DISCOVER

Hi and welcome to our blog! Here you will discover the inspiration and techniques behind what we do, as well as discovering other creative female business owners who deserve shouting about!

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  1. Hi and thank you for checking out my new blog! I must admit, this is not my first. I initially dipped my toes into the blogosphere whilst studying my textiles and surface design degree, with not one but two shortlived blogs (my blog on the sustainability of the fashion industry was ahead of its time!) After graduating, I spent a year blogging for the studio I was hot desking at, as well as having a blog for my accessories business, the latter I regrettably neglected to the point of no return.

    But a lot can happen in two years, and my business has twisted and shaped itself along with my own personal growth, and I have been very fortunate to have continued working with people who have been supportive, encouraged me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to reach more of my potential. I will always be very grateful for this, and I hope that one day in the future, I'll be able to offer the same level of support to aspiring artists and designers. Opportunities such as having my first solo art show, exhibiting in Manchester, international in New York, talking about my fashion accessories on TV, publications in magazines alongside my favourite designers...it's been a whirlwind to say the least, and as much as I detest the phrase, I feel incredibly #blessed.

    So what to expect from my new blog? Well if you love art, fashion, boss babes and craftsmanship, there's definitely something here for you! This blog was created for a purpose, and that is to highlight the amazing art and fashion of the North East (and beyond on the rare occasion I can afford to travel), showcase the self-employed creative women who inspire me every day, and give an insight into craftsmanship and the design process, which is likely to involve some (or most!) of my own work.

    Thank you again for joining me in this exciting new chapter, the relaunch of my business and my brand! Please remember to subscribe if you don't want to miss out on any of the above, I have so much to share with you and I promise you won't be disappointed!

    Melanie xx

  2. So here it is again, that magical time of year where creatives of Newcastle and Gateshead come together to put on an insightful and inspiring culture crawl. Rejecting the typical perceptions of geordie nighlife, people spilling out of bars and clubs, a severe lack of coats and spilled kebab meat littering the paths, the streets of Newcastle and Gateshead are full of families, students, creatives, professionals, all people eager to experience the behind the scenes and the after-dark of the extraordinary talent and inspiration of our North-East creatives and cultural hubs.

    This year, having had experience several times of organising activities and attractions inside The Fashion Lab for events like this, Helen and I came to the realisation that rather than wanting something participatory, people are more fascinated by the inner workings of our fashion department and studio, something that, as something we experience on a daily basis, we often take for granted. I think the tipping point was when as part of Makers Market, a recent event in Ampersand Inventions co-ordinated by masters students at Newcastle University, a couple of young men completely bypassed my drop-in workshop to fawn over our cork tape dispenser, which we also use as a pin holder. Not exactly the reception I was hoping for, even if the workshop wasn't particularly aimed at men. So this time, we decided to showcase our inspirations (thanks to our amazing collection of coffee table books, namedly Alexander McQueen), our design and application progress, and also our  work that we sell. We even opened our studio doors that night, which as our sanctuary, we usually keep quite private, but it was important for people to have a real feel of who we are and what we do. In addition to our own work, we had on display the work of one of our friends and collaborators, some beautiful eyemasks by Dimesso Designs, that were to be used on an editorial shoot the following week.

    Melanie Kyles embroidery process

     

    Although our studios Ampersand Inventions always tend to be busy, we couldn't have predicted how much busier it would be that night. Originally, we hoping to take turns to have a look around Ampersand and the rest of Commercial Union House, but as the trickle of people turned into floods in the first hour, we knew it was going to be a full night! Although it is a fantastic priviledge to experience The Late Shows as a visitor, it's also an absolute joy being on the other end of it, for all of the people that you meet and the conversations you have...it makes the FOMO of not getting to see everyone elses events more bearable.

    Highlights of the night include meeting talented embroidery artists, including my woman crush Paddy Killer, a visit from the lovely Maryline, a friend who was on my foundation course who I had not seen in years, and Helen selling her most laborious illustration, cash in hand! It's not only the artists, designers, makers and shakers who make The Late Shows. It's everyone who comes out to support local talent in their droves, and that is something that makes me very proud to be from the North East, and in particular, from the place that is host to the Great Exhibition of the North, 2018!

     

     

     

  3. I always love a challenge, especially if said challenge pushes me creatively and changes the way I see myself as an artist and designer. This one I'm particularly proud of, as it exceeded all expectations and achieved exactly what we set out to do in a very short space of time, which was to address female visibility in art galleries, relying on vision, skill and intimacy rather than pussy power.

    It was just over a week before International Women's Day, when Cait Heaney and myself were offered the opportunity to take over Vane gallery. For those of you who don't know, Vane has been established as a contemporary gallery for 20 years, and is ran by Paul and Chris, very experienced and established gallery owners. For two young women in their twenties, Cait being a fine-art undergraduate, myself a practicing artist for under a year, this was massive.

    Following a seven hour meeting (Ampersand's tea urn took a good battering), we put the feelers out to see who would be interested in taking part. Once we had our core people, which deliberately included a diverse range of practices (we wanted to show what us females are capable of!)