HELLO! Welcome to our first ever blogpost on our shiny new website! We have LOADS of ideas about topics we want to blog about from screen printing to hiking to home renovations to our attempts to be better at cooking vegan food (equally excited and nervous about that last one!) We thought that for our first post we’d do a little Q&A though so we put it to our Instagram followers to ask us some questions! So here we go…
How did you first get started? First products?
Ali: We started hello DODO back in September 2011…well that’s the date we opened our Etsy shop but in actual fact we worked away on our branding and designs for quite a while before showing anybody. We also taught ourselves to screen print in our teeny tiny flat and there was a LOT of trial and error involved!!! At uni (where we met) I studied analogue photography… Jam:…and I studied graphic design.. so when it came to wanting to work on a project together screen printing felt like the right crossover for us both.
Ali:Aaaaand just in time to answer this question I’ve just discovered that apparently we still have a Flickr account so here’s some VERY early DODO photos featuring our first designs. Anyone else miss those Instagram filters?!
Did you both work ‘normal’ jobs before hello DODO took off?
Jam: Yeah! I worked in a graphic design studio and then freelanced from home for quite a few years. I worked on pretty varied projects and mainly specialising in conceptual, ideas based design. I loved a good branding job, well I still do very occasionally. Many projects were quite corporate with tight deadlines and others were super exciting with tight deadlines! Haha!
Ali:I worked in a whole load of different retail jobs. I even did a strange summer working at Legoland in the ride photography department…putting my degree to good use!!! I spent quite a large part of that job doodling design ideas on till rolls… From the very start I knew that DODO would one day grow to support us both so I refused all promotions that came my way and worked on gradually reducing my hours until I could feel comfortable quitting completely. How do you find a work life balance as you both run your business together?
Ali: We find it very very hard. We’re pretty lousy at taking days off as there’s ALWAYS a never-ending to do list and we have to keep orders shipping on time. Our pug Hero is the best thing that ever happened to us as he gets us out the house three times a day!
Jam: Even when we’re in a work frenzy Hero follows us around and looks at us with his little face that is the perfect way to de-stress! We need to book more mini trips as it’s only when we go away that we totally chill out, although we’ll still talk about DODO endlessly because we do bloody love it!
What’s your favourite ring on the hob?
Ali:LOVE THIS QUESTION. Our ring of choice is ALWAYS front right but if it’s pasta/rice/basically boiling anything then that goes back left.
Jam: The other two barely ever get a look in, poor buggers.
Where did the DODO inspiration/name come from?
Ali: We get asked this question a lot! Sooooo basically I was running my own fashion blog that was called “hello (SOMETHING)” - I won’t tell you the exact name incase there’s embarrassing pics still lurking on the internet (though I did get featured on Susie Bubbles blog once OMG claim to fame). I think we were just drawn to DODO because of the mythical feeling of the birds but also the shapes of the letters and the repetition suited that there’s two of us. The only other name contender was “Bob” and that would have been terrible for Google!
Jam:DODO as a word is equally as fun to look at as it is to say out loud! I think we always knew we wanted to make fun, sometimes silly work and DODO just immediately felt right. I’ve also always liked that we specialise in the old school printmaking process of screenprinting and you don’t get much more old school than a DODO!
Any advice for a newbie indie biz owner?
Ali: If you believe in your business then GO FOR IT! Work hard, ask questions, be prepared to learn CONSTANTLY, don’t give up at the hurdles (they’ll be a lot of them), be vulnerable, put yourself OUT THERE and shout it from the rooftops (or at least every social media platform!) It took what felt like FOREVER for DODO to have customers and followers that weren’t friends and family! You have to be the right amount of determined and stubborn to make a business work and grow (but also flexible and open to change!)
Jam:You can do it! Surround yourself with supportive people. Connect with other indie businesses and get out there to networking groups. It can feel lonely or overwhelming running your own business and you can’t know everything but everyone starts that way. Getting out there talking to other people can lead to amazing things for you and your business. I’m the worst networker to be honest! Any time people ask me what I do I usually mumble screen printing and do a strange screen printing-like-dance move! But getting out of the house and talking to like minded people has lead to so many great things like new opportunities, collaborations, friendships and skill swaps.
If you had to print in one colour for the rest of your life what would it be?
Ali: THAT IS SUCH A HARD QUESTION. I’m going with sparkly blue because it amazes me every single time we use it….it’s made of actual MAGIC!
Jam: Neon Pink! Even on a pink jumper it’s like Pow! Yeah I’m pinker than you mate! It’s also my favourite ink to print with. I actually find sparkly inks the hardest to print with so let’s not go with Ali’s choice!
What’s your favourite vegan meal to make yourself?
Ali:Vegan chilli! With extra chillis! It must have grated vegan cheese, a heap of nooch and vegan mayo on top.
Jam:Tricky! I would say a good roast dinner (although it takes ages and I usually create a mountain of washing up when I make one of those!) So actually let’s go with vegan bangers and mash! It’s super easy but I love a good gravy meal! The trick is making the mash with a bit of vegan spread, sometimes cheese and nooch and then frying up some red onion for the top. And kale! It needs some kale too.
Favourite extinct animal besides a dodo?
Ali: We both LOVE dinosaurs! We have a lot around the house including loads of Jam’s original Jurassic Park models from when he was a kid. My favourite is and always has been the Parasaurolophus.
Jam:Yep has to be a dinosaur! Brachiosaurus for me. I love them. They are so cool!
What’s your favourite Pick N Mix sweet?
Ali: I looooooove sweets but when I was a teenager I worked the Pick N Mix counter in Woolworth’s and it was kids licking sweets and putting them back ALL DAY. EEWWW. My favourite sweets are anything crazily sour though!
Jam:Can I have biscuits instead?
Do you plan on offering bigger sizes in the future at all?
YES we hope so! We offer XL in some t-shirts now and plan to do this with some sweatshirts too. The reasons we don’t offer more sizes is because we work from our tiny garden studio which is always bursting with stock! It’s also really hard keeping on track of what sizes and colours we are running low on. This is exactly why we started doing DODO Specials though! When we open our books for DODO Specials you can order tees up to size 5XL and sweatshirts up to 3XL. The best thing about it is you can choose the colours too (depending on what we can source at the time). DODO Specials are exclusive to our newsletter subscribers so make sure you’re signed up to hear when the next one is!
What’s your favourite vegetable?
Ali:POTATO, I’m not sure I’d survive without them.
Jam:Yeah potatoes have to win but cauliflowers are cool too.
Hero: Mmmmm carrots please.
What’s your favourite colour combination?
Ali: ANOTHER HARD ONE. Currently it’s our baby blue ink on pale pink sweatshirts.
Jam: Neon pink on pale pink was such a Eureka moment when we first printed it. I still love that combo.
Will you do more gull puns? I love gulls!
Ali: Welllllllll we do actually have a couple up our sleeve…. Should we release them?!
How do you come up with your amazing designs?
(I promise this was a genuine question!!!)
Ali: Coming up with design ideas is our favourite, we’re literally doing it EVERY DAY. When we’re cooking, watching TV, walking Hero on the beach, in the shower, in a cafe, sat on the sofa drinking tea… I mean, don’t get me wrong, most of the ideas are very questionable…probably 20% actually make the grade to become a product!
Jam: I’d say we’re actually addicted to coming up with new puns and playful ideas. Many have come from simply mishearing a word or spelling something badly. I actually did my final year dissertation at university on ‘where do ideas come from?’ There wasn’t a definitive answer at the end sadly ha!
How do you structure your working day?
Ali: We’re not really super early morning people - I start the day with Instagram at about 8am. After that we both take Hero for a walk and chat about what we need to do that day. Usually it’s a mixture of printing, heat curing, sewing labels and packing orders. Even though we both work from home we usually have separate tasks to do so don’t really chat that much until we break for lunch and walk Hero again.
Jam: I usually head straight to the studio to screen print some orders in the morning whilst Ali is social media-ing. There’s always a long print list! Most days end with a post office trip (luckily it’s less than a minutes walk away!)
Ali: We TRY to finish work by 6pm if possible. Then it’s another dog walk, sometimes to the beach if it’s nice before cooking dinner. If it’s Christmas season then there’s a lot more running around and frantically pulling our hair out involved!!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Ali: Haha questions like this scare us!! We would love to still be enjoying running hello DODO as a family and currently the DREAM would be to grow big enough to have a second larger studio space to work from that we could also occasionally open up for pop up events and studio sales. AND HAVE THEMED COCKTAIL PARTIES THERE. Also at the same time we’d have a DODO van so we could do mini pop ups all over the UK, maybe some festivals?? Oooooooh my imagination is getting carried away now….
Jam: Having fun, pushing ourselves and working as efficiently as possible. Making lots of newproducts (caps would be awesome!) and exploring different clothing cuts and styles. I’d also love to have finished our colourful home, studio and garden renovations. As we live and work in the same space it’s so important to make it the place we love to spend all our time.
We hope you enjoyed that little Q&A! If you have any other burning questions you’d like us to answer please feel free to leave a comment or shoot us a message. THANK YOU FOR READING!