Here's the third instalment of Hello Handmade! I hope you are still enjoying the feature - the last two posts got such a great response. Today's interview is with the lovely Georgie of Beaux xoxo. After you've read the post make sure you go and visit her store to see all of the beautiful items she has for sale!
|Images credited to: Beau xoxo|
Well firstly thank you so, so much for including me in your feature, I really appreciate it, and I think it’s fantastic that you’re dedicating posts to handmade artists. I guess the Beauxoxo story started, as clichéd as it sounds, ever since I was a little girl. I have always loved to make things. I was constantly, constantly making things. Even more so at college, whilst studying for my A Levels, as I would travel sites to do Art and it was there I was constantly surrounded by such innovative girls and guys who inspired me so, so much. They made a living off what they made and sold outside of their studies, and that idea really stuck with me, so I started making my creations as well. At the time it was jewellery, interior things and clothes, I was massively into customising. When I got to Uni I had to stop making as much due to the commuting back and forth, and the sheer workload, but whilst studying for a subject I absolutely loathed (I was a musician trapped in an artist’s body!), I constantly day dreamed about designs and sketched little pieces as often as possible. I think it was this period of time that I narrowed down what I wanted to sell, realising I was making entirely too many hair accessories for myself to wear alone! I have always felt there is an apparent lack of distinctive yet fun hair accessories available on the market at an affordable price, so I set up my Etsy in 2010 and only really put one thing up in a blue moon, but in 2011 I fell quite ill so I was unable to do much, so my shop really helped me to take my mind off how I was feeling. To be honest, had I not had this experience, I wouldn’t be here at all, so cheesy as it sounds, everything happens for a reason!
How did you go about getting people to know about your designs?
You know what, I really don’t know, this happened so organically! I am a very old fashion crafter. I cannot cope with social media, despite being fully aware of its importance. I guess I just took a table, a cute table cloth and got out there and sold stuff, or just through word of mouth! I believe ancient practices of market stalls really are the best! With this being said lately I am taking things like Twitter and Facebook a lot more seriously these days as of course they are a necessity in this internet age, and I find it amazing to connect with my customers. Connecting with bloggers is also fantastic, and it’s a wonderful community. I would still argue market stalls are truly wonderful to engage with your customers face-to-face. There is such a comradery between everyone, and it’s fantastic to network with other crafters and help each other out.
How would you describe your designs and what inspires you?
I think my designs could be described as cute, decadent, sweet, whimsical, playful, fanciful, chimerical, maybe even dreamy. I’m a little chaotic style wise, so many things I love inspire me, and that probably comes across in my designs! It’s kind of unpredictable. And truly everything inspires me; literally everything! It may be the colour of a bus, some beautiful flowers, perilously high heels, my favourite lipstick, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, street style, Betsey Johnson, Anna Sui, catwalk trends, magazines, Mcqueen, Harajuku girls, celebrities, and so it goes on! I live in a bubble of inspiration and my creative brain works 24/7 hours a day! This is good in some ways as it helps me to develop ideas quickly, but sometimes I get overwhelmed with how much I want to create and how there simply aren’t enough hours in the day!
Additionally, I do think being outside of any noticeable city helps, and this inspires me hugely as I’m kind of cut off from things in a good way. The beauty and the calm of my area are conductive to my being productive. While the items I design don’t make you think of sandy beaches and rolling countryside, I really doubt I could do this anywhere else. Moreover, I have been so, so fortunate, from as young as I can remember I have travelled the world and I know that shaped me, without a doubt, as I was constantly surrounded by amazing colour, music, art, culture and food.
Do you have a best-selling item, or a favourite design?
That would definitely be my glitter hair bows! I never ever would have dreamt when I first made them the reaction they would have. I created them about a year and a half ago but I could only debut them at the Clothes Show in December last year due to the schedule I was under, but now I make fresh batches every single day! My Disney items are also surprisingly popular, so anything with Bambi on or any classic Disney character. I guess so many love to tap into childhood nostalgia and I love that an accessory can bring back memories like that.
Do you have any advice for crafters wanting to take the next step and sell their creations?
Well like I said before, market stalls are a fantastic way to start, and so many stalls are as little as a few pounds and you will be surprised how much money can be made, and even if you don’t make much, you will learn so, so much. I do think cracking into the big wide web world is quite hard, but I would definitely advise anyone to join Etsy, Folksy or similar at first, so that you’re part of a community, so it’s kind of like one big market stall in a sense! I adore Etsy. I am so thankful to the community and I have met so many other gorgeous crafty ladies and that’s what it’s all about. Once you have built up a strong customer base it’s then good to look at places like Big Cartel, but this is just my personal opinion! Bear in mind some people will just shop on Etsy and so on. Most importantly though, be determined, be pro-active, network, have fun, be passionate, research your market thoroughly, have fun and never ever, ever give up! I truly believe this period in time is perfect to start a crafting business because interestingly there’s a massive crafting boom right now, despite the struggle for larger retailers in the economic climate. I guess that’s partly due to the fact people are really thinking about their spending, and crafting has the ‘specialness factor’ so it makes you stand out from the mainstream. And don’t be hard on yourself if you find it hard to sell much at first, simply take a back seat and evaluate what it is you adore about other stores, and make small changes. I find the best shops are the ones where I see an item and think, ‘ahh, that’s so, and so’s item!’. It’s really good to keep a scrapbook or simply note down how you want your shop to look from the start.
What are your hopes for the future of Beau xoxo?
Well Beauxoxo is my full time job now so I’m totally and utterly living the dream in that respect, I still can’t believe it! I don’t really plan a head much, I’m far too disorganised to do that, but I am currently working on my A/W12 range, doing summer markets, and generally making stock for the Clothes Show Live, which I am so excited for as it was incredible last year. But I guess it’s just about balancing things right now as you have to wear a lot of different hats from making to promotion to finance and so on! I’m so blessed to have an incredible family who are heavily involved. My Dad has always worked in accounts so he does all of that, my Mum has managerial experience so she just sorts me out in general as I’m utterly hopeless! My brother helps me pack and post my orders, and my grandmothers and Auntie help with the knitting throughout the year.
I hope to have a baby range out late this year, an Alice in Wonderland and more themed collections, and one day I would absolutely love to have a crafting DIY book to encourage people to reuse, reinvent and reimagine things more, but otherwise, I’m just going to keep crafting, crafting, crafting!
Thanks to Georgie for that wonderful and insightful interview! I hope you have all enjoyed reading it. Pop over to Georgie's website to see more of her lovely items, and let me know what your favourites are in the comments below. I love her bow headbands, the pastel blue polka dot design in particular!
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