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.

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