Can I ask you a questions?: Red Parka Designs (plus a fabulous giveaway)

Today I want you to meet someone who has been hanging out in my sidebar for quite sometime. This is Jennifer from Red Parka Designs. She's an illustrator and adventurer who did something I'm very familiar with. She left the professional secure grown up work force world behind to follow her dream. So pull up a chair and learn more about her, her work and her pozible campaign. Also don't forget to check out her Etsy shop.  

Tell us about yourself, your blog and, your shop.

I'm a 35 year old illustrator from the island of Tasmania, Australia. I'm married to a beautiful, creative and slightly insane man and we have a dog called Benny. The three of us live in Hobart, the little capital of Tasmania, with a big mountain on one side and the ocean on the other. It's a beautiful spot, and although sometimes we feel a little isolated, it's my home and where my heart and soul belong.
My business is called Red Parka and the main thing I do is draw. I then turn my drawings into various products, from prints and greeting cards to magnets and jewellery. I sell my work on Etsy and at local markets and bigger design events on the Mainland (that's what us Tasmanians call Australia!). A big part of my work is also my blog. Red Parka Diaries is a blog about illustration, design and living a creative, adventurous, sustainable, independent and remarkable life. It's a place for me to share what drives me and my inspirations,  the work of other creative entrepreneurs all over the world, as well as the odd recipe, travel story, DIY and tips for living well. I'm a freedom addict and love sharing and exploring ideas of living peacefully and independently.

I got to know, tell me about the name, Red Parka Diaries.

I called my business Red Parka Designs because I have a Red Parka that I love and wear pretty much every day. It was like my trademark before I even knew I needed a trademark! I tried so many names for the business but when I thought of Red Parka it was just right. I actually wrote a blog post about it here. As for the blog, well Red Parka Designs seemed too limiting because I wanted to write about all sorts of other things, not just my work. And thus Red Parka Diaries fit the bill of being well branded for my business yet implying a far more personal perspective. Perhaps I have over thought it! I do have a tendency to do that ;)

There is a wonderful post on your blog about your journey to becoming an illustrator, tell us a little bit about that journey.

The short version is that it was a complete accident. I always loved drawing but honestly never thought I was good enough to do it professionally. But I started drawing a bit more seriously when I was unemployed and was encouraged by a friend to try them at a craft market. To my great surprise people loved my work and it really just evolved from there. Since I've taken drawing seriously I have learned so much and I think my work has significantly improved. Those early ones I sold seem so amateurish now but I guess the people who bought them liked it and I'm so glad they did because it led me to this amazing journey I'm on now!

You're the proprietor of your own Etsy shop. How did that come about? Was it always part of your plan to sell your work or did it just happen?

No, it was never the plan. In fact, until recently I never had a plan outside of wanting to run my own business doing something I enjoyed. I guess that desire led me to try selling at markets and after some success doing that I decided to start an Etsy shop to have greater reach. The fun thing about Etsy is it's so big that people from all over the world can find you. Most of my Etsy orders come from America or Europe, which is super exciting for me all the way down here in Tasmania!

If an etsy newbie came up to you asking advice about starting their own shop and you only have a few minutes to give your best tip, what would you tell them?

Be patient and be persistent. It takes time and stamina to make Etsy work but if you're product is good and you're committed it can work. You need to be patient during the time when no-one notices your shop and persistent to keep posting, keep improving your photos and descriptions, to keep expanding your network. Learn to smile through the grind and you'll reap the rewards!

Like me you do freelance work, what's the biggest challenge of freelancing? Conversely, what's the biggest reward of freelancing?

The biggest challenge is finding work and the biggest reward is being in charge of your own time when you do get work. I hated the 9 - 5 routine when I used to do it, with a passion! Believing that I will never have to do that again makes my world so much brighter. But freelance work can be hard to find and is increasingly competitive I think. Thank goodness Red Parka is growing and making more money these days so if weeks go by without freelance work I don't need to panic! It can be very stressful when you don't know when your next pay check will come in.

I know you've got a pozible project that is looking for funding right now. What lead you to finally deciding to do your first illustrated book?

I've wanted to do a book for so long now but it always seemed like I wasn't ready, or it was too bug, or would cost too much..... I had a number of excuses! But I finally realised I just had to do it. People love collective nouns and I have had literally 100s, if not 1000s, of conversations with people about them. I realised there was definitely an audience for this kind of book so it was time for me to get my butt into gear and create it! 

Doing the Pozible campaign has been amazing for two reasons. Well, more than two, but two main ones! Firstly, by starting the project and giving myself a deadline, the book in my head became a reality. Now people have committed money to it I have to do it! There are no more excuses!! So that's good..... I may be awake for a week straight with a caffeine drip before my print deadline but that's ok. It'll happen! Secondly, it's been amazing to see people come out and show me their support! I feel so encouraged and so determined to create something wonderful with this book. I just can't wait til it's finished and I can package them up and send copies of my books to all the people all over the world who have supported me. Most of my supporters are Australian as you would expect, but I have people from America, Canada, Japan, Poland, New Zealand, the UK, Holland and more. It's just so fun and I feel incredibly honoured. It's been an amazing experience. Now I just have to finish the book!!

*Note* Her Pozible campaign ends July 23 you can check it out here

The book is about collective nouns and the awesomeness of the English language. So tell me, what's your favourite thing about grammar? 

Oh goodness, I don't know! I love linguistics in general - quirks of languages fascinate me, like learning some languages have words that don't exist in English (I read that German has a specific work for feeling lost in the woods - is that true??). Collective nouns in one of those quirks. I studied Japanese at university and love that in Japanese you use difference words for counting depending on what you are counting. Like people or flat things or cylindrical things.... it seems so crazy! But then so do collective nouns, not to mention all the other crazy stuff in the English language. 

I guess it is also important to note that I used to work as an editor and proofreader, so I am very sensitive to poor grammar and it drives me nuts! I can't bring myself to write 'lol' even in a text message! So perhaps it's just an appreciation for good expression that makes me love grammar

You say in your pozible campaign that any leftover fund you'll invest that in your next book? Any ideas what that will be about? Adventures in Adjectives perhaps?

I have so many ideas! I'd like to make animal alphabet and counting books for children, because I love drawing animals (clearly!) and kids seem to respond well to my drawings. Also, my husband, who is a writer, is working on a children's book that I will illustrate, but it's all under wraps for now. But Adventures in Adjective is a good idea!! You may have started something now......

One last question, if you could have any career other than the one you have right now, what would it be?

I wouldn't. It took me a long time to realise it but I am doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life and I am so excited for what will come next as I grow as an illustrator. Who knows what the future hold though - anything could happen and I'm open to that. Life is an adventure!

*Giveaway Alert!!!*

Jennifer has kindly offered an original print called Implausibility of platypuses and a 6 pack of her original greeting cards to one lucky winner! YAY. It's open worldwide so don't fret international friends, you can enter too.  Just follow the instructions below and away you go! The giveaway closes July 23rd!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Not that long ago, we won some prints amongst other items from Red Parka Designs. The quality was amazing, her art is stunning.


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