Fleur Woods: Instagram Changed My Business
Nestled in the ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ artisan village of Upper Moutere, Fleur Woods is making beautiful things. Using stitch to make marks on painted organic linen, Fleur shares her love of the intricate nature of flora. “I guess you could say my roots are in folk craft – which terrifies the art circles, because it’s not sophisticated enough!”
Letting go of the desire to be part of those art circles, and letting go of ego, Fleur has concentrated on developing her own creativity, and different ways to share it with the world.
Talking about the understated kiwi character and our inclination to talk down about our talents and achievements, of herself Fleur admits, “I was very self-deprecating for a long time. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t where I wanted to be as an artist, or what was in my mind’s eye hadn’t been realised yet.” Finally realising that people were asking about her art with genuine interest, and that a self-deprecating response wasn’t helpful to her or respectful to the customer, she says, “At some point you just have to put your big girl knickers on and get over it. I’ve had to learn to say thank you and be much more gracious.”
Committing to a bricks and mortar gallery space in The Old Post Office store in Upper Moutere has really helped this journey, because she has had to learn how to talk to people in a face to face environment about her art. “Like any business – if you don’t talk about it, and don’t promote it, how does anyone find out about it?” The gallery has been open for two years now, and is just starting to become viable for Fleur. “It’s hard sometimes to pay the rent, but it’s authentic, and people connect because the story is strong. It’s a dream come true.”
Under the guidance and leadership of the building owner Joanne Costa, (who Fleur describes as a guardian angel), The Old Post Office Store provides a home not only to Fleur’s brand, Woods & Co, but also to Moutere Gold Preserves, Skunk & Robot Design Studio, and Bush Botannica. All mums, the women take turns at staffing the shop-front, which Fleur says leaves plenty of time to create.
“Making the work is a full time job. Selling the work is another full time job. I’ve had really good support, but up until now, I haven’t been that productive about getting my work out there.”
That has all changed for Fleur now, whose recent list of public triumphs include a feature in Australian design magazine Inside Out, collaboration with disposable coffee cup manufacturer Bio Cup on their art series throughout New Zealand and Australia, as well as regular interior inspiration features in Stuff’s ‘Homed’ section. Fleur credits the recent media attention entirely to Instagram. “Instagram has changed my business. I’m able to connect with an audience that don’t come to the Moutere, as well as connect with different markets and media.”
For Fleur, who in the past has struggled with talking about and promoting her art, Instagram has been the perfect channel for sharing her art with the world. “It’s a safe way to say, ‘I just made this beautiful thing and I’m really happy to share it with you.’ You can’t just sit there and wait for the world to come to you.”
Her recent collaboration with Inside Out magazine, (sparked via Instagram) involved Fleur creating a piece especially for their mother’s day shoot. From this feature, she now has representation in Australia, and to Fleur it feels like the opportunities are endless. “It’s such a different marketplace in Australia. It’s so much bigger, they’re much more confident and celebratory, and they’re buying pieces wholesale.”
For a professional Instagram presence, Fleur says that getting the right images is essential. To achieve this, Fleur spent time with a photographer friend learning how to take great photographs of her work. She has also used Instagram to connect with other creatives around the globe and seek advice about how to promote and sell her art via Instagram.
Follow Fleur on Instagram: @fleurwoodsart