BethanyJoFisher

Archive for February, 2014|Monthly archive page

The diamond behind the silver

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2014 at 3:42 pm

She’s the girl behind the brand that turns old silverware into fabulous on-trend jewellery – but she wouldn’t have come up with the idea if it wasn’t for her struggling start.

The innovative jewellery business, Dad Daughter Designs, has become increasingly popular on Etsy.co.uk and has been promoted on YouTube for its unique designs made from antique cutlery. I found out it hasn’t always been easy however, when I meet the girl behind the success story who had to make the best out of very little.

Dressed in a pair of worn jeans and a thrifted top, from first glance you can tell that Leanne Nicholson is a small town girl from Georgia in the USA. She is also the daughter who helped set up the brand with her father, Herman Nicholson. Her family never had a lot of money, but she happily always made the best of what she did have.

 

What prompted her to set up her business? Leanne says, “A year after I had graduated from college, I really struggled to find a job and had little hope that I would do well for myself.” Leanne had studied art and design but there were little jobs available to her in Georgia where she would be able to make any money from art. With sadness in her voice, Leanne says, “My dad built houses for a living, but that had slowed down a lot too, and so we were both in desperate need of money.”

 

What sparked such a creative idea as antique cutlery? Perking up at the memory, Leanne explains that she had first thought of the idea when she had gone to a craft show and saw a man making bracelets out of silverware handles. Leanne says, “I really wanted one, but they were $65!” and while laughing, said that she is too cheap to spend that kind of money on one bracelet! Leanne decided to buy two spoons from a local thrift shop she often buys clothes at and asked her dad to make her one with a personal edge. She had her initials inscribed onto the spoon-bracelet, which she thought made it even more one-of-a-kind. While Smiling, and looking down at her wrist, she said that when she first started wearing it, all her friends and family wanted her and her dad to make them one. Happily, Leanne says “And the business just snowballed from there!”

 

Dad Daughter Designs jewellery is sold online on Etsy.com, a site similar to EBay where anyone can sell handmade items, ranging from jewellery to iPhone cases. The business has over a hundred followers on Etsy, where the community favourite and comment on many of her designs. With prices starting at £10 for the fork-prong rings and £15 for knife handle key rings and vintage spoon pendants, the business is affordable as well as inventive.

 

The excitement beams out of her while she shows me her favourite pieces. With a smile on her face, Leanne said “I love taking vintage brooches and soldering them onto spoon heads to make a statement piece.” She also has a ton of fun just going on searches for more vintage silverware, and says “It is always a treasure hunt!” Working with any member of family can be a tough ride at times, but it does have its perks. Leanne said that although she can get annoyed with her dad changing her designs, she laughs and says “The best part of working with my dad is not having to worry about getting fired!”

Leanne says, “I am mostly spending my time polishing the silverware up at the house, and my dad will be down in the workshop cutting and filing the pieces.” However I can tell that she is born to be creative, as she uses any spare time she has by uploading videos onto YouTube. Leanne has a close and niche online community where she gets hundreds of views on her videos displaying her jewellery as well as other creative hobbies such as singing songs from The Rocky Horror Show and showcasing vintage fashion hauls she had collected from vintage shops around her hometown.

 

After talking to Leanne, I realised that with enough determination, and a little bit of polishing, we can all find the diamond that’s within us.

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It runs in the family

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2014 at 3:32 pm

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Running any business is hard work, but how would you feel answering to your boss who is actually your mum? Would working from home with your sisters drive you mad? Family businesses are on the rise, and Bethany Fisher finds out why.

It’s hard enough on a wet Monday morning to get up early to commute to work to find your boss forever moaning. But just imagine if that was your mum. When I think of working with my family, I think of arguments and stress – not a foundation you want to run a business from. However I was pleasantly surprised when I talked to two different family-led businesses about why they worked so well.

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Matilda Kirkwood, who is part of a team of three sisters, has driven their fashion couture business to success – fight-free! Forget the Kardashians, this new trendy trio behind the latest fashion enterprise K’outure, are a business team that ooze sisterly sophistication. With their quirky collections inspired by musical theatre and their Scottish heritage, this innovative design squad are organised and have their minds set for success. It is quite astonishing to see a business in such harmony, considering they come from a family of seven sisters!

 

 

Matilda, 26,Jemima, 24 and Harriet,27 are the three Kirkwood sisters behind K’outure, which they set up just over a year ago after studying costume design at Edinburgh College of Art. With a price tag ranging from £300-£900 for a piece from their collections, it’s obvious that they must be doing something right!

 

As there are three sisters contributing to the design work, you would assume it would be difficult to all agree on ideas. Matilda shrugs off the assumption by saying “As designers we follow a similar process, but our inspiration and work that each of us produces are very different.” Matilda said that they love this about their company, as the diversity and scope of work is increased with three different designers working under one label.

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I know that if I worked with my family, we would all try and palm off the worst jobs on everyone else but Matilda said “If there is a job I dislike, it is without doubt adored by either Harriet or Jemima”, which makes them at their best when they are working as a team.

 

When running a business, it is sometimes difficult to get on with all your colleagues, and if they’re your sisters, being too familiar with each other could increase the stress. Matilda said, “As we are the eldest of seven siblings, we know that getting on is much easier than not, and when you work with people you care about – the urge to succeed is increased twofold.”

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On days that they are incredibly busy or stressed, Matilda said “We rely heavily on lots of cups of tea” and added that tea and hard work are the backbone of K’outure.

 

When working with colleagues you generally need to be more tactful when opposing ideas or criticising work you dislike. Matilda said,  “As sisters, we are our own harshest critics.” Matilda added, “Where in other working relationships criticism can be sugar coated, we have no qualms about being direct, to the point of brutal sometimes, with issues that we disagree on.”

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This can cause problems and sometimes they can find themselves getting too personal in arguments. Matilda said, “When family is involved it can’t fail to be personal, which can occasionally lead to some rather heated debates.” Although this can make disagreements more difficult to deal with, Matilda argues that as usual in any family argument, it is forgotten within minutes!

 

Like any business partners, they all have bad habits they all have to deal with. Matilda said “I am very messy and forever putting things down and forgetting where they are!” Matilda added that Harriet is always disrupting the workflow to make at least fifteen cups of tea a day. Matilda said, “Our youngest sister, Jemima, gets very upset when working in a messy studio.”

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The sisters also have very good qualities about them that make them bond so well as business partners. Matilda said she’s best with dealing with proposals and anything that requires writing, and Harriet is a brilliant leader, pacifier and mediator – all necessary qualities in an older sister!  Matilda also said “Jemima is good at being very organised and generally keeping us two in line.”

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It seems that working with your family can result in a very strong team, especially if you know each other’s weaknesses and strengths. I spoke toAyşegül Çetinkaya, who set up her business, Irregular Expressions, with her mum, which creates knitted and crocheted accessories. Ayşegül tells me why having a clear understanding of their roles, is key to running their business successfully.

 

The business is innovative on its own, despite the fact that a mum and her daughter run it together! Ayşegül said that her mother, Sebahat Çetinkaya, is a sixty-four year old retired teacher, and works ten to twelve hours every day crocheting and knitting and creating new pieces. The long lengths of time they spend together working on the pieces could cause arguments in the business, but Ayşegül knows how important it is to her mum, so she helps her as much as she can. Ayşegül added, “As I am fluent in English, I handle our online store and customer e-mails.”

 

 

The mother-daughter duo has learnt that because they care so much about each other, they tend to put all their efforts into their business. Ayşegül said “I think that anyone who is about to start a business with family members are better to start with a clear understanding of their responsibilities, as it can avoid tension because it is very easy to argue with a family member.”

 

 

 

From what I have heard, even though it can be difficult to get on with your family if you are working with them every day, it is obvious it also has a lot of benefits – and no one else quite knows how to make your cup of tea the way your family do.

 

PHDoubleD

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm
Bonnie Blossman and Whitney Whatley from Big Rich Texas

Bonnie Blossman and Whitney Whatley from Big Rich Texas

PhDoubleD

Bethany Fisher talks boobs, brains and Botox with the mother who has written five novels and her daughter who showcased THAT tattoo on TV

Bonnie and Whitney - nicknamed the 'botoxians'

Bonnie and Whitney – nicknamed the ‘botoxians’

Upon meeting the pair of glamorous starlets, Bonnie Blossman and Whitney Whatley from the new reality show, Big Rich Texas, I was very worried about what to expect. From the first few episodes that have aired on ITV2 this month, the two ‘outcasts’ of the series set in Dallas seem to be in the middle of every argument and at the front of every cosmetic surgeon’s waiting list. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find how real and down to earth they were – despite being partially made out of plastic and silicone.

They greet me with Hollywood white smiles and bat their thick false eyelashes that hide under their veils of voluminous platinum hair. I immediately compliment them on how glamorous they look, and Bonnie grins as much as her Botox would let her and in a high-pitched Texan accent replies “Why thank you, that is so nice! I spend an hour getting ready, but mostly for a hot bath!” Whitney, who is dolled up to the nines declares that most of the time she does not wear makeup because she thinks it is bad for her face, and never uses foundation or powder products.

Before any plastic surgery in 1990

Before any plastic surgery in 1990

I am not slow to dig the dirt on who they love and who they hate out of their cast mates on the show. Bonnie admits she loves fashionista Connie and ex-model Melissa as they have the best hearts and are good people to the core. “By the end of season two and definitely in season three, you can watch the transformation of our relationships. I don’t get along with any of the others, enough said.” Whitney nods and added “I’m with my mum – we get along with the same people and have the same that we don’t care for”.

When asking how they got onto the show, Bonnie says, “The American Big Brother casting producer called me about Big Rich Texas since I have a daughter, and when I told Whit about it, she was in!” Whitney, who seems more comfortable now, said “when my mum called me about it, I was like, hell yes! Let’s do it!”

If you are in the minority of people that has yet seen the show, we are introduced to Bonnie making a deal with Whitney, to get the c-bomb she tattooed on her foot removed in exchange for lip fillers.  I ask them if they always make deals like this, and they both laugh, and admit they love a bit of surgery here and there. “I love Botox!” Bonnie declared. “I would have lines on my forehead if I didn’t get it, and who wants lines? Not me!” Whitney tells me that she is also pro-plastic surgery, “I have done Botox once, but it didn’t even do anything for me” – I am not surprised, she is only 24! Whitney admits she wants more surgery – “I want porn star boobs!” she laughs, while looking down at her already-large pair. Bonnie tells me that she has also had a nose job, and a CO2 laser procedure on her face, which she describes, was “fabulous”. “That’s all I’ve done, but I will fight aging every step along the way – I’m just not going to age gracefully, no way!” Bonnie pauses and then blurts out “oh, wait, no, I also had my boobs done after I had kids. Ok, that’s all I’ve done.”

Big Rich Texas Bonnie and Whitney looking beautiful for the TV series

Big Rich Texas Bonnie and Whitney looking beautiful for the TV series

For two women who spend a lot of money and effort on their appearance, you would assume that they wouldn’t have much else to offer in the academic department. “There are a ton of stereotypes about being educated and what you should look and act like and even more stereotypes about blonde hair and big boobs.  I seek to break both of thesestereotypes.” Bonnie told me. She added, “It doesn’t matter what you look like, you are capable of anything”, and she’s right, as she goes on to tell me that she has a PhD in Biology, she has published five journals on microbiology and physiology, and is a published murder mystery fiction author.

 

She can tell from my face at how shocked I am after telling me this, and then admitted that she wasn’t always this successful, and considered herself as a teen failure. “My proudest moments are coming a long way from not graduating highschool – I had Whitney during my senior year and got married at 17 with inadequate education.” After working as a cosmetologist for two years, she shocked her parents by signing up to do pre-med at university, which ten years later credited her with a PhD. “I have an autobiography by the way,” she cheekily plugs, “it’s called, from GED to PhD!”

You can tell from Whitney’s proud expression that she looks up to her mum as a role model. “It shouldn’t matter what you look like, if you are smart, you’re smart,” she said – and Whitney is, she was a state champion cheerleader when she was younger and also studied pre-medicine at university and is working on her medical esthetician licence.

Big Rich Texas reality TV stars Bonnie (right) and Whitney (left)

Big Rich Texas reality TV stars Bonnie (right) and Whitney (left)

Whitney tells me that she loves painting guitars and does lots of art projects. Looking at her exposed arms and chest I can tell that she loves being creative, down to the 10 tattoos decorating her body. “I have recently helped my mother make clay monsters for her animations”, she said. Bonnie piped up “Yeah I do Claymation for fun! Mountain dew paid me 10k (USD) for a Claymation that I put on youtube – it was horrible!” she laughed. The duo is also musically talented as well. Bonnie says that she has recorded seasonal dance songs as they have a recording studio in their house. “I also play bass guitar in our house band, which is called DrunkLora. My husband plays guitar, my son plays drums, and Whit sings too” Obviously named after their party lifestyles, I tell them that they live a very colourful life. “Yes, it gets loud at my house!” Bonnie laughed.

I thank them both for giving up some time from their hectic lifestyle, and tell them that we will be glued to our screens watching them for the rest of the series – but after stripping down their plastic exterior, I think we’ll see them in a very different light.

Please check out my Big Rich Texas DPS and break out feature for Guilty Pleasures Magazine:

Big Rich Texas Profile Feature

Big Rich Texas

 

 

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