Featured Designer: Empire of Bees

FK chats to talented cousins Bridget & Claire of Brisbane based label, Empire of Bees. We are excited to have them at the upcoming Brisbane Markets!

Tell us a bit about Empire of Bees and what products we can expect to discover?
We always dreamed of working together, doing something creative that we would love as well making a positive contribution to the environment and our community.  Empire of Bees came about after years of thinking, planning and toying with different concepts and ideas. Finally in April 2012 we launched our on-line store and first ever collection and we haven’t looked back since!
You can expect to discover a unique collection of hand crafted bags and accessories, such as leather and vintage fabric totes, clutches, wallets and coin purses as well as one off fabric creations such as bags, purses and earrings made from vintage ties and doilies.

Who are the team behind Empire of Bees and what are their roles?
Empire of Bees is a dynamic cousin duo consisting of Bridget aka “B” and Claire aka “Birdie” hence Bee’s empire was born. As a small team we wear many hats and are both across broad aspects of the business.
Claire Davies (Owner/Designer/Creative Director) Claire has a background in Fine Arts and Design and has a passion for seeking out rare and unique fabrics.
Bridget Glass (Owner/Designer/Marketing & Sustainability Director) With a background in Marketing & Business, Bridget has a passion for sustainable fashion and business practice.
The second half of our team consists of
Pak Yudi – Leather Artisan and Magician! He brings our design templates to life with genuine craftsmanship.
Brittanie Dreghorn – Our #1 Supporter, Graphic Designer and go to person for design critique. She is currently a student of Marketing and Graphic Design.

What inspires you daily?
One of the driving factors in creating EOB is watching so many items go to waste everyday. In today’s throw away society we thrive on giving fabric items a second life, recreating and upcycling yesterdays fashion. Inspired by mass produced synthetic handbags falling apart around us, we are dedicated to making high quality pieces that will last a lifetime not a season.
We are however also inspired by emerging and seasonal trends, the twist is, most seasonal colour schemes and patterns are just being reborn from previous eras. Therefore we like to find and incorporate these original fabrics into our seasonal designs. We also draw inspiration from old magazines, books and films, infatuated with styles from bygone eras.  The continual support and encouragement of family and friends is also driving inspiration everyday.

What is your creative workspace like, and what inspires you about your surroundings?
In line with the rest of our business, our work space is filled with reclaimed treasures. A lot of our storage and work spaces are made up of furniture we have rescued from the road side. We utilise cute furniture in a functional way, such as: a mint coloured dressing table with mirror doubles as our whiteboard for daily job lists and rough design scribbles. We have a wee clothes line along one wall where we hang swatches of the vintage fabric we are working with. We are both constantly on the move, so this space in more like the headquarters of ideas, sketches and mock up samples. We both carry note books with us everywhere, as our real inspiration comes at sporadic moments and from the greater world around us.

What do you love about working with vintage fabrics? And what are some of the challenges in staying environmentally minded?
We love the dynamics of mixing patches of the past into the present through design. Each piece of vintage fabric is unique, from its texture, pattern and personal history; the era it was produced and the fashion of that time, who owned it and where we discovered it. We are inspired by these characteristics and try to reflect the distinctiveness of each piece in our designs.
Some of our challenges as a sustainable business is remembering the small things! From the clasps we use to the note paper we write on, we try to be conscious of every action and acquisition we make to ensure we’re making a ‘green’ choice. When there’s not a ‘green’ alternative, we ensure we’re off setting the environmental costs elsewhere. Additionally like many handmade based businesses, it’s a very time consuming labour of love, which can be at times hard to justify from a business preservative. But from a moral and creative perspective, producing a unique item that has more positive than negative effects on our environment means every minute is worth it!

What can we expect to see from Empire of Bees at the upcoming Brisbane Markets?
You will see our latest collection – Spring/Summer 2012, plus some special one off pieces, sample pieces, handmade earrings from vintage fabrics, plus bags of all kinds; from small coin purses and clutches to large totes and handbags! We will also be featuring some favourites from our first collection – Summer/Autumn 2012.


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