Five Go Mad

Saturday 31 July 2010

Q and A with Brat and Suzie

Designer Polly Vickery and Illustrator Louise Boulter are the duo behind Brat and Suzie, a British Label kicking up a storm with their printed men and women's illustrated t-shirts, vests and canvas bags. With their original, quirky illustrations set against bright bold colours and a range of interesting shapes and styles, their pieces are a welcome addition to your summer wardrobe.

How did Brat and Suzie start? 
We started 2 years ago, first we made a small range of t-shirts to sell at the back yard market in Brick Lane and it grew from there.

Who's behind Brat and Suzie?
Polly Vickery is the main driving force behind the brand. Louise Boulter provided the first illustrations and her drawings still dominate the main range along with some new illustrators we’ve met along the way. 

Were there any particular challenges starting up?
No money, no time, no space!

Who is the Brat and Suzie customer? 
Our customers are hard to pin down, our main target is fashionable girls and guys aged between 14-35 but we find our appeal is much wider. Our prints have been spotted on Vanessa from the Saturdays, Daisy Lowe and Drew from Babyshambles, so pretty varied.

Where do you get your inspiration from for your designs?  
All over! Maybe a dog on the street, fairy tales, flicker, blogs and old books we pick up.

What techniques do you use for printing your t shirts? 
All our garments are screen printed by hand.

What's your best seller from your range?
The Catbow is the best seller.

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment we are working on sweatshirts and winter prints for when the weather take a turn for the worst. Later in the year we are hoping to develop a clothing line to sit alongside the tee’s and vests.

Are you an eco-friendly company? 
Yes all our garments are made by manufactures that encourage and assist the entire supply chain to adopt environmentally sustainable and ethical production methods.

Are there any British designers which you admire? 
Peter Jensen (based in England), Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood.

What comes to mind when you think Quintessentially British?
Love of animals, Cups of tea, patterned tablecloths, Michael Caine,
talking about the weather, fish and chips, Brighton beach.

How did you get involved with FiveGoMad?
We met at a craft sale.

What's next for Brat and Suzie? 
Clothing range, opening more stores in Europe and the World!

By Liz Appleby

Q and A with Hucklebones

Hucklebones create children's clothing which pay great attention to the finest of details. Their delicate pieces are made from beautiful fabrics which are tailored to perfection. Their Autumn/Winter range for 2010 is elegant and classic, timeless pieces for your little loved ones to enjoy all year around.

Photography by Alan Bremner courtesy of Hucklebones.

What made you decide to set up Hucklebones?
We always wanted to combine our skills, right from days back in school (where we met) and felt a clothing line would create all the exciting opportunities and variety we were looking for. I'd been hand making small lines of children's clothes for several years, selling them in local boutiques and gifting them to god daughters, nieces and friends. I Wanted to embellish those designs with Dan's beautiful illustrations, it seemed a natural progression. We both felt inspired to create something that brought a little extra excitement to the children's fashion market, Winter 2007 Hucklebones was born.

How important do you think independent businesses are to the market?
Independent businesses are wonderful, usually the ones able to be most creative and can offer such unique design. They offer the consumer choice and chance to be part of something quite special. 

Where does your inspiration come from for your designs?
We're inspired by anything and everything, we're always looking at our surroundings and little things in life which catch our eye. One of our favorite pastimes is wandering around markets and antiques fairs. Last time we visited one we came home with a small rusty bicycle, wooden sledge and handful of old keys, treasure to us! We're also inspired by men's and women's fashion and strongly believe clothing for children should have as much consideration as adults, it needn't be emblazoned with child-like graphics or use garish colours. Vintage items are always a great inspiration to us too.

Do you consider yourself a British company?
Yes. Our office is based in London and all ideas are born there. We source many fabrics from the U.K including Scottish cloth and trims. We always take inspiration from our surroundings, London is such a creative hub its hard not to feel inspired, we love converting that energy into our products.

Are your products made in the UK?
No, however they're designed and developed in the UK and finally made in Europe.

What are your favourite materials to work with for your pieces?
One is printed silks, we always create a new design each season and print using inks that have a low environmental impact using EU certified dyes. Our silk items are always some of the most popular styles in the collection, great for busy mums as machine washable too. 

What is your favourite design from your current range?
The Hucklebones A/W 10 pocket dress. Made with cloth woven in Scotland, comes in two colours Honey and Raspberry. It's a really chic A-line dress with sweet pocket detail at the front and small pleats at the shoulder. Its a great piece for winter worn with tights, a warm and stylish outfit (see photo right).

(Photography by Alan Bremner courtesy of Hucklebones).

Which British designer would you most like to work with? 
Grace Coddington, she never ceases to amaze us with her beautiful editorials. Utterly breathtaking work.

FiveGoMad is a "Quintessentially British" website, what does "Best of British" mean for you?
Bangers & mash, London buses, tea & cakes, great pubs and a good sense of humor. Oh and the continuous optimism for winning sporting events!

What do you think makes British style unique?
The creativity and diversity means there is a wonderful eclectic mix of talent. Something for everyone and more. 

Who is your favourite British icon and why?
Someone who had incredible foresight and we are reminded of so often is Capability Brown. His vast portfolio of work which still endures today, and is a constantly changing canvas throughout the seasons.

What's next for Hucklebones?
We are continuing to grow the collection, each time we offer a little bit more, always creating new styles and silhouettes. We are planning to expand the range too so watch this space.

By Liz Appleby

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Q & A with Michelle O'Neill of Angel Cashmere

Angel Cashmere sell unique baby gifts that every mum needs. The baby blankets are a popular item from their range, made from the softest, most luxurious 100% pure cashmere or 100% pure lamereWith bright vibrant designs and bold colours they are the perfect gift for friends or family, or a special gift for your new born baby. Angel Cashmere's, Michelle O'Neill talks to FiveGoMad about finding their niche in the market and what's coming up soon from Angel Cashmere. 

Why did you decide to start Angel Cashmere? 
I decided to try working for myself whilst on maternity leave, after first baby Harry. The idea of working long hours for someone else no longer appealed and I loved the idea of working within the baby product industry. After a conversation with my brother, Jamie, about my unsuccessful search for a contemporary cashmere baby blanket, we spotted a gap in the market and decided we could bring to market an original, stylish product. Jamie studied textiles and was working in the Scottish cashmere industry.  
Where are you based? 
Singapore, I followed my husband when he was relocated with work. Jamie has relocated to Beijing and continues to work in the cashmere industry. I manage Angel Cashmere from Singapore. We have a friend based in the UK who holds our stock and ships orders on our behalf.   

Where do your ideas come from for your ranges? what inspires? 
One of the most important factors initially was finding the right colours. We love the deep raspberry, aqua and chocolate colours we settled on for our bubble design blanket. Our bubble blanket is quite a retro design, I liked that at the time and wanted it to have that feel, bring a modern edge too  

The cashmere stripe design using lighter shades of the bubble design is for those looking for a more traditional design. We have fantastic new designs we’re working on at the moment, completely different to the bubble and stripe, very modern. I don’t want to give too much away, look out for them at the end of the year.

You are both from Scotland, is there a Scottish influence in your work?  
Our first designs weren't influenced by Scotland, the fact we started with the fabric cashmere definitely was. Growing up in Scotland we were surrounded by the cashmere industry and with Jamie’s background it seemed the obvious starting point.  We have discussed introducing a Scottish element to our future designs, of course it will be in a contemporary manner to fit in with our current product ranges, wait and see!

Do you have a favourite piece from your ranges? 
Our first blanket, the bubble design. Not just the design, also that it's two blankets hand stitched together, really cosy. My daughter has one she has used for two years, it's aged so well and gets softer every time we wash it, she loves it. 

Where do you source your gorgeous fabrics from? 
The finest cashmere comes form the goats that graze in Inner Mongolia and China. Their exposure to the most extreme climate results in the softest white cashmere. With Jamie in Beijing he can ensure we buy only the very best, softest white cashmere fibre, directly from the source. He manages the production from start to finish resulting in the excellent high quality blankets we have. 

Are the toys a recent addition to the Angel Cashmere brand? Are you planning to diversify further?  
Yes they are. We wanted to introduce a few lower priced, high quality, products so our customers, if they wish, can purchase a toy to go with a blanket, or buy only toys if they choose. They’re really popular. This week we introduced some gorgeous, very cute, fair trade and organic toys. I'd also like to introduce a small range of clothes, look for these arriving soon too.

Who is the Angel Cashmere customer?  
Angel customers are looking for that special baby gift for a dear friend or family member.  They’re willing to spend a little more, they know we put a lot of care into every order and it will arrive beautifully gift wrapped. Also new modern mums who want and are able to afford a gorgeous cashmere blanket for their precious new baby. The small investment is for life, the blankets are a special keep sake for the baby as they grow up, our customers understand this.

What are you working on at the moment?  
Looking at new textiles, camels and bamboos.  They’re lovely fabrics, with a really soft hand touch, we know we can produce quality products at very reasonable costs.  We have two new blanket designs in the pipeline using these.  

Why did you decide to join FiveGoMad? 
The website is very appealing and the products to be sold through the website are fantastic.  I’m often approached to sell my products through various sites, but unless I imagine shopping on the site myself I decline, I will definitely use FiveGoMad for my own shopping. I could imagine Angel Cashmere customers would shop there too.

What do you like to do when you aren't working?  
Travel, South East Asia is a fantastic base from which to explore. We’re making the most of free time we get here. It's changed slightly now, traveling with two kids, no backpacking, it's slightly more sophisticated. I'm growing to like that more.

What's next up for Angel Cashmere? 
We’re very excited about introducing new products towards the end of the year, so keep watching!

By Liz Appleby 

Sunday 25 July 2010

Q and A with Marte Frisnes

Marte Frisnes started out designing jewellery as a hobby. Marte creates simple and delicate pieces of jewellery which are all incredibly stylish. Her signature pieces are hand made and Frisne now dedicates herself to her craft full time. Her use of imperfectly cut, organic shapes and semiprecious stones makes her pieces fun and unique. Perfect for layering or wearing on their own, they are sure to add a hint of chic to any outfit. 

What is your first memory of being creative?
I spent large parts of my childhood on the beach looking for little bits of shells, stones, glass, old china and wood that I could put on a string or make into something. I always loved making things. Growing up on a small island as an only child means you have to develop your inner resources. 

How did your career in jewellery design start?
I was living in Oslo back then, after spending the summer in south of France where there was plenty of gorgeous costume jewellery in the shops. I was disappointed to return to Oslo to find the offer was very limited. It started with some simple beaded bracelets for friends and soon moved on, the demand was instant. It was never a business idea, more a hobby that developed into a livelihood.

What attracted you to jewellery?
I’m a very visual person so I am drawn to anything I find beautiful in any shape or form. Jewellery is a beautiful thing to make, not only for its aesthetic value, also the positive association they can carry for the owners. People contact regularly to say how much they love a certain piece of jewellery I made, which they were given for a special occasion or a special person.

Any advice for aspiring jewellery designers?
It's important to figure out what you are good at and what you like, then you can find your style and work within that range. Jewellery has a longer life span than clothes and can therefore be more like signature pieces.

What materials do you enjoy working with?
I love buying stones because of the individuality and beauty they have, and metals are great to work with because of the endless possibilities they offer. 

What techniques do you use to design your pieces?
Sometimes things happen by accident, other times I plan it out from a drawing or model, then source materials and make it.

Where does your inspiration come from for your designs?
I’m a scrapbook person, always collecting bits from exhibitions, magazines, fabrics, photos, etc to put in my books. I also do a lot of drawing and find ideas in nature and vintage jewellery.

Do you have a favourite piece yourself?
I obviously adore jewellery and like wearing all the designs. I have been layering lots of smaller, skinny necklaces for a while but at the moment I am really into wearing lots of bracelets together.

What is you best selling item?
It constantly changes, but I would say the large butterfly necklace.

Which of your creative contemporaries do you admire?
Creatively, I admire people who are good with colours like Keith Tyson in his Nature paintings and painter Peter Doig. It's great to see people appreciating their own strengths and making the most out of the opportunities that brings.

How did you hear about FiveGoMad?
Through a friend.

What does Quintessentially British mean to you?
Fun, quirky, individual with integrity. 

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?
Spending time with my 2 year old daughter Stella and partner Oliver. I like having family and friends around, cooking a lovely meal with a glass of wine in hand. If I’m not at home I love to travel and trawl flea markets looking for bits and piece of inspiration or for our home.

Do you have a favourite haunt in London?
One can’t possibly have only one favourite place in London, there are so many great ones! I do love Portobello on Friday mornings, Brick Lane for vintage and Alfie’s Antiques. Felt is a great jewellery shop on Chelsea Green that has a mix of unusual and pretty pieces. For restaurants I love the West End; like Randall & Aubin for its simple food and relaxed atmosphere and Barrafina for its amazing tapas.  

What can we expect next from Marte Frisnes?
I am always looking for new elements to put into the designs and currently I am trying to incorporate fabrics and treads to the jewellery. Enamel is another element that would be great to work with to bring more colours into the designs. I have done more training this year to learn new skills which will come through going forward. 

Liz Appleby

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