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. 

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/

E2 Cartel by Lily

You like good vintage jewellery? Then you really need to take a look at E2 Cartel. Gold, gold, the occasional silver item, well chosen accessories and more gold. Lily, the woman behind this treasure trove has the best eye – anyone who appreciates articulated clown charms and Nudie Cohn will 100% have the goods (in my opinion).

As Lily puts so nicely below, there is enough in this world already, so she is set on giving whats already here a new lease of life: Why buy new when, jewellery especially, was made to such a better quality! It isn’t just the best picked jewellery and accessories that can be found at E2 Cartel, but also a tonne of amazing historical and cultural research that Lily does about her finds or favourite pieces. As a lover and studier of history of dress and design this element of E2 Cartel is maybe a favourite; evidence of a true passion and love for what she does, as well as a lesson for anyone that cares to know (which you always should tbh).

If you can tell, I’m a big fan. So please read on ……

  1. tell us about yourself and your brand.

I’m Lily and my shop is E2cartel. E2cartel is a vintage & secondhand jewellery (sometimes shoes & accessories) shop that sits on the fence between naff, trash and fabulous chic classics. I am lucky enough to have found a small but fantastically loyal following since starting the instagram page in 2017. The shop was born out of being absolutely broke and spending the last bit of money i had on 5 pairs of earrings. I posted a photo of the earrings on my instagram and thankfully they all sold to friends and extended followers that day. I went back to the vintage wholesale shop i’d purchased the original 5 pairs from the very next day, and i haven’t stopped selling jewellery since. I only buy secondhand, vintage and/or dead stock items and try and cater to many purse price points. I really do strive to have something for every budget. Not every taste 🙂 My love of secondhand & vintage runs deep into my personal choices too. I really believe there is enough of everything on this planet already, so i’m happy to bring old pieces, new life and a new home via my shop. I collect original & rare Gold Creoles and have done for a number of years, the history of these particular earrings dates back hundreds and hundreds of years and covers the globe. I will share my Creole research on the E2 page soon.I try and use all recycled packaging so the envelopes your jewellery arrives in are likely to look slightly scruffy, i’ve always thought if that bothers anyone they probably shouldn’t be buying from me in the first place 🙂 I’ve always collected jewellery and trinkets and can’t wait to get back to sourcing and selling in person ASAP.

  1. What are your Inspirations?

I studied fashion photography and was taught by the legend Mark Lebon. His freedom in his practice and honesty about the industry was hugely inspiring at uni and i still see him as a bit of a hero now. He introduced us to brilliant people during that course and opened our minds the way a person in his position should. I collect documentary photography books, fashion movements, youth culture, i’m very interested in uniform, class uniform and “class tourism” through dress. Perry Ogden’s book Pony Kids first inspired me to take photos back in 2008, and showed me there was a different way of documenting people in their clothes and environment but in a controlled or staged way, which lead me to fashion photography. Not overly interested in high end fashion but street style and the way people present themselves to the world. I find this really fascinating. 

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

Both. I couldn’t do what i do without it. Super brilliant tool for reaching customers worldwide. I have made some genuine friend-like connections using it, it has allowed me to have interactions with my customers that i wouldn’t get just by having a website/shop. The negatives as we all know, total waste of time. Can be a downer if you take algorithms personally.

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

I just want to continue having a nice time, enjoying what i do, connecting with people who enjoy similar things. Encouraging more slow fashion, secondhand purchases when possible. It makes me really happy when people receive their pieces and are blown away by them. I don’t plan on trying to make crazy money doing this (its pretty much impossible) or growing it to the point where i can’t source the stock myself. I just love things with history, jewellery, clothes, shoes omg i love shoes! I just want to share fun pieces with others who love them too. My advice would be to not compare yourself to others, celebrate people. Price your stock fairly, be brave and just have a nice time.

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

Dea.clay, the most fabulous artist and ceramists. @dea.clayMr Finbar’s Hand Painted signs, super talented sign writer doing all sorts of gorgeous bits from Bristol to London @mr_finbarNicolette’s Goods, for all your sweet treat needs. Tasty deliciousness right to your door @nicolettesgoodsSue Stokes Antiques, Beautiful shop based in Corsham, Sue also frequents lots of antiques fairs in the south west/London @suestokesantiques

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)

Margot & Lux by Hollie

I am a big fan of vintage. Having worked in vintage shops for over 10 years it is a passion of mine, particularly how vintage businesses chose to style their finds. Margot & Lux present their collections in a contemporary way, An important approach if Vintage is going to become more than ‘dead peoples clothes’.

When people begin to see vintage as the sustainable (hate that buzz word) option that it is, these vintage collectors that re-imagine vintage clothing in a trend-led and youthful way showcase just how versatile and modern looking vintage clothing can be. Because, let’s face it! fashion buyers are ravaging vintage shops and simply re-making their finds anyway (believe me…I know!)

Hollie is passionate about this element to her business and vintage in general, which is always so nice to see. Please read on to hear about how Margot & Lux started and her future plans….

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

I’m Hollie! I’m from Newcastle but moved to uni in Brighton, where I studied Fashion & Dress History, when I was 18 and then took the plunge to move to London in 2017. I started my brand after 12 looooong years in high st retail and became disillusioned with the brand once I made it to head office. I started to question my own consumption of fashion and really missed sourcing vintage clothing which I’d done since I was around 14. It took 9 months of work related stress and anxiety to kick me into gear and Margot & Lux was born! I’d dreamed of having my own shop since I was about 8 years old – my friend and I planned to open a 5 floor store on Oxford Street with a Spice Girls museum in the basement! My brand really solved a problem I had found with buying vintage – I am super impatient and I hated having to trawl through rail upon rail of bad quality second hand clothing with huge markups in jumble-sale esque stores and wanted to curate something that was accessible to those who wanted to keep their style and wear vintage without looking like they were en route to a fancy dress party. The idea was to style vintage in a modern way and focus on high quality investment pieces that wouldn’t break the bank. Starting the brand has been the best thing I’ve ever done, I’ve expanded into sourcing for film & TV as well as styling for private clients and shoots – I have big plans for the future!

  1. What are your Inspirations?

I’m inspired by literally everything – I can spend entire days on Pinterest and Tumblr! My main inspiration of course is from Instagram, real people with incredible style, but I watch a lot of vintage cinema too – I’m currently obsessed with Diane Keaton! Coming from a background in Fashion History, the inspiration can spark from anywhere – vintage adverts, fashion plates and art/photography, the latter of which usually inspires the colour palettes for upcoming collections. In terms of sourcing stock though, it’s totally intuitive and I tend to just buy what I like and would wear myself! My buying strategy is usually me thinking “OMG I LOVE THAT” and imagining it with an outfit, knowing that someone else will love it too. I hate the idea of buying in bulk, handpicking is always best imo.

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

Oh wow, it’s both I think! It’s a great source of anxiety for me and really a Catch-22. The most recent change in algorithm has really messed with brands and it’s a huge expense to advertise. There’s a constant struggle and worry about “am I doing enough? Do people like what I’m putting out??” and then a cycle of having a break, which negatively affects your sales, then becoming obsessed and getting burnt out. It’s amazing to connect to customers and I feel like features such as Instagram Stories are incredible – it’s a chance to really show your personality which makes you more relatable, but overall there’s a huge deal of imposter syndrome and you can’t help but compare yourself to others. I wouldn’t have a brand without social media, but it’s frustrating to be in the pocket of Facebook so much! The way I think about it though, if you had a business pre-social media you would have to pay for marketing and this is just a different way of doing that. Plus, I’ve made so many friends through my business social media accounts and built a reputation of personable customer service, I’ll say it’s a help!

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

SO MUCH ADVICE! I actually started a YouTube channel because I’m famous for offering (giving) unsolicited advice to unwitting friends who are thinking of starting their own brands, it just bursts out of me! (I think because I miss training people, it was the best part of my previous retail job). My main advice for anyone thinking of starting a brand is to just go for it, you will have plenty of people giving you their two-cents and putting you off, but if you have a vision for a business then do whatever you can to make it work. Read everything related to your business model (especially marketing), chat to other brand owners, do your research and be open minded. Making mistakes is the only way you can properly learn so don’t be afraid to try new things. Oh, and start small! The lower your overheads, the faster you can grow!I’d like my business to expand into a lifestyle brand and soon (in the next week or so) I’ll release my first hand-made jewellery collection using vintage and dead-stock beads. Later into Spring I’ll launch my first vintage homeware collection which I’m super excited about! Once Covid is a distant memory I’d like to have a more physical presence and regularly host Pop-Up shops.

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

Mariana Pires – I collaborate with Mariana tons on campaign shoots and editorials, we clicked instantly and both have a super similar vision. She’s a creative genius and has such an incredible eye for detail. She’s a filmmaker and photographer. The Pansy Garden for incredible prairie dresses, statement dresses and rare finds. She’s a friend of mine, a fellow Geordie and so knowledgeable about the industry. Alice Passingham Ceramics for super cute one off pieces. We recently collaborated on a collection and have another coming out in March!Anonoma Jewellery – Natasha is an angel and her teeth marks ring haunts my dreams, especially the gold with tooth gem! I die!Els Crochet – Ellen just started her brand and makes very Paloma Wool vibe pieces! I’m obsessed with her bags. Hannah Glenn is another bag designer and angel, her frilled gingham bags are iconic and she has the best eye for print and colour. Benjamin Fox – Ciara creates incredible vintage inspired blouses and dresses and finds the besssstttttt dead-stock fabrics to make them from!Sophie Cull Candy is a creative babe and has incredible style. She makes AMAZING gloves and has an excellent eye for print. Moss Omey makes slip dresses from dead-stock and vintage silks and one day I will commission her to make me a dress for my hypothetical wedding!

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

Lolo NYC by Lauren Williams

As this blog shows there are a plethora of awesome makers, designers and creators producing the most amazing products, and Lauren Williams of Lolo NYC is at the forefront of curating a space to celebrate them. Across the Atlantic ocean, Lauren is working away to showcase these collections of thoughtfully designed pieces by creating a tactile and immersive space for customers to enjoy. From ceramics, glassware and stationery to soap and rugs; Lolo NYC has it all!

Retail as an experience is so important, having worked in it myself for many years, nothing beats a well considered boutique and the act of actually touching and feeling products. Independent shops, such as, Lolo are under a severe amount of constant pressure to stay afloat and any support is essential, especially after the year we’ve had! If I find myself in NYC anytime soon (I 100% wish) I know where i’d be heading… straight to Lolo to get one of the face glasses by Tak Tak… I die.

See what the lovely Lauren has to say below…

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

My name is Lauren Williams Russett and I’m the founder of Lolo! I studied Apparel Design at RISD and worked as a women’s fashion designer in NYC for 8 years before founding Lolo. At least 2 of those years were spent planning Lolo secretly in my overworked noggin. Lolo is a Brooklyn based retail store (and soon-to-be coffeeshop!) replete with items for your home and your body. We focus on hand-made and thoughtfully designed pieces by emerging artists and designers. Nearly all of our inventory is by female identifying makers and/or majority women-owned businesses, but we welcome all folks and all genders to the roster and in the space. We are committed to continuously expanding the diversity of these makers. 

2.What are your Inspirations?  

I am constantly inspired by interiors, new and old, for color schemes, shapes, patterns, textures, etc. A part of me has always regretted studying fashion instead of interiors, but I do think that both worlds flow together.
In regards to general ideas, whether creative or business-wise, I always come up with something during a long run while my mind travels. Sometimes I run in silence, sometimes with a podcast. Both ways always produce some sort of idea that gets dropped into my notes app on my phone. Probably 70% of these ideas are complete shit, but yay to the other 30% and to exercise!

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

Oh man, I hate to say that my brand relies so much on an app owned by Facebook, but it really does right now! Instagram has been a huge help during Covid while my IRL shop is closed. I used to rely mostly on my in-store sales and I used to gain new customers by word of mouth in the neighborhood or through good ol’ strolling-down-the-block-discovery. But now that I temporarily have no IRL presence, I’ve really come to rely on connecting with people through social media. Instead of talking to customers face to face, I’ve been doing it through DM’s and emails. And in return, I have so many new international and out of state customers (and friends!). Instagram is also just a generally fabulous tool to discover new brands and like-minded artists. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a “potential vendors” folder in my instagram of tagged images I connect with 😉 What’s so great about having a multi brand shop is that I can essentially make a physical space out of saved images and surround myself and others with the work of brilliant, creative minds.

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

I’d love for my business to no longer be bootstrapped! Bootstrapped means everything the business makes right now is basically totally reinvested into the business. I’ve barely had the chance to take a salary for myself yet and am relying on savings. I plan on opening a new retail shop/coffee shop combo this Spring… a year behind schedule for various 2020 reasons. My goal is that the double source of revenue gets Lolo’s boots unstrapped, ha! Doing so would mean I could take more risks, pay people more, and buy more things for the shop!
My advice to other entrepreneurs, especially after these past several months, would be not to rush anything and to let cues from the universe pace you a bit. Covid slowed me down, but definitely for the better. Lolo had a weird sort of luck this year in the sense that my lease on my previous retail shop ended March 1st 2020… about 2 weeks before NYC went into lockdown. This released me from the rent of an unusable space. My agreement with the landlords at my new, future space is that I do not need to pay rent until construction is completed. If I had unnaturally rushed things, I may not be in this very lucky situation.

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

Recently, I’ve been totally obsessed with everything I see Emma Kohlmann making. Those burnt wood frames around her paintings?! I gasped. Her show at Jack Hanley Gallery was stunning and created a little world full of detail that I would love to live in.

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!