Agmy by Mary

As a first collection, I think Mary has hit the ball out of the park! With a strong ethos and back-bone, as well as strong AF, bold and original products, Agmy is a really exciting small business to watch.

Satisfying colour combinations alongside graphic shapes makes these oversized simple handwoven sun hats a summer staple that are intended to last year in and year out. I love that Mary, owner and mind behind Agmy, envisions these hats to one day be sitting in a curated and well loved vintage collection. Imagining a future vintage collector finding one of these hat gems whilst rummaging and being so overjoyed is such a nice vision to have about your designs. These really are a timeless piece for your wardrobe.

As well as being a well designed product, Agmy is a considerate brand. Based on community, small runs, recycled/repurposed textile and longevity. This isn’t about creating trend driven throw away items, but about nurturing relationships, celebrating craft and creating an item to be loved and cherished.

Mary has answered the usual 5 questions so well, please read on to find out about her awesome brand-

1.Tell us about yourself and your brand.

So, I’m Mary and I live in Manchester with my husband, toddler and newborn. Not forgetting my bouncy cocker spaniel, life is quite busy right now!
I’ve been a lover of all things fashion & craft for as long as I can remember. I’ve been in the fashion industry for around 15 years (god, where does the time go?!) working within design, buying and trend forecasting, in both the UK and in Hong Kong.
After years of seeing how fast fashion brands were adding to the destruction of the planet I felt really strongly about wanting to be part of the positive change needed. In recent years I started to focus on working with smaller, slower and more sustainably driven brands. 
During this time I was lucky enough to take trips to South America to work with artisan knitters. It was a much happier way of working, more collaborative and playful. I felt really passionate about wanting to pursue my own ideas in this way and not just as a freelance designer for other brands. This is when agmy was born.
So, Agmy makes colourful artisanal accessories for creative souls who get pure joy from finding something special. I want to create accessories that are made for life. Focusing on less waste and more love!
I want to nurture relationships with makers. Those who are passionate to keep their craft and cultural heritage alive through textile art. Everything is made by hand and we only use deadstock yarns, so as to minimise environmental impact. This also helps to keep everything limited. I like to think that one day they will be part of a beautifully curated vintage collection.
I believe in investing in what you love and when you’re finished passing it on to be loved again. My1st collections of hats really are designed to last a lifetime!

I of course want to diversify our accessories collection. Hopefully this is just the start!

2.What are your Inspirations?

On my mood board right now I’ve been inspired by textile & fibre artists, such as Rachel Hayes and Sheila Hicks. Along with fine artist & photographer Thomas Jackson.
I have a huge love and inspiration that comes from the Gee’s Bend Quilt group. All links below…

https://www.jacksonfineart.com/artists/thomas-jackson/

http://www.rachelbhayes.com

https://www.sheilahicks.com

https://www.soulsgrowndeep.org/gees-bend-quiltmakers


I also love spotting colour palettes in nature. Finding beauty in the everyday.

3.Lets chat about social media- a hindrance or help?

It depends what day you ask me! As it’s just me in the UK with a young family and freelance commitments I can often find it hard to make the time. I sometimes feel I’m strongly pushed by expectations to show up and not my natural creative process.
I know it’s important to grow brand awareness and think it’s a great tool to  make new connections.
I feel I need to embrace sharing more of my story within the brand. 
I never wanted the brand to be about me, but I think I might have to start showing up a little more. Even if the reality isn’t very glossy! I know that’s what I like, more of a real connection.
When I do take time to talk to small brand owners, creatives it’s the transparency and the real everyday updates that I enjoy. So that’s my next challenge. I think if I give more I may find it more fulfilling.

I do find the thought of video a bit stressful though, the planning etc, but I guess you have to evolve to provide what people want, whilst finding the balance for yourself. I think it’s always going to be a bit of a rollercoaster of a relationship! 

 4.Where would you like your business to be in a few years and do you have any advice?

To continue to expand the collection. Support the artisans with more work. (like everyone this year has been tough).
Also, to collaborate more with other smaller businesses or creatives. For me relationships are what it’s all about. I’m a sociable person so having more connections / collaborations would be a ace. I’d love the brand to be recognisable, for someone to see one of the products and know it’s agmy…. not too much to ask i hope!
As for advice.. just do it! There is never the perfect time. Also invest in yourself. Do the courses, join the communities, because confidence and support is everything.

  5.Who are your favourite small businesses or creatives doing interesting things?

Wow, so many! I’m a real fan of content creator Pernille Rosenkilde. Everything she shares makes me smile. She has fun, and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She basically radiates joy with how she dresses, always with the best vintage finds, along with supporting craft and independent businesses. Also she makes her own rules when it comes to styling. I’ve seen she has just launched a small brand called Per so i’m excited to see how that evolves.

A few that I enjoy on insta right now…
@Frigg – She shares vintage, upcycled and handmade. Really like how much she loves all her finds and makes. She also has fun with reels.

@amorastitch – She makes the most intricate charms with glass beads. Again, she adds happiness to my feed.

@lydiabolton – Reuses unwanted textiles. Just launched a collection of summer shirts, perfect summer picnic vibe. Think she has the balance right on sharing her brand and behind the scenes. 

Julia Elsas

There are those times when you see something on the internet and instantly fall head over heels in love, well…that happened with me and Julia’s awesome ceramic work. With bold colours and imperfect but perfectly formed designs Julia’s ceramic collections are aesthetic forces to be reckoned with.

As Julia mentions below she reacted to a hole in the market for functional artful products and she was so so right. You know what is hard to find? GOOD WALL HOOKS!!! These wonderful handmade hooks fill that void that is usually just filled with horrible minimalist metal or weird pine wall hooks perfectly.

Merging her artistic crafts perfectly, whether it’s her installation art or ceramic lines; each are a clear extension of herself, her passions and inspirations. As Julia discusses below, she wants these crafts (and the crafting/ small business world) to create a sustainable and community driven world, imagining a more localised economy where independent creators and businesses are supported (which is something, fingers crossed, I have seen coming into fruition over the past few months.)

Please read on, Julia has given one of my favourite and most insightful bunch of answers to the five questions!

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

Hello! My name is Julia Elsas. I am a visual artist and currently live in Brooklyn, NY. I work with ceramics, printmaking, installation and performance. My first NY solo show is open now until November 28th at Cooler Gallery in Brooklyn. I also have a line of ceramic goods which include wall hooks, menorahs, necklaces and vases. The ceramic products I make either started as small sculptural elements in larger installations, or they were created as functional artful objects that I couldn’t find elsewhere. The first pieces I officially released into the world as ceramic ‘products’ outside of my visual art were ceramic necklaces. Over time I began making and selling ceramic wall hooksmenorahs, and tube vases. I initially marketed my ceramic product line under a different name, but last year I switched back to releasing everything under my name. I hope my art can lead people to the smaller objects for sale and visa versa. 

  1. What are your Inspirations?

My list of inspirations is endless. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and spent summers driving around the southeastern part of the United States visiting “folk artists” like Howard FinsterMose Toliver and places like Ave Maria Grotto.  My mom gave me a copy of Amiri Baraka’s “Hunting is not the Heads on the Wall” (published in 1964 when he went by Le Roi Jones) when I was in high school, and it profoundly affected my ideas about art and life and how, for many/most non-western cultures, the two are completely intertwined and inseparable. Other inspirations: Nina Simone; Hilma af Klint; Gees Bend quilts; Shaker Gift Drawings; Mexican textiles by Josefa Ibarra; Sophie Calle; The Discipline of Do Easy, by William S. Burroughs and Gus van Sant; and it continues…

3.Lets chat about social media- a hindrance or help? 

Social media is a terrible and dangerous platform if you are looking for sincere human interaction and connection. It has contributed to a vast amount of misinformation and divisiveness in our country and around the world. On the other hand (!), Instagram has been 100% helpful for marketing my work, getting new stocklists, discovering new artists, etc.

 4.Where would you like your business to be in a few years and do you have any advice? 

I am working on some large orders (very large for me!) this holiday season for new stocklists. I feel fortunate to have the work, especially at a time when so many people are out of jobs, but long term bigger isn’t necessarily better for me. I’m happy to keep my business small and make my products mostly in-house. It’s important for me to keep the quality of craftsmanship high and stay true to myself as an artist. In the next few years I would love to work on limited edition projects with other artists, designers and artful brands. As my business grows, it’s important for me to figure out how to create sustainable long-term ways to give back to my community. I love what artists are doing in the Level Up Project

Some of the best advice I have gotten is to take the leap and get your work out there! Your website and line sheet don’t have to be perfect. You can always tweak designs, prices, and products as you go. You have to spend money to make money – especially if you are investing in making ceramic products to sell! Take a risk and invest in yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice along the way.

5. Who are your favourite small businesses or creatives doing interesting things? 

There are so many, but first and foremost,

Love and Victory  is run by my friend Meg Morehouse. Meg designs barware and a range of cocktail-related goods, but she is also a fierce activist and a constant inspiration. 

Sheena Sood was a student of mine at the Lower East Side Print Shop, and I love watching her clothing brand, Abacaxi grow! I don’t have any of her pieces yet, but I’m eyeing a few items from her latest collection.

I am so impressed by Sarah Hussaini / Not Work Related  and how she grabbed the pandemic by the horns and moved a wheel into the bathroom of her Brooklyn apartment to continue throwing pots when everything was shut down. I was lucky enough to snag one of her ceramic mugs made during that time. They sell out in a few minutes!

I subscribed to Michelle Ishikawa’s Okimoto  flower share this summer, and it brought me beauty and wonderment during a strange and stressful time. Michelle says it better than I can on her website: “She strives to give back to the earth as much as we collectively borrow from it, and is dedicated to furthering discourse on how to mindfully steward our environment and radically dream of a more equitable and just economic future.” 

I’m obsessed with Anders Hamilton’s Crater Cups recently released through BKLYN Clay. I want them all.

Mantel by Sadie Perry

A zip file of insanely satisfying and beautifully considered images were sent by Sadie, owner and creator of Mantel, alongside her answers to the usual questions. These images epitomise the visual language of Mantel and it really is SO SO delicious. colour combinations alongside ‘good’ design, strong shapes and harsher metals coincide with softer florals and pastels. Honestly, the mantels and vintage products that Sadie styles are on another level.

Having known Sadie since secondary school (Hi there fellow grunger!) and watched as she has formed her impeccable taste, it really has been a pleasure to see Mantel come into fruition. As Sadie mentions below, she gravitates towards well designed items and unusual forms, as is evident throughout her stock choices; from Art Nouveau to handmade, craft vessels- it is clear there is a running theme of objects that will be noticed and draw the eye….in a “don’t look at me” way, ya’know?

Sadie offers interior styling alongside her vintage finds and to be honest, if you have a mantel you should probably get her on board. Here is what she has to say about Mantel, her inspirations and future plans…

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

Hello, I’m Sadie and I am the founder of Mantel, an online (at the moment!) shop selling vintage homeware objects. Before this I had a jewellery brand but I have always been a big collector (aka hoarder) of decorative objects and ornaments so it felt like a natural step for me to share some of the things I find and make it into a business. I would say the common thread with the things I buy for myself and the shop would be well designed pieces and unusual forms that have a strong presence in a room, with a slight element of humour or character like unexpected proportions or really clearly visibly handmade ceramics.

2. What are your Inspirations? 

• I studied History of Art, Design and Film at university, specialising in film for my dissertation and became obsessed with set design, particularly those centred around the home interiors of the characters. I look to film as a huge inspiration when styling my own room or choosing objects for the shop – some of my favourite directors for aesthetic inspiration are Eric Rohmer, Roman Polanski, Claude Chabrol, Luis Bunuel and more recently Luca Guadagnino.

• Home visits – in my spare time, aside from car boots, I love going to house tours. My two absolute favourites are Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex and Casa Barragan in Mexico City. I’d love to go to Carlo Mollino’s home in Turin once we can safely travel again!

• Mexico is my favourite place in the world – I’ve been there several times and I never get bored of it. I studied silver jewellery making there a few years back, and fell in love with the colours and all the amazing craft they make there, and have got some of my most treasured objects from there. And the people are so lovely!

• Art Deco – I love Jean Michel Frank interior design, Jean Royere and Josef Hoffmann designed objects, as well as all the carpets from that era.

• Paintings – I get really obsessed with colour combinations – some of my current favourite painters are Mamma Andersson and Norbert Schwontonski. 

• My family and friends are a constant source of inspiration for me. I am so lucky to be surrounded by people who are all so talented in what they do and also supportive, down to earth and funny – my mum has an amazing eye for interiors, my dad is really musically creative, my sister works in mental health and my best friends have all got really varied jobs from science to PR to hairdressing to artist studio assistant. I wouldn’t be able to get through life without them!

3. Lets chat about social media- a hindrance or help? 

I think from a business point of view it’s a big help, it’s been the best place for me to find other amazing brands and like minded people and also be found by them! In terms of personal I’m not so sure – it can be so easy to go down a rabbit hole of comparing yourself when you are having a bad day or worrying. But I think when you set yourself boundaries and keep it positive it’s a good thing and allows you to share inspiration and collaborate with others.

4.  Where would you like your business to be in a few years and do you have any advice? 

I would love to be sourcing and selling objects full time. It would be my absolute dream to spend my days travelling around the world to markets, car boots and house clearances and sharing some of the things I find there. It would be amazing to have a physical space too where I could style the objects and meet the people who support me by buying from the shop. Hopefully one day! In terms of advice, I think just going for what you are passionate about and trying it, however unconfident you feel, is the best way to go. I spent so many years worrying that I wasn’t good enough or needed to be perfect before I did anything. But I think we have a tendency to be our own worst critics so you have to just ignore those nagging worries and do it! And always be nice to people, you never know what anyone’s going through.

5. Who are your favourite small businesses or creatives doing interesting things?

I think @anoushapayne ceramics are amazing, @karlfritschrings jewellery, @ikoikospace textiles and home objects, my friend @mimikerpel’s woven vases and @quindry_antiques selection of antiques. I’d also love to go and stay at independently run @villamagnan in Biarritz – the decor is incredible and I love that area of France.

The Rusty Pin by Alice Ridgway

The Rusty Pin, a place for the tiny ephemeral snap shots of a time and culture that we call pins to be appreciated and given a second life. I myself have, since the age of 13, adorned many items of clothing with these tiny cultural signifiers…. “ERrr Yes I listen to Slipknot”; “Yes I made this pin myself, fuck ‘the man’!” and I 100% have a box full to the brim of mine and my husbands retired but much loved pin badges upstairs. So, when I came across this little slice of pin badge heaven I was a very happy grown up grunger.

Alice has gathered a collection of pin badges that will make anyone that has been a part of some from of sub-culture/counterculture or political movement nostalgic and super excited to see what she has to offer. From obscure rarities and mini fluro posters, anti-Murdoch protest badges, antique metal snoopy pins to (my much loved) nu-metal bundles. The Rusty Pin is a love letter to these miniature slices of history and I hope you enjoy what Alice has to say about them and her pin badge rescue mission.

1. Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

Hello! I’m Alice and I’ve been running The Rusty Pin for around 3 years now which is about the same time I started working at the V&A in the museum collections and archives. Whilst I’ve always loved history and collecting, I definitely developed more of an obsession with material culture after being surrounded by museum objects.
I think I ended up collecting pin badges because they are cute and fun and always lurking at the bottom of an old tin at car boots. I also love that they are ephemeral, produced cheaply and not made to last, so every time I find one it feels like a little rescue mission.
The Rusty Pin collects and sells pin badges which span music, film, pop culture, adverts and politics. Matt at Teejerker was a big help when it came to getting up and running with his approach of curating a niche selection of vintage finds which you couldn’t really buy anywhere else. Selling is a hobby that basically allows me to buy more pins, and recently I’ve been adding postcards, scrapbooks, posters and key-rings to the mix.
I really enjoy the process of finding an old forgotten pin badge, taking a nice little photo and doing some research on its history so it ends up with a new lease of life with a new owner. 

2. What are your Inspirations?

When it comes to inspo, I will never fail to be amazed by collections of mass-produced consumer culture and I have a few favourite places. 
First up is Museum De Dinge in Berlin, it literally translates as ‘Museum of Things’ and contains cabinets packed full of mass produced 20th and 21st century objects from Nazi memorabilia to plastic hamburgers. The objects are arranged by colour and theme which makes it even more of a delight to wander around.
Museum of Brands in Notting Hill is also great when I feel like a nostalgia hit from well designed old packaging and obsessing over the evolution of Cadbury’s chocolate bars.
Last of all is one I see everyday at work and never gets boring – Eduardo Paolozzi’s Krazy Kat Arkive of 20th Century Popular Culture. Its loosely based on the theme ‘The Image of the Hero in Industrial Society’ but contains everything Paolozzi collected for artistic inspiration. It ranges from board games, robots, scrapbooks, tear sheets, wind up toys and figurines.

3. Lets chat about social media- a hindrance or help? 

Social media is undoubtedly a great help for me as its where I drum up most of my business. It has been an adjustment though, I don’t have a personal Instagram as I’m quite a private person and I do resent the black hole of lost time and space I can slip into on that app. Nothing really compares to Instagram in terms of reach and impact but I’m hoping this will shift. Particularly after Covid I’m craving IRL experience over online so I’ll be at a few car boot sales and markets in the near future selling old bits and bobs and am hoping others will be doing the same.

 4. Where would you like your business to be in a few years? 

In a few years I’d like to be selling a broader range of ephemeral culture but still keeping a niche and considered selection of goods. I’ve not made any zines in a while so I’ll definitley work on a few more of those. I’m also working on some DIY badge making workshops which focus on the history of activism and protest. 

5.  Who are your favourite small businesses or creatives doing interesting things? 

Creatives I’m loving at the moment are @pawson.novelties for the humour, kitsch and massive output of all kinds of art. I also love @eighteen86 for the multidisciplinary approach, vintage clothing, unofficial merch, zines, photography and everything inbetween focused on Arsenal football club.