Interview: Hannie Croonen-Braam

Hannie Croonen-Braam

Name: Hannie Croonen-Braam

Known for:
My Tintangel® DIY kits which I design and produce in my own studio. For all my kits I use the best wool felt and as much as possible other natural materials.

Currently working with:
New designs for Summer items.

When did you realize that you were going to work with this:
I am educated as an art therapist and during this education I realized I love to work with all kinds of fabrics, soft materials which I can shape into all kinds of things. I have always been crafting, since I was a young child, supported by my mother and grandmother, both creative women. When our son was born, I became a “stay at home mom” with more time to craft and design.

When I noticed that people love the things I made, they made them smile and happy, someone gave me the idea to sell them as DIY kits. That is almost 15 years ago now and from the beginning it was a success in the Netherlands. And I still love it, it´s the best job in the world. Playful, creative and happy.

If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
We have been many times to the Scandinavian countries, so if I have to choose one place, it would be Swedish Lappland. So many lovely views, great nature, distinctive seasons and the most beautiful light you can imagine.

How would you describe your design:
I always wish to make things that will make people smile, make them happy when they see them and of course after they have made them. And with my popular mice scenes, I think I want to create also a fairy world. Some place to be in your dreams. And they always have to be nice to touch, feel warm and soft, to give you comfort.

How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
I started in November 2000, so almost 15 years ago. Then my first kits were sold and the enthusiasm for them was overwhelming. I was so surprised by it! And I still am, especially now through Etsy my DIY kits go all over the world and the reviews are great. It is more than I ever could have dreamed of.

What do you do at the moment?
It´s very busy these days with DIY kits for Easter, so a lot of assemble work to do, taking care of purchasing all the materials I need, contacting suppliers, making patterns and descriptions. And ship them to retailers in the Netherlands and Germany and all over the world to my Etsy customers. And in the time that´s left I have started working on some new summer designs. Designing is the best part of my job. There are always more ideas in my head, than hours in my day. And in my free time I love to read, knit and go out with my dog.

A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
Take good care of yourself so you will have plenty of energy, because it takes a lot of energy. And when it´s a success, it will give you energy and inspiration to go on. And keep looking around you, in magazines, shops, the WWW, art, work of other designers like architects and fashion designers. So you will have a creative input every day. And keep improving your work, always look for new ways to use the materials, so it´s challenging for yourself.

Tell us how it all started.
The first little items I made of wool felt were for my son. There were already so many flower dolls of other designers, I wanted to make something more stalwart, some boy stuff. So I designed knights and pirates. After that I started making dolls for every season. And soon I had more dolls than needed.

So like I told before, when some told me to sell my design as DIY kits and thought to give it a try and that was the beginning of my company Tintangel®. Then it grew fast. More shops were interested in purchasing my kits, in the Netherlands and also Germany. Lot´s and lot´s of wool felt came into our house, filling bedrooms, hallways and the living room.

Almost ten years ago we decided to build a studio in our back garden and since then I have a perfect place to work and store all the supplies. In 15 years I have designed over more the 600 DIY kits and about 200 of them are still available. And more to come!

What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
Working space, loads of wonderful wool felt and other materials, good light and always some music in my CD player. And most of the time, my dog gives me company.

I am a very messy worker in busy times. It´s not always a good idea to visit me there, but it´s a great place and during more quiet times when I clean up the mess. The quote “Creative people don´t have mess, they just have loads of ideas all over the place”, is very correct I think.

What is your favorite film?
Fly away home. A lovely feel good movie, I have seen it a lot of times.

Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
Jan Taminiau. He is a fashion designer and he is the designer of the gorgeous dress he made for Queen Maxima, when Willem Alexander became king. I admire his work and I would love to work for him. With all those great fabrics, lace, beads and so on. Just sitting in a quiet corner of his studio, sewing beads on dresses all day. But in this case, maybe the dream is more beautiful than reality.

How do you like to spoil yourself?
I love to travel. So make a trip during the holidays is the best way. But also I like good books, good food, fine clothing and pets at home.

What is luxury for you?
Our living room, warm and cozy and here we are surrounded with all kinds of souvenirs from the trips we have made.

What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your design, and from whom?
I don´t have one compliment in mind, but when people tell me they love to make my designs, see them to be proud, smiling and happy after they have made it, that´s the best compliment ever!

What do you fear most?
That something bad will happen with my husband and son. They are very important to me.

What is a happy life to you?
This life. Being happily married, mother of a great son. Working at home, surrounded by my pets (a black Labrador Troy and two cats, Figaro and Buck). Earn enough and stay healthy to do other nice things like traveling and doing what I think I can do best: designing all kinds of things of wool felt.

What does a regular day look like for you?
Mostly I start with looking in my mailbox. See what has to be shipped and printing address labels. Then I go for a walk with my dog, this take mostly about 50 minutes. Then it depends on how busy it is, sometimes I start assembling kits, sometimes I start designing or making my design ready.

The whole process from the first idea, to making it, drawing the patterns, write the descriptions and make the pictures is also a part of my job. Of course lunch and walk with the dog again are part of my day. And I always try to find some time for the social media, specially my weblog. And at the end of the day I take my bike to take all the parcels that need to be shipped to the post office.  After this I start to cook diner, eat with my family and then time to knit a bit are read a book.

Tell us about your dream project.
When days come up with 48 hours instead of 24, I am dreaming of making stop motions pictures of my wool felt mice in the Mice street with all kinds of shops I have made.

Who is your favorite designer?
I love to see work of a several fashion designers like, I mentioned him before, Jan Taminiau, but also Victor and Rolf. In art I admire the work of the Dutch painters Walty Dudok van Heel and Renzo Tamse.

How would you describe your style?
Happy, funny, colorful and with lots of details when needed. Sometimes also more stylish, this depends on the subject. And animals are a big part of my work. Sometimes I make them as real as possible, other times they play roll in my stories, like the mice.

Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
The people I love. I love to surround myself with beautiful things, but in the end only my family is the most important thing in my life.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by nature, art, music and books.

A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
I think I have read it more the a dozen times: Prayer for Owen Meany, written by John Irving. It´s hilarious and sometimes sad at the same time. It makes me laugh out loud and get to tears at the end and the theme is still up to date, the stupidity of war.

Visit Hannie’s blog
Check out her Etsy shops Thegeneroussheep & Tintangel
Follow her on Pinterest

dewobbessen alle-brandweermuizen-helpen mousemobielsneeuw kukelkrans-op-wit-verb groente-winkel Hannie Croonen-Braam

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