Welcome back to Candy Conversations…the first one of 2011! Read on to find out all about one of the newest members of the group, Debbie Carlisle. Debbie creates the most amazing wedding bouquets and accessories, the sort that make me really wish I was getting married!
- Name : Debbie Carlisle
- Hometown : Sheffield
- Craft : I make wedding bouquets and accessories using vintage jewellery and buttons
- Company Name : Debbie Carlisle Bouquets
- Website : www.dcbouquets.co.uk
- Etsy : www.etsy.com/shop/dcbouquets
- Folksy : www.folksy.com/shops/dcbouquets
- Facebook : www.facebook.com/dcbouquets
- Twitter : www.twitter.com/dcbouquets
- Likes : I’m a magpie and love shiny sparkly things and I also have a major obsession with vintage buttons. Oh, and I also love tea – especially Betty’s Tearoom Blend. I’m also rather fond of monkeys.
- Dislikes : Coathangers. A necessary evil, but I can’t stand the tangly blighters!
- Hello Debbie! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in Sheffield with my husband and work from my spare room – my little haven of vintage loveliness!
- Have you always been creative?
I’ve always enjoyed making and creating things – although I have no official training in anything craft-related, only what my Mum and Grandma taught me when I was little! Some things stuck, like being able to sew and my attention to detail, others didn’t – I never really got the hang of knitting!
- What is your craft exactly? Please tell us about what you do, and how you got started with it.
I make bespoke wedding bouquets and accessories using vintage jewellery and buttons, diamantes, crystal and pearl beads and luxe materials like satin, silk, lace and velvet.
I made my first vintage jewellery bouquet for my own wedding in September 2009. I had never done anything like it before and, after a few false starts, I came up with the teardrop shower jewellery design. For my bridesmaids I created satin rose corsage posies – I made the roses by hand to match the dark ivory sashes on their black dresses and added vintage buttons along with pearls and tiny satin flowers. I am completely self-taught and just came up with the designs through trial and error. The teardrop style started as a round posy and just kind of grew of its own accord into what has become my favourite – and my most popular – bouquet shape!
After my wedding I still had all these other ideas for bouquets swirling around in my head that I really wanted to make – and so I decided to see if I could make some more. Once I had a good selection of bouquets I set up a store on Etsy selling pre-made designs and also offering to make bespoke designs. Soon after I set up my own website and Debbie Carlisle Bouquets was born!
As I make my bouquets to order, every design is a bespoke one-off creation so my work is constantly evolving. I moved into making headpieces and buttonholes after a number of brides asked me to design matching pieces to go with their bouquets. Now I have a specific range of accessories which brides can order – or they can ask me to create a bespoke piece specifically to match their bouquet, dress or other accessories.
- Where do you sell your products, and how do you go about promoting your business?
I make most of my sales through my website www.dcbouquets.co.uk and I also have Folksy and Etsy stores – both called dcbouquets, and a selection of my headpieces are stocked by Choola bridal boutique on Ecclesall Road, Sheffield.
I have promoted my work through wedding and craft fairs – including Craft Candy – and already have a really busy diary of events for next year:
- February 19 and 20, Designer Vintage Bridal Show, Highbury Hall, Birmingham. www.designervintagebridal.co.uk
- February 27, Vintage Wedding Fair, midday to 5pm at the St George Hotel, 1 Ripon Road, Harrogate, HG1 2SY. www.discovervintage.co.uk
- March 4 to 6, National Wedding Show, Birmingham. www.nationalweddingshow.co.uk
- April 10, Vintage Wedding Fair, 10.30am to 4pm, The Assembly, Spencer Street, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV31 3NF. www.discovervintage.co.uk.
- June 19, Vintage Wedding Fair, 10.30am to 4pm at Bush Hall, 310 Uxbridge Road, London, W12 7LJ. www.discovervintage.co.uk.
- September 18, Vintage Wedding Fair, midday to 5pm at the St George Hotel, 1 Ripon Road, Harrogate HG1 2SY. www.discovervintage.co.uk
I have a Facebook fan page which is great way of quickly updating people about what I’m up to or sharing links that my followers might be interested in. I also have a Twitter account which was probably the best thing I have done since setting up Debbie Carlisle Bouquets. I decided to get a Twitter account because it is a quick and easy alternative to blogging – and within 24 hours of signing up, my work was featured on a blog for the first time. Since then I have had lots of publicity – in wedding blogs and magazines – that I would never have got without it. It has also been an invaluable source of advice, support and friendship – I have met many talented people through Twitter who I now consider to be very good friends.
- Tell us about the commissioned pieces you can make for brides, and what is involved if somebody is interested in buying a bespoke bouquet, or other jewelled accessories for their big day.
I work entirely on commission, working closely with brides to come up with a bespoke design in a style, theme and colour that perfectly mirrors their taste and personality as well as their look on the day. To do this I suggest they send me photographs of their dress, as well as anything else that sums up their theme. I can design their bouquet or headpiece to suit embellishment on their dress, shoes or an item of jewellery they plan to wear.
I source my own materials and I can also wire in sentimental items of the bride’s own to create a personalised memory bouquet so they can carry a reminder of a lost loved one with them on their wedding day. I can also work ‘something blue’ into a bouquet.
People can contact me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by using the contact form on my website which allows them to attach photographs.
While I am happy to take last minute orders if I have availability, to be sure of a booking, I recommend that clients contact me at least six months before their wedding – sooner if possible – so I have plenty of time to source the perfect vintage pieces to use in their bespoke design.
- Who or what inspires you, and how does this come through in your work?
My main influence and source of inspiration is the bride I am designing for. I usually work from a photograph of the bride’s wedding dress as well as any accessories, bridesmaid dresses, and other themes that they think sum up the look of their day, to come up with a design idea.
I also keep an eye on bridal and current catwalk fashion trends for inspiration. For example, feather headpieces have been popular on the High Street – so I’ve translated that into my own collection, using ivory feather bases topped with vintage jewellery, crystals, pearls and diamante beading. The headpieces are really popular with brides who don’t want to wear a traditional tiara and veil, and especially those choosing a vintage or old-style Hollywood glamour theme for their wedding.
- Which of your contemporaries do you admire?
As I’m deeply immersed in all things wedding, my list of admired contemporaries is quite bridal and also rather vintage!
I love the work of wedding stationer Lucy Ledger, she’s a Sheffield-based designer who makes beautiful bespoke vintage scrapbook-inspired stationary. She’s always coming up with wonderful new designs – each better than the one before!
I also love Vintage Twee, a lovely little company which makes gorgeous vintage-inspired favours and decorations which are ideal for a vintage bride.
I’m also a fan of Imogen’s Imagination, another Sheffield-based company and occasional collaborative partner. Sophie from Imogen’s Imagination makes fabulous headpieces, hats and fascinators and has a real eye for burlesque style. We have worked together on a number of occasions with Sophie creating the perfect birdcage veil for my bespoke bridal headpieces.
- What do you love most about being so creative?
I love the act of physically creating something new – and I especially love giving new life to ‘forgotten’ pieces of jewellery with their own history and old style glamour. I get a real buzz when I’ve completed a piece – and an even bigger buzz when I hear back from an excited bride who loves their bouquet! After the wedding my brides often send me wedding photos – and I love scrolling through their pictures and seeing my work in action.
It’s also good to go to fairs or shows with your work – I love it when someone is heading towards my stand and I see their face light up when they see my bouquets sparkling, it makes all the late nights and sore fingers worthwhile!
- Of all the things that you have made and sold, which has been your favourite?
It would probably be my Teardrop Shower Jewellery Bouquet design, which is the bouquet style I made for my own wedding and is also my most popular design. My absolute favourite bouquet is the Jewel Brights Bouquet – but I haven’t sold it. I did put it up in my Etsy store briefly but I quickly took it down again when I realised I was too attached to it to sell it!
Instead I keep it to take to shows and fairs. it has also been on a couple of photo shoots, and has even had pride of place in a window display at the Choola bridal boutique on Ecclesall Road. While the original Jewel Brights Bouquet may not be for sale I am happy to make similar bouquets to order – which I promise I will hand over!
- What are your other hobbies or interests besides your craft work?
I have a full time (day) job and so making my bouquets and accessories takes up almost all of my spare time which means I have to make a real effort to do anything else. To relax away from the world of weddings I like watching films and reading – although I don’t get to do the latter very often as it’s such a solitary occupation and I like to try and spend time with family and friends when I’m not working. I also love scuba diving – but I don’t get to do that as often as I’d like either as I have no wish to brave the cold and dark UK waters. I confine myself to holidays abroad where the sea is blue and as warm as bath water!
- What’s the best thing about belonging to Craft Candy?
I love being a part of Craft Candy because it’s packed with friendly and talented people – which makes me feel very proud to have been accepted as a member. It’s great to be part of a group of people facing similar challenges and experiencing the highs and lows of running their own business, however big or small.
- And finally…what are your plans for the future of DCBouquets?
I would like Debbie Carlisle Bouquets to be bigger and better this year – and I’ve got lots of plans and projects on the go to try and make it happen – including joining some incredible suppliers and bloggers at the Designer Vintage Bridal show in Birmingham and also having a stand at the UK’s largest wedding event, the National Wedding Show at Birmingham NEC in March. I would also love to have my pieces stocked in more bridal boutiques.
- The very best of luck for all the wedding shows, and for the future of DCBouquets! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Debbie, it was lovely finding out more about your work!