A colourful fashion blog supporting independents & sustainable fashion in Bristol and beyond since 2011

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Indies in Lockdown - Sophie Filomena

As we enter more unpredictable times with another lockdown looming, I hope that the Indies in Lockdown interview series may be able to offer some form of comfort and inspiration to other creatives during the pandemic and perhaps offer hope for the future. 

Please know you are not alone AND if you are an indie business and would like to share your story, where ever you are based and what ever your situation, please do get in touch. 

Sophie Filomena

Contemporary jewellery designer and super lovely gal Sophie Filomena handcrafts fun, bold and colourful creations using polymer clay. From a wide range of hoops, studs and abstract earrings to the new super cute hair barrettes there is such a variety of treats that simply look good enough to eat!  

With graphic design, collage, illustration, video work and a feature in Vogue also under her belt this creative has got it going on! The question is, how did Sophie Filomena keep inspired and productive during lockdown?

This interview took place in July 2020 and was updated in September 2020. 

Sophie Filomena creates super cute jewellery pieces using polymer clay

How are you & what has your situation been like during lockdown? 

It's funny, at the start of the year, I was under an immense amount of pressure without really realising it. Although I'd managed to set up plans and goals for the year ahead, such as booking in workshops, markets and establishing a business plan, I felt my creativity had taken a huge hit. 

I felt like I wasn't in a position where I had much space in my mind to expand on my ideas and explore new avenues of design. 

I'd been constantly working around the clock and not having enough time to rest and take time for myself and the work I actually wanted to do.

In a way, the lockdown suddenly changed my situation overnight and I then found myself (along with many others) in a place where I had a huge expanse of empty time before me! There was a slight sense of relief and a great appreciation for my loved ones.

In true Bristol fashion, the lockdown only brought people together and I was able to explore new directions for my designs and take some time off.

Geometric drop studs by Sophie Filomena £20 

How has lockdown affected your business and the way you work?

I was so uncertain as to whether I could still continue making a living off designing and making jewellery, but as it turned out, people still continued to find ways to support small business. 

To my delight, I received a lot of messages from customers who told me my earrings made their day a little brighter in the early days of lockdown. I don't think they realise how much that spurred me on and to come up with innovative ideas to maintain a connection through design. 

I set up a competition where people designed their own earrings and the winner received their own custom order, handmade by me. 

As this has been a testing time for many people, it became clear to me that high morale, collaboration and local support was key to maintaining small and local business. 

I recently teamed up with Photographer and Stylist, Charlotte Turton who shot a selection of my earrings in a style very true to my brand. Bold, innovative and positive! 

Focusing on the online aspect of my jewellery work felt very important, as all of my physical stockists, unfortunately, had to temporarily shut down.   

Fun fashion collaboration with stylist and photographer Charlotte Turton for Sophie Filomena

Has this time helped your productivity? If yes, how?

Being essentially housebound made my productivity shoot through the roof - but not in the way I expected.

I spent days upon days just being in the garden and completely transformed it by planting loads of seeds. I found myself being able to start projects I'd always wish I had the time to do.

If there is one thing I'll take away from this situation, it is knowing the importance of doing creative things other than your work. When you are a self-employed creative, it is easy to fall into a trap where your personal and work life begin to merge.

By dedicating a good amount of my time to new hobbies, gardening and doing activities that are far removed from your job, it completely propels your productivity forwards when you go back to it. 

There are definitely days that feel very lethargic with no sense of an end to this strange way of living, but overall I am happy with the amount of work I’ve done on the house, garden and my business.

The new Hair Barrette collection by Sophie Filomena

Have you become more or less inspired in this time?

Overall, I'm pleased to say I have been feeling more inspired than ever. I get to work on my own terms and feel like I am in a more creative space, mentally. I've since released a new product line of clay hair barrettes and it's felt like a breath of fresh air to get those released. 

My jewellery has taken a new direction in terms of style and I have been pushing the boundaries with what I create. I've also finally been able to offer a wider range of clip-on options which I am very excited about! Who says you need pierced ears to enjoy my creations?!

Thanks to the lockdown, I've been able to pick up my collage work again and experiment with new mediums such as video and scanography. 

My musician boyfriend and I have been collaborating on some sound and visual projects which I hope to release under an alternative alias, Anemo Lif on Instagram. 

For both of us, it's been a useful time to figure out what we want for our own work and I feel more inspired than ever. I believe innovative thinking can emerge from times like these and I’ll definitely be taking these new ideas forward into the future. 

Squiggle hair clip barrette by Sophie Filomena £8

What's next for your business?  

Right at the start of lockdown, my earrings made it into April’s issue of Vogue Czechoslovakia which was such an incredible milestone and not expected at all! 

I’m working towards my brand becoming more high-end fashion, whilst still being accessible to all. There are a few worldwide stockists I have my eye on to approach and I’m considering hiring a few people to help me out, later down the line. 

I’m looking forward to collaborating more with photographers, models and anyone who has a cool idea. 

Visit Sophie Filomena online


Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Indies in Lockdown - Hello Dodo

It has been so inspiring to see many indie businesses thriving and courageously pushing through these changeable times, as life decides to throw us all the biggest curveball ever! 

The chance to slow down, take time to reflect and focus on the future - and what really matters - has created a surge of realisation, inspiration and creativity that offers hope to this new world. 

Back in June 2020, I spoke to a selection of UK based creatives to find out what life in lockdown has been like for them as independent businesses. 

Hello Dodo founders Ali and Jam outside their garden studio in Worthing

Hello Dodo

Hello Dodo is a fun, bright and colourful ethical fashion brand run by the equally colourful husband and wife team Ali and Jam from their home in Worthing. 

Going by their fun filled Instagram page you could make a guess that things have been going pretty well for the Hello Dodo team despite the pandemic, but everyone has a story to tell, right? 

This interview originally took place in June 2020. Read on for an extra Hello Dodo update at the end of the interview!

Keep on Raven crop top by Hello Dodo £22

How are you & what has your situation been like during lockdown? 

We are fine thank you, a little tired though as we haven’t had a day off in ages! 

We’ve been pretty fortunate during lockdown as we both work on our business from home, screen printing and packing orders from our little studio at the end of our garden. 

We have a tiny post office just around the corner which is run by our lovely postmaster Sam so we could continue to ship things safely, which was a huge relief. 

Working in this way has allowed us to become pretty much hermits though! We haven’t even been in to a supermarket since mid March so now that lockdown is easing we have to overcome quite a lot of social anxiety or risk becoming total recluses!

Hello Dodo screen print their own designs by hand

How has lockdown affected your business and the way you work? 

Although we’ve been lucky to be able to carry on running our business we’ve had every single one of our 2020 events cancelled (including artist’s open houses and markets) and also we were due to run our own two week long pop up shop at the end of July. 

We also lost a lot of revenue from our lovely stockists being closed too. We turned off International shipping during lockdown (we’ve only just reinstated it on our website) as we felt like the risk of orders being either lost or hugely delayed was just too high. 

For quite a while we weren’t able to order in the blank tees and sweatshirts that we print on to either so had to make do with what we had. 

The positive impact of lockdown on our business though has been, despite everything, that we are very busy! With actual shops forced to close lots of people turned to online shopping and even better - to supporting tiny independent brands like ours.

All Hello Dodo prints feature positive messages and fun play on words

Has this time helped your productivity? If yes, how? 

Like most things, it has come in waves! 

There has been times, particularly at the beginning of lockdown, when being productive felt almost impossible and we felt overwhelmed with anxiety and the enormity of it all. 

Then there’s been other times when being productive and creative has been the best distraction for us. We have managed to do two successful launches during lockdown and we’re currently working on another really big one - so actually maybe we should cut ourselves some slack!

Hello Dodo's Jam wearing the Grand Bug Hotel unisex sweatshirt £33

Have you become more or less inspired in this time?

Right now it feels like our inspiration is returning - like the stress was holding it back and now the floodgates have been opened!

In deepest darkest lockdown the main concern was keeping our business afloat. This whole experience has definitely had a huge impact on us though and some of our new designs that we’re working on will nod to that.

NEW Kids Human Kind print sweatshirt by Hello Dodo £24

What's next for your business? 

We’re just about to release a whole bunch of yummy summer pieces both for adults, kids and babies! 

It feels scary and a bit risky but we’re really excited about it all and we’re working with another brand on a tiny limited edition collection plus two self employed photographers. As an indie business ourselves we feel it’s really important to pay for services from other indies. 

We’re also getting back on track with our new handprinted vintage label Long Live The DODO which has been delayed by lockdown. Lots of exciting things in the pipeline!

Ali has been running Hello Dodo with her husband Jam for 9 years.

September 2020 update

How has life after lockdown been for Hello Dodo?

When we last left you (in June 2020) we were in the midst of working on a summer collection for both kids and adults! 

That went really well and we were able to work with two brilliant photographers, one who could photograph her own children and one who specialises in self portraiture. Perfect for covid times! 

We’re now straight in to A/W with an adventure theme for kids and a dog theme for adults (with some crossovers!) and we’re planning photo shoots with both photographers again but this time with models. 

This feels very exciting as we weren’t sure that it would be a feasible option in 2020! 

All of our stockists have reopened too and they’re all really busy, which is a huge relief for everyone! 

Winter still feels like an unknown but right now it feels like things are on the up and we’re enjoying that and trying to not worry too much about things that we can’t control!

Visit the Hello Dodo online shop 


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