Rapiditas Studio by Layla & David

Bootlegging is a lot like marmite; you either love it or hate it, you either get it or you don’t! Layla and David of Rapiditas studio GET IT and do it oh so well. Imperfection, irony and ‘bad taste’ being at the heart, in my opinion, of what they do. As they say below, they appropriate and distort what we all know- the ‘perfect’, capitalist giants- and make them ‘imperfect’ and their own.

This approach to bootleg, in my opinion, is how it should be done- Dapper Dan, for example, being the father of Bootleg. His designs were beautifully made, with fine workmanship BUT he made the logos of large fashion houses his own, he didn’t attempt to perfectly emulate their designs but made his own BETTER ones. This can be seen today with studios such as Rapiditas, they see these logos and want to create something of their own with them, in the best way they know how and it’s not about perfection for them.

The best bootlegging is the unexpected, the designs that wouldn’t be created by the companies that are being featured. It’s not about emulation but instead something new alongside the familiar and imposing imagery.

I find their work so so satisfying and cannot wait to be able to add some of it to my home. See what they had to say below-

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

Rapiditas  are two people. Layla and David.

Layla is a freelance graphic designer and web master. David is a DJ and promoter, co-founder of Caballito Netlabel.

We both like image, design, music and the arts.

Of course we love food and being at home.

Rapiditas is a brand that David invented many years ago to create t-shirts, tote bags and some designs. It never came to anything, until now.

Now it is practically focused on ceramics. 

What we do is simple. We create ceramic objects in a rough and imperfect way because we don’t know how to do it better. And then we stamp in ceramic decals or hand painted, everything we can think of, we appropriate all the logos that invade the lives of almost everyone and we deform them.

On our website you can find a very pompous definition, of course it is copied and distorted.

2. What are your Inspirations? 

We listen to random people’s music on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

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

 Both require a lot of time and know how they work and are also a quick window for them to get to know you. If it weren’t for IG we wouldn’t be here and we would never have sold a mug. 🙂

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

We would like to keep creating new things, mix materials, keep having fun.

If you do what you enjoy doing, you are doing the right thing. easy.

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

These are a few people who do fun and interesting things and they sure love what they do.      The list could be longer:

instagram.com/prettychocoboworld/

instagram.com/irenecienfu/

instagram.com/acabceramics/

instagram.com/rebequitalabonita/

instagram.com/alicia.hena/

instagram.com/bizumfabiosteopatiktok/

instagram.com/xavierdekepper/

instagram.com/33_degres_sous_les_cocotiers/

instagram.com/93nido/

Clay Kitchen by Lyndsay Sawyer

As we’ve discussed previously, this strange time has enabled people to crack out the crafts and explore creative outlets they might not have had time to focus on before the pandemic. Clay Kitchen by the lovely Lyndsay is the result of this extra time and love for tiny smiley faces on everyday food (& earbuds!).

Any mixture of tiny models, food and smiley faces is always going to result in something I’ll enjoy… and I hope you all do as well! A perfect gift that will look qt as fuq on any kitchen shelf alongside your favourite cook books, an essential for any home tbh.

Read on to find out more about Lyndsay and Clay Kitchen…

1.Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

I’m Lyndsay and I live in Bristol, I started playing round with air dry clay in the first lockdown last year, because I needed to occupy my brain/time. I’ve always been obsessed with eggs (I even have an egg tattoo) So what started out as making smiley fried eggs turned into all different kinds of food sculptures and  My friends and partner encouraged me to start an Instagram account, commissions (some non-food related!) followed and I very recently launched a shop!

Clay Kitchen is all about fun and silliness with a nostalgic nod to the contents of my school lunchbox. I just want to make things that make people smile.

  1. What are your Inspirations? 

The city of Bristol, it’s a very inspiring and creative place. I feel like there is a community that always champions the independent. It also has a great food and craft beer scene which is a constant source of inspiration. I’ve always been a creative person and I studied Art & Design at university. I regularly visit galleries and sculpture parks (when not in a pandemic!)

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

I don’t think I would of had the courage to launch a shop without the response I was getting on social media. I’ve met so many great makers and small businesses since launching Clay Kitchen but also it’s so hard not to get consumed with worry about posting the right or enough content. With social media you are constantly comparing yourself to other people and I have been reminding myself that I need to go at my own pace and to enjoy what I’m doing.

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

I’m very much at the beginning right now and I’m just so happy when people say they love my work. Getting enough work to go part time in my not very exciting day job would be the absolute dream! As for advice..I’m just muddling along trying to figure everything out but I would say there are so many lovely creative people out there. I’ve had some amazing conversations with people whose work I really admire, so don’t be afraid to send someone a message!

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

Ahhhhh there are so many many talented people out there! Catalina Cheng (@catalina_cheng) is an amazing artist. Hiller Goodspeed’s (@hillergoodspeed) work is just a constant joy and inspiration. Bernie Kaminski (@berniekaminski) and Madison Rudin (@madisonrudin_art) make wonderful things! There are so many great independent Bristol based businesses but some of my favourites are The DIY Supermarket (@theDIYsupermarket) Pirrip Press (@pirrip_press) & Good Store Studio (@goodstorestudio)

Rosie Anwara

There is talent…and then there is talent…ya’know? Well Rosie has THAT kind of talent. Whether it’s sewing or painting, this lady transforms simple felt or a pair of Vans into pop culture/brightly coloured/textured/cute as fuck handmade and decorated goods!

Painstaking in her detailed depictions and subtle nods to cult movies, Drag Race or even RHOBH, Rosies choice of themes is 100% up my street and It should be up yours. Hey!? even if you don’t get the obscure references and quotes you can absolutely appreciate the amazing work that goes into each decoration or painted leather jacket. With collaborations between big businesses such as Vans and Size?, it’s refreshing to see such a detail orientated one woman show being recognised and appreciated.

I for one can’t wait to see what she has up her reference sleeve next. So, please read on to find out about Rosie and her process…

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

Hi, I’m Rosie! I’m from Newcastle but have been living in London for the last 8 years. I studied Fashion at uni and put a lot of my focus into embroidery and illustration. When I left and started working full time, I missed having that creative outlet so I was always giving myself projects to work on. 

In 2016 I got my first proper Christmas tree and spent weeks collecting decorations and I was super proud of it, but in February 2017, I had a huge fire in my flat and lost all of them. The following Christmas I was pretty skint from trying to rebuild my life after the fire and had some leftover felt from a work project…so I decided to make myself some decorations! After two years of doing my thing and posting on Instagram, people started asking me if they could buy them and saying they looked forward to seeing them every Christmas and so, Rosie Anwara was born! 

Rosie Anwara is essentially an explosion of the creative side of my brain. I’m not sure how to condense what I do into one zippy sentence, but my main goal is to make beautiful, silly stuff that brings people happiness!

2. What are your Inspirations?

Cliché but I really do get my inspiration from everywhere and everything. Pop culture, travel, food, T.V. and film, cultural moments, friends, celebrities, politics… you name it and I could probably come up with a decoration based on it. Sometimes it could even be that I have fabric or beads I really want to use, so I work backwards and use those as the inspiration.

My paintings are typically commissions, I try to make them as thoughtful and personal as possible. I always want to find a connection between what I’m painting and the person who will wear/own it so that it’s extra special. 

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

It’s completely invaluable for me! I’m still just starting out but without Instagram, I wouldn’t have even made a sale as I don’t sell on any other platform. I also wouldn’t have had any of the opportunities I’ve had to work with brands like Vans and Size? and I wouldn’t have met so many amazing people who inspire, support and encourage me to keep doing my thang!

Aside from making sales, Instagram is also vital in helping me build my brand and create something that’s ownable and recognisable. 

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

I used to do a lot of 5 year plans but I realised I was setting myself up for disappointment and anxiety because I never seemed to reach my lofty goals! So I’ve gone back to taking it day to day. I sometimes wish I had an end goal to work towards but life is unpredictable, Not a single set back or opportunity that has come my way was ever in my ‘plan’. I find it less taxing on my mental health to just roll with it. 

And on that note, if I had any advice to give, I’d defer to Little Miss Sunshine…”Do what you love, and fuck the rest”.

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

First and foremost I have to shout out to my boyfriend Ant Gardner, a graphic designer who has launched his own line of art prints that I just love – @wallgarments. He’s a constant source of inspiration and knowledge for me as well as the creator of all my graphics and branding! I’m very lucky to have him. 

@PaolaCiar paints the most incredible, voyeuristic scenes at a teeny, tiny scale. I love her depictions of unapologetically confident women who love their bodies – we can never have enough of that attitude in the world. I admire Paola so much, her sense of humour and imagination is like no other! 

I don’t have bébé’s myself but I’m obsessed with @PetiteGanache and their beautiful, handmade kids trousers. Maybe when I’m a shrunken old lady I could squeeze into a pair. 

I only came across @CraftyGlass over the Christmas period and I absolutely love what she does, it’s such a unique take on a traditional craft and it’s a little bit silly, like me 🙂

@CastroSmith has talent coming out of his ears. I can think of no other way to describe his jewellery than mind-blowing. Every piece is a true work of art and I dream of owning some one day! 

DaddyBears

“DaddyBears was born out of a great need for physical depth within the cold constraints of mankind’s current dystopia.”

With a bio like the above you know I’ll enjoy, as well as it being an amalgamation of overtly shiny, girly fabrics, ‘only clams’ collections and beautifully disfigured, sculptural teddies to cry on…. it’s a win tbh. I love handmade teddies, plushies or anything remotely comforting, I have a few favourite creators that reside in South Korea as well as Japan, so I was so excited to find this London based maker.

With the added theme of sex, DaddyBears plays upon the naughty vs. nice vs. cute vs. sexual preconceptions that many have and seeks to question and challenge them. I mean, what do you do in your bedroom? have sex and cry into a teddy… duh!? If that is the case, then DaddyBears is your kind of handmade plushie creator/sculptor.

See what they had to say below…

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand/work. 

DaddyBears is a soft sculpture brand specialising in sexy cute hot girl shiny pre made and custom teddy bears 🙂

2. What are your Inspirations?

Main inspirations are usually taken from bedroom designs, animals and childhood nostalgia/children’s books

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

Definitely a help! I would have no brand  or would have to be an etsy seller if i wasn’t able to promote my work through instagram

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

I would love to be making larger scale/furniture pieces and also maybe more accessories and lots of money hehe. My advice would be- don’t bother starting anything unless you’re 100percent passionate about it and enjoy it.

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

artist  @yourhamroll

artist  @mariannmetsis 

artists @materialthinkspace

designers @150mg_

designer @sjodwyer

shoe designer @kiragoodeyfootwear

candle maker @sadwitchsupplies

tattoo artist @studio_linz

fellow bear maker @deanjfhoy

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.

Evie by Faye Joynes

Faye reached out recently as she wanted to share her newly created label, Evie, and of course I was happy to provide a space to celebrate this up and coming brand.

Evie is a 90s/00s dream with stripped back two pieces made from slinky and supple fabrics- with the additional awesome jacket thrown in for good measure! See the last image for Faye’s latest woollen jacket creation and a very exciting nod to what she has up her sleeves.

Passionate about change and re-imagining how fashion can work; Faye uses dead-stock fabrics and has a made-to-order ethos, resulting in less waste and a more considered and tailored product. Also, 10% of profits of any Evie orders go to women’s charities.

Evie is the result of Faye’s talent but also the time now presented to her because of a redundancy due to the pandemic. As I’ve mentioned before the outpouring of new indie business and online spaces has been a highly interesting and refreshing approach to such an odd time. Wonderfully creative and talented people using this time to build something has been such a positive to emerge and Evie is no exception.

I can’t wait to see what else Faye produces and how her business grows, see what she has to say about Evie’s inception below…

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

I founded Evie because I love fashion, but I felt guilty about buying clothing which I knew was unsustainable and unethical. I wanted to create a brand that feels as good to buy as it does to wear, because you know you’re contributing to something positive. As well as being a made-to-order brand which means low-waste, I use sustainable fabrications such as deadstock and natural materials. I also want to help empower those often exploited by the garment industry by donating 10% of my profits to women’s charities.Before starting Evie, I worked as a womenswear designer for various companies in London and abroad, but was constantly thinking about starting my own brand. After being furloughed and eventually made redundant from my job, I moved back to Manchester (where I went to uni), and decided to take the plunge!

  1. What are your Inspirations?

My main inspiration comes from nostalgia- I’m a very nostalgic person and love looking back on memories and old photos, magazines and films. I have a lot of emotion attached to the 90s in particular, because having been born in the 90s, a lot of my favourite music and films growing up was of that era, so my silhouette and fabric references often stem from this.Films by Greta Gerwig and Sofia Coppola also really inspire me- Ladybird is one of my all-time favourite films and I love the aesthetic of The Virgin Suicides.

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

I definitely think it’s a help, because I’ve been able to reach people over social media who I wouldn’t have reached otherwise. I also think it’s great to be able to interact with customers/followers – showing them behind the scenes and how their pieces are made as well as getting their opinions of fabrics etc.That being said, I’m finding it really hard to grow on instagram. It’s not easy for a small brand to reach new people but I’m constantly encouraged by friends who share my work!

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

On a selfish/personal level, I’d like my business to be my full-time job in a few years, as I currently work part-time in hospitality to support my brand. Doing Evie full-time would be a dream! On a more meaningful level, I have a strong idea of what I want Evie to be- a positive fashion brand which can give back to the community in some way as well as being a really fun label to wear. I hope to do this by working with local seamstresses, photographers and crafts people, and contributing to the creative industry in the North. In terms of advice, I would just say start before you’re ready, because if you don’t you’ll just never start!

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

There are so many! A few brands I love are Marques’ Almeida, Acne Studios and Pamola Wool. I also find brands such as Olivia Rose The Label and Maison Cleo really inspiring because they showed me that you don’t need to produce stock in factories to start a label. @saeshablue and @franrowsevisuals are amazing photographers whose work I love and I have been lucky to work with.I also love @rhiannaellington prints, @annarobertsstudio artworks and @thephatchrub vintage jewellery!

Aisling Duffy

Aisling Duffys’ work is my grown up grunger dream attire.

With babydoll patchwork dresses; re-worked denim jackets adorned with handmade patches; and oversized tie-dye long sleeves with added lace edging. Aisling uses a mixture of medias and elements to create her collections, with many of her own illustrations used throughout and much of the fabric upcycled. Passionate about sustainability, Aisling is dedicated to creating and reimaging pre-existing fabric: Which is probably the most consistent and sustainable way of creating new clothing….ripping up and re-using the old!

As Aisling mentions, her collections are very weighted in the culture she surrounded herself with when she was younger and that is absolutely clear to see. With a DIY approach to her work, it reminds me of the ‘can do’ attitude of many of my friends that grew up in the same cultures. With many putting on shows, making zines or creating something off their own back, this way of working is something I absolutely love to recognise in people.

I can’t wait to see what Aisling will be working on next. So, please read on to find out more about her wonderfully nostalgic, considered and genuinely fun collections…

1. Tell us about yourself and your brand/work
Hi I’m Aisling. I run a small label where I make handmade mostly one~of~a~kind pieces using my prints , upcycled fabrics and materials. Each year I make two main collections for my stockist & throughout the year I do limited drops through my website.I use deadstock, upcycled and organic fabrics where ever possible.I like to work on one~of~a~kind or made~to~order basis meaning there is no waste or overproduction


2. What are your inspirations?
I am mostly inspired by themes of Identity, Personality & Self-Exploration throughout my work. I use a lot of imagery and text that explores these themes in my prints & artwork.I try to address Social Issues that I am passionate about such as Climate Change, Environment and Sustainable Fashion through my choice of fabrics and DIY aesthetic.Music was a big part of my youth, and still is today, so I think the culture of going to shows and how me & my peers dressed feeds into how I style and design my collections.


3. Lets chat about social media – a hindrance or a help?
I think a bit of both. Having an online presence is very important for any brand or business in todays world. It allows people from all over the world discover and connect with your work. The flip side of this for me is that I find running my social medias stressful at times, this year in particular I have had many moments of feeling very overwhelmed by internet culture. As someone who has anxiety I find that when someone says something negative or critical ( whether or not they mean to) it can cause me to doubt everything I have worked towards & built so it is definitely a fine balance of being a hindrance or a help!


4. Where would you like your business to be in a few years and do you have any advice.
My main goal over the next few years is to reach a stage where my business is fully financially stable. That’s the dream! I love designing custom pieces for artists, musicians and performers so I would like that to become a bigger part of my brand. I would also love to get some more stockists and launch a sustainable dress collection to be stocked worldwide.
Running a business solo is hard work so my biggest advice would be to stay passionate & know your values – whenever there are big decisions to be made always come back to these values to guide and inform what is best for your business


5. Who are your favourite small businesses or creatives doing interesting things?
There are so many incredible small businesses out there! But here is a small list:
Eloise Hanikenehttps://www.eloisehanikene.com/
Cat O’Brienhttps://www.catobrien.co/shop
Laoise Careyhttps://laoisecareystudio.com/
Lifershophttps://whatislifer.com/
Meg Beckhttps://www.megbeck.com/
Mutter Metalworkshttps://muttermetalworks.com
One Soft Handhttps://www.onesofthand.com/

Lotta Blobs by Shantelle Hyslop

As probably the newest brand and creator I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to, Shantelle has it nailed already!

Lotta Blobs is a simple concept but clearly super effective, with 17.8k followers on Instagram in a few months. Shantelle has tapped into the airy, fun and girly interior trend as well as the selfie sharing culture that dominates the social media app: clearly a powerful combination. Pastel, cute and slightly abstract, these mirrors tick all the boxes.

It’s been so awesome discovering so many creators that have obviously seen a lack of something in the interior/design/fashion market and have successfully filled it with their own creations. The past two creators have dealt mainly with mirrors…. and they are totally right to- affordable design led, unusual mirrors are hard to come by and are evidently in demand. Unfortunately this will most probably result in the big retailers lazily copying them and churning them out for the masses by next year (WE SEE YOU!!), but as always, these creative makers will be producing considered and well made products nonetheless. As always, shop small and support independent business and makers- they are always the first to do it and should be recognised for their creative visions/ buying habits/ risks.

Check out what Shantelle had to say about her wonderful creations…

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand/work. 

I’m Shantelle, creator of Lotta Blobs. I’m a Graphic Designer by day and blob sculptor by night! Lotta Blobs is a London based brand where I create bright coloured sculpted mirrors. My aim is to add a touch of colour and fun to everyone’s reflection! 

  1. What are your Inspirations? 

I’m an avid homeware collector so I’ve always wanted to create something that I’d love to stumble upon and add to my collection at home. I’m always on the hunt for something that is colourful and seems one of a kind so I try and replicate that in my designs.

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

Mostly helping! I started the business on Instagram so I have it to thank for the success so far. Though I am slowly getting overwhelmed by my DM’s filling up daily!

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

I honestly have no idea! Lotta Blobs is just over a month old so I’m just riding the wave for now! I would like to collaborate with other creatives and develop my collection.

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

I love: @squaresandthings // @emilystollery // @lucycarterart // @low_____tide // @sophiecolle // @bougiewoogie___ // @nataconceptstore

Al’s Place by Alice Kelly

As we begin to enter our second lock down and I start to write this introduction for ‘Al’s Place’, the two seemingly are counter opposites. What or how could bright and bold woven mirrors and rugs have anything to do with a global pandemic?

WELL, Alice, the owner, creator and maker or Al’s Place has dedicated her lockdown time to perfecting the art of tufting -as have many people, with rugs popping up everywhere! However, Alice has truly nailed it, with super bold, perfectly clashing colour combinations and graphic but simple designs- these mirrors and rugs are some of the stand out tufting work I’ve seen.

With only a few mirrors made and sold monthly, these babies sell out fast. Each one is individual and handmade; which is a rarity in these mass produced, consumer driven times- Alice is focussed on quality over quantity…and it shows.

I think it is no coincidence that this platform I’m working on has emerged out of these strange times but also that I am spoilt for choice when approaching awesome small businesses to take part. Many of these are the result of this strange year, which is an absolute positive to take away from all this- to see that many, including Alice, have used this time to master a skill and create something for themselves. That is in no way meant to disparage those that have chosen Netflix over the tufting gun…hello! I’m right there with you. BUT it is a positive to take away and Al’s Place is absolute evidence of that.

See what Alice had to say to the usual questions below…

1.Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

I’m Alice & I’m the founder of Al’s Place (it feels funny saying that)! I started Al’s Place properly in June after having to come home from travelling Australia due to covid, which I’m now grateful for because it gave me the opportunity to grow my business & have the freedom to be creative! My first ever tufted pieces were my 2 degree show rugs, I remember seeing tufting on instagram and I rung my mum instantly like “I NEED a tufting gun!”. My aim with Al’s Place to make products to brighten up peoples home with colour and texture, my most popular item at the moment is my tufted mirrors! When I made my first tufted mirror, it was just an experiment that I thought wouldn’t really work & I’d just keep it for myself, now they sell out in minutes! Experimenting with different mediums and not giving up when we don’t get it right the first time always work out so much better than we anticipate! I currently make everything myself in my little studio in the UK and my next mirror drop will be in November. 

2.What are your inspirations?

I honestly just love anything colourful, because currently working from home a lot of my recent inspiration has come from everyday life and online. I also like using instagram and as inspiration, following creatives helps and I also find amazing colour combinations on there! But inspiration always comes at the most random times, I’m constantly scribbling down every idea that comes to my mind.

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

I definitely think its a big help! It’s important to be following the right people, so if you end up in a scroll you’re being inspired by other creatives! I think finding the right balance with social media is so important, I do try and limit my time on social media. Otherwise, it can be hard to actually turn off!

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

I would like to be in a bigger studio! I’d like to still be making mirrors & rugs. I also want to have experimented with other interior based items like cushions, maybe some different shapes and sizes of tufted mirrors too! My advice would be to be excited and passionate about your product and other people will be to! Make sure you’re loving everything you’re creating!

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

I love @theflowerandtheflea on instagram, Amber makes flower charms using rare & colourful vintage glass beads from the 30’s-60’s which she finds at thrift markets. I absolutely love thrift markets and charity shops so her ethos is right up my street! I also love the charms and wear mine everyday. 

@zoejanebb makes the most beautiful delicate ceramics in lovely pastel colours! I love her checkered and cow print vases as well as her ‘sunbathing lady’ ceramics. Her mug drop is coming soon & I’m v excited!

I also love @protocole_bourgeois, making lovely paper lamps in lots of designs! I love the nude checkered hanging lamp.

Rhianna Ellington

Overtly girly and yet tonal airbrush art work? A love for overlooked British design label Meadham Kirchhoff? And an appreciation for Disney? I . Am. In.

Rhianna Ellingtons’ work is a dreamscape of pastiche inspirations, textural art work that looks good enough to eat and vivid but muted tones…if that makes sense. Looking at her work it is clear to see she has previously worked with luxury fashion houses. Rhiannas’ work is honed, polished and considered- with a concise vision of what it is she wants to achieve. From the work that is already being produced, it is clear to see that her future sustainable projects will be totally delicious; this can be seen in her dreamy facemasks and art prints that are currently available. I love finding artists like her, with a similar set of interests and passions, the art that is produced is 100% right up my street and I, honestly, can’t wait to see what she’s got up her sleeves.

Finally, lets just put our hands together for the collages I was sent by Rhianna. The colours, textures and references. So. Good.

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand/work. 

I am an English textiles and surface pattern designer who specialises in fabric development, printed textiles and digital design. In 2018 I completed a Masters in Textiles Print at the Royal College of Art and since then I have been working as a fabric developer in the luxury fashion industry for brands such as Acne Studios and Erdem. Currently I am focused on freelancing and developing my own design practice.

  1. What are your Inspirations?

There are so many things that inspire me, from fashion designers, films, cartoons and artists. I have listed a few below.
I love 80s airbrush artwork and advertisements, for example Pater Sato, Yosuke Onishi and Masao Saito are some of my favourites.
I also get a lot of inspiration from nature, the sky and being outdoors.
A lot of my work is very colourful and I get some of my colour inspiration from cartoons and anime! I once based my colour palette for a project from a scene from Disney’s Fantasia. Recently my colour palettes have been getting a lot darker and the inspiration behind this has come from re-watching a lot of David Lynch films such as Lost Highway, Blue Velvet and the TV show Twin Peaks.
Some of my favourite fashion designers that inspire me are Ashley Williams, Mimi Wade, Mowalola, Gucci, as well as vintage collections from Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier and Issey Miyake. Meadham Kirchhoff was the first designer that made me really want to work as a fashion textiles artist.  

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

A little of both. I have a love/hate relationship with social media! It has really helped me build an audience for my work but I find it a very negative environment and it is becoming harder and harder to grow through social media.

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

I am currently working towards starting my own sustainable, slow fashion brand, focusing on my prints, artwork and fabrics. I really hope that it will grow slowly and I can share my work this way.
My advice for anyone wanting to do something similar is to take your time with it. I am so glad I took time away from my work and spent some time in the industry, as it made me realise what is important to me as a designer and how I want to develop. I have wanted to have my own brand forever and I want to do things sustainably, slowly and beautifully.

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

I love this questions! I have listed a few below.
Vona (@bravona) is a lingerie/corset designer.Cursed (@yoursocursed) is a new brand set up by a mother and her two daughters.Leigh Miller (@leighmillerjewelry) who makes handmade sculptural jewellery.Pauline Bonnet (@paulinebonnt) who is a ceramic and glass designerIria Ashimine (@iria_mine) a Japanese jewellery brandAnna Mills (@annam.lls) Designer/artistJosefin Zachrisson (@josefinzachrisson) Artist, designer and model. Paula Codoner (@paulacodoner) PhotographerAnna Koak (@annakoak) ArtistLuna Crochet Studio (@LunaCrochetStudio ) Handmade crochet garments made in Copenhagen.Emma Brewin (_emmabrewin_) Clothing brand