Monday 17 December 2012

A Chat With Missy Lil's

By blogging outside my comfort zone, I sometimes bump into some surprising people. A couple of old friends and work colleagues have popped up on the Pier32 radar. I may have mentioned that I know Tamsin from Source Award-nominated Nancy Dee (if you fancy a chat, Tamsin, get in touch!).

Today, though, I'd like to introduce you to my friend Charlotte Cooper, who runs the upcycled hat and fascinator business, Missy Lil's. We sat down recently over tea and biccies, and chatted about how she shifted from TV to titfers.

Rob: That is a smashing drop of Orange Pekoe. Hi, Charlotte. Tell us a little about how Missy Lil’s was founded and your upcycling philosophy.
Charlotte: I make no bones about it, I collect junk. My love of shiny objects rivals that of a magpie. My drawers are full of broken jewellery and interesting scraps of material. I started Missy Lil's as a way of filling a gap in my life and to utilise my eclectic collection. I had recently started writing about vintage fashion and discovered that I had a talent for, and enjoyed actually making vintage inspired hair accessories. I use new and vintage materials, although I try to do as much up cycling as I can. This way I can be sure that the majority of my pieces are completely unique and individual.
R: How tricky (or otherwise) is it to find material that you can repurpose for use in Missy Lil’s clothes?

C: When I first started Missy Lil's I put a call out via Facebook, asking people for any of their scraps of unwanted material and broken jewellery and could not believe the response! It stunned me just what, and how much, people sent me. I'm actually still using some of the original pieces a year later. People love to think that their cast offs can be made into something beautiful again and this has become Missy Lil's mantra.
R: Missy Lil’s seems to be quite locally focussed at the moment. Is this likely to change? Do you want it to change?
C: Due to time and travel limitation (I take my driving test in January) trading directly to the public has remained a very local affair for me. But I have very loyal customers and a lot of the vintage fairs attract people from all over the country. At present I am making a matching set of 3 hats for a civil partnership in That London for a chap who attended an Exeter fair with his mum!
I also sell in local seaside towns, which obviously attract many tourists, so you could say that I sell all over the globe! My online presence means that I have been commissioned by people from Scotland to Essex. With every sale I get free advertising, as they wear their Missy Lil's hats to their particular function. I also get free advertising in the magazine that I write for, 'Vintage Life' which is a national glossy (hopefully global soon!). And my Facebook page has over 200 likes, and counting. (Rob discloses: I was Like No. 199.)
R: A rich tea biscuit, please. What are the future plans for Missy Lil’s?
C: I have been approached by more shops from Belfast to London to supply my hats and see my business heading this way, I do enjoy the fairs and wouldn't stop doing them, but it is easier if other people are doing the work for you! I also hope that my Internet sales grow in 2013 and I get more commissions and sales.
R: A silly one to finish with: what cocktail would Missy Lil order on a night out–and why?
C: A cocktail on a night out? It would have to be an Old Fashioned... Could it be anything else?!
Well, quite! Charlotte, thanks for the chance to chat, and best of luck with the driving test! You can check out the full Missy Lil's range at the website, which also contains a pretty good high street bargains blog, for the full vintage look without spending big bucks.

Missy Lil's

Charlotte, bemoaning Pier32's ram-raid on her biscuit barrel.

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