Have you been pick pocketed before? As someone whose bag has been stolen off her in a restaurant, I fully empathise with how painful an experience this can be. And how do you get home without a tube card, money or phone?! Which is why I was instantly intrigued when I heard about Lynsey’s fashionable money bracelets and belts- we met via my pop-up for UK designer- makers, Makers & Friends- and wanted to find out more! Keeping your money safe AND decorative- I love “hardworking”, multi-tasking products! 🙂
Lynsey modelling her products around London
Have you always been a crafter? What are some of your earliest craft projects?
Crafting runs in my family. I’ve been crafting since a very young age, when my gran provided me with lots of crafting materials to make a mess with after school! I’ve been making handmade greetings cards and home-made presents since. Christmas was always a great excuse to get super-crafty and glittery too.
When I was old enough, my mum handed down my great-gran’s sewing machine to me then shared her sewing skills… that’s now my main craft. I’m very lucky to be inspired by such talented people, and to be encouraged to be crafty!
How nice, I love those antique- looking sewing machines!
Tell us more about how En Stage started. Is this the first time you tried to commercialise your crafting hobby?
I’d always wanted to start a craft business but had never yet had an idea I thought was viable. Until… India!
En Stage was born on a long-distance train through India. I’d bought lots of new fabric, along with a needle, thread, pins and scissors. My best friend and I were sitting on the bench, me asking “what can I sew!?”. She then said, “make me a fabric belt”. I did, and then a little while later, her traditional money belt making her uncomfortable, she handed it back and told me to put a pocket in it! The very first En Stage belt was born!
This is the belt that started it all!
The idea grew from there and the name En Stage came from my love of theatre, and how practical the gorgeous, colourful theatre costumes are. Belts also became cuffs and the range of stylish yet practical accessories continues to grow.
En Stage is about keeping your cash safe in a stylish way – have you ever been robbed? What are some of the more dangerous things to happen to you on your travels?
I’ve spent a long time travelling and consider myself to be very, very fortunate. While travelling solo, the most ‘dangerous’ time something could happen, nothing significant has happened to me. Phew!
However, at a young age my parents were robbed in Barcelona (the ‘pick-pocket capital of the world’) and I still remember what a horrific experience that was. It was the first time they had ever been robbed and, before then, they had all their credit cards on them and all their cash in their wallets. We had my pocket money to get by on! The day was filled with time in a police station and then running around trying to find a Western Union – not a nice idea of a holiday!
With that in mind I’m always very cautious, and encourage others to be too, with having emergency cash. Even in London! You can never predict when something could go wrong…
Travelling in Paris…
You’ve taken En Stage to many craft fairs. Tell us about your best experiences at a craft fair, both as a maker and as a customer. Which craft fairs would you recommend to a person visiting London?
We are spoiled for choice in London with craft fairs, and indeed for makers. I really enjoy taking En Stage to craft fairs and love meeting fellow makers. My best experience was at the LoLo Etsy Christmas Fair, at Crouch end last year, because the atmosphere was fantastic and the fair was a lot of fun. (Plus – mulled wine and cupcakes were available – need I say more!?) Etsy events are always superbly organised and have lots of great, quirky makers. I also love the Crafty Fox markets as they have a fantastic selection of local makers. In saying that, there are always fun, small, local markets which appear across London and can let you discover some hidden gems.
As a maker, do you buy handmade a lot? What are some of your favourite handmade brands and what’s your favourite handmade thing you’ve bought?
Of course! My favourite London-based brands would be Slinky Links jewellery (leather jewellery which is so lightweight and comfortable) and Rosa Pietsch jewellery (gorgeous, sparkly acrylic jewellery which sometimes have 1920 shapes which I love). I also get I am Acrylic to make jewellery for me as they can turn a design on paper into something gorgeous! They have lots of colourful, fun designs. When I’m not buying jewellery, I’m buying stationary from the hilarious My Words Fly and admiring books from The Idle Bindery.
On holiday, I’m always scouting out local markets. The most memorable things I bought on my last trip to Lisbon were necklaces – one from Amores de Toquio which is bright yellow and screams “statement piece”, and another necklace from a small maker who makes braille engraved necklaces, giving profits to a charity for blind children. Can you tell I love handmade jewellery and accessories!?
What’s been the best and worst moments in the life of En Stage to date?
The best moments have involved all the wonderful people I have met over the course of running my business. I’d like to think I’ve made friends alongside business contacts in the ‘craft’ industry. My first sale was exciting and then my first sale to Iran was unexpected!
Being wished good luck by Manolo was probably pretty exciting too 🙂
The worst moments are when I have been making stock for evenings and weekends on end, and by the end of it I need a break from my sewing machine!! It’s like training for a sport non-stop, you sometimes just need a break. That’s when I know I need some real ‘me’ time and treat myself to fun stuff like cinema, food markets and shopping. Oh, and my tax return…
What’s up for En Stage in 2017?
2017 brings a new SS collection – this is focusing on inspiration from a recent trip to the Middle East and also utilising Liberty of London fabrics (the best in the world, I believe!).
I spent a lot of 2016 understanding what customers want and I’m excited to deliver that fully this year. There will be more choices available to suit peoples’ needs and styles.
I’m also hoping to travel Europe a bit more and get even more inspiration from there.
Feeling inspired to work with fabric now? Why not make some fabric flowers which you can add to your bags, hats, clothing and more!?
You mentioned that you’ve even sold your creations to strangers off the street! – what would your 3 tips for making a sale be?
Yes- how fortunate a meeting that was!
My tips would be…
1. Be genuine – tell people why you honestly love your product and why it’s so special
2. Don’t be afraid to be you – part of the product is the maker and people love to know the story behind the product / brand
3. Smile!! Call me picky but I buy from people who are smiling and want to tell me about the products they made with love… So I do as I would like done to me… 🙂
To see more of her beautiful work, visit her Etsy store here