We recently interviewed Jam and Ali from Worthing’s own hello DODO, who see themselves as “smile spreaders, pun masters and colour enthusiasts!” Read on to learn more about their plans for 2021, their thoughts on Worthing, and their advice for creatives.
Hi Jam and Ali. Please can you tell us a little bit about what you do?
Hello! We are a Worthing based independent fashion label, hand printing our own bright, bold and often “punny” designs on to ethically sourced clothing for kids and adults. We currently screen print and pack our orders all from our little cabin-esque studio at the bottom of our garden. We predominantly sell online through our website and Etsy shop but also stock independent shops both local (Inspired, Found, Neighbourhood Store JuJu!) and around the UK.
What are you currently working on?
Right now we’re in the beginning of a new year planning and scheming phase which is always exciting! We have lots of ideas for brand new hello DODO products that are quite different for us (we’re keeping those under our hat for now…although one of them may be a hat!) We are also working on a brand new collection of apparel called Furry Tails which is a dog themed collection and when they can reopen we’ll be working with our wonderful (VERY dog friendly) Worthing stockist Inspired on a launch for that collection. There’s lots of exciting things to juggle!
How did hello DODO begin, and has your style changed much since then?
We started hello DODO 9 years ago (how time flies!) after teaching ourselves to screen print from home. At the time it didn’t occur to us that we might become a clothing brand, we were just excited to be producing printed posters and greeting cards. We met at university in Exeter 16 years ago where I studied analogue photography and Jam studied graphic design with typography. Although at the time the work we were making was worlds apart, in the end screen printing is sort of the exact merge of the skills that we had.
We loved the idea of working on a project together but it wasn’t until visiting Pick Me Up, what was an annual graphic arts festival at Somerset House in London, that we saw people live screen printing and we became totally inspired. Our early work was very much about neat typography tricks whereas these days our work is a little more illustrative and very much pun based, a few of our original designs still appear in our work today though such as ‘Bear With Me’.
Why is using ethically sourced products important to you?
Working with ethically sourced products was important to us from the beginning but we definitely made some mistakes early on and are constantly looking to improve the environmental impact of our business. A few years ago we switched to using biodegradable cello bags for cards and prints and biodegradable mailing bags – now however we’ve realised even this isn’t necessary and our cards are now sent out inside paper candy bags and our mailing bags are paper too. It’s now very rare for us to use any plastics, even biodegradable ones. We definitely see hello DODO as a work in progress that will always evolve and be improved on. We were planning to also launch a sister company pre-Covid ‘Long Live the DODO’ which will be screen printed vintage clothing and we still very much plan to do this, although possibly not until Spring 2021 now.
What’s the most challenging part of your work?
TIME! There’s never enough of it! As a tiny business of two people, who work from home and also happen to be married, we ARE our business, we literally live and breathe it! We’re always ambitious and pushing ourselves to do more and so there is always a loooooooong to do list. It’s very hard to switch off, even if we go on holiday we usually spend time doodling ideas and chatting about what we want to do next.
What’s your favourite part of what you do?
Coming up with new ideas for sure! It’s such a mix of excitement and fear….will people like it?! There’s something so magical about creating a design, burning it to a silkscreen and then screen printing it for the very first time though. When you lift the screen and see it…that’s magical! I also handle all of our social media and I really, really enjoy Instagram. Sharing our work and behind the scenes and seeing people enjoy our designs and customers wearing our stuff in their own photos is such a thrill, I’ll never get bored of it!
What do you think of the Worthing creative scene?
We lived in Brighton for 5 years before we moved here and were heavily involved in the creative scene there, helping to run the Brighton Etsy Team and taking part in all of the craft fairs, open houses and pop ups. When we moved to Worthing we were definitely not expecting to find a thriving creative scene…but that’s exactly what we found and it really has gained a lot of momentum in the last few years.
We have met so many incredible artists, designers, animators, illustrators, jewellery designers and more and it’s mainly all thanks to taking part in Ashdown Road Artists for Worthing Artists Open Houses and also through Worthing’s creative hub Colonnade House. Not only have we put on our own pop up shops at Colonnade House, we have also been a part of other curated shows there, both listened to and given talks and been to animation and films screenings there.
2019 was a very exciting year for Worthing too with a flurry of brilliant independent shops opening – Inspired, Found Shop & Studio and Heavy Gretel. It also saw the brilliant Lulu from Beyond Brighton – a champion of local Indies – holding regular events and talks. And of course you guys at Worthing & Beyond with your brilliant meet ups that had just got underway! We can’t wait until we can all meet and chat regularly again. The creative scene in Worthing is just going to get more exciting!
Do you have any advice for people who are just starting their own business, or who want to learn how to screenprint?
Just start! It’s very rare that anyone starts a business and they’re the perfect, finished article straight away. If you start then you will evolve and improve a long the way and learn SO MUCH. You might change direction entirely but you won’t know until you try. If you’re interested in screen printing, we taught ourselves from home but we would DEFINITELY recommend taking a course and saving yourselves a lot of mess and stress! We highly recommend the wonderful folk at Handprinted in Bognor, that’s also where we buy most of our inks, screens etc. Other than that, I’d say social media is your best friend! Embrace it and you will find people who are excited about what you’re doing, new creative friends and all sorts of opportunities!