Have you taken part in an Instagram challenge? I’d seen the #marchmeetthemaker hashtag on Instagram and thought it was an amazing way to meet other creatives. But I also wanted to find out more about the lady behind it so I Googled, found out it was Joanne Hawker, emailed her and she was SOOO sweet as to agree to be interviewed for my blog! 🙂
PS Besides #marchmeetthemaker, she is also behind the cutest illustrations I’ve seen. perfect for a lovely springtime gift! 🙂 Here’s a link to her Etsy store and her NOTHS store 🙂
The lovely Joanne at her desk
Had you taken part in other IG challenges prior to #marchmeetthemaker? If no, why not and if yes, which ones and how did you find them?
Yes, I’d taken part in one by Jess Van Den from creative and thrive some years ago and absolutely loved it. There was a nice sense of community then too. I found it hard to keep up because I wasn’t very organised then but still really enjoyed it.
 
Yes, I know what you mean. I didn’t do much planning and only managed to post 3x during #marchmeetthemaker 2017 🙁 but I’ve learnt my lesson for next year now 🙂 A big part of #marchmeetthemaker, as you’ve mentioned, is the community. You said you ran in by your 2 best small business friends when you first thought of the idea- who are these friends and how did you meet them?
Those two lovely ladies are Becka, from Becka Griffin Illustration @Beckagriffin and Tanya, from Tanya Garfield Jewellery @Tanyagjewellery. I met them through Notonthehighstreet.com as we are all sellers on there. We made a group conversation over a random discussion we were having a couple years ago and haven’t stopped talking since! We speak every day, which is really lovely and I send them EVERYTHING before it goes live. They must be getting sick of me by now 😉
 
Some of the 2017 challenges.
That sounds nice! (I’m sure they’re not!) I actually made 1 friend myself through #marchmeetthemaker despite only taking part thrice- I did like a lot of other crafters’ photos though, so that helped 🙂 It’s always nice to build a community around what you love to do! Have you made other good friends through #marchmeetthemaker? Tell us about them 🙂 
Yes! Last year I discovered the lovely Jo from @adventuresandteaparties as I completely fell in love with her feed. Little did I know she was actually local! I set up my Etsy team, she joined, and now I’ve promoted her to team leader! She’s a great, positive person, full of encouragement and is always smiling. I was also lucky enough to meet the lovely Charlie from @Stitchsperation too and she lives even closer! Just a couple villages away in fact. She creates amazing, modern cross stitch kits and like Jo, is an incredibly supportive, bright, positive person. We’ve got another little group conversation going and I have a feeling this is going to be going for some time. Thank you #Marchmeetthemarker! <3 
 
What a small world! I follow Jo on Instagram too. Yes she is really lovely!
That is so sweet that people have sent you gifts through this challenge! What’s been you fave? Do you have a favourite #marchmeetthemaker post? (both one of yours and one of someone else’s) 
The lovely @chichimoi_uk sent me a mug with a knitted cosy on it! It was so sweet! As you’ll have guessed from my ‘can’t live without’ post, tea is very important in this household! I don’t actually have a favourite post. I see so many incredible photos, inspiring stories and great work that it’s impossible to just have one.
 
I love tea too 🙂 I’m actually drinking a cup of tie guan yin as I work on this post 🙂 As a blogger, I know HOW HARD it is to get things going online or on social media so 24,700 posts in the first year of the challenge is amazing. Who was the first stranger to take part in this challenge (so not a friend) and what did she post about? 
Honestly? I have no idea! The hash tag now has over 100,000 posts and there’s no way I’m going to scroll all the way back to the start. I think my phone might have a mini break down haha!
 
How did you spread the word about #marchmeetthemaker last year? 
I just randomly posted it one day and also told friends. They then kindly reposted it for me on their social media. And then people I didn’t know started to repost it and it went from there really. The power of the repost is crazy. You can reach an amazing amount of people in such little time.
Here’s where all the magic happens behind the scenes – I love how you’ve cleverly used the skylight for your photo studio!!!
What other crafts do you do besides illustration? You mentioned your Mom getting you pens that could draw in the bath as a kid- those sounds fascinating?!
Those pens were amazing! Although she wasn’t too happy when I drew all over the wallpaper with them too. I don’t really have time for any other crafts to be honest. I’ve got a slab of air-dry clay waiting to be played with but I haven’t got very far with that! I’ve got a sewing machine too and love running up the odd thing here and there but it’s feeling sorry for itself at the moment (I think it needs a clean but have no idea how to do that!)
 
One of my favourite designs by Joanne- stop by her NOTHS page to check her work out!
 
Oooh I’ve been working with air dry clay lately too! I made a cactus photo holder with it! 🙂 A lot of your illustration is inspired by your rural surrounding and coast walks- sounds like a lovely job you have! 🙂 Have you ever stayed in the city? What would be the top countryside break in the UK you’d recommend?
I visit London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham every now and then. I used to live in Cardiff whilst I was studying at university actually! Top countryside break in the UK without a doubt is Cornwall. Anywhere in Cornwall, but, preferably close to the beach. One day I hope to relocate there. It’s my most favouriteplace in the UK
 
But I love this one too! (She’s also on Etsy!)
I’ve always wanted to go to Cornwall! There are so many places for craftaholics there! I was also at Cardiff for their annual Made by Hand fair 2 years back 🙂
How often do you release new illustra tion designs? What is your bestseller?
Not as often as I like is the answer to that! I try to make time to draw more but other things always get in the way. Best sellers are entirely dependant on what time of the year it is. Near to Christmas I sell lots of wrapping paper for example but in summer I sell lots of mirrors. I quite like it varied otherwise I’d get very bored very quickly!
 
Last but not least, we’d love 3 tips from you on how to “go viral” with an IG challenge & build an IG community 🙂
Well that’s a tough one because I don’t actually know the answer to that as I don’t think you can plan to go viral, it just happens. The Internet is a funny place and is full of surprises. #Marchmeetthemaker was a very big but happy surprise in how quickly it grew. So all I’ve got are general tips I’m afraid!
       Be yourself. There is no point in pretending to be something you’re not.
       Don’t like people for the sake of getting likes in return. Talk to people and make genuine connections. Those are the connections that help to make friendships and small communities.
       Research your hash tags! They’re very important.

Written by Zen

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