Karli Dendy of DesignosaurYEAH & YEAHlaser

Brighton is renowned for its artists and creative scene, amongst the many makers a super talented duo stand out. Karli and Jacques run two businesses, the jewellery brand “DesignosaurYEAH” and a mighty fine laser cutting service “YEAHlaser“.

I first met the pair back in April 2012 at a Craftaganza, they were young, fresh faced and full of energy having just launched their first business Designosaur. Over the years they have grown along with their business, their designs keep that super bright and fun spark running throughout them.

Besides my personal RockCakes pieces (often the things that went a bit wrong) the most jewellery that I own is by Designosaur, once you pop you really cant stop – their work is special and addictive.

Karli is also known to many in this little city as the super active captain of the Brighton Etsy team, she does a sterling job having grown the team members into the thousands.

I asked Karli a few questions about her work and whether she prefers yours truly or ilikeCATS – you’ll have to read on to find out….!

I know you pretty well so I can ask you some awkward questions for my blog…. (They’re not really that awkward!)

What set the teenage Karli off on a creative path?
I took Art, IT, Graphic Products and Geography as my options at GCSE, I had to do Art after school because it didn’t fit into my timetable but I REALLY wanted to do it, so that didn’t matter. I aced all of them, and then I was the only person that wanted to take Product Design at A Level… so I ended up with  one-to-one tuition for Product Design.
My family are creative, but I didn’t know anybody with a job in the creative industry and my parents and teachers talked a lot about the “starving artist” and if you get an art degree you’ll probably just become an art teacher (not the path I wanted to take). So I followed my dreams and pursued a degree and then career in design.

Taking it back to the teenage thing, I always had an interest in dressing…erm… interestingly? (less so now, but if i leave Brighton I suddenly realise how wearing colour isn’t normal) and I was always gluing and sticking. I also love music and have collected art since I was young and before it was cool to have a gallery wall.

Did you always want your own business?
Nope, I wanted to work for IKEA. That was my original dream, and then at university I learnt about IDEO and I wanted to work there (they have similar workplace vibes). Having our own business came from not being able to get those big design jobs. Also my degree is a Product Design BSc, and we didn’t really learn about designing stuff for it’s beauty. You’re pretty much told that if it’s not user-focused and practical then it doesn’t need to exist. So designing jewellery is the opposite of everything we’d had drilled into us at university…

Why jewellery?
I’ve collected it for a long time, I got my first piece of Tatty Devine for my 18th birthday, 6 years before we’d ever thought about designing our own acrylic jewellery. It was something we were interested in and passionate about, and it just sort of spiralled from that?!

You’re clearly a workaholic with two businesses and leading the uk’s largest Etsy team – how do you manage your time?
WELL, I think now, better. We started in 2012, I was working a retail job in the daytime, and in a pub in the evening. Literally starting work at 10am finishing one job at 6pm and then running to start my next shift supposedly at 6pm until somewhere between 1am – 4am. I rarely had a day off, and in between that time (and whilst I was at those jobs – sorry ex-bosses) I was on Etsy; listing items, replying to convos and sending cutting lists to Jacques. I was tired, really tired and I wasn’t getting to see my friends and family.Now I have one job…ish… OK i have two businesses but both of them are run from one place and Jacques and I are full timing it! I enjoy working, but I had to put more boundaries in place so that I work less. Brighton Etsy Team stuff doesn’t count as work though, so I can do that whenever. And one of the best things about running your own business is if it’s sunny, we take the day off or we take an extended lunch break or we go on holiday for 3 weeks. And when it’s winter and it’s grim and there’s nothing else to do we knuckle down. I don’t agree to squeezing yourself into a 9-5pm shaped hole; events happen at weekends, you might run a sale to catch the most customers that starts at 6pm, but however you’re doing it, remember it’s YOU making you you do it, nobody else.

What sacrifices have you made for your work?
Hmmm. I’d like to say none. I do my very best to only do things that work for us. There’s the things all small business owners do, like not break up for Christmas early because you’ll lose sales, but apart from that we try really hard not to sacfice the fun stuff!

What inspires and makes your heart beat faster?
Pop Art, seeing IRL artworks by the greats (Warhol, Lichtenstein etc) always makes me go WOAHHHHH. Also seeing anything new, be it new places we’ve travelled to or new clothes by Lazy Oaf 😉 Actually travelling always makes me excited.

What are you most grateful for within your work?
Being able to build the biggest and best jewellery collection you ever did see?

Share one future aspiration…
​Hmmm, I have them, I just don’t want to jinx them 😉 ​

Felt tips or paint brushes?
Felt tips

Audio or Video?

Digital or Print?

80’s or 90’s?
Nineties (because the music is better)

Rings or necklaces?
SO HARD. Rings, no necklaces, no rings, no I can’t chose!

RockCakes or ilikeCATS? 😉
I Like CATS deffo 😉

You can get the world to listen to one tune – what would it be…?
Lean On by Major Lazer feat MO (although I’m sure the world has already heard it)

Thank you Karli for being fucking awesome 🙂

You’re absolutely-fucking-welcome!
Shop Designosaur on Etsy
Follow Designosaur on insta
Get your laser cutting done at YEAHlaser
And follow YEAHlaser on insta

Next up will be Becky Kennedy of Becky, Queen of Frocks….

Posted in: Maker interviews

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