13 Aug Dayfeels | Handcrafting a Business
A few years ago, designer and owner of Dayfeels, Amor Coetzee, felt stuck in a creative rut. “I found myself uninspired and stuck behind a computer,” she says. “That’s when I knew that I needed to get back to exploring the creative side of myself.”
Under her Dayfeels brand, she produces a range of products including ceramics, illustrations, prints, and textiles. Beginning her creative career as a fashion photographer, Coetzee soon felt herself being drawn to the world of fine art and today, she runs the Dayfeels brand full time.
One glance at Coetzee’s Instagram and it’s abundantly clear what Dayfeels is about; elegant, understated, and delicate, her simple line drawings are clean and abstract. Muted shades of brown and cream abound. An extension of her illustrations, her ceramic pieces are handmade, textured and experimental, while her range of T-shirts is an exercise in minimalism.
We caught up with her to find out more about Dayfeels and selling her handmade ceramics and minimalist line drawing prints from her online store.
How did Dayfeels start?
I had an opportunity to start a gallery — Commune One — in Cape Town with a friend, which really helped to open my eyes to the world of fine art. After the gallery didn’t work out, I realised I needed to find an outlet for my creativity. While working as a retoucher, where I realised I was spending all of my time in front of a computer, I started doing these simple line drawings and putting them on social media. People eventually started seeing it and liking it. Once I started getting quite a number of orders for my ceramics and drawings, I decided to devote myself to it full time — and so Dayfeels was born.
Where does the name ‘Dayfeels’ come from and what type of products do you make?
When I first started doing these drawings, I did a drawing a day. And it was all about how I was feeling which was often overwhelmed and stressed out. It felt natural to name it for that.
At the moment I produce fine art prints, small ceramics including bowls, cups and vases. Every now and again, I’ll do a limited run of T-shirts.
How would you describe the brand?
I’d describe it as very minimal and calm, gentle and feminine. When I first started doing the drawings and the ceramics, it was to calm myself so with everything I do, I think that comes out. It’s soft, it’s therapeutic.
What inspires your work?
I think a lot of the characters that I draw in my work are very emotional. It’s about embracing vulnerability, staying strong and soft. It’s inspired by what I’m going through. It’s inspired by my own stories and those of my family and friends and strangers, stories that I hear and read.
The more abstract, landscape pieces are very much inspired by nature and the calm and peace that solitude brings.
How would you describe the Dayfeels customer?
I’ve noticed my customers are largely women; women who enjoy a simple, elegant, minimalist aesthetic.
What kind of role has social media played in helping you build your brand?
It’s been amazing. I don’t think that Dayfeels would be Dayfeels without social media. I probably get 80% of my business through social media. It’s really helped businesses like mine cross borders and be seen around the world by so many. Creatives no longer really have to rely on agents or galleries to get our work out there, we can just do it ourselves.
As a creative, was it a challenge getting a handle of the business side of things?
Yes; as a creative person I wasn’t naturally inclined to those aspects. Nobody teaches you how to run your own business. I think you just have to kind of wing it. That being said, it is super important for you to build a solid foundation and that was tricky for me in the beginning. I quickly had to learn how to organise my books and all the boring stuff. Once you get the hang of that though, it’s so freeing. You’re just more free to create when you’re not worrying about that.
What business challenges have you overcome?
There really wasn’t any other way for international clients to pay me without running into some kind of issue. Also credit card payments were always pretty risky and banking transfers carry such exorbitant fees for both sides. PayPal seemed like a natural choice for me and I’ve been using it since I started my website, which was in 2016. It’s immensely useful when it comes to selling to international clientele and has made it so much easier to reach that market.
What advice do you have for other creative business owners?
Be patient. Don’t get complacent. Stay curious, give yourself room to play and to create. Be brave. And most importantly don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Interview by Lindsay Samson
Photos by Amber Rose Cowie
This interview and been edited and condensed.