Monday, 25 July 2016

Working with: Gendered Intelligence Crowd Fund for Transgender Camping Trip







LGBTQ issues have, and will, continue to be incredibly important to me as a queer person and Black Heart Creatives. At times it feels like I have supplied the entire London Queer scene with jewellery at some point or another(!) and I have been so grateful to have the support from such a large community to grow my business in return. So when Gendered Intelligence contacted me about their Crowd Fund project to send 70 transgender and gender variant young people on a camping trip next month I was more than happy to get 
involved.

In 2010, Gendered Intelligence took a chance on arranging a short summer camping residential for a handful of young trans people. It was so successful that they have done it every year since. This year, GI is taking 70 young people camping over two weekends – the biggest number yet and a massive undertaking for the organisation. The camping trip attempts to solve some of the problems that young trans people face if they want to go away on conventional camping or activity holidays. As the majority of summer residentials are segregated by gender, they can prove anxiety-provoking for young trans people, especially those who identify as non-binary. 



Research Indicates That: 91% of trans boys and 66% of trans girls experience harassment or bullying at school (EHRC) 72% young trans people self-harm (Youth Chances, 2013) 31% of trans people attempt suicide and 73% experience harassment (Engendered Penalties, 2007) 81% say they avoid some situations in public spaces due to fear (Trans Mental Health Study 2012)


So you can see that attending the camping trip can make a massive difference to a young person's life. It's also a chance to learn new skills such as kayaking and raft-building, to go swimming – an activity which is generally unavailable to young trans people – and make new friends. The camping trip gives young people respite from the challenges that they face in their everyday lives. It can be a huge relief to be able to have fun in a safe environment. Many young trans people feel isolated and vulnerable, typically suffering inequality and discrimination across society.



The response to this year’s camping trip call out was phenomenal – GI received 134 applications, almost double to the number of places available. But to make this years trip happen, Gendered Intelligence require £12000, they have reached just over £7200 of their target.To help them get there, we have donated a one off exclusive giant glitter gold lip necklace.  We won't be making one of these again and the only way you can get your hands on it, is to pledge on the crowd funding site here! The necklace is a statement piece measuring up at approximately 13x9cm and comes with its own presentation and storage box. 

Here are some comments from previous camping trips from attendees, to me they really show the impact of how important they are to young trans people. 


"The best thing about GI camping trips is that everyone gets to relax and be themselves. We create our own community, respect and look after each other without having to worry about what the rest of the world thinks" – Jake, camp worker 

“A few years ago one of our young members described the camping trip as 'a little bit of paradise'. This has always stayed me - partly because it's wonderful to know that Gendered Intelligence is providing such valuable experiences, but also because it motivates me and the team who are working hard to make society more trans inclusive. Because at the end of the day, going camping should be fun no doubt, but 'paradise'? It points out to me that everyday life for young trans people is generally difficult. So in the meantime - until we make the world more intelligent about gender - let's go camping” – Jay Stewart, director of Gendered  Intelligence

"Perhaps the highlight of the year was the Camping Trip.  My son did things that he, and I, did not expect him to do, including swimming - something he used to love but had not felt able to do for some time. He spent quality time with his GI friends and made new friends and it was heart-warming to see them return, the bond between them was touching. My son came home tired, dirty, a little smelly, but most importantly, he came home very happy. “– Parent of a 15 year old trans boy



Gendered Intelligence are a a CIC, founded in 2008 who work with the trans community and all those who impact on trans lives; specialise in supporting young trans people 8-25. Their vision is of a world where people are no longer constrained by narrow perceptions and expectations of gender, and where diverse gender expressions are visible and valued.  They run regular group sessions in London, Bristol and Leeds for young trans people up to the age of 25, residentials, peer support for parents and carers and special projects. They also Work on one to one mentoring with young trans people from across England in their educational settings, workshops and assemblies for students across all educational sectors, staff training, consultation and policy development

Gendered Intelligence also offer Professional Services such as Trans Awareness and Inclusion training, consultancy work, policy development and a membership scheme, presentations, conferences, panel discussions, lectures and workshops.



Any pledge amount to the camping trip is appreciated and you can do so here! Thanks so much for reading <3 



Thursday, 14 April 2016

Working With: Slink Magazine



Black Heart Creatives roots started out in affordable, attainable inclusive jewellery, with the plus size community at the heart of it all. Now whilst that mission statement hasn't changed, the BHC brand has expanded and grown so we found ourselves working and collaborating with a variety of different people.  So its always affirming when we get asked to work with a magazine like Slink, who cater exclusively for Plus Size people. 


Using a combination of our new pastel colours and contrasting neon mirrored, for a colour clash  the editorial piece titled 'desired' can be seen in full in this issue of Slink Magazine, which can be bought in print or digital here, and we recommend if you like plus size fashion that you do!


You can get your own heart collar clips in any of our 40+ colours here, our heart stud earrings in the same choice of colours here, and double stacked custom name earrings in even more colour choices here.


Thanks to Slink for letting me use the photos! Credit also to the following: 

Photographer Roberto Aguilar // Makeup & Art Direction Jenny Morrell // MUA Eoin Whelan Hair // Hair Kieron Webb // Nails Steph Mendiola // Models: Nina & Charlotte MiLK management 

Huge thank you again to Jenny Morrell for including us on this shoot.


Monday, 11 April 2016

Small Business Interview: Melly Em Clark



Last month I decided I wanted to introduce a featured artist into the Black Heart Creatives monthly subscription workshop box.  I feel like it's a great way to lift up other artists to reach an audience that perhaps they wouldn't usually get to and also put some cool extra things in the subscription box.  It also give the artist a chance to share our product too, to people who necessarily haven't heard of us! Win win all round.  In February I asked Sade from In My Sunday Best to contribute and I promise that I shall interview her at some point! 

For the April box (of which there are still a few left!) I had asked Melly Em Clark to do an original design for us in keeping with the ultra femme, clueless meets mean girls theme.  I have seen the design and it is A M A Z I N G. So here is a bit more about this months featured artist and small business owner. 




Charlotte: I first 'met' you on twitter dot com, in the Plus Size Community and always loved how you are this plus size power house couple with Dom, but it was relatively recently I discovered your illustrations.  I have to say I am totally obsessed with them. You are one of those people I look at and think, damn Charlotte you need to up your game because look at the level or work people are producing, You were honestly top of the list of people I wanted involved with this project! Can you remember how we ~met?

Melly: Firstly, thank you so much for the kind words! I came across you through the Plus Size community too-I saw lots of my favourite bloggers sharing these awesome pieces of jewellery, and I had to see what was going on! Imagine my delight when I found not just the most amazing accessories, but a badass businesswoman behind it all! I'm also a big fan through your collaboration with the fabulous illustrator Phie Hackett, who I'm always in awe of!

Charlotte: How did you know you wanted to be a designer/graphic designer/illustrator, and how do you define yourself to others?
Melly: I usually introduce myself as an illustrator, as that's my training. I grew up constantly making stuff, and was encouraged by those around me to pursue art. During my GCSEs I did a project around Illustration, and completely fell in love with the subject, leading to me following more Illustration based projects and A-level and ultimately studying Illustration at University. I just love drawing and making things for other people- whether it be a portrait for a cute couple, or a logo design for an independent business, I really love what I do. Being able to be creative on the daily is something I didn't think I would get to do!




Charlotte: I see a lot of fat positive and body positive themes in your work, how does it influence you and your creativity? 

Melly: As someone with very introverted tendencies with a big dollop of anxiety, a lot of the time I struggle to put my thoughts into words. I'm not a very articulate person and I ramble a lot when trying to make a point. For me, art is the way I communicate how I feel, from my passions to my frustrations. Like many, I hate the messages put forward by the media, so creating body positive art felt natural to me. I hate body shaming and truly believe all bodies are amazing and deserve representation. I try my best to create work that is colourful, positive and with a message of self-love. We absorb so many negative images every day, so it feels important to me to make positive imagery. 

Charlotte: If money and time and specific qualifications were no barrier, what would you ideally like to do? 
Melly: There's a few things I would love to do, but my main goal would be to collaborate with others to create a book on sexual education. I think sex ed is vital and I really love working on imagery around those themes. Another wish of mine is to be able to broaden my products, I'd love to sell my art on more pieces of merchandise and clothing, which is my goal for 2016! 




Charlotte: I am a big champion of social media for friendships, relationships and business.  Recently I have been involved in community hashtag talks within etsy groups, which have basically been invaluable. What are you favourite things about social media for your business? 

Melly: I love connecting with people that share similar ideas to me; I've had some fascinating chats with feminist and body positive bloggers, writers and creatives, and I find it so inspirational, both personally and professionally, Social media has also been crucial to me for finding support with my business. I'm part of an artists' group on Facebook and we regularly offer advice to each other, and it's been invaluable having extra input and help. Being able to chat with creatives going through the same experiences can really boost morale and motivation. As someone who works from home, alone, it's comforting to know there's a network of folk who have got my back.

Charlotte: Whats the weirdest/most difficult/ one that sticks in your mind commission you have ever had?

Melly: I've been very lucky so far in that I've not had any extremely difficult commissions. If anything, any bizarreness is down to my doing! For example I recently worked on a portrait of a couple and their two dogs, and having been given the info that they were fans of dinosaurs, I drew their pets in tiny dinosaur costumes. It was a really fun idea to draw, and those types of choices can be a gamble, but luckily it paid off! 




Charlotte: Any questions for me? 


Melly: How do I reach your level of awesomeness? Ha! I'd love to learn more about your experiences as a small business and as a woman in business! And have you been enjoying interviewing other businesses-is there anything you've taken away from your interviews?

Charlotte: It has taken 30 years of not giving a shit, a real case of narcissism and just assuming *everyone* wants to hear what I have to say and see what I have to show them and it turns out like 80% of it is really funny or creative.  I probably should do my own interview or at least a day in a life of me, I have written a few well received posts on running a small business but probably only moaning posts.  

I absolutely love doing these, I like asking people questions and finding things about about them, I like hearing peoples philosophies on things and I have taken away and learned things about myself and my business in the past 6 months than I have done in the past 3 years just by talking to people who run their own business! 



                                                                          _______________________

Thanks so much Melly for letting me interview you! If you would like to be interviewed in our new weekly Small Business Interview blog email me at blackheartcreatives@gmail.com



You can follow Melly Em Clark on the links below, and also visit her store 


Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Shop // Blog 



Wednesday, 23 March 2016

NME NBD



Last week (or is it two now time has gone so quickly recently!) our bamboo style no scrubs earrings were featured in the 'things we like section of the NME. Now I won't lie to you but this was a really nice achievement for everyone involved at Black Heart Creatives not just me to just show that our hard work has all paid off!   


For me personally it was one of those things you dream about moments, appearing in a magazine (not for my musical talents) that I read religiously once a week, really felt good! So here I am tooting my own horn in a blog post about it! 

The 'No Scrubs' acrylic laser cut bamboo earrings are available to buy on the site and you can get them in matte or mirrored gold, and you can actually have them say whatever you like, just leave us a note when you buy them.  If you want TLCs message to live by then just leave it black! 




Friday, 18 March 2016

Small Business Interview: Pantyhoe$


This weeks interview is with Sophie from overnight sensation brand Pantyhoez. From having a low key idea of putting memes on knickers to having a full spread in Dazed and Fader in 12 months, I talk to Sophie about when we both moved to and hated Bristol, Amber Rose and whats next for pantyhoez. 

                                                  Photographer: Sirius Film, Model: Pippa Melody 

Charlotte: I always like to ask how we met and know each other, this interview section is really for me about lifting up other people, specifically women who have started their own businesses, and it really struck me just how many women I have in my network who have done this. We met on twitter dot com through some mutual friends and I remember you and me had both come to Bristol from London the same sort of time, and were really unhappy so we had this thing in common. Can you remember anything about how me met, and how important is social media for you for friendships, and now your business? 

Sophie: I graduated from Bristol last summer and my experience at university was far from enjoyable although I was so lucky to meet some wonderful people there; including the other half of pantyhoe$ Liza. One escape I had from my Bristol life was using social media, it was a good outlet for my feelings of frustration and disappointment. I remember you reaching out to me and talking me through lots of things which was so so lovely, thank you!  Social Media is imperative for our business, people find out about us from our instagram and tumblr, as well as us and our friends posting on their personal facebooks and twitters! Also loads of our inspirations are taken from social media, I check instagram soo many times a day. I feel the same! All the girls I know are doing the absolute most, I am so inspired by all the strong, creative, hardworking females I am surrounded by. 

Charlotte: How did pantyhoez come about? 

Sophie: Haha I cant remember exactly, at some point in a discussion about our love of internet related novelty goods, and I had the thought for our first pair of pants the "Benz Punani" (photo courtesy of Kelechi Okaforwas seeing a woman with a Benz Punani tattooed on her Punani accompanied with a mercedez benz sign. Goals, haha. 



Charlotte: I am so impressed and proud (like I always am of twitter fam) that pantyhoez has got this amazing recognition, I remember seeing your pieces on twitter and insta and you getting (rightfully) a lot of and then all of a sudden you were in dazed which is incredible. However, knowing (from personal experience) more exposure means more orders and more work which can be really overwhelming for a new business, has there been anything you were not expecting or really challenging for you? 

Sophie: Going into this, neither myself or my business partner had run a business before, so everything is a surprise, there are so many more things to think about that I would have ever imagined. But I feel really fortunate to be learning all these things and overcoming all the obstacles at such a young age. Getting featured in both fader and dazed was insane, and dealing with the number of orders was pretty hard for the two of us to manage, I have a 9-5 and my partner Liza is training to be a doctor.


                                           Photographer: Sirius Film, Model: Pippa Melody 

Charlotte: I often get an idea and don't roll it out for ages because I am either too busy/too scared or not confident enough and then I miss the train. How do you get inspired? You seem so switched on and on the ball, hitting these cultural references so quickly and getting your product and photoshoots out! 

Sophie: I feel like with pantyhoe$ I've really just put myself out there, which is something that I really haven't done before. Now it's out there I just wanna ensure that its the best that it can be! I do all the creative direction for our shoots myself, as its something that I just adore doing

Photographer: Sirius Film, Model: Pippa Melody 

Charlotte: What is the dream for pantyhoez? without this sounding like a cheese interview question but what do you see in the future or rather what would you like to achieve in the near future? 

Sophie: Well in the immediate future we are rolling out birthday card (next week) and swimwear (ready in time for summer), which I am sooo excited about!! Its so much more to learn, but I'm enjoying it. I'm going to Brasil in May to shoot the swimwear campaign in partnership with some pretty cool people so I'm excited about that. And in September our collab with London based embroidery designer Haniko will be released. And after that there's soo many other things that I would love to design!

Picture Courtesy of @Nadineartois

Charlotte: Is there anyone you would love to see wearing some pantyhoez?

Sophie:  I would LOVE to see Amber Rose in a pair! Maybe her pair or any of the others, she's an inspiration to me, beautiful, hard working and outspoken. 


                                                                          _______________________

Thanks so much Sophie for letting me interview you! If you would like to be interviewed in our new weekly Small Business Interview blog email me at blackheartcreatives@gmail.com



You can follow Pantyhoez on the links below, and also visit their store 




Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Enamel Pin Game Strong



So basically if you aren't aware of the enamel pin and embroidered patch resurgence in the past year you must have been living under a really sad joyless rock.  Remember those cool little brooches you seem to get with everything but I can't really put my finger on what? When you were a kid, maybe McDonalds, or things you would send off for on the back of cereal boxes, or that 25 metres fabric patch your mum sewed on your swimming towel, well they are here with your favourite pop culture references on and you are going to start seeing them everywhere







With quite a collection now, I wanted to share my favourite designers and pins and patches I have collected over the past year, and hopefully introduce you some people you haven't heard from before. I have had no chill what so ever in getting as many pins and patches as I possible can get, to the point that Toby from I like Cats had to send me a cleverly concealed envelope that was tabled 'VERY IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS IN HERE' to trick my husband due to the sheer amount I have bought from him, spoiler I don't think it worked. 





I belong to a very cool monthly subscription called Pin Club, and each month I receive a surprise enamel pin in the post from a different designer.  Once the pin has been shipped there is an option to buy one off and see what you are getting, but I am a sucker for surprises! At £5 a month even if the pin isn't to my taste (it hasn't happened yet!) I can alway put it away for a birthday or Christmas present for someone else.  



Very recently Sophie from Crown and Glory started Bobby Pin Club, a slight variation on your typical enamel pin brooch, but by putting the design on a bobby pin/kirby grip.  We have only had one subscription yet of this very cute unicorn, but I am very excited to see what this months brings as it is a collaboration with Sugar and Vice! You can subscribe for next months here. 

I am working on a couple of denim jackets myself, which I will be showing you over the next few weeks, but checking out the tags on instagram and my own feed, I came across a few people doing something a bit different. ASOS's very own Felicity and my number one crush and just all round incredibly stylish babe put her iron on patches on some dungarees and they look great. You can follow Felicity on Twitter and Instagram





Similarly, blogger Fine and Dandy put all her enamel pins on this pink faux fur bag, and it made me physically swoon.  




BHC Team member Robyn is working on a denim vest masterpiece with Simpsons cross sections and BHC super fan Charmaine is also doing a Simpson homage.  




This post is leading up to the exciting but maybe quite obvious news that Black Heart Creatives are going to launch their own pins in the very near future.  The only problem I am having is picking a design that is going to appeal to our loyal customers but also a wider audience.  We think we have it down but if there is any you feel strongly about or would love to see from our website, or custom designs, please let us know we want your feedback! 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Small Business Interview: The Lily Pink Bakery


Many many moons ago in the depths of the internet in the very very early 2000s I met a group of women who 16 years on are still some of my closest friends. We share everything in our lives, from our achievements to our relationships, we help each other in our lowest moments and celebrate the great things in our lives.  One of these people is Claire who runs a small business called Lily Pink Bakery, a custom cake company in Belfast.  Amongst the cupcake phenomenon's I have seen come and go, Claire's cakes and business has remained steadfast. I have seen her talent (and cakes!) grow before my eyes, so I was desperate to get her involved in the weekly interview.  

Claire regularly makes cakes for places like set of Game of Thrones(!) and this week was asked to do some cupcakes for the cast and crew of The Fall, and more importantly GILLIAN  ANDERSON AKA SCULLY. Claire missed her by minutes, but in an awesome turn of events, Gillian tweeted her thanks here.  FAN GIRLING OVER HERE. 



Charlotte: We met on Live Journal I think? Which is where a lot of my internet friends met, and we all seem to be doing creative things now! I just remember you being a super cool blogger and always having the best boots, can you remember how we met?

Claire: Yes! We met on Livejournal, so many important women in my life come from my LJ days! So many of you make up such a crucial support network for me still, I sometimes wonder where I would be without livejournal. I think we probably met there through mutual followers or possibly off highstreet? I posted a lot on thehighstreet, the photos are still hidden in the depths of my photobucket account somewhere. Lots of thick borders and edgy fonts over them. Not great I will say. 



Charlotte: I know that cake making wasn't what you set out to do, and to be honest I have no idea how you got to that point? How did it all start?

Claire: I have always loved baking though it had always just been a hobby of mine. My Granny Lily used to bake little chocolate using galaxy bars and decorated in Smarties and I loved baking with her. I still swear they're the best buns I have ever eaten and I would love to eat one again now. She died about ten years ago but she was such an influence on my life, I just thought the world of her. We used to sing the song Lily the Pink around her and I named my business after her. 

I graduated with a MA in film studies in 2011, I quickly realised that I was going to be stuck in a job unrelated to my degree to make ends meet and I thought I would rather have it be something I like than sitting in an office all day. I joined a free course run by Belfast City Council geared towards turning your hobby into a business and it all started there! I have never looked back. My skills have come on leaps and bounds since then, I am totally self taught and have been working full time as a baker for almost 4 years now.



Charlotte: When I first started BHC you were the only friend who I spoke to every day (which is funny saying out loud!) who also ran her own business, and we still do talk about it quite a lot, and how isolating it can be sometimes as well as rewarding. I will always come to you when I have big picture problems or ideas or to sound off on things for example.  What are the things you find most challenging about running a business on your own?

Claire: Running your own business is HARD WORK. People will tend to say this then skim over it with all the brilliant points about working for yourself. Yes, it's wonderful and it is super rewarding and I am so grateful to be able to work for myself...but it is still work. It's not all sprinkles and rainbow cakes. It's long hours, it's unpredictable income, it's having nobody to run ideas by, it's having to worry when you get sick that you might not have an income for a while. 



One of my least favourite *-inspirational quotes-* is 'Do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life-*. BOLLOCKS TO THAT. I love my job, but sometimes I love lying in bed watching Netflix and surrounding myself with Wotsits and I don't want to work. Self employment is a job like any other and you have to be committed to taking it seriously and making your own success. I love my own company and am happy spending time alone but I do find self employment really isolating and that's why it is so important to me to have a place on social media to share my work and ask for ideas and encouragement. We don't have a boss there to say "you're doing a good job". I think impostor syndrome runs rampant in the creative community and having a great network of followers, other bakers and friends who will give honest and constructive feedback is crucial to keep it at bay. 



Charlotte: Whats the thing you are most surprised you have achieved and accomplished by running your own business?

Claire: Honestly I think it's self confidence. Only in my 4th year of doing this have I actually said to myself I am damn good at this and believed it. I still have self doubt of course, especially for example when it's 10pm on a Friday night and I'm crying over some fondant model past Claire agreed to make. I really am a lot more confident about my skills and far more willing to take on a challenge now as I know I can do a good job if I work hard at it. There's another great side to knowing your skills and it is knowing when to turn down work. Sometimes I get presented with work that just isn't me, it's not on brand for me and it's not something I want to do, for example when customers come to me with very traditional, tiered fondant cakes with ribbon and diamante crystals. I can usually recommend someone who is more fitting for their request and I can spend time creating some multicoloured, tie dye glitter explosion of a cake. 



Charlotte: Do you ever have time to make cakes for you and Ali, and are you making your own wedding cake? 

Claire: I really don't get a lot of time for this any more and it makes me sad. I would love to make more time even for practicing new flavours, methods etc but it's hard to turn the oven back on when you've just finished work late. I have contact dermatitis on my hands from constant washing, contact with water/flour/sugar and it gets very painful so a lot of the time I need to remind myself to take a break. The great thing is that I bake all occasion cakes for my family and friends, and I usually get a slice then! The rule with family cakes is that I will do it for free if I get to do what I want design and flavour wise and this means I get to try new things out then. And yes! I am making my own wedding cake. Half the bakers I know have recommended against it and the other half have told me to go for it. I'm still not sure what I am going to bake but I'm sure I'll change my mind about 100 times between now and the wedding.




Charlotte: Whats the dream for the future, or is it just you and your new cake fridge against the world of weddings for a while? *secretly hoping you will be able to dry ice freeze them and ship them to England* 

Claire: Someday I would really love to have my own tearoom. That's always been the dream. To be able to have space to bake for weddings and birthday cakes as I do now, with a counter for cakes and cupcakes and a small cafe space to serve afternoon tea. Just small, I have never wanted a cupcake empire (much to Ali's dismay). Right now the day to day work keeps me busy, it's so hard to make time to sit down and work on future projects when there's a constant stream of time sensitive work to do now! I'm sure you know all about it. Short term goals for me are to redo my website and to look into having some more promotional material done. I really want a short video to share on my website so I have to get working on that! 



Charlotte: What is your most  favourite cake you have ever made been? 

Claire: This is an impossible question and I curse you for asking it. Realistically my favourite cake was a really plain three tiered white iced cake that had nothing too special about it only that it was the first 3 tier stacked cake I did that came out completely perfect, level and beautiful. It was a really proud moment for me. Design wise the cake I made for my sister's 21st birthday is my favourite. I love playing with pastel colours, lots of sprinkles, sweets and glitter. (for photos it's the one with party rings stuck to it)

Claire: What is your least and most favourite thing about being self employed? 

Charlotte: Not having to answer to anyone is my absolute favourite thing, and working to my own time schedule. If i don't want to get up till 11am I don't have to. Worst thing is being ill because there is no one to cover for you if you are. 


                                                                          _______________________

Thanks so much Claire for letting me interview you! If you would like to be interviewed in our new weekly Small Business Interview blog email me at blackheartcreatives@gmail.com


You can follow Claire and Lily Pink Bakery on the links below, and follow the hashtag #lilypinkbakery

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