I was recently asked which of my products I was most proud of. I did have to think, as there are so many of the items I've designed that I'm proud of (big headed!!) but it really has to be the Hen Party Sashes.
5 years ago, my lovely friend was getting married. She is a stylish girl through and through, and the idea of tacky hen party accessories was not going to work, so I volunteered to do something about it! I made a sash using some of the fabric I had in my stash, and was ever so pleased with the results - as was she!
It was some years later than another friend got married (funnily enough, the first girl I mentioned introduced me to the second!) and I decided to repeat my sash making antics again.
The funny thing is, I don't quite remember what happened next. I mentioned about the sash in a blog post, and on instagram... but people started to find out about my sashes and I started to get emails. It was customers I already knew at first... and then it became people who I had no idea who they were!
I slowly realised I was on to something! My original hen party sash was very basic, and after I did a wearer trial (!) I decided it needed some love and attention. I'm a trained pattern cutter so I enjoyed remembering about these skills and set to think about how to remake it. Suddenly I remembered! I was a Brownie! I found my old sash and started to think about the pattern and how I could apply it to a product for grown ups - et voila! A super sash that fits, stays on and looks wonderful! You can see a bit of the work in progress which is an outtake from a studio shoot (ignore my face please) as I have some sashes and patterns in the background, and the trusty Brownie sash!
Then, in June last year I was approached by Sharron from Hope & Glorious who are a great company specialising in vintage style hen parties. She was interested in trialling my hen party products at a couple of hen parties. Needless to say it worked, and I've been working with them ever since!
When the hen party products became in demand I wasn't quite there on the planning side of things, and there were some small disasters! A few memorable events included finishing a sash very late at night, only to burn it on the iron... and not have any more fabric left to make another one... and the shop had sold out too! In the end I trailed around London to find the same fabric so that the hens got exactly what they wanted. There have also been the odd few spelling errors, but none of them managed to get passed my meticulous QC procedure so they just ended up being a bit of a waste! Why am I telling you this? Because I really believe that the reason the hen party products are successful is because not only are they unique and totally different to what else is on the market - they are made by a real person, handmade to order.
Thankfully, I have learnt from every mistake and now the process is a lot less dangerous! I love making the sashes, and whenever I get an order through from an excited hen I share in their excitement. I love wrapping each sash and adding a little card to wish them 'Happy Henning' and then knowing the product I've handmade is going to be worn on one of the happiest days. Yes I'm soppy, but I love my job!
It's a really exciting time at the moment as I'm working on some new ideas for 2014! Although my heart will always be vintage through and through, I'm being sure to make a nod to the trends and a more modern look so I've been selecting new fabrics to work with. I've trialled some new things too (a couple are still left in my etsy shop if you move quickly!) and there are new products in the pipeline. I don't do "standing still"!
Of course, with every original product comes the fear that it will get copied, and that is always at the back of my mind. I cannot take any credit for inventing the hen party sash (if only I could!) but I have taken an old and quite uncreative (in my opinion) product and turned it into something new, fun and personal. £15 for a personalised sash would be a hard price to beat, as I make every sash to order. There are a few other people making sashes, however they are all totally different to these, which is great - I'm just happy people are moving away from pink fluffy things with willies on *ahem*
To conclude, I am so happy to have become to "go to" girl for non tacky hen party accessories! January has already been an incredible month and I'm working on some amazing hen parties at the moment (follow me on instagram @oh_squirrel if you'd like to see sneaky behind the scenes footage).
Oh! & if in reading this blog post is your introduction to Oh Squirrel Hen Parties, then first "hello!" and secondly, if you're looking for information on how you can buy then either drop me an email, or visit my etsy shop.