This month we had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Dee Monti at her pretty studio in Hackney Wick. We found out all about Dee's unique handmade botanical homeware brand MONTI, how it all began and what her aspirations are for the future of her young and exciting brand.
Can you tell us about yourself and your handmade botanical glass brand MONTI?
I am a self-taught glass designer and founder of botanical homeware brand MONTI. I make and design everything by hand in my studio in Hackney Wick. Alongside my current collection of mix 'n' match homewares I work closely with clients to create one off pieces and unique botanical displays. I have always been involved in creative work in some way since school, throughout university and my 20's so it felt natural to set up my own creative business and work for myself.
Where does your passion for working with glass come from?
When I launched MONTI I had only been working with glass for about 4 months so I was still learning and growing and still am now. I quit my job in London with no idea of what I was going to do so spent a few weeks toying with the idea of setting up a business but wasn't sure what it was I wanted to make or sell. I came across a 70's plant and terrarium magazine in a charity shop and was curious how they were made and before I knew it I had spent months watching YouTube videos and had set up a small glass studio in my Mum's spare room (which I'm sure she loved!). After about four months I felt I had perfected my technique, I moved back to London to set up my second studio (a desk at the end of my bed) and launched MONTI in May 2015 with a simple collection of botanical glassware. I have a creative background working in set design for TV, music and fashion whilst doing a multimedia degree at university so I knew I would never be happy in a 9-to-5 corporate job.
What process do you go through when creating new pieces? Where do you look for inspiration?
I make things I would like to buy myself and have in my own home. One of my favourite aspects of running a creative business is working with clients and customers on bespoke, custom pieces. Whether it be for a shop, personalised gift, wedding-table display or a simple terrarium. It's a simple process of pencil to paper sketching until we're happy with the end result. It may take a few tries to make the final piece using glass as changes are often made to the sizing, colours, etc.
How would you describe your work?
Right now, my work is minimal, Scandi-style with a botanical edge but I am currently making plans to branch into new styles, materials and a new direction.
What gave you the courage to start up your own business and what advice would you give to those thinking about doing the same?
I found that I never really loved working for other people as I felt the effort and time I was putting into their business I could very easily be applying to a business of my own. I set MONTI up when I was 26 and knew if I didn't do it then I would never do it. Research and planning is really important. I didn't have a business plan per say when I set up MONTI but I had a plan in mind for the direction I wanted to take MONTI with a strong vision for the branding and as much market research as possible. It is important to set realistic goals and don't risk overwhelming yourself by trying to do everything at once, which I did and had to take a step back and re-group before moving forward.
What are your future plans for developing your brand and business?
I didn't intend MONTI to be solely a glassware brand so I'm working on taking MONTI into a new direction so I can expand and develop my product range, but it can be hard to find the time to expand whilst working on current projects! So keep your eyes peeled...
What does a typical working day look like for you?
I try to be as chill as possible before starting my working day so I tend to get up really early so I can take an extra 20-30 minutes of 'me time', normally with a cuppa and some peanut- butter toast, before leaving my flat. This has become really important to me as it sets a tone for the rest of the day especially if I feel stressed about a particular job or workload. Every day is slightly different. Once at the studio I normally have a quick coffee and chit chat with my studio pals, make a list of everything I want to and need to do that day. I always over load my to do lists so have to re-write these several times! I normally start by replying to emails, social media posts and messages and then start to make my way through the day's
online orders. I like to get at least a minimum of nine pieces made a day to then package and post the following day before starting the same process again. I prefer not to solder every day so I might have an admin day every now and then just to break it up a bit.
What are your go-to wardrobe staples?
In general, I live to be comfortable so on a non-work day jeans, probably some leopard print, a slouchy tee and always some Kat Slater hoops and lippy! In the studio I would normally wear some old Nikes, a big t-shirt or jumper and some comfy jeans or tracksuit trousers â€“ it can get pretty messy so not too glam in the studio! I basically try to be as comfy as possible as I can be at my desk for 12 hours a day. I also wear a lot of rings and simple gold chains... mostly with my name or initials on.
If I wasn't running MONTI... I would open a coffee shop or work in set design, maybe something in the film industry which I did in my early twenties (TEN years ago).
The best thing about my job... Creative freedom and working to my own schedule.
My ideal breakfast... Coffee and pastries with a side of fruit salad.
A holiday destination I love... Last October me and my sis hired a little red Smart car and drove into the mountains in Catalonia and it was perfect. No tourists in sight, regular local cava festivals and lot of meat and cheese. Mexico is also great, anywhere with sunshine to be honest!
My day isn't complete until... I have a glass of wine and a pack of biscuits (or peppermint tea dependingon what kind of day I've had!)
Words to live by... Everything is temporary.
My favourite London hangout... Clissold Park in the summer with a couple of cold ones.
Printed Blouse >
Linen Trousers >
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Jersey T-shirt >