A design blog to capture a collection of thoughts from a bowerbird who is in love with unique design - fashion, furniture, art, photography, interiors, jewellery and creative minxes

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Limelight - Interview with Miss Be Designs (Wendy Rattray)

Above: Miss Be (AKA Wendy Rattray)

A selection of works from the Miss Be Collection

“I love how resin can capture time in a new contemporary piece”

While Miss Be Designs may be unknown to many of you, it is currently my favourite accessory brand and it’s sole creator Wendy Rattray (AKA Miss Be) is the talented minx behind all the wonderful creations.

I met Miss Be last week and I’m in total admiration of her journey thus far. From humble bean counter to a shining new design talent in under a year, Miss Be is on the road to major success.

Originally from a small town in the North East part of Scotland, Miss Be moved to Australia 8 years ago. She’d visited Australia the year before and fell in love with our way of life.

Not long after returning to Scotland a transfer opportunity came up with her company so she packed her bags and moved to Sydney. Arriving mid week around lunchtime she was shocked by the number of Aussies who were drunk and disorderly in pubs all around Sydney. She’d heard how much Aussies liked to drink but didn’t realise it included weekdays – little did she know it was Australia Day!

Making jewellery was a hobby Miss Be started back in Scotland. Always the creative, she’d dabbled in painting and silver work but fell in love with resin. “I love how resin can capture time in a new contemporary piece”.

Starting with object art, Miss Be quickly moved into making resin jewellery pieces. Spending time on her hobby after work and on weekends, she refined her techniques. “Resin is a very manual medium to work with. It takes a lot of practice to finish without any imperfections. It’s affected by so many things like temperature, time of day, time of year…”.

Feeling frustrated and bored in her accounting job, she found herself moving between companies trying to find happiness. “It took a long time before I realised it wasn’t the job it was me.” Wanting to break free into something more creative, a chance visit to a jewellery store in Paddington started the ball rolling. “The owner commented on the jewellery I was wearing and wanted to know who made the designs. It was the first time I thought I could make a business out of my hobby.”

Knowing that it would be too hard to work full time and try and establish her own brand, she resigned from her job, converted her second bedroom into a studio and created “Miss Be Designs”. Miss Be Designs is a brand about “moving away from fashion fads to being who you want to be…having independence...a brand for the nonconformist who dares to be bold”.

Combining resin with man-made and natural objects such as clocks, leaves, fabric, and feathers, Miss Be collections preserve a moment in time and create a unique, wearable piece of art. “Just because a bird no longer exists doesn’t mean its feather can't live in a different form”.

Now 8 months on, Miss Be is busy in her studio handcrafting ten pieces of jewellery a day. Even with years of experience “the end result is still unpredictable…it’s a nice surprise when the mould comes off and the final product takes form.”

Despite demand for her work growing, Miss Be is 100% committed to keeping all her pieces individually handcrafted. “It would be easy to follow suit and bow to the pressure of moving to mass production to get costs down and increase margins, but I want to keep my work unique, special and made with love.”

This year, Miss Be hopes to produce a new collection every couple of months and she’s currently working on a range that will “…capture the seasons through flowers and colours.”

Miss Be designs can be found in retail stores in Sydney and Melbourne and the “Time” and “Nature” range is part of an exhibition at Painters' Gallery in Mona Vale NSW Australia. Miss Be has also exhibited at markets like The Finders Keepers and she has an online etsy store. Miss Be encourages anyone interested in her work to join her Facebook Fan Page to keep up to date with new collections, outlets and news.

I've owned my Miss Be “Australian pheasant square ring” for about a month and it's barely come off my finger! I can’t wait to add another Miss Be design to my accessory collection!

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