Friday, 15 July 2011

The Friday Interview: Niccy from Scrapunzel Pixie

OK, I have another interview, you see, I am back on track with the Friday interviews although I will not be on track next week as I will be in Norfolk which, for those of you who have read Vivianne’s robust opinions in the comments here, is a more extreme version of Fenland. Anyway, enough about me, says she modestly. Today’s interview is with Niccy from Scrapunzel Pixie, who makes beautiful reconstructed clothes, pretty brooches, armwarmers and purses. I am pretty much in love with Niccy’s fairy coats, I think they are beautiful (indeed I love all her stuff, so much in fact I've just bought a jumper, oops). Also, she has 30% off in her shop at the moment as part of etsy’s Christmas In July promotion, so everything is amazing value, go and stock up on your armwarmers now. It won’t be July forever, you know. It’ll be getting nippy soon, you’ll be wanting a lovely reconstructed jumper.

Take it away, Niccy!
Niccy, hard at work. I am encouraged to see a rainbow mug encouraging proper colour combining
What of the things you make are you most excited by?
I love all the things I make but custom orders really are great! Making an individual item for someone is always very exciting. Quite often, people will ask for something I might not have considered so the end result is perfectly individual and that kind of collaboration feels very special. I also love the challenge of creating something new - learning a brand new process can be a tad frustrating (because I never use commercial patterns of read instructions) but that feeling of 'Yes! Sussed it!' is always rewarding.
Brooches. Adorable
How important is being green in what you do?
Very! About 1 million tonnes of textiles goes to landfill every year, 50% of which is recyclable  - those are scary figures! When I first learned how much is regularly thrown away I was shocked and horrified, then I decided I wanted to do something about it. Scrapunzel's just one girl with a sewing machine, but more and more people are beginning to see the beauty in recycled clothes. I take a special delight in making something pretty or useful out of what might otherwise have been rubbish - one girl's junk is another girl's joy!
Charity shops are like treasure troves for me - I can easily spend hours and hours just looking and whenever I visit a new town the charity shops are always the first thing I want to look at! I do have to be a little bit strict with myself, otherwise I'd probably buy more than I can carry!

Do you have a target customer/muse in mind when you make your clothes?
Not really. My customer base is so wide-ranging it's practically impossible to name a demographic! There are dreadlocked mamas, students and grandmothers proudly wearing their Forest Fae jumpers. [And now me! ;-)]. I've had enquiries for coats for the 3 Wishes Faery Festival and I've just made a coat for someone to wear to Whitby Goth Weekend in November so maybe anyone 'alternative' or green-minded. Perhaps it's because patchwork is part of such a long-standing tradition or maybe it's just that people like to be individual. My proudest moment happened when James Strawbridge (of BBC's It's Not Easy Being Green) bought a pair of wrist-warmers for his mum - I was star-struck for days!!
My muse is ever-changing - I love Victorian-style tailoring and I'm always influenced by the costumes I see in films and magazines. As a Star Wars geek, I'm quite keen to make something inspired by Princess Leia or Queen Amidala's wardrobe - maybe something with a crazy head-dress! But I can be just as inspired by someone who passes me in the street; so many people have such a unique way of combining styles and colours.
Look at that, wow. What a kerfuffle this would cause if I wore it to Waitrose
Your elf coats are absolutely stunning. What's the process of making one, and how long does it take?
Thank you! It's quite an involved process - I scour charity shops for just the right kind of materials, wash and dry them all and then I spend a bit of time familiarizing myself with the fabrics - checking for stretch and weight and then I start cutting! Because I never use a pattern, the individuality of the materials often dictates certain features so the method varies from coat to coat which is part of the joy of making them! Everyday in my workshop is an adventure! The time-scale can differ quite wildly, too - if it all goes well without any hiccups and I don't have any interruptions, I can make a coat in about a day (excluding the time to source the materials and prepare them), but a larger or more intricate coat will take longer. I also finish all my seams by hand, which takes an absolute age but it reassures me that those seams are there to stay!

How do you feel about the way commercial fashion is produced?

Hmm, this is a tricky one! I love clothes; it's almost magical the way the right clothes can completely change the way you look, feel and are perceived by other people. But I really don't like the way clothes are produced and sold. Should I give a rant warning here? At it's very worst, I think the fashion industry is highly exploitative on almost every level: the underpaid, unprotected people (often women) on the production line; the models who have to maintain a certain shape/appearance at all costs; and the women who are manipulated by advertisers and magazines into purchasing.
And some of the practices of High Street stores are truly shocking; I've heard that damaged items (even if the damage is minimal, eg, a garment has a poorly sewn-in label or is wrongly sized) are often simply thrown into skips and disposed of. Okay, rant over!
[Niccy, rants are welcome on this blog, in fact I’m always glad when someone other than me has a rant ;-)].
I think the more rainbow things in life, the better. This one is my favourite
I love your blog project, 52 ways to leave your high street retailer. What inspired it?
See above, ha ha! In all seriousness, my inspiration is quite entirely selfish - I need more clothes! Because I make clothes everyone thinks my wardrobe must be absolutely bulging but it really isn't - I'm always making something for someone else! Deciding to make rather than buy is probably a bit militant but the idea of purchasing from the high street just doesn't feel right. And the best thing about sharing it on a blog is that other people can join in if they want to - I'd love to hear how they get on! And perhaps I can finally learn how to follow patterns! Eeek, I'm a bit trepidatious now!

What are your upcoming plans for your lovely shop?
I've just bought some fabric labels with my brand new logo on them - stitching them into place puts a big smile on my face! Etsy do a 'Christmas in July' promotion each summer and I'm taking part this year. There's some new purses and wristlets in my shop too (and some surprising new items to come soon!).
Most excitingly, I've been working on a new development for my Faery Coats so I'll be launching that very soon!


Thank you for this, Niccy, your interview was great and I completely agree with you on the hating the fashion industry but loving the clothes bit. I wish you the best of luck with your shop, and (gets on soapbox briefly), I just think it’s wonderful that there are more people making alternative, recycled clothes for a range of sizes, and that non-high-street fashion is becoming more accessible. I find it very cheering.

OK, have a lovely weekend everyone (that’s an order). I shall hopefully see you all on Monday xx


Vivianne said...

Dear one, nothing is more extreme than the Fens LOL; you won't get your webbed Fen feet wet in Norfolk :-)

Alix said...

Nicci is an inspiration!!! love her work! ♥

Gracey is not my name.... said...

Very cool! Her stuff is very cool! I actually bought some sweaters at a charity shop that I'm thinking of turning into bags...haven't done it yet...

Jennifer said...

Love your interview with Niccy. Her work is fabulous. I think your blog is very cool too and now I'm a follower!

Alittlebitsheepish said...

Those are beautiful things, I migth have to just take a little peek over at the shop (as my credit card runs and hides)