Potter and Mooch is a small, family run company based in Littlehampton, West Sussex. It was born in the summer of 2014. We sell mainly at events across the south of England, and have a following online through sales on our website.
I almost fell into doing print design after picking it as a bonus subject when studying my A-levels. I needed 4 subjects but could only think of three, so I added in Textiles as a filler. I had always loved pottering around with different craft bits and hobbies since a young child, so it seemed like a nice subject to explore. I soon discovered that I absolutely loved it, and went on to study it during my Foundation Degree and then on to graduating with a BA(hons) 1st class in Surface Design for Textiles in June 2012 at Northbrook College, Sussex.
After showcasing my work at London’s New Designers exhibition, I came home to a summer of family and friends, but the daunting prospect of creating a career out of my degree in design. I never felt drawn to the idea of working for a big company, where you are given a few pieces of inspiration and have to produce design after design, hour by hour, on a flat rate, in an office. For me, Textiles is all about the finished article. I want to see and feel my work printed on gorgeous slubby linens and fine spun silk, and then made into edible homeware!
I began painting, and revisiting some of the work I had done during uni to see if I could edit and work it better. I used what I had learned at uni to produce mini projects, creating small collections curated from a mood board, a colour way and a wealth of inspiration from the natural world. I began researching into textile printers in the UK that would enable me to print on natural, unbleached fabrics.
A few years prior, I had studied an evening course in Upholstery at Chichester College… The dream developed to see my fabrics covering one-off chairs and foot stalls!
The Ear Wings story…..
At Christmas 2013, my childhood sweetheart(!) of 8 years asked me to marry him, and I agreed! During 2014 the plans for the wedding were in full swing including, of course, the dress! I found a gorgeous one that was about £400 over what I had hoped to pay, but alas, couldn’t get it out of my mind. It was a beautiful ivory silk, bias cut, V neck, unstructured gown with the tiniest spaghetti straps and a low cut back. Over the entire dress was a heavily beaded second dress, which had an Audrey Hepburn neckline, nipped in beaded waistband and the prettiest scalloped edge train and hemline. The same afternoon, I marched back into the shop and paid the deposit there and then!
The quest later became to find some jewellery that would compliment the dress. Due to the high neckline, I knew I wouldn’t be able to wear a necklace with it. Then came the idea to have beautiful crystals winding their way up the edge of my ears. I couldn’t get this idea out of my mind! I began searching in shops, but I didn’t know what I was looking for was called, or even if it existed! I then started looking online and found that people had been playing around with this idea. I took bits of inspiration from images on Pinterest and Etsy and started playing around with some wire to create my own design.
To the left was my first attempt to create something that winds up the ear. I knew it needed to go through the ear piercing as all the others I had seen were more like cuffs that could easily fall off. I thought about a stud with butterfly on the rear, but had seen a few online with this bar idea, which possibly allowed for the earring to stay upright on the ear. As I was not soldering or heating the metal, I worked out that they needed finishing off in a loop (seen on the left) as otherwise it would be sharp. I played around with different ways of smoothing that end off, but a loop was the most natural and easy way to finish it off. I used a much thinner wire than I use now, this was because it was cheaper and also because I didn’t know what the standard earring bar size was. I used glass seed beads and crystal beads to decorate them.
I then moved onto making them in a straight line to see how that sat on the ear. It did work – but it didn’t ‘wiggle’ up the ear like I had initially planned. I used Swarovski crystals in this one pictured above with silver coloured spacer beads on silver plated round wire.
Over the past couple of years since creating the ‘Ear Wing’, the idea of a climbing earring has become much more of a recognised jewellery item. I have had customers come up to me when I’m selling at events saying “oh wow, I bought something like this about 15 years ago in France! I have never seen them since!” So this suggests they have been around for a fair few years. People get excited about the idea of a climbing earring, mainly because you only need one piercing to wear them which suits people who didn’t fancy getting their ‘seconds’ done. I don’t claim to have come up with the ‘climbing earring’ concept. I was inspired by other people pottering online and I took lots of ideas from here and there to create my own look. Recently, they are everywhere from Accessorize, to Topshop. However I believe that Ear Wings are unique in that they are totally made by hand. Ear Wings are continually evolving. Take the new Rose Gold Filled with Sterling Silver Stars design for example. Really popular at the moment – but so different from my very first attempt!
Potter and Mooch became a business after feeling the need for an ‘umbrella’ name to cover my textile design, upholstery and the new idea, Ear Wings. In September 2014 I did a small charity event in Lindfield. I took a bunch of Ear Wings I had made, along with my textile art that I’d made at uni and a bit of upholstery. I did so well at that event! I decided from then on that I wanted to do more events and make Potter and Mooch into a joyful lifestyle brand that would become a small source of income, whilst having fun along the way.
In May 2015, we got married! I wore the Ear Wings I had dreamed up around two years prior! Never knowing it would have turned into the business that it is today.
Today, we do approximately 10 - 20 events per year. We also stock a gorgeous range of handmade items made from driftwood and recycled items. These are really popular at events, but are unfortunately a little too delicate to be posted, hence why they are not for sale online. Over the next year, I hope to free up some time to create new collections of textile and surface designs too. All of which will be available online and at our events.
Thank you to everyone who has supported Potter and Mooch through the website or at events! Couldn’t have done it without you!