I first came across Lucy from Smile and Make on Instagram when I saw her amazing dress making skills. But it wasn’t just her sewing skills, it was the story behind the reason she got started and why Lucy now sells her beautiful designs in her shop, Smile and Make. Read on to find out all about this incredible designer/maker.
Hi there, can you tell the Simple Stylish Makes readers a little bit about yourself?
Hi, I’m Lucy of Smile & Make, a dressmaker, all round crafter and sometimes blogger! I recently launched my business selling handmade vintage inspired dresses in quirky prints, and I host craft workshops at my colourful studio in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire with my Mum, who also has her own creative business, Spotty Daisy.
I also design accessories, from enamel pins to colourful totes, inspired by my husband Michael who sadly passed away last year from a brain tumour at the too young age of 35, and I make a donation from every Smile & Make sale to a fund I established in his memory with The Brain Tumour Charity, called The Michael Barry Fund.
When did you start designing/making?
I’m a crafty girl and have always loved sewing and making things. At first it was a therapeutic creative outlet from my day job as a solicitor, but when Michael was diagnosed it became an important therapy. After he died, I decided to learn dressmaking as a positive distraction in the midst of my grief. I spent hours online tracking down fabrics and deciding what dress shape they would best suit and I gradually built myself a colourful handmade wardrobe that I was proud to wear. After sharing my makes on my blog and Instagram feed, I had lots of requests to start selling my creations, so I decided to do just that!
What do you love about designing/making?
I love having the opportunity to tell a story through a product. Personally, I like to shop with handmade and independent brands because I appreciate buying from a real person and connecting with their story, so I try to channel this into everything I do. Michael had lots of quirky sayings and interests which inspire many of my products, whether it be pin badges and tote bags I’ve designed using his favourite saying, “Tip Top Like Soda Pop”, or a dress made in a picnic basket print fabric because if you asked him a question where the answer was obviously yes, he would always reply, “Does Yogi Bear Like Picnics?”. I have so many more ideas based on his sayings, drawings and things he made, and happy memories of our life together.
Can you share any top designing/making tips?
When I’m working on a new design for a pin, or making up a dress in a new pattern for the first time, I can be guilty of wanting to finish it there and then. I like immediate results! But sometimes it can really help to step away from a project and come back to it a day or two later with a fresh perspective.
This might seem obvious, but I also think it’s important to be incredibly enthusiastic and passionate about what you do, and to let that show in your work. The handmade and indie businesses I admire the most are those who are truly passionate about their ideas and let that come across to their customers – it’s infectious!
When you’re not designing/making, what do you like to do?
I love gardening and can lose hours pottering around the garden, and take lots of inspiration from my colourful display of flowers. I also like to try slower more meditative crafts in my down time, like hand embroidery.
Thank you so much for sharing all about your creative world Lucy and keep up the truly wonderful work!