FRILLY INDUSTRIES – Interview

Frilly were present at London Edge, and we just had to grab a word with them after spotting their impressive laser-cut jewellery.

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Hi guys! So, could you tell us a little bit about the brand and introduce yourselves?

K: I am Kirsty and this is Adrienne, and we are Frilly. We run two companies, so there’s Frilly Industries which is our jewellery-making arm, and then there’s We Are Frilly, which is our not-for-profit community arts. Because we’re busy enabling everybody else’s creativity, we realised our own had just got a bit stilted. We made some really big public art with some schoolchildren using a laser cutter. And we were like “yeah, we can do this, we can just buy go out and buy one!” So we just went out and bought one, and started. Like, “We’ve just watched that guy press some buttons, we can totally do this, we know what we’re doing now!”

A: We thought it would be like a printer, where you just made a nice picture and then just pressed go and it came out – no, no, no. I’d say we’re fairly confident in using it now, two years on. FAIRLY confident, you know! So, we went out and bought one and booked in a craft market two months after having it, without having made any products whatsoever.

Talk about diving in the deep end!

A: We just went straight in! We were so convinced that it would turn up and we would just press go and it would be fine. Then it arrived, and we were doing a market in two months’ time and we were still setting fire to things. But it was fun. We cobbled together some stuff, and our pricing was terrible. But we still have some of our original designs, because they’re our best sellers. Our Bill Murray pin, he was probably our very first thing. Him and the balls of wool, which then led on to us wanting to do more hand painted stuff. We’re very conscious that there’s a lot of laser cut makers in the world. There’s those that are designers that make and get other people to manufacture. But we’re very process driven, so we need to be able to understand the potential of our materials or what we can do with things. Which is why we’re hand-painting wood, or some of our pieces use reclaimed denim from industry so we’re stitching that in. Or we’re using materials that we potentially shouldn’t be using, and realise we will never try that on the laser cutter again.

K: Kind of half poisoned ourselves!

A: But our latest range, we realised we could spray paint onto clear acrylic and then create all new palettes from that. We’ve done our northern lights range which glows in the dark and looks different in different lights. We’ll probably eventually move more towards that. But people love our chains, so you’ve got to to have your key pieces and appeal to a broad spectrum.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

K: It just evolves.

A: I am obsessed with mystically, kind of like tarot and spirituality stuff, so the moons maybe come more from me. The pop culture icons more from Kirsty. But pretty much everything else is just a mix.

K: Feminism, issues, things that we care about. One of us will have a theme and the other one brings the ideas or the mechanisms of how we can represent and recreate that. It’s just everyday conversations that we’ve had or we’ve seen something on YouTube that sparks a conversation that leads somewhere else.

A: Sometimes Kirsty will have giant ideas that I have to kind of make more realistic. And sometimes I have an inkling of an idea and Kirsty will go “Well, what about this?” and I go “Yeah, that’s brilliant, let’s do that instead”.

Where are you based?

A: In the jewellery quarter in Birmingham. Surrounded by lots of heritage industry and proper jewellers!

 What do they make of you?

K: I think they just find us highly amusing.

A: We’re very active in the community. There’s another artist who is based in the jewellery quarter who organises open studios, and she’s really keen to unveil all the small makers – not the big jewellery companies who sell solitaire rings, but the smaller people in their little studios. And so we’re involved in that quite heavily. It is really interesting – I think when we first started working in the jewellery quarter, the old men in their overcoats weren’t sure what to make of us. Now they say hello to us. We’re on first name terms with everybody’s dogs.

Where do you see yourselves going?

A: We started this because our nonprofit at the time was driven by grant funding and public sector funding, and that has dropped massively and become much more competitive. We wanted to make sure that we had an overall sustainable business model, so we thought if we could be making commercial products, as well as doing the art with tiny babies, then that might become more of a sustainable business long-term. If we could grow this, that would be amazing – that is the plan. We are heavily involved in other stuff like Etsy – we’ve got a team of Etsy people in Birmingham, so we get support from them in terms of business development. We read lots of theory around marketing, but then it’s just finding the time – you’re making, and then you’re promoting, and then you’re face-to-face selling, and then you’re making new ideas. We sell on Not On The High Street and they’re telling us to start thinking about Christmas. It’s February still – I don’t want to think about Christmas.

What does fashion mean to you personally?

A: Fashion means a lot to me. Kirsty is very focused on fashion and trends, she reads all the high fashion magazines like Vogue. Whereas I couldn’t care less because I can’t afford any of that. So she’s always like “no, no, that’s not going to be on trend, we need to do this.” I’m like, I just want to make some moons! I think that life is too short to be boring, so you should absolutely wear things that represent who you are in one way or another, and that’s the point of it. I like looking at fashion spreads, and thinking, “would I wear that? I like that colour, I like that print” – but I’m not bothered about labels.

Any big achievements lately?

A:We won an award yesterday – best newcomer!

Find Frilly here:

Website – frillyindustries.com

Twitter/Instagram – @frillyind

Facebook – frillyindustries

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