From the depths of drought can come amazingly beautiful creations. Just ask local resident Kelly Mackey.
Her venture Mac_mosaics has quickly grown into a successful business, with over 7,000 social media followers and many happy clients across Eastern Australia.
It might have begun from humble beginnings but now Mac_mosaics has been recognised and nominated in the NSW/ACT Community Achievement Awards in the Prime Super Business Innovation Award category.
Her interest in art spurred her to follow her passions and create extra income in the extremely challenging times of drought.
“Mac_mosaics was born in August 2019,” Kelly explained.
“After struggling through a third straight year of debilitating drought on the farm, I turned my creative passion into a viable and growing business. Reusing colourful second hand crockery, I create bespoke mosaics featuring intricate images of iconic Australian birds and flowers.
“After I’ve sourced my crockery and/or tiles I begin cutting. Every piece is hand cut and shaped. I source a lot of my crockery from op shops. I have lovely people contacting me through social media donating their treasured family crockery also. There are also some great local people who also source me materials.
“Once the work starts taking shape it’s all glued. Then when it has had enough time to dry I then proceed to grout followed by the cleaning.
“If it wasn’t for the drought I would never have got this opportunity. Between feeding sheep and cattle I was looking for a distraction. This led to me creating my first mosaic. Then I discovered crockery as a material to use, I was hooked.
“After successfully selling my initial works on the “Buy from the Bush Business” Facebook page, with an audience of over 325 000 people, my mosaicking business was picked up and featured on the original “Buy from the Bush” Facebook page, which showcased my work to an additional 200 000 people. Exposure on SBS Facebook, and ABC radio followed. As a result, with an overall audience exceeding half a million people, commissions tripled.
“All these sites were created due to the crippling drought and without these sites I would never have gotten the opportunity to have such a vast audience see my work.
“The inspiration for my artwork is to up-cycle and repurpose pre-loved and second hand crockery into new and colourful artworks, worthy of prominent display. I experiment with a range of mosaic techniques, highlighting the unique colour, pattern and texture of the crockery pieces to create unique works depicting Australian birds and flora.
“Specially mounted on waterproof board, with a hanging system, my mosaics can be installed in indoor or outdoor locations. One hundred percent of my sales and marketing are online, using my social media pages: Facebook and Instagram (@mac_mosaics). For an added personal touch and to ensure each work arrives in perfect condition, my partner and I personally deliver each piece, a practice that has allowed me to develop positive connections with my clients.
“Once a work is completed and the purchaser likes it there is a huge sense of achievement.”
In August 2019, Kelly started a Facebook and Instagram page to promote and sell her works. Initially she had 20 followers on each.
“After being featured to hundreds of thousands of people on the Buy from the Bush Facebook Page, and national exposure on SBS and ABC radio, my Instagram page has quickly grown to over 7,300 followers as has my Facebook Page, with over 6,000 subscribers,” she stated.
“The social media following has been amazing. There are so many lovely people who continually offer their encouraging comments. It makes me feel very privileged to have such a beautiful audience.
“Mac_mosaics has grown exponentially since it’s inception in 2019. Beginning with one or two commission pieces each month, since January 2020 I’ve consistently had a steady flow of commissions, with at least 50 plus at any one time.”
In fact, non-commission pieces often sell within 30 minutes of being offered online. Each piece takes around 40 hours to complete depending on the size.
“As a result, the business has grown to be a full time job on top of my farm work. And my full-time farming partner has ended up with a semi-part-time job as well!” Kelly exclaimed.
“The current goal for the business is to complete six works per month with 12 deliveries a year (Australia-wide), a target I am consistently achieving.”
In order to ensure the success of her business, Kelly has made extensive investments including home studio; advertising material including logo design, and stationary; specialty mosaicking tools, equipment and materials; a storage system; a purpose built delivery case; and a new utility vehicle for deliveries.
One of the most unique aspects of Kelly’s business is the fact she and her partner personally deliver each completed piece to the client.
“When I sold my first mosaic, which I was absolutely thrilled about, I researched freight companies, carefully packaged the work up, and shipped it off,” she said.
“Once delivered however, it was discovered that the work was damaged in transit. After discovering what had happened my partner and I drove the 650km to Sydney to pick it up, bring it home and fix it, before personally delivering it back to the purchaser in Sydney.
“Consequently, as part of my business model, I personally deliver each work, to ensure complete customer satisfaction. This is especially important to me, as the purchasers are buying the work from a photograph on my Facebook or Instagram page, rather than from a traditional gallery. The goodwill and gratitude this has created, from my very first customer, has been an important element of my business success.”
Five category winners in the NSW/ACT Community Achievement Awards will be presented with $1,000 cash plus a T$1,000 Bartercard Account and a trophy, the other category winner will receive Television exposure on PRIME7 and a trophy.
All nominees and finalists receive a letter of congratulations and a certificate of encouragement for their nomination.
Finalists will be presented and Winners announced at an Awards Gala Presentation Dinner on Friday, 19 November.