BYRON Bay designer and screenprinter Carla Dawes is a finalist in the Etsy Design Awards, with a trip to New York City up for grabs as the major prize.
Ms Dawes' textile design label, Bubbles at the Head, is among 58 finalists chosen from more than 1000 entries, catapulting her into the spotlight ahead of tens of thousands of Australian crafters and designers who have online shops in the renowned handmade marketplace.
Even more impressive is the fact Carla, 42, finished her SCU visual arts degree only three years ago, making the leap into full-time art after working in catering for close to two decades
"I fell into food when I was in my early 20s, but food, design and art has always been in me," she said. "You have to live what you love."
After finishing her arts degree she opened her studio in Byron Bay's Arts and Industry Estate, with her screenprinted designs wholesaled across the country as well as being sold online.
"I originally started my Etsy story for embroidery designs, then I started adding my fabrics around a year ago," she said.
Her cushions, napkins, teatowels and purse designs are printed in eco-friendly ink on natural fibres with the designs inspired by her overseas travels to destinations such as Paris, California and Spain.
"When I return from travelling, I look at the photos I have taken and draw my designs from them, using the architecture as inspiration," she said.
Each design is drawn by hand using a caligraphy pen in indian ink and then screenprinted by hand on to fabric and sewn by Carla into homewares in her studio.
"Wherever possible I source sustainable and eco-friendly materials to print on," she said.
"My base cloths include a sustainable hemp and cotton blend and 100% linen.
"I use water-based, solvent-free fabric inks that are mixed by me in my studio."
Discovering she was a finalist in the awards alongside designers she had admired for many years was "unexpected and an honour", Carla said.
"I really love the fact that our consumer trend is to choose a lovely handcrafted item over the sweatshop, mass-produced item."
The Etsy Design Awards are being judged by singer and actor, Claire Bowditch, interior stylist, author and blogger, Jason Grant, and Editor-in-Chief, Inside Out magazine, Claire Bradley.
Finalists stand the chance to win prizes designed to promote their creative businesses - with the ultimate prize, the Community Choice Award trip to NYC determined by the public.