By Sikora

So it appears summer is coming to an end. Days are getting shorter, nights are getting colder and the sun is doing nothing but waving goodbye.

Met this lovely young lady a few months back and we got to talking and she mentioned she designed her own sheepskin range.
With winter coming up I thought it would be the perfect time to showcase her talent.

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‘by Sikora’ was born by heritage of its founder (half English Half Polish) along with the combination of the formidable appeal of Rural Britain and the little known Rural Poland. Add to that a real concern about waste. (They wondered what happens to most of the skins from lots of lovely woolly sheep when they are killed for meat. They found out – not very much!)
‘by Sikora’ sell high quality sheepskin slippers for those who like life to be a little less pedestrian! Their products, which are made from British sheepskins and made in Poland, not only look great but also do the job and most importantly bring a smile to your face. At present, they make a point of using small producers in rural communities in order that their business supports the core of the production process. They hope that this is something they can develop further as they grow.

Some comparisons are likely to be drawn against the infamous UGG brand, but there are some noticeable differences:

Firstly all production is kept within the EU, Secondly they always strive to use british sheepskin across their full range of products. Finally, they have tried to add a twist to alll their designs so that they are not just another sheepskin product. This is usually done through embelishing the product in some way (embossing, bows etc..)

One thing for sure is that customers will look unique and stand out with every one of their products, which is definitely something to get excited about.

I was also able to ask Johanna a few questions about her range and plans for the future. Enjoy:

What is the inspiration behind the range?
To be honest, probably just sheer bloody mindedness. I wanted to create something with a twist, something a little less pedestrian and so ran with it- possibly a little too far! The inspiration stemmed initially from the traditional mountain slippers we sell, the colours, the different elements all coming together with the ethnic twist.

What is your signature/favourite piece from the range?
The favourite piece would have to be the own designed FFY slipper. It’s cheeky and versatile- I couldn’t wait to get a pair on my feet! It was deigned to be fun and fluffy but was quickly adapted to provide a more luxe option (braided with ribbon) for those who are slightly more adventurous! They’re so incredibly soft.

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What struggles do/did you face when creating all your products?
Communication! Our products are all made in Poland using British sheepskin. We chose Poland, partly for heritage but partly to allow the product to be of high quality but at a reasonable price, whilst keeping production within the EU. Coming from a rural background here in the UK, we were keen to support rural producers in Poland but this meant that the further we went, the less common English speaking was. Fortunately, my aunt is Polish speaking and has helped us out massively. We did look into an all British production system- British skins, British production. It wasn’t achievable for us in the short term but it is something that we would look to develop in the future.

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What do you enjoy most about being a designing your range?
Our range is a combination of own design products and the long standing traditional mountain slippers. I love seeing how ideas develop. It’s always great to see these products for the first time and be able to trial run them before anyone else! I also love traveling to different places to get inspiration for products, travel is undoubtedly the best way to see new things.

Do you have any advice for upcoming/emerging designers?
Just keep going! Believe absolutely in your products/designs.

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If you could sum up what it takes to design a range in one word what would it be?
Focus

What does the future hold for ‘by Sikora’?
We want to go big! In the short term it’s about building that raving fan base- getting out there and showing off our fabulous slippers! We’re also looking at pitching to stores, both independent and department and are welcome to suggestions! We’ve got so many ideas but it’s one step at a time.

They have also released their awesome new accessories range, some snapshots below:

So with winter just around the corner any one of their products would make a great gift. All items can be purchased at the following link. Click here

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JOY Stores AW14

I was invited down to the JOY stores AW14 press event yesterday.

JOY AW14 Press Event
JOY AW14 Press Event

It was great to see familiar faces and the exciting new ranges the have on show.

 

I had the pleasure of having a sneak peak for their upcoming releases HYMN, Louche and Joy & Happiness.

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This time around HYMN has more of a grown up feel, you can tell the designer has really but some thought into what the customer wants.

With a classic look and feel products are based on celebrities and popular movies.

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I overheard a great quote while I was there “it’s like Urban outfitters, but better” Make of it what you want but I am in total agreement.

 

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With focus on strong prints and patterns, great textures and engaging colours the women’s range is definitely something of note.

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I for one loved the tartan jacket and can see this being a very popular item from the range.

 

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Finally they there was gifts and accessories. From ‘Man flu survival kit’, Books, handbags, coaster and tea strainers there is certainly something for everyone.

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Launch is likely to be scheduled for around September, but keep coming back here for updates and links.

All photos from the event can be found on my Facebook page. Click here