When did you decide you wanted to work in fashion and what crucial steps did you take to get where you are now?
I always loved making things; it’s been an obsession since I was very young. My mum taught me so many crafts and introduced me to so many creative things even before I went to school. I remember going on a family holiday to London when I was around eight years old and we went past Central Saint Martins College, I said right then and there I wanted to go there, and luckily enough, I eventually ended up there! I was invited to join one of the MA courses after my work was spotted at a degree show in London after I had completed my degree at Northumbria University. Saint Martins was a great starting point, it gave me access to many creative people, techniques and new skills and of course being based in London it was a great catalyst to get me thinking about creating and designing my own products. I started making things for friends, gaining their feedback and then I started to approach shops to see if they would stock my designs, to my delight they did! In 2006 I decided to build my website and see if selling online would work, it’s taken a good few years of work but bit by bit we are getting well known and increasing our range of products all the time.
You design and create amazing jewellery – would you ever consider branching out into other accessories or even clothing?
I used to customise handbags and shoes for friends when I was at university and I enjoy the punk ethos of getting old, discarded items, reworking them and adding life back to them. It’s something I would love to revisit but maybe on a smaller scale and bring the reworked/recycled element to my jewellery somehow. I’m also really into baking at the moment, my friends always joke that I should open “Hannah Bakes Things” as a cake shop but I don’t think I’m at a professional baking level just yet! Keeping on that theme however I would love to start some sort of craft/café venue where people can learn creative skills whilst having a nice cuppa.
Where do you found inspiration for your unique designs?
It’s usually in day to day bits and bobs, I like to rework items to make them into little charms or add character to them by giving them extra detail. I’m also a really big collector of vintage photos, trinkets and costume jewellery and I find lots of inspiration in visiting junk fairs and car boot sales to find old, quirky items.
Which of your own designs do you wear the most?
I personally love plastic jewellery; I can’t get enough of it. I love big, kitsch plastic flowers, cherries and chunky charms. At the moment I’m wearing lots of our cherry jewellery, I love the original art deco cherry necklaces made form Bakelite and celluloid, I’ve never been lucky enough to find an original one so I always try and make pieces in that style using modern materials.
Your jewellery has been featured in quite a few magazines recently, how does it feel to see your work being praised by the fashion press?
It’s been a really big part in our growing customer base to be featured in national publications. It’s a lovely feeling to see your designs out there. It is a little nerve wracking sometimes when you think of how many people actually get to see them.
Where are your favourite places to shop in Manchester?
I’m a total junk hunter. I like second hand bits and pieces so I usually find myself on Ashton Market at the weekends hunting for old treasures. Manchester also has loads of great shops for crafty types -Fred Aldous is a brilliant art shop.
Are there any designers you admire?
I love Vivienne Westwood, as I mentioned before I am plastic obsessed so her shoe range in collaborations with Mellissa shoes has proved irresistible for me and I’ve become a complete shoe junkie for their designs.
Your line has a few famous fans – is there anyone you dream of seeing wearing your jewellery?
Sadly one our biggest inspirations was Amy Winehouse and it would have been a dream come true to see her wearing some of our jewellery. We designed two Amy inspired pieces in our collection last year. I loved everything about her and was heartbroken to hear about her death.
You were recently commissioned to make some pieces for Lady Gaga. How did you go about impressing the pop star with the biggest, weirdest wardrobe in the world?
We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to gift Lady Gaga when she played at Radio 1’s Big Weekend, so we got together the biggest, brightest charms and notions we had and set to work to create some crazy pieces. We worked on big brooches and huge neck pieces for her, her style is so eclectic and changes so frequently there’s no real way of judging what she would like or not, so I just followed my heart and created what I enjoyed making. My heart really lies in that type of jewellery, huge, big statement pieces that are super eye catching, I just make what comes into my mind and see what works and re-design things that don’t.
What advice would you offer to young, aspiring fashion designers?
Never give up, ever, if you want something the only thing stopping you from achieving it is you. Learn from mistakes and disappointments, don’t dwell on them and don’t change who you are or how you work for anyone. Make the most of all of your creativity, find a way to utilise your skills and talents. All the creative industries are very tough to get into now but there is no reason you can’t carve your own path if you work hard enough and take a few risks.
Can you give us any preview information on new items you are working on?
We are just clearing our studio for a huge end of season sale, we will be clearing samples and end of line stock at the end of August to make room for our new autumn collection. For the autumn we’ve got lots of gorgeous winter designs, drawing on nature for inspiration.
Where do you see you and your business in ten years time?
I would love to have opened a few more little shops and be producing 5-6 collections a year. Its nice selling items online but with small items like jewellery its better when you can touch things and try them on.
Who is your idol?
I’m a very big fan of ’60s and ’70s music so my main idol is probably Jimi Hendrix.
Interview by Kate Allen