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

Psychic Outlaw by Rebecca Wright.

As Instagram start-up businesses go, Psychic Outlaw have grown from strength to strength, with an instantly recognisable product. Now with a small team working on this recycling, reimagining and handmade goodness, this business is an absolute success story- owner and creator Rebecca Wright must be so proud of the community she’s formed.

With two main product options available- the quilted collection and bandanna collections- this focus on a classic silhouette alongside vintage and recycled fabrics is a win. With a tailored, one off service you are able to have your dream coat or jacket created just for you: Psychic Outlaw is the epitome of sustainable small batch making and is a new and exciting way of consuming fashion.

I once saw the team address peoples concerns about their use of antique quilts, which is a totally fair concern as many of these vintage quilts are the result of the creators love and hard work; with the concern that these timeless patchworks are being cut up for a, dare I say it, current trend. These concerns were met with absolute understanding, awareness and respect for the vintage, one-off fabrics they are using- with many of the quilts they offer being damaged beyond repair or the customer supplying their own. Psychic Outlaw, in my opinion, provides a service whereby customers are able to reimagine and recycle cherished fabrics, re-creating a family heirloom or much loved vintage quilt and giving it a new lease of life.

The individual service that is available within this growing business should be recognised by large retail giants. With a genuine concern and love for their customers and appreciators, Psychic Outlaw is paving the way for an exciting and personal online retail approach.

See what Rebecca answered to the usual questions…

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand. I began sewing as a child, making outfits for my dolls with hand stitching & hot glue. I got more into fashion in my mid 20’s & I decided to make it my career. In college I studied Fibres & Textile Design, fashion has always just been a fun hobby/ way of self expression. I was originally using the Psychic Outlaw name as my vintage clothing resale shop and then I started adding in a few of my handmade pieces here and there. When I saw the demand more specifically for my handmade goods, that is when I decided to go full force with my handmade items which was the birth of Psychic Outlaw as we know it today. 
  1. What are your Inspirations?  The textiles themselves inspire me within Psychic Outlaw. I’m a textile freak! I love anything vintage and cool and beautiful. I see something I love, and want to figure out how to wear it. Fashion is so important to me so I always try to combine textiles and fashion. I have a great love of thrifting and adventure hunting – being creative with what you have is my true inspiration.
  1. Lets chat about social media- a hindrance or help? Social media is an amazing tool if you are a business trying to connect with people. It provides the ability to give great customer service without having a store front. That’s a big reason why our brand does really well – we respond to all DMs and talk to our customers everyday.
  1.  Where would you like your business to be in a few years and do you have any advice? I think that the way that I’d like to grow is to have more products and more designs. I would love for COVID to go away so we can start attending events within our community. I love to have really good products to go along with our classics and to continue to recycle and build within our community of creatives. My advice would be to never stop creating, finish what you start, and work on your art everyday.

5. Who are your favourite small businesses or creatives doing interesting things? @Lifershop, @shesbobbylynn @squidvishuss, @mercedezrexdesigns @shelbyrahe, @jxnart, and many vintage sellers

Holly Elder

Holly Elder’s work is juxtaposed between contemporary and ancient. With hammered textures, rich gold or silver and subtle but strong designs; Holly’s work is a master class in finding an awesome angle and running to the hills with it. I love her work.

This streamlined vision, bound up in reinterpretation, showcases Hollys’ mastery and skill alongside her interest, not only in history, but collections and objects: With carefully considered ancient relics forming the base of her work. Holly pinpoints the Pitt Rivers Museum as a source of inspiration. For those that love historical collections, the Pitt Rivers is a mecca for anyone interested in the area (as well as a base for many debates around controversial anthropological museum collections and how they should be displayed and interpreted now…but that’s for a different time!) This inspiration can be seen in her work, with a respect clearly visible in how she has used and manipulated the ancient objects.

There are so many (brilliant) emerging jewellery designers showcasing their work currently, it must be difficult to find a niche beyond what is trendy or ‘in fashion’. Holly has created a collection that is weighted in a strong vision and ethos, which is what sets Hollys work apart from many. It is absolute evidence of that if you march to the beat of your own drum, shallow trends need not apply.

See what Holly has to say about her work below…

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

Hello, I’m Holly and I’m a jeweller and silversmith living in Brighton. I studied 3D Design & Craft at Brighton University where I quickly favoured the metal workshop. I’ve always had an admiration of objects and collecting, but I wasn’t quite sure how I could translate this creatively. When I was introduced to silversmithing I instantly fell in love with the craft and realised that jewellery was the perfect way to merge my love of objects and making. 

My current jewellery collection is an exploration of found objects. All the pieces have originally been found with a metal detector by a third party and originate from the roman era dating back to the 1st-4th century AD! I have replicated and transformed them into wearable pieces; the collection features a hand holding an olive, a bucking stallion and the Head of Mars. 

  1. What are your Inspirations?

I remember visiting the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford before starting university and I was instantly mesmerised by the hundreds of beautifully curated historical objects displayed. It’s a real explosion of history, craft and curios, ranging from clothing and tools to shrunken heads! As well as the objects themselves I poured over the meticulously curated cabinets and display boxes; another object I’ve since started collecting. 

I was lucky enough to visit the jewellery exhibition ‘Schmuck’ in Munich on a university trip. It was the first time I was introduced to the world of contemporary jewellery and it really opened my eyes to the potential of what jewellery and objects can be. Personal highlights were the work of Maria Militsi, Karl Fritsch, Lisa Walker, Warwick Freeman, Otto Kunzli, Sigurd Bronger…

I also have a big love affair with Rachel Whiteread. Her work brings me a constant source of intrigue, I love her selection and use of objects in her craft and the way she explores and manipulates them. 

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

Both! I definitely have days where I find Instagram frustrating and it can be hard to not compare yourself with others. It’s easy to get too wrapped up in the online world and forget that jewellery is to be worn and experienced IRL! That being said I think that Instagram acts as a great platform for creatives and makers to showcase their work. I like to see it as a virtual museum.

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

I’m excited to see how my business grows and how what I collect informs my collection. I would love to be at the bench making every day. I want to focus on continuing to be interested and intrigued with my craft and continue hunting down objects; I’d love to get my own metal detector or mudlarking licence! In terms of advice, I’d say it’s never the right time to put your work out there, just do it now! It’s really important to just keep on making.

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

I’ve recently got into all things folklore so I’ve really been enjoying folk_pile, endlessmummer and weird_walk for that. I love the king and queen of mudlarking; jasonmudlark and london.mudlark ! I think the most interesting jewellers I’ve been following recently are georgiakemball and joy_bc and I’m also really enjoying anonymousworksinc for eccentric historical objects!

Ugly Rugly by Lauren and Cole

As you read through Lauren and Coles’ inspirations in the below blog post, you instantly, or I do anyway, want to be their friend. From Anni Albers to recent theories on the big bang, these inspirations aren’t on all your usual go-to mood boards and that makes me happy and comforted- like a big warm aesthetically pleasing and historically engaging hug.

Ugly Rugly (named after the first rug Lauren made) is a melting pot of handmade goods, in all my favourite colours. From coasters that look like the word ‘splat!’; massive, beautifully made graphic rugs; to awesome interchangeable bags. It’s all fun but with good design practices and sturdy materials throughout their collections. With that in mind, I love to see what is happening currently in New York with so many creative small business emerging and gaining recognition, moving beyond Instagram and looking at expansion: Ugly Rugly is very much a part of this movement. With their sights set on expanding their product archive and opening a space to share their vision and broaden their community.

The funny thing about Instagram is that its this humongous global app with millions of people on it. However, so far, many of the businesses I chat to that begin there are so centred on community, focussing on locality as well as honing and nurturing their craft. It’s refreshing…and that is what Ugly Rugly (and so many of these businesses are) is, refreshing. Good quality products, considered and well made with a wonderful ethos behind it.

Here is what Lauren and Cole had to say…

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand.

Hi there! I’m Lauren and I am the co-founder of Ugly Rugly. My husband, Cole, and I began Ugly Rugly in 2018 as a side project making funky rugs and other textile-y homegoods. The name Ugly Rugly comes from the first rug I made, it was a very wonky uneven rag rug (that still lives in my kitchen!) and I called it my little Ugly Rugly it is imperfect but it brings so much joy to me that I just wanted to keep making more rugs!

My background is in Fashion Design and Retail. I started Ugly Rugly as a side project while I was working at a corporate job. I wasn’t miserable there but I just felt like I wanted to do more. So I started playing around with making rag rugs and rope rugs, from there Cole came on board and we taught ourselves how to use a tufting gun and began creating bright and unusual rugs and home goods. We love to push our mediums, using rope in new ways, playing with unconventional silhouettes and abstract motifs. Our whole purpose with Ugly Rugly is to have fun with it and make objects for your home that make you laugh and lighten up a space. We do most of our production in-house and that’s one of the best parts for me. I love to sew and make things, but I especially love production and manufacturing. The covid crisis has really messed up our production schedule and made timing things very difficult but we just moved into a little studio in Brooklyn NY and are working on releasing some new rugs and other items in (hopefully!) November that we’re really excited about.

  1. What are your Inspirations?

Cole and I are both inspired by early 20th century art movements like abstract expressionism, for example Helen Frankenthaller and Hans Hoffman. We also are inspired by the Suprematist movement Lissitzky and Malevich – both in the spirit of revolution and the work that accompanies it. Along with the Bauhaus movement and modern design movement, Josef and Anni Albers and Charles and Ray Eames. I believe that the core of our design philosophy is heavily influenced by those movements.

Beyond that, I often draw inspiration from Science Fiction. I’m endlessly fascinated by our natural world and space as an extension of it. Lately I’ve read nearly all of Octavia Butler’s books, Hyperion from Dan Simmons, and Adrian Tchaikovsky. The recent news of a new map being designed similar to the Voyager Golden Record using pulsar stars as guideposts for the galaxy and Penrose’s new theory about the big bang are just a few of many fascinating and inspiring space developments.
I’m always checking out books from the library (pre-covid!) and learning new techniques or researching historical textiles/fibers/etc. I love researching the American arts and craft and textile manufacturing processes of earlier eras. Cole and I both grew up on farms in Central California and are the descendants of Dust Bowl migrants (think Grapes of Wrath) and I’m  inspired by the do-it-yourself and inherently sustainable nature of the textiles from that era. Nothing went to waste and people problem solved as they went along, I like to think both Cole and I both draw on that spirit when designing and making.

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

Social Media is a huge help. Marketing is the part of this business that I’m newest to and having a tool like instagram has been a huge help in getting the word out about Ugly Rugly! I think it works best if we don’t take it too seriously and just use it as a tool for sharing. I try not to get too wrapped up in engagement or how many likes we get. I’m happiest when we keep things authentic and sometimes that means ignoring the algorithm!

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

In the near future we want to begin expanding into new products categories and trying out some different mediums and methods of construction for rugs, and ultimately to move into using more recycled materials if possible. I used to teach sewing and that’s something I would like to continue doing in the future. Ultimately, we would like Ugly Rugly to expand into a workshop storefront. I would love to have a space where we can showcase our work and our friend’s work, teach classes, take on production jobs, and have a design studio. I envision it as an equitable space where people openly share skills and talk about ways to bring their ideas to life.

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

There are so many friends doing amazing projects! You’ve already interviewed our bud Marissa of Off Beat Sweet but some other faves are:

@myfawnwy  – does amazing stuff with marbling
@bodylanguageshop – plant hangers
@Chunksshop – makes the coolest hair clips
@travissswinford – making clocks and blobby tables@rosegreenberg – wacky pillows
@shopberriez – best vintage

Mantel by Sadie Perry

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

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

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

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

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

2. What are your Inspirations? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lefty by Izzy Kross

As Izzy Kross, owner and maker of Lefty, mentions below: The push and pull/positive and negatives of Instagram are always an interesting point of conversation, however, you cannot fault this weird photo app for bringing together communities and allowing people to forge their own slices of business. I love that about it, I love that I was able to, by chance, see Izzy’s awesome work- all the way in NY- and then share it with you guys.

I also fucking love marbling. The colour combinations. The patterns. The unpredictability. I just love it. I think it stems from a childhood memory of marbling paper in primary school, the process and colours were always a winner for me.

Due to the more complex and temperamental dyeing process of Ebru marbling, it’s rare that you see well done marbled garments and fabrics. So, when I stumbled across Lefty and the work of Izzy, I was an instant fan. With the perfectly cut trousers, silk scarves and ruched tops, Izzys’ collection is considered and streamlined and her vision is clear and well executed. Can we also just discuss the colour combinations? sickly and erratic in 100% the best way possible. Lefty has my need for marbling and perfectly cut trousers covered.

Here is what Izzy has to say about Lefty, her process so far and where she would like it to go…

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

My name is Izzy Kross. I am 27, originally from the lower east side + Brooklyn. My background is in video editing, animation, and graphic design. I am a Scorpio Sun, Scorpio Moon, and Leo rising, for my astrology heads out there 😉 I had the idea to start Lefty almost 4 years ago, when I decided I wanted to see a specific pair of pants come to life, with all original textiles. I was kind of tired of seeing plaids, checker prints, polka dots, etc. being the only thing available for pant fabrics. So, having no experience in making clothes, I started the long process of peeling back the curtain of clothing manufacturing, and after years of meeting people, asking questions, and trial and error, I finally got my bearings enough to make my first garment. But, as I said, I hadn’t seen enough original textiles for clothing manufacturing, and I didn’t want my pieces to look like any other brand. I had become obsessed with marbling around the same time I started the clothing manufacturing deep dive, so I simultaneously started teaching myself how to marble out of my tiny apartment in Bed Stuy. Again, lots of trial and error went into perfecting my own personal process. Marbling is a very tricky, very messy, and very temperamental medium, but the pay off is extremely rewarding. After corona shut down NY and I no longer had to work full time in the city, I spent a lot of my quarantine setting all the pieces in place to finally launch Lefty. I am really grateful I am able to be in a safe and secure environment that has allowed me to focus on this brand. Really excited to share what new pieces I have in the works!

  1. What are your Inspirations?

As I mentioned, I have a graphic design and animation background, so I am always applying that to Lefty. As far as people go, I am extremely inspired by my peers and seeing other young people starting projects where they can do what they love and actually support themselves. As far as music, I’m all over the map in that I will have Wings, Playboi Carti, and Donna Summer all on one playlist bumping in the studio. I guess that kind of range does subconsciously inspire my prints?

 

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

Well, I hate to say it, but it feels pretty essential for any small business at this point in time. I don’t think I would have been able to share what I am doing with such a large group of people in any other way. Trust me, the amount of times I have deleted the IG app is wild at this point, and yes I get frustrated trying to post every day on the Lefty IG, and yes my personal account is pretty much a meme dumping ground, but I am grateful that I can promote what I’m making right now. I definitely attribute the boom in small businesses to social media promotion. They go hand in hand these days! 

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

Hmm…Ideally, I would love to have a few set pieces always in the shop, and multiple collaborations a year. I feel like I am on my way. The direction it is headed in is definitely the dream. Just gotta find some assistants pretty soon 😉 I’m still kind of a newbie in all of this, but my favourite piece of advice that I live by in all areas of my life is – seriously – treat people how you would like to be treated. It’s cliché, but it works. If you’re fun and easy to work with, the word will get around. I also have no problem sharing information with people who are interested in starting their own brand or learning to marble. Please, hit me up, and ask away. These are trades that are meant to be shared, and we can all bring something new to the table. I’m really not on that competitive tip. There’s plenty of room for everyone to succeed!

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

I am lucky enough to know a lot of great designers in NYC. For example, Tyler McGillivary, Nick at Small Talk Studio, and my good friend Celia Torvisco all have their own brands, and I LOVE talking with them and learning about their process. I definitely feel super lucky to know them all.  There are so many other creative small businesses out there that I love, it would be hard to only list a few 😉

The Rusty Pin by Alice Ridgway

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

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

1. Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

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

2. What are your Inspirations?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dye Baby by Charlie P.T

I’ve personally known Charlie for a few years, some would call it an Internet friendship, I would call it a mutual love of tack, Japan and vintage: She is a fellow grown up mosher. One of the good ones, Charlie, was always going to be one of the first I wanted to include in this project.

When she started Dye Baby I knew this was going to be born of an amalgamation of awesomeness. From the best colour combos, oversize fits and great collaborations with brands such TSPTR, she is onto a winner and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

  1. Tell us about yourself and your brand. 

 Hey! I’m Charlie and my brand is Dye Baby. I dye and bleach textiles, garments and vintage clothes using low immersion techniques, as sustainably as possible (but I’m not a “sustainable brand” – eww). I started dyeing stuff about a decade ago when I was very into japanese repro and vintage, specifically sashiko/boro and indigo techniques (would LOVE to go to Japan and study it further). Just under 2 years ago I started taking it a bit more seriously/experimenting with palettes, different types of dye and tying techniques and then in April of 2019 I started Dye Baby. The name was never meant to be permanent but… it’s still here so I guess it is?

  1. What are your Inspirations?

Inspiration comes from all over the place. I studied History of Arts & Crafts at uni and became obsessed with vintage fabrics, vintage palettes and the ancient methods of dyeing and weaving textiles pretty early on. Odd surfaces and natural materials inspire me (pebbles, rock formations, peeling paint, marble) How colours, mix, combine and look side by side. Artists such as Philip Guston, Georgia O’Keefe, Gunta Stolzl (and the bauhaus weaving workshop generally), Saloua Raouda Choucair (omg love her so much) and obv Yayoi Kusama all inspire and continue to inspire. 

I think I’m propelled forward by politics and a constant rage – if I’m able to keep this tiny business afloat then maybe I can pass on my good fortune whether that’s sharing skills or contributing funds to causes and political movements I think are important.

 My lord and saviour John Waters is a constant reminder to ‘have faith in your own bad taste’, and basically give no shits. He keeps me on the straight and narrow – working hard and never for popularities sake. 

 Pop culture forevs; bootlegs, Nora Ephron interiors, Japanese cartoons, early 2000’s MTV, Buffy, nu-metal, crisp packets, Croydon, Troma movies, Anthony Bourdain, fruits magazine, Kathleen Hannah, Amanda Lepore, Marques Almeida, bubble tea and holographic stickers. 

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

 I love and hate it. Most, if not all, of my business has come via instagram in some way or another so that’s been great. It’s an amazing platform for small businesses to use but I think the pressure to stay relevant, create content and promote ‘reach’ is so detrimental. I’m sure some artists and makers find it comes naturally to them, but for me it’s a cesspool. I find I constantly compare myself to more successful brands and really struggle with the algorithm (they are always moving the goalposts and it’s exhausting). I don’t think Instagram is particularly useful in terms of creativity or productivity BUT I find it incredibly important re: activism and making sure I’m informed of current events, political news and for sourcing resources. 

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

I’d like to get to a point where I’m able to start producing more textiles and working with other decorative techniques (rather than just dyeing garments). At the moment I’m flat-out with wholesale and soon I’ll start producing bits and bobs for the holiday season – it doesn’t give me much time to play which I miss. I’m super grateful that I’ve been able to grow Dye Baby, especially this year, but going forward it’ll definitely be a little more experimental, working with high end fabrics, interior pieces and… weirder stuff. And hopefully I’ll become more organised? 

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

I’m mostly here for that good good fashion history/curation but below are my faves biz/creatives wise 

@risaasama (followed her since day 1, no ceramics compare imo – pure joy. I’m so obsessed with Nerikomi it hurts).

@louisemcquillanstudio

@aislingduffydesigns

@myfawnwy

@briannanus

@3womenco

@3_3_4_7

@ed_curtis__

@asata.maise

@purautz

@delphine.denereaz

@julia__heuer

@Nata store 

@mariahdisnaecarey