This post is from the PARROT Talks archive.
If you hadn’t noticed, jewellery with a ‘primary school chic’ aesthetic (a phrase coined by today’s Talker) is having a real moment. It’s pretty much everywhere I scroll on Instagram these days and I think the nostalgia and accessibility are what makes this style of jewellery such a big hit. Whilst in national lock down, reminiscing of more easy-going days gone by, and trying our hand at crafts seem to be major themes, and this jewellery trend has grabbed all of our hearts and warmed us right up.So, I’m delighted to have had a chat with the (absolutely lovely!!!) founder of Blackcurrant Pop – Beth. I won’t natter on too much here because Beth does a far better job of talking about Blackcurrant Pop, her style and artistic background than I could, so please, grab a cup of tea and enjoy… I know you will!
All of the images I have used in this post have come from @blackcurrantpop.
You can shop Blackcurrant Pop here.
Hi Beth! Can you tell us a bit about who you are?
Hi I’m Beth, I’m 27 and living in rural North Wales. My favourite colour is lime green and I only ever wear red shoes. I’m a designer/maker/baker and recent new mum to baby Elsie. I studied footwear design at DeMontfort University before interning at Sophia Webster. I started my job as a Footwear Designer at ASOS where I worked for three years, it was great and I worked with some fab people and visited some great places but I always knew I wouldn’t stay in London forever. My favourite things are visiting art galleries followed by a trip to a cake shop; all about the Strawberry Tart. I’m inspired by Frida Kahlo, David Shrigley, 90’s movies, vintage shopping, ethical taxidermy (which I like to dabble in time to time), red shoes, city pigeons and my black cat Mincy who’s more like a dog.
What is Blackcurrant Pop and when did you start it?
I always knew I wanted my own business, as I’m not great at being told what and how to do things…. and I’m passionate about working from home and that people are happier and more productive when they can fit work around them, and not vice versa. I’m self taught and started very, very slowly by making and selling things on Etsy in the evenings once I finished my day job (at the end of 2018).I had summer work experience with jewellery designer Maud Telastuo in my teens and became really obsessed with colour and beading. I have always been into art and I think this sculptural aesthetic helps my design work .I was also lucky having a mum that always took me to art galleries, introduced me to lots of local artists and encouraged my creative endeavours, I used to sell rabbit brooches in my parents furniture shop as a kid so when I look back I guess the signs were all there. I still love footwear but it’s a really hard industry to start up in as the outlay for all the components and machinery are massive, plus you have to consider the various size gradients of the shoes, so jewellery was a more accessible way to start expressing my vision in product. Our aesthetic and designs have evolved organically over the last two years and I’m really happy with where we are now. It feels like a real extension of me and it’s taken a while to get here.
How did the idea come about and what made you decide to call your business Blackcurrant Pop?
Not the most interesting story but… I’m not a big drinker, I don’t drink at all really apart from something sparkly to celebrate, and I much prefer a slice of cake. But my boyfriend Scott & my mum love a bit of vino and were laughing saying I needed my own version, or a release if you will, like wine is for them at the end of the working day. They coined the term ‘Blackcurrant Pop’ as my non-alcoholic treat. And thus Blackcurrant Pop was born. It was from a time when I was very frustrated in my job, I felt like a bit of a hamster on a wheel doing the 9-5 and needed a creative outlet to relieve the stress, and working towards Blackcurrant Pop became just that.
Primary School Chic (to nab your very clever phrase) is really having a moment, why do you think this is?
I’m so chuffed people are finally on board for Primary School chic! I don’t think my taste level has really changed since the 90’s (1992 baby)!It’s all about nostalgia really, I had a wonderful childhood full of adventure and happy times, and our designs reflect that – from gummy bears to butterfly hair clips, they transport you straight back to childhood, listening to Britney and wearing camo crop-tops. This aesthetic really promotes positivity – something we all really need a bit of right now. I was a bit of a chunky teenager, and clothes were really hard to find in my size & budget – but accessories always fit. They were (and still are) a way of letting my personal style seep through. I think it’s more than just a fashion statement or a trend, it’s an extension of you, a little piece you are sharing with the world. That’s why I love charms – they’re a collection of memories and feelings, things that remind you of places and people that mean something.
What’s currently inspiring you?
I’m really obsessed with retro cake decoration right now. I bake part time and I love experimenting with different icing styles. I’m following lots of Chinese and Korean cake brands alongside the Coven Bakery & Isobel Bakes, they make beautiful things. Also, I’m a bit of an interiors geek. We’re currently renovating a house we bought two years ago, it’s still a wreck and needs so much doing, but I can’t wait to start the interiors. Lastly, I’m loving watching old Bob Ross painting videos at night if I can’t get to sleep. We’ve bought all the gear but haven’t had a minute to start doing any yet. His quote sums up my life right now –“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” – Bob Ross
Can you tell us any ‘oh wow’ moments you have had so far whilst running your business?
I think the biggest buzz is always when you see people wearing your designs. Sometimes I’m really self doubting and still shocked that people share my vision and sometimes questionable taste level… it’s the biggest compliment. Also, I’ve recently had a well known wholesaler get in touch that want my designs on board – it’s really big for us and I hope it all comes off – but keeping it under wraps for now!
What’s your favourite part of running your own business, and which task stays on your to-do list for weeks?
100% the freedom to choose when and how you do everything, I like to be left alone to get on with things by myself (hermit).I’ve always worked at my best when I’m in my own space with a trashy film in the background – Legally Blonde always works well. Being able to stop and say I’m going to a gallery for inspiration today or to watch a film in the cinema on my own, but on the flip side to be on a total roll when designing and carry on into the early hours.Admin is definitely on my to do list all the time. I’m awful at replying to people in my personal life and have to try really hard to do it for the business. Sometimes I rope in Scott to help, he’s my partner and best friend and much better at comms than me!
Nnenna Echem is a real fan of your pieces and her love of colourful clothing makes you two a match made in heaven. Who else would you love to see rocking your designs?
Nnenna is the colour and print queen – she still makes the accessories a stand out part of her outfits and I love that. @Fayewad is another of my fave influencers, she’s worn a lot of our jewels (and PARROT) and I love how she style’s everything in her own way. Hmm, I’m dreaming big here but I’ve always had a total crush on Katy Perry since she first came out with I kissed a girl and I would die if she wore our designs.
What’s next for Blackcurrant Pop?
My main ambition is to keep designing lots of happy pieces that our customers really relate to, but push myself to new product areas. I don’t want to ever be in a position where the creative stops – this is why I do what I do. I’m also working on more vintage pieces that I can incorporate into my designs, I love that they’re even more unique & sustainable. I’ve recently become a mum to my daughter Elsie, so a big part of my plan is to keep a healthy balance between working and expanding the business but being the best mum I can to her, I’m never afraid to put things on hold for the day if it’s what’s she needs.
A big thank you to Beth for your generous and warm answers, I enjoyed reading these and writing this post up so much and I hope you have had a peaceful 10 minutes reading too. I am always on the look out for creative people, small business owners and anyone with something stylish to say so do let me know if you would like to be a part of PARROT Talks. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org.