Meet Michelle Hirst. After finishing a degree in Fashion & textiles and taking on numerous internships, she began her own jewelery line Roxie Sweetheart. Taking inspiration from international cultures and artist such as Walt Disney and Fafi, Michelle has created a pix n' mix range of jewelery to suite any style. From kawaii harajuku girls to a more conservative British vintage, the versatile range can compliment any style. So after falling in love with the brand, BVC had to get to know the leading lady behind scenes of Roxie Sweetheart.
When did you start your business?
I officially started Roxie Sweetheart back in 2009, though I have been creating business ideas and designing my own artwork from a young age. Roxie Sweetheart was something which developed over a number of years of art school, work experience and true passion for creativity. I won the Enterprise Design Award back in 2007 for my initial business plan and designs for Roxie Sweetheart, and from then on I had always been working on my own illustrations and design work whilst experimenting with jewellery making. After living in London for a year and a half and gaining the work and life experience I needed, my confidence was boosted and I felt ready to launch my business as a serious endeavour!
Do you feel your internship at Neurotica helped you on your way to create your own business?
I did a number of work placements over the years since leaving University and I strongly believe it has helped me to gain the knowledge and skills I needed to do what I am doing today. It definitely takes a lot of passion and persistence and is not always easy starting out on your own, but I could never imagine doing anything else.
Working at Neurotica was an internship I took when I was living in London and it was a beautiful hive of creativity - a very unique label which is heavily inspired by animals and flora & fauna, the use of hand-drawn illustrations and the juxtaposition of the sweet and the sinister.
What was your main inspiration behind Roxie Sweetheart?
The vibrancy, whimsicality and sheer (sometimes twisted-) cuteness of Japanese art, design and fashion has always inspired me. Japanese design is unafraid to explore colour, texture and innovative ideas. My first memories of Japanese design are from Sanrio’s Little Twin Stars. Today, my design work continues to be heavily influenced by Tokyo street style, manga comics and artists such as Walt Disney, Junko Mizuno and Fafi. I also adore the charm and magic of vintage children's illustrations and toys such as My Little Pony (http://roxiesweetheart.blogspot.com/2011/08/my-loveable-pony.html), Care bears and Rainbow Brite. I want people to feel that same childlike sense of whimsicality and wonderment when they discover my jewellery.
How important do you feel incorporating different cultures into fashion is?
I do not believe there is a limit to where you get inspiration from. The more eclectic the sources of inspiration, the more unique a design can become and I believe that's where original ideas are created. I take inspiration not only from art, fashion and design, but also from nature, different cultures, textures and even emotions.
From sketches to final product, how long does a collection take to produce?
When I am inspired for a new collection I like to work quickly and usually can't wait to see the finished product! I start by gathering images and ideas, making mood boards and sketching from them. I then incorporate something unique or different into my sketches to create my initial illustrations. I add colour, outlines, textures and shapes with computer aided design. I will then consider how the illustration could be used on jewellery piece and choose the right findings, jewels, cabochons and chains etc to use. I often use an eclectic source of findings to make or decorate my jewellery, from Kawaii resin charms to vintage beads and plastic kitsch chain.
I would say it takes roughly 2 - 3 months to produce a final collection. I am now just starting some new ideas for Autumn/Winter 2011 which will have a strong fairytale theme - think Cinderella and the Secret Garden with lots of jewels and sparkles! I will also be considering some darker themes and colours to suit a Gothic Lolita theme.
What conventions/trade shows do you visit with your brand? (Hyper japan etc)
I have sold at Hyper Japan and the Asahi Anime Festival (Brighton) and I am always looking for new and interesting places to exhibit and promote my work. The next event will be Dolly Con - a small event in a wonderful shop called Dolly Dare in Spitalfields, London.(www.dollycon.com) - See you there! ≧∇≦
There's no doubt that Roxie Sweetheart is a strong BVC fav and after speaking to the talented Michelle it's easy to see why her business has done so well. The line is ever growing and new items have recently been added including 'Kiss Me' jeweled doubled rings, Fluffy bunny brooches and Roxie girl hair slides. Customers can keep up to date with important events, new products and competitions by signing up to the newsletter by visiting RoxieSweetheart.co.uk.
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