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/

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.