Friday, 26 October 2012

Chocolate Creative - Handmade Homewares


Today we chat to chocolate creative; another designer featured in We Make London's new book, Inspired:London



What is name and background behind your company? 
The name is chocolate creative, I founded the brand after many years working as a graphic designer back in Spain and in London. I felt I wanted to do something more hands on and to do with textiles so I began to study textiles and printmaking, and after selling the first cushions collection to Mint, the homeware shop in London,  I realized this is what I wanted to do, so started to invest my time, energy and money on creating chocolate creative.



Where are you based?
 I am based in my studio at home, in South London and in Spain where my partner works most of the time on the wooden products.

How long have you been in business for? 
I opened the online shop in November 2008, together with the blog.

What do you love most about living in London? 
The amazing opportunities this city brings you every day. And how many exciting events, places, architecture, people and many more you can get to meet and see, I like the art, design and craft scene, and how much support and recognition there is toward what we do. The markets, junk shops, antiques, independent shops, coffee places, restaurants, and the multicultural aspect of  an ever changing mega city.



Who or what inspires you? 
Nature, vintage images and crafts, art, museums, antiques, art, and very driven, passionate and creative people.

What advice would you give designers starting out? 
Make sure this is the path you want to take, and once you have made the decision don’t’ stop until you get where you want to be, don’t hesitate, be prepared to work very hard and sacrifice your social life and money, but in return you will learn that it is all worth, once you start making a living out of what you love.



What is new for your company? 
Keep growing the awareness and profile of the brand and company, create new products, focus and increasing direct sells, organize a show per year where to showcase new collections and in between all of this, have fun and live life to the full!.



Chi Chi Dee - Handmade Accessories


We chat to Leanne about her business, Chi Chi Dee. Leanne is one of the talented designers featured in We Make London's new book, Inspired:London.




What is name and background behind your company? 
Chi Chi Dee is a nickname my partner used to call me around the time I started making things. I'm not sure why, but it just stuck and has come to represent the fun, upbeat, colourful and playful nature of my label. I wanted to include the word 'handmade' in my brand to emphasise that each of my pieces is designed and created by one individual. For me it's important to encourage and promote handmade as an ethos – a can-do, hands-on approach to life.


Where are you based?
I'm currently based in Hackney but the business has accompanied me over the years to the Bavarian Alps, Greece and Melbourne, Australia.



How long have you been in business for?
I started it back in 2007 but it was more of a hobby business back then. I always had other jobs to support myself and just made things on the side. I would say I went into business properly at the beginning of 2012, when I quit my day job to focus fully on my passion.




What do you love most about living in London?
It is the one place in the world in which I feel completely free and independent. It is eclectic and open-minded. Anything goes. A simple walk down the street soon turns into a whirlwind of impressions and being fed by this constant input becomes addictive. I feel as though there are more people here living outside the box than anywhere else in the world, (other than, perhaps, New York), which means I can be inspired by alternative ways of being, rather than settling for the status quo. I suppose it is the possibility that lures and ensnares me, the prospect of great things.


Who or what inspires you? 
London! My partner; his insatiable thirst for knowledge, his integrity, his humour and his boundless energy. Other really nice and interesting creative people. My lovely customers.




What advice would you give designers starting out?
 Have the right perspective. Don't be in a rush to 'be' a designer, allow yourself the chance to 'become' one first. Let things to grow organically and enjoy what you do.



What is new for your company?
Clothing. Whereas up until now I have focused on accessories, I am currently branching out into clothing. Right row I'm working on a range of tank tops and leggings, comfy things that I love to wear.

Chantal Franks - Abstract art

Today we chat to Inspired:London featured designer, Chantal Franks.


What is name and background behind your company?
My name is Chantal Franks and I am an Artist. I paint in expressionist and abstract styles. My subjects vary from portraits to architecture and seascapes to nature and mysticism. I paint in mostly acrylic and inks.  I also do photography and write poetry and non-fiction.
Where are you based?
I am based in the Essex/East London area but I have exhibited in venues across the south east.


How long have you been in business for?
I have been trading since July 2011.
What do you love most about living in London?
What i love about living in the London area is that there is so much to be inspired by. London is one of the main centres of the planet so the energy generated by this city is such a gift. Living here is be connected to the pulse of the planet. It is a blessing to be living in such an amazing place. As the saying goes 'What's not to like!'.


Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by beauty in all its forms.
What advice would you give designers starting out?
The advice I would give to other Artists starting out is it to take ownership over your own creativity and believe in yourself.


What is new for your company?
Looking to the future I am hoping to;
·         focus more on commissions for individuals and businesses.
·         produce more prints of my original work in various forms and sizes.
·         complete my illustrations for a new poetry book I am hoping to publish.
·         Produce a photographic collection of my work for exhibition and publication.
·         develop my website(s) and internet presence and
·         do more media work and promotion.



Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Celia Reid - Cards & Gifts

This afternoon, we chat to Inspired:London featured designer, Celia Reid.


What is the name and background behind your company?
I wanted to keep the name of my company nice and simple and so went with using Celia Reid Cards & Gifts.  It’s great that people know me by my first name and can easily identify me and my work.  By having ‘Cards & Gifts’ at the end of my name you can generally get the idea of the kinds of products I design and make.

I’ve always been very creative and knew I wanted to be a designer from a very young age.  I would always take part in artistic opportunities at school and so it was a natural progression to study Art & Design at college.  From there, my interests became more focused and I went on to study a BA (Hons) in Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design at the University of East London.  It took me a while to find my style of work and it wasn’t until my final year that I started using wallpaper, stitch and print for paper products and transferring some of those designs onto textiles for soft furnishings.



Where are you based?
Walworth, SE17 in my home studio.


How long have you been in business for?
I have pretty much been in business since graduating in 2004 but have always been working in other jobs alongside the designing and making.  I had my first exhibition in the October of that same year and haven’t looked back since.



What do you love most about living in London?
I love the fact that everything is pretty much on your doorstep.  There are so many beautiful museums, galleries and markets that you can take inspiration from.  There is also a great creative community in London.



Who or what inspires you?
I love the Victoria &Albert Museum!  I have always been inspired by decorative and floral patterns. 


What advice would you give designers starting out?
Just get out there and do it.  You learn so much along the way and you won’t actually know what customers think of your products until you try them out.




What is new for your company?
At the moment I am working on a card range that will be designed specifically for printed cards.  I want to branch out more into wholesale so need to produce some cards that are not entirely handmade.  I also miss being in a print studio and so will be working more with screen printing on the wallpaper to produce a range of products for the home.




Caroline Ramsey - Retropoodle



We chat to Caroline about her business, Retropoodle. Caroline is one of the talented designers featured in We Make London's new book, Inspired:London.



What is name and background behind your company?
My company, retropoodle comes from a desire to bring a new lease of life to beautiful forgotten vintage materials. I'm from generations of recyclers who always found a second use for most things and hate throwing things away if still useful. I also didn't want to contribute to endless waste and mass production. The name is light hearted, vintage inspired and I just like poodles!

Where are you based?
I am based in New Cross, South London.



How long have you been in business for?
I have been trading for over a year. Sewing and making for over 15 years.

What do you love most about living in London?
I love London because I feel you can never be bored living here. There is always something happening, places to go to and not everything costs either! I love art and culture and it is so easy to find something here on your own doorstep to feed your mind than anywhere else in the country.



Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by each textile I source, it kind of suggests what I turn it into and my designs reflect my own personal style of the quirky. I love the sense of history behind a piece of embroidery or crochet I find, the skill involved that needs to be appreciated rather than thrown away. The thought of that fabric never being found again really inspires me to make it into a product that can be loved and purposeful again.



What advice would you give designers starting out?
My main advice is to take it one step at a time. It is easy to get carried away and spend lots of money in the beginning. It is best to try and do as much by yourself as possible in the early stages such as a website and photography, and develop as you become more successful and knowledgeable  You can't be perfect at the start so don't stress or bankrupt yourself!



What is new for your company?
I have been trading at Greenwich Market for the past few months and hope to continue regularly there. I love the vibe of being in a market and it is really important to meet your customers and get feedback and it gives you a real touch of the reality of selling! I am going to be selling my products on more websites and developing my range further.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Caragh Buxton Illustrations

Caragh Buxton Illustrations is featured in Inspired:London, We Make London's new book. Today we talk to Caragh about her inspirations and plans for her business.



What is name and background behind your company?
My tiny business is called Caragh Buxton Illustrations, my work can be found at www.Caragh11.etsy.com. I adore to paint whimsical and childish illustrations,
My paintings are inspired by children at play. I love the way they lose themselves in a character – a fairy, a pirate, or a soldier. It’s magical to watch, and I try to capture that sense of adventure in my work. 
I run a very busy children’s party face painting business (www.patyfaceslondon.com) and am also a nursery nurse. I have four children so my life is incredibly hectic and my art is hard to fit in around a heavy schedule of school runs, working in the nursery and non stop face painting and body painting at events and parties. I am so in love with painting and drawing that I work around my busy life in order to fit it in because I simply adore illustrating, and it is my dream to be a full time illustrator.


Where are you based?
I am based in south London (tooting)

How long have you been in business for?
I stated caragh11.etsy.com about 2 years ago now

What do you love most about living in London?
I love the variety of people and the mix of cultures, my work means that I see every walk of life, and every party that I get booked for is different. Bringing my children up in London has given my children huge opportunities. For example both my boys row on the River Thames, they are regulars at the Herne Hill velodrome, they play rugby football and swim. I believe that they have had all these opportunities because we live in London and these things are on our doorstep.


Who or what inspires you?
Am definitely inspired by children, my own, the ones I meet while face painting and the children I look after at Nursery. I am fascinated by the way they play and their imagination. I love to paint pictures that I know they would enjoy to look at and it gives me so much pleasure when I see a child appreciating my illustrations. I love to look at the little faces and the expressions and the body language, I find it so very cute and try to capture that joy of childhood.

I am inspired by the classic illustrators like Arthur Rackham, but also adore illustrators such as Helen Oxenbury and my most favorites of all time Lisbeth Zwerger. Susan B. Pearse who illustrated the vintage Ameliaranne books is another one of my favourites. There are also illustrators that I see on etsy that I admire including Stephanie Fizer Colemen http://www.stephaniefizercoleman.com/. Danita http://www.etsy.com/shop/DanitaArt

What advice would you give designers starting out?
I would say do what you love and that love of your craft will shine through in your work.



What is new for your company?
I am having a new site made in January which will be called www.caraghart.com I have also just completed a lovely commission for Edition Gollong for a range of greeting cards, the limited edition prints will be available on etsy very soon.

I am working on characters including Pirate Girl called Captain Katy and Circus Girl called Lettuce, see images attached

Contact info
Art and illustration:






Saturday, 20 October 2012

Black Cactus - Hand-printed bags & clutches


Today we chat to Inspired:London featured designer, Black Cactus 


What is name and background behind your company? 
I am the designer and owner of Black Cactus London. After studying Sculpture and Printmaking, I've found some happy marriage of the two disciplines here in printing fabrics and constructing hand bags and purses. Just printing onto paper to frame for a wall seemed a bit dull. My prints now get out there and work! 

Where are you based? 
The Black Cactus studio is in South London. 

How long have you been in business for? 
Black Cactus bags were launched at The Clothes Show Live in 2011. Since then I have been honing designs and colour palettes and aiming to make a product that I would want to use! 

What do you love most about living in London? 
If I were honest, I'd say I really love a good old people-watch in a pub. South London is very far from dull and people never cease to surprise me! Everyone is an individual with their own story, I love trying to imagine what it might be. 


Who or what inspires you? 
I'm inspired by both our natural and urban environment; there is beauty in what we see every day. 

What advice would you give designers starting out? 
Never stop trying to improve your product, don't just be satisfied with today's effort. But certainly don't wait for everything to be perfect before you get out there - that will never happen! 


What is new for your company? 
The Autumn/Winter collection is available now. A lush selection of metallics, bright colours and organic patterns.



A Alicia - Eco-ethical textile jewellery


Today we chat to A Alicia; another designer featured in We Make London's new book, Inspired:London



What is name and background behind your company?
I run A Alicia, an eco-ethical textile jewellery business.

Where are you based?
All A Alicia jewellery is handmade in my studio in beautiful East London!



How long have you been in business for?
A Alicia is 3 and a half.

What do you love most about living in London?
Meeting so many inspiring people.



Who or what inspires you?
Everything, from spending time in museums to trawling ebay for vintage pottery!

What advice would you give designers starting out?
Meet other designers – if you can tap-in to some of the amazing craft/design networks out there you’ll have access to so many more opportunities, support and advice. This is easier in London, but things like blogs and twitter mean you can engage with other designers wherever you are.


What is new for your company?
This year I’ve started working with ceramics (and have fallen in love with it!), so I’m hoping to introduce this more to future collections.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

By Emily - Quirky & imaginative jewellery

We chat to By Emily, one of the talented designers featured in We Make London's new book, Inspired:London




What is name and background behind your company? 
My jewellery company is called By Emily. I have been a craft maker since I was a little girl, I would spend hours making houses out of shoe boxes in intricate detail, perfectly formed grand pianos out of cardboard and tiny period costumes for my toys. 

I fell in love with jewellery making whilst I was travelling I stayed with a jeweller friend in Melbourne and she taught me how to solder. As soon as I came home I took over my parents workshop, bought a sheet of copper and made my first piece. 

Each collection is inspired by my love of English style and its unique eccentricity, the antique, the curious and the whimsical. Each piece is individually hand made and wrapped with quintessential English charm - jewellery in a vintage tea-cup. 
By Emily jewellery is now sold in boutiques in London and across the UK as well as online.





Where are you based? 
I am based in Ealing and work from my workshop at home. 

How long have you been in business for? 
Just had my 1 year birthday! Founded in September 2011 

What do you love most about living in London? 
The adventure, no two days are ever the same! 


Who or what inspires you? 
The list is endless! Memories, daydreams, illustrations, artists, poetry, the changes in the seasons, travelling, the countryside, the city… 

My jewellery collections are very narrative led and so books are an endless inspiration, especially classic literature. 

I also love history, I am fascinated by 1900’s-1950’s England and how society changed so dramatically so quickly- this was a big part of my most recent collection ‘A Countryside Alliance.’ I could spend hours wandering around museums, the V&A museum is probably my favourite place in London! 

What advice would you give designers starting out? 
Never give up. Do it because you love it. Ask lots of questions. Don’t take criticism personally. Learn the art of sales. Keep on top of costs and be prepared to work super hard!



What is new for your company?
I am about to launch my new collection ‘A Countryside Alliance’- which is always exciting but very nerve racking at the same time. I hope to be able to rent a studio in the New Year so busy preparing for that and building business in the UK and also internationally; its lovely to post packages to customers across the ocean!



Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Boobou Designs - Soft jewellery & accessories

Today we chat to Inspired:London featured designer, Boobou Designs.




What is name and background behind your company?
Boobou was my son’s nickname when he was a baby, even today most of the family still call him Mr Boo!
My business began when I had an idea for unusual accessories made from soft, luxurious fabrics that looked great on every type of woman.  I knew I had hit on a good idea when all my friends and family wanted me to make one for them.  I eventually got a market stall and the rest is history!!!

Where are you based?
I live and work in North London. 



How long have you been in business for?
Boobou Designs has now been going for over 4 years which is a fact I am really proud of!

What do you love most about living in London?
London is the melting pot of everything from style to food! I am one of my few friends who would move further in to London than out to the countryside! I think we have the best city in the world, fashion, history & culture all within easy reach.



Who or what inspires you?
Anything that looks a bit different, people who throw on a top and jeans and just look stylish and different from the crowd!

What advice would you give designers starting out?
Go for it, keep people around you who will be honest about your creations and get your pricing right! Something is only worth what people will pay for it however long it takes to make!


What is new for your company?
I am currently working with a new rubber which makes amazing bracelets and necklaces…watch this space!


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Bijou Bijoux - Vintage & feather jewellery & accessories

We chat to Bijou Bijoux, one of the talented designers featured in We Make London's new book, Inspired:London


What is name and background behind your company?
I am Alice and I am Bijou Bijoux. The name grew from various sources. My now husband called me ‘Bijou’ when we first got together and I have French ties to my family. “Bijoux” is French for jewellery and “bijou” means ‘Small and elegant, and well-formed’. Which I think describes the brand very well!

Bijou Bijoux grew in the summer of 2009, primarily as I was after feather headdress and everything in the shops looked badly made or just not right. I already had a huge feather collection so I set about designing for myself. Soon my friends wanted items and it all developed from there. I started my shop on Etsy, sold at local markets and I haven’t looked back since.  



Where are you based?
I am based in Hackney, London, but grew up in South Devon so I market myself as being between both. Devon inspires most of my designs.

How long have you been in business for?
Bijou Bijoux has been running since July 2009

What do you love most about living in London?
I love the variety of life. I live in Clapton, Hackney – over looking the river Lea and marshes and I adore it. How many places in London can you live on a river, right on a park and next to a nature reserve and still afford to eat! I get to cycle to work everyday in Clerkenwell and enjoy the peace and quiet of the green East End at the weekends.



Who or what inspires you?
I am mostly inspired by my childhood in Devon. The hills, fields, wild moorland and the wonderful sea line coast. All my materials come from local suppliers and I grow as much of it as I can on my balcony.
I am also heavily influenced by 1920’s styling, and especially Alphonse Mucha paintings – the headdresses are just wonderful!


What advice would you give designers starting out?
Make what inspires you; would you wear it? You need to feel passionate about your work. Also, don’t feel disheartened by competition, yes there are established brands out there with similar work, but if you find your own way and style then you will find your customers. Most importantly, keep going. You won’t be an over night success and chances are it will take a good few years – just keep going!
Lastly, don’t copy – it’s a struggle to make your way as an independent designer and being copied just undermines us all. Just be inspired!



What is new for your company?
I’ve moved out of artificial and paper flowers and now use dried rose buds, lavender, wheat and leaves. I love drying flowers I’ve grown myself and the colours they change to are just wonderful. They are also surprisingly durable and hard-wearing; plus they hold onto their scent and there is nothing lovelier than wearing headwear that smells of summer fields.
I want my designs to be organic and natural and my future plan is to have my own flower garden so I can make freshly picked designs for weddings.