Meet the Mafia – Girl Industries

Why did you start in business/crafting?
I set up shop as Girl Industries in the summer of 2008. I currently work for the NHS, but in the past I’ve worked in retail management and prior to that, I worked to support small business start-ups in the technology field. I like inventing things, and selling things, and I’ve always been crafty. Having business that I conduct online, predominantly, allows me to mix craft, design, retail and technology in a way that meshes nicely with my ‘portfolio’ working style (I also run a small research company and am writing a dissertation for my MSc).

How did you come up with your crafty name?
I am somewhat embarrassed to say that it used to be my (oh goodness) DJ name. I am very proud to be female and from a small industrial town in the north of England, and I like reflecting that in my name. I also like the idea of being industrious in actually making things, and continuing a tradition that women have taken part in for generations.

Is your glass half full or half empty?
Definitely half-empty. There is always more to be had!

Card Holders

What is your favourite thing that costs nothing?
Paying attention. There’s a lot out there to enjoy, you just have to look for it.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I mainly work with reclaimed or repurposed materials in a process we call upcycling – turning something discarded or unwanted into something new, better or more useful. So my inspiration comes from the mundane and everyday, how could this strip of wallpaper become something useful? How could I give this duvet cover with a hole in it a more exciting new life, with just a zip, a sewing machine and some thread…

Top 5 desert-island essentials?
Is it cheeky to ask for the internet? Knitting needles, my yarn stash, a book of literary quotations and some sort of graphic design for dummies manual so I can learn something new.


What is the ugliest most pitiful thing you’ve ever made?
When I was at school I was on the winning Young Enterprise team for my region. We hit the big time making hair scrunchies from unwanted offcuts of upholstery fabric from our local textiles factory. If I tell you they sold us a car full of fabric for a nominal fee of £1, you can probably imagine how great they looked.

What have you made that you’re most proud of?
I made a cushion cover with a concealed zip out of a tweed skirt that I loved to pieces but had worn to the point of shabbiness. This signified the end of my war with sewing machines (unfortunate hand/needle interface in Home Ec at school which landed me in casualty) and the start of my professional crafting career.

What’s so great about Glasgow?
I think of Glasgow as a bit of a missing link between Manchester (where I’m from) and New York (where I used to live). We have the grid system, we have lots of rain, we have world renown in terms of fashion, music, culture and science. We have the patter, we have the inner-city green oases and people visiting or living here from all over the world. We also have a darker side which we’re not afraid to acknowledge and try to deal with.


Favourite biscuit?
Most of the time I like savoury over sweet, so give me a tasty oatcake and a good pongy cheese and I’m happy.

What crafts do you still want to learn?
Not so much a craft as a skill, but I would love to learn how to use my computer better for graphic design. My ideas for packaging and my website never look as good on screen as they do in my head, and as soon as I’m done with my Masters, I’d like to do a course on graphic design.

What is your idea of a perfect day?
Most perfect days for me occur on Saturdays and in New York. I would wake up totally refreshed at 7am and go out for a long walk or quick run to get my game plan for the day sorted out in my head. I’d grab a coffee from a friendly local vendor and head off for brunch with my fiancé and friends somewhere in Greenwich Village – knitting outdoors while we chat, if the weather’s good – before wandering off on my own over to SoHo for a browse in Crate & Barrel, Dean and DeLuca and some of the little clothing boutiques. I’d pick up knitting supplies in Purl SoHo and some delicious stationery from Kate’s Paperie. I’d carry a big tote bag and select my purchases wisely, like a local. I’d call into the Angelika to catch a matinee, before nipping home and getting dressed up for the night ahead, checking my etsy shop for any sales, and updating my blog if the movie was good or I’d taken any interesting photos on my travels. I’d also look out for any crafty happenings that evening in Brooklyn, or find out if my cousin was DJing anywhere that night. If I didn’t feel like going out out, I’d head over to a friend’s apartment to watch Reality Bites, picking up a six pack of Rolling Rock en route, and having to show ID. We’d maybe decide to finish off the night in a little bar, chatting to the bartender, randomly bumping into friends and telling corny jokes. Perfect!


What do you do in your day-to-day life, other than being a mafioso?
I work with members of the public, and support them to take part in activities which improve the quality and safety of the NHS in Scotland. I also run my own research company, study towards a Masters in Healthcare Informatics, am currently planning my wedding to the lovely Phil later this year, and have two adorable cats to take care of.

What is your favourite crafting tool?
Good paper scissors. Could. Not. Live. Without. Them.

What are your plans for the future?
I would like to do more community based craft work, supporting people to develop their own craft enterprises, and getting more people involved. I’d also like to successfully complete my degree, continue with my day job, and keep making things. And continue to visit New York frequently.

All of Katy’s upcycled goodies can be bought via her etsy store.

Thanks Katy!

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