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. 

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)

Aisling Duffy

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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