Blackcurrant pop

Self-employed buzz: Beth Roberts

Self employed people contribute strongly to the UK economy, with over 5 million self employed people and represent over 15% of the labour market. Right now in August 2020 self employed people are eligible for the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, its a far cry from the furlough scheme which is a lot more supportive of employed people but at least there is some acknowledgement of the important role of self employed people.
The third person i have interviewed for this blog is Beth from the amazingly fun company called Blackcurrant Pop.  I first came across this company on a late night instagram scrolling session and have been in love with the creativity and nostalgic playfulness ever since. 
Blackcurrant pop

Describe your business (and your big idea):

Blackcurrant Pop is an eclectic jewellery & accessories brand with a big focus on primary school chic, with customisable designs that really reflect the personality of the wearer.

We strive to make designs that can be switched up, adapted and styled in a multitude of ways – Pick n mix style but with jewels!

It all begins with nostalgia really, I had a wonderful childhood full of adventure and happy times, and our designs reflect that – from gummy bears to butterfly clips they transport you straight back to childhood, listening to Britney and collecting 90s treasures like Pokémon cards & jelly shoes.

Our big idea is to bring back that sense of wonder and experimentation that is so apparent in your younger years but twisting it to make it chic!

What is your background? How does it link to what you are doing now?

I studied footwear design at DeMontfort University before interning at Sophia Webster. I started my job as a Footwear Designer at ASOS where I worked for three years – where I learnt so much so quickly! I’ve always been ‘creative’ as such, I went to art club instead of gymnastics made and sold brooches at my parent’s furniture shop and took over my sisters room and turned it into my ‘art room’ in my early teens.

At school I focussed on art and had some great teachers – I was basically allowed to just get on with it and make things that I wanted, and that was exactly how I needed to learn and grow.

I always knew I wanted my own business, as I’m not great at being told what and how to do things…. and I’m passionate about working from home and that people are happier and more productive when they can fit work around them, and not vice versa.

Jewellery became my creative outlet when based in London, as I felt trapped in a job that I felt I should love more, but the reality was a 9-5 situation just didn’t sit right with me.

I took the leap and left my design job at the end of 2018, moved back to my roots in Wales and pursued Blackcurrant Pop as my main career (whilst working part time as a baker and waitress). I Think these styles of jobs give you a good grounding, and I feel proud to have worked in my families business whilst pursuing my own ‘dream’.

What was your breakthrough moment?: 

Blackcurrant pop has evolved organically over the last almost 4 years!

After becoming pregnant with my daughter, I almost packed it all in, we had a dip in sales, I felt I had lost my creativity and was in a real ‘rut’. But two months before Elsie was born, I felt a surge of creativity and ploughed back into designing and making which ignited the spark again and since then things have just one up and a up (well mostly ha).

We had a real peak at the beginning of Lockdown and our following jumped from 2000+ to 25,000+ over the last few months. I mainly owe that to fabulous influencers like FAYEWAD & NNENNAECHEM who have worn and promoted our jewellery and I am deeply grateful. Behind that too is a real drive, and passion for making and creating designs and content that I feel reflects the brands values & of course aesthetic.

When you have a success like growing your following it spurs you on further and I felt validated in what I was doing, that I had taken the next step from making pieces of jewellery in my home to really creating a brand.

Blackcurrant pop

What was your plan?: 

If I’m really honest I had no plan – It was about carving a space for myself in a world I wanted to be in, but on my own terms. I craved the chance to design, create a brand with my vision and still feel like myself. Being your own boss usually means you work longer hours and never switch off, but on the flip side you have so much more control over when and how you work and that was always so very important to me.

My family all had their own business, my grandparents, my parents etc and that lifestyle is almost engrained in you.

We couldn’t go for a day out without calling into a charity shop, meeting a dealer or doing a rekki in a new café, this to some may not sound like a great day out - but the thrill of finding a bargain, or discovering a new flavour gave us a buzz that kept us going back for more.

What I mean by all this was that it never really mattered which way I went from shoes, to fashion to accessories but it was more the lifestyle.

That being said I have always had a soft spot of accessories; I was a chunky teenager and finding clothes to fit that I liked and felt like me was almost impossible (especially in rural north wales before online shopping).

Accessories allowed me to experiment and add that bit of me back to an outfit I probably didn’t like that much.

How and when did you launch?

We launched (with the softest softest launch) around 2016, but this was me just dipping my toe into the water and we only had three products at the time.

I spent my evenings and weekends working on ideas, many of which weren’t successful J I found my feet in 2019 when I was dedicating more time and energy into Blackcurrant Pop and this is where I would say we really began.

Blackcurrant pop

How have you continued to build your brand?

Not giving up – Sounds simple but it’s always the advice I give when anyone asks me. You have lows when you have your own business, but its about taking them and moving forward. Anyone can do it, you just need to really want it and not let go.

From a design perspective it’s knowing your signature, but pushing every other limit.

I am constantly researching, experimenting and thinking of the next big thing.

Coming from a fast fashion world it’s so refreshing to be creating the next thing from my own ideas and experiences instead of a version of someone else’s.

What challenges have you faced?:

Our main challenges have been space. I make everything myself from my home studio, which we have completely outgrown, but at this moment we are renovating our home and my new studio but that still so far from being done.

How do you stay motivated? 

Time off! At the beginning of lockdown, I was working 7 says a week, in-between being a mum, renovating our house and it was just not sustainable. I now manage to work mon – fir and have the weekends off. I’m someone who has balls of energy and can keep motivated quite easily, but in return my body needs down time! I switch off going for a walk with the dog, watching crap tele and cooking and then eating delicious food.

I’ve always been an advocate for self-care, and I think it really pays off creatively.

Blackcurrant pop

What have you got your eye on for the future?:

I’d like to employ someone else to help with the making, as this would free me up for more design work and research which is the perk of the job. It’s hard now with covid as all the beading is close work that I would need to show someone, and our space isn’t really adapted for socially distancing. But we are looking into this already and hopefully that will follow soon!

What are you favourite things to carry around with you? 

Lip balm, a trusty hair clip (I can’t work with my hair in my face) my phone for taking snaps, and crocs. It is the shame I have as a footwear designer, but I bloody love them, they’re good for water, mud and everything in between!! It was a standing joke as a footwear designer that I wore crocs but hey they’re having a moment, now aren’t they?! I even have the charms (can’t face calling them jibbits though).

Do you have a motto? If so, what is it? 

Stay in your own lane. I picked this up whilst working as an intern. Sophia Webster made this comment to a member of staff and it really resonated. It’s all about focussing on your skills, your visions and putting it out there. Yes you take inspiration and move with the times, but you don’t need to focus on what anyone else is doing. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of emulating someone else’s style, but as they say your most powerful quality is your individually.

Blackcurrant pop
We are so chuffed that Beth was so open in talking to us about her business inspiration and challenges. If you also have your own business and would like to be on our next 'Self-employed Buzz' please get in touch!
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