This week we carry on our interviews with another of the fabulous designer makers that stocks her wares in the Emporia Fabric and Crafts shop, and at the markets that take place throughout the year. Today Melissa from Aye Aye talks about her quirky retro printed baby clothes, fantastic headscarves, and why she admires her mum’s knitting skills so much.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Melissa Dawkins and I run Aye Aye which creates handmade ladies and children’s clothing and accessories in retro and fun prints. I am also starting to use more recycled materials.
How did you get into crafting?
In my early teens I bought second hand vintage clothes – old ball gowns and anything I liked that was a bit different – I would take them apart and then reconstruct them in Dr. Frankenstein-style clothing experiments on a hand Singer sewing machine, as I was not trusted with my mum’s electric. It was at this time my favourite creations evolved, such as the toddlers’ action man t shirt that got transformed into a skirt with different coloured panels made of old fishnet tights, and another skirt I made from an old lamp shade cover!
Who and what inspires you to create?
My inspiration has changed with me. It started out as what would be the maddest thing I could wear out, now I am inspired by my baby who has opened up a whole new world to me – making baby clothes and children’s accessories with a very different look to what you get in the shops!
Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
My mum – she makes the best knitwear. It is an exciting day when I receive a new batwing jumper or bobble hat. That lady has such patience. Knitters are amazing.
When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
I decided to start a business making clothes after I left school. I had lots of enthusiasm and creativity for my signature product and also designed one-off items. However, in order to gain more business knowledge and experience, I diversified and worked in the fashion retail industry, always with the ambition of running my own business again one day, but with more clarity and refinement.
What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Determination; enthusiasm; not getting disheartened if you don’t make much money initially – you must remember that you are in it for the long haul; researching your prices well, you need to be mindful of a wholesale price that you can still make money from; and trying to find your niche, it is good to be different.
Name three of your most popular designs.
The self-tie headband, the baby/toddler adjustable pinafore dress and the silk hair flower/brooch.
If you weren’t a retro-themed fashion designer, what would you be doing with your time?
Pedalling someone else’s wares in retail establishment!
Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
Not at the moment, but I want to take my knitting efforts to the knit and natter at Emporia in the form of French Knitting (and even then I miss stitches!)
What’s new with your craft for 2014?
I am working on a whole collection of dresses with a larger size range and matching accessories launching soon. I also want to experiment more with recycled fabrics and re-purposing old garments like my Nan and her sisters would do in their Make Do and Mend days.
if you want to see more of Melissa’s work, check out her Etsy store or pop into the shop and take a look at her unusual prints yourself.