A couple of months later she sent me the beautiful photos (by Benj Haisch) - and not only did she wear my Matisse leaf earrings on the day, but so did her 14 best friends & bridesmaids. What an honour! All of the details are so lovely - from the groom's tie and the Matisse shape cut-outs on the wedding invitation to the matching gold earrings and beautiful flowers.
Photographer Marieke Bosma from the Netherlands sent me a message through Instagram to let me know she was in Prague, asking if she could come over to visit my studio - so we met, she showed me her work and very kindly suggested she could shoot a series of photos with my jewellery. Here's the wonderful result.
Check out her work here - instagram.com/mariekebosma
I'm very excited to be launching my new collection today. Think this collection has taken an interesting turn - I've focused on the simplicity of metallics and the texture of the leather which has given me plenty of creative freedom in terms of shapes and scale.
Some of the pieces are inspired by paper cutouts and combinations of abstract shapes, and others explore the flexibility of the leather, adding dimension and perspective to the jewellery.
Here are some of the outtakes from the shoot with photographer Eliška Kyselková and lovely models Simona and Denisa Katzer. A million thanks to all three ladies who did a wonderful job bringing this collection to life. Our idea was to emulate shapes from the collection with huge gold paper cutouts - playing on perspective and the respective asymmetry / symmetry of the jewellery and the twins. As well as the new collection, we also reshot some of the most popular pieces from my previous collections.
Here are some behind the scenes shots of some of my initial sketches, and our shoot day:
Oh and more news! As well as gold leather, some of my pieces are now also available in silver and copper.
I'm delighted to announce that the wonderful Amy from Hello Jonesie and I have collaborated on a t-shirt design!
In case you haven't come across her already, Amy is the talented designer and embroiderer behind the Hello Jonesie brand. She skilfully embroiders words (of your choice, in her beautiful joined up hand-writing) and her custom illustrations onto eco-friendly cotton t-shirts. She's originally from Nashville but has been living in Paris for over three years and speaks absolutely perfect French.
Once upon a time on Instagram... That's how things work nowadays, right? Amy and I first 'met' and agreed on a product swap which quickly evolved into a collaboration. Amy works with a different designer or blogger every few months to create a limited edition t-shirt - and, to my delight, asked if I'd be her December collaborator.
She then spontaneously suggested that she could travel to Prague for a weekend to meet and discuss the collaboration. We really hit it off and had such a laugh! Below are a couple of pictures that she took while she was here.
For the collaboration, we agreed on the OK hand sign, based on my OK brooch and necklace designs, embroidered in gold and red, onto a white cotton, slightly oversized t-shirt. The embroidery is intricate and beautifully done, and the gold thread is just gorgeous, contrasting with the bright red nails. Don't know about you guys, but I absolutely love the t-shirt and think that Amy's done an amazing job. It's super playful and a real conversation piece!
I'm super excited to be launching my new 'all gold' collection today. It's been months in the making, and I'm really pleased at the turn my designs have taken. You can find the full collection in my Etsy Shop and photos below.
For this collection I wanted to move towards designs that are more grown up, but still really unique and out there. All of the new designs are centred around beautiful, shiny gold leather. It's actually often mistaken for metal - but a lot lighter to wear, and much more malleable for me, as the designer, to play around with and develop.
I do love colourful leather, but there's something about the simplicity, smoothness and shininess of this self-sufficient gold that has allowed me to be braver in terms of shapes, layering and even reshaping the flat leather into three-dimensional cones of all sizes. The simplicity coupled with the originality of the pieces makes them, I think, quite versatile and the perfect accompaniment for work or play.
I haven't been shy when it comes to scale and size, so there are plenty of big statement earrings and necklaces - contrasting with the simplicity of the leather and soft, twisted cotton rope in a couple of designs.
All pieces from the new collection are designed, hand cut and assembled by me - it can be laborious work at times, but coupled with a good podcast or audiobook, is also a very soothing and relaxing process.
I've really enjoyed the challenge of developing a coherent collection this time, and I hope you guys like it. My personal favourites are pictured below, with links to the product pages in my Etsy shop.
I would love to hear what you think - please feel free to leave a comment here or get in touch via social media!
And a couple of behind the scenes shots...
Welcome to my studio! This gorgeous high-ceilinged space is where all Benu Made pieces are thought up, drawn, designed, created, photographed and packaged. I've been based in Prague for nine months now - my boyfriend and I decided to move over from London in search of a more peaceful lifestyle. You can read more about my business and why I decided to move to Prague here and on the Mollie Makes blog.
After two years of working on Benu Made out of the corner of my living room (photos at the end of this post), I'm so so grateful to have this wonderful space.
As a self-confessed nosey parker who loves a peep into people's homes and workspaces, I thought some of you might enjoy this little tour.
My (also very nosey) little helper...
Here's a bit of a peek at a couple of new pieces that are on my desk at the moment. I've also been experimenting with copper / rose gold leather for my new collection, so stay tuned...
Typically, my desk looks like this - all sorts of materials, paper templates, and teeny tiny things like the little red leather nails you can see below!
Back in the day
On the left: This here was my work 'zone' in a corner of our small living room in our lovely, old flat in Bethnal Green, in London. It all started at my living / dining room table mid-2012 (safe to say eating at that table soon came to a halt). It was cramped, but the view over the City and cosiness of it was lovely.
On the right: We then moved to a bigger space in Hackney Wick, where I still worked out of a corner of the living room, but with huge windows and an amazing two meter long new table from Unto This Last. If you're in London, I highly recommended checking out their workshop at the top of Brick Lane!
Earlier this year, I was approached by Mollie Makes to design two fruity brooches, based on my existing designs (pineapple necklace and watermelon earrings), for the free kit in issue 56 of the magazine. Mollie Makes' circulation is around 40,000 (according to their publishing house's website) so I was delighted to think of the kits going into all of these new homes.
The kit included four pieces of faux leather, templates, brooch backs and cute little gems - making the brooches super simple to create. This project was great fun to work on!
And finally, if you were wondering what to do with your leftover bits of faux leather, fear not! Emma Mitchell's nine year old daughter (!) has come up with two lovely ideas - a strawberry and this lovely bouquet of flowers wrapped in gold faux leather. Wonderful, right?
I've wanted to rebrand for some time now, and finally got round to it earlier this year. Going full time, I needed a distinct and strong brand behind me. There were two important aspects I really wanted to focus on:
I was desperate to rename and frustrated about the fact that 'Benu' was just too short a name to be able to be unique as a URL and social media handles. Incidentally, 'Benu' also happens to be a pharmacy chain here in the Czech Republic, a restaurant in San Francisco, and many other things in many other places. I knew I needed a suffix of some sort without overpowering the 'Benu' part, and considered many different options. I finally settled on Benu Made - which rolls off the tongue nicely, isn't too short or too long, is now 'unique', and almost emulates the syllables in the word 'handmade' (which it is!).
My initial logo was designed by my little, at the time, 16 year old, super tech-savvy sister on Photoshop (thanks Elise!). It served me well for two years - it's cute, simple and picks up some of the geometric angles in my work:
It was time though to move onto something more professional and distinctive. I'd been working as a Project Manager for a branding and creative agency in London where I met many talented graphic designers. My friend and ex-colleague Helen did a wonderful job helping with the naming, and designing the logo for me. Her website is www.cooleydesign.co.uk and I highly recommend checking out her hilarious and very clever monster illustrations (as well as excellent design work, of course!).
Here's my new logo - I love the really unique and distinct lettering and think the angles are just gorgeous. It's simple and elegant and represents really well where I am right now, as well as where I want my business to go. The 'made' as a suffix and relation to 'Benu' works really well, too, I think.
I hope you guys like it! I'm excited now to start rolling my brand out - the first step being this website. Next up will be re-designing my business cards and packaging - I'm imagining this lovely logo either stamped into a piece of gold leather, or in beautiful gold foil on a clean white box.