clothing to art?
tani: We’ve always sold cute little timber postcards and printed tissue paper to wrap the clothing and they have always done really well. But it all started when I was looking at decorating my children’s rooms. I found there was a lot of stuff out there but a lot of it is awful. I wanted the kids’ rooms to be aesthetically pleasing to me, not too childish and tacky but still fun enough to bring out their personalities.
profile: Tell me about the new range?
tani: I have recently released a range of round and rectangular wall plaques featuring my hand illustrations for a fun and quirky alternative to picture frames. While the designs are from my children’s range, they look great and work well in any room and are most definitely not just for nurseries! It’s all my original art, very detailed and intricate and it’s screen printed by hand on cherry wood, which is from sustainable plantations. For every tree felled another three or four are planted, and the wood grain varies from piece to piece, so each one is unique. I was very much influenced by my children, Mila and Oscar. Mila loves mermaids and I’m married to a Canadian so we had to have a lumberjack. They come in a range of two sizes. The smaller range is very light and only requires a piece of blu tac to mount them on the wall. I also do a poster range of the same illustrations on different coloured backgrounds, so they are not just for nurseries or children’s rooms. I’ve purposely sized them to go in the IKEA frames to make it easy for people.
profile: Where are they made?
tani: They are printed in a little factory in India, which is the same factory that prints the illustrations on my clothing. Back in 2013 my husband and I made a trip over there. It was amazing. We got to see the clothing being made and visit the guys we have been working with via phone and email for many years. I was expecting a big factory but we got completely lost and finally found this tiny little building we didn’t think it could possibly be. It housed about 20 staff, all dressed in their finest. They all stood up and shook our hands and the owner took us out for a five-course lunch. He said it was such an honour for us to visit them, no one had ever visited them. Now we have this wonderful connection with them. We are like family.
profile: When do your ideas come to you?
tani: I’m always dreaming up new ideas. They usually come to me right before I fall asleep – I will just visualise this amazing illustration. I recently learnt a cool trick I now use. I imagine I take the idea and lock it in a room, then I go to the room the next morning and find it. It’s about allowing yourself the time to think and be creative. Eighty per cent of my time is spent running my business and 20 per cent being creative, which I didn’t expect.
profile: How would you describe your style?
tani: Very scandic, which has become very popular lately so maybe I was ahead of my time!
profile: Does the family get involved in the creative process?
tani: Absolutely. As soon as they see me drawing the children are both right there beside me. They copy my style which is really cute. Oscar is six and he is already drawing with such detail. My husband is also a good artist, he came up with the anchor and he does a lot of the photography, the kids are models for the clothing range too, so it’s a great family business.