Custom Made is a lovely little company that well and truly lives up to its name. Created by Anna Butler, Custom Made specialises in unique jewellery and accessories for those looking to add a little creative flair to their wardrobes. Though she’s still surprised and delighted by the fact that so many people buy and wear her handmade designs, it comes as no surprise to us that Anna’s jewellery and accessories are such a huge hit. In fact, Custom Made was recently selected as an outstanding designer at Rated, the Royal Academy’s showcase for emerging British design talent.
When she’s not receiving extraordinary nominations and sharing her delightful products with the world, Anna works from her studio in Oxford, however she hasn’t always enjoyed the idyllic life of a solo entrepreneur. She tells us that after completing her degree in fashion design she began working as a menswear designer.
‘I enjoyed it for a time but became bored and frustrated with the system, it just wasn’t creative enough for me. It was an amazing start to my career though. I travelled a lot and learned a lot about the design process, range building and most importantly, costing a product. I came home from work one day and told my boyfriend I had had enough and he said, ‘well, you can leave you know’ so that’s what I did. I started working on Custom Made a week later.’
Anna creates colourful geometric necklaces that feature bright and glittering colours and chic, neutral metals, handmade clutches, brooches, earrings and more. Her processes are varied and each of her mini collections is often influenced by contemporary fashion, seasonal styles and popular trends. ‘I love flicking though a pantone book!’ she says, telling us about her greatest obsession: colour. Custom Made’s great pairings certainly give that much away.
Every day in Anna’s studio is different but like all of us, she usually kicks off with emails and some forward planning. Then it’s on to shop and wholesale orders, printing and packing. Her time is evenly split between everything that goes into running a small business, which includes design, promotion, social media, production, customer service, range planning, paperwork and more. It’s a full-on job but someone’s gotta do it, right?
Anna is very attached to her design and production tools and tells us that on top of photoshop and illustrator, without which she wouldn’t be able to function, she loves her traditional textile equipment. ‘When I first started my business’ she explains, ‘my Dad and boyfriend bought me an industrial sewing machine. It’s the best thing to have ever entered my life! Oh and I found a Teflon foot in the drawer of the machine recently which transformed my leatherette purse production.’
Influenced by fancy stationery, slick fonts, print and pattern, space and science fiction novels, and scrapbooking standout images of fashion and beauty through the ages, Anna’s creations are an amalgamation of her own passions and those of her trend-loving customers. A huge fan of the 70s and 80s and shows like Dallas and Dynasty, it seems that a little bit of Anna’s personality goes into each Custom Made collection. You’d only have to take one look at her collection of vintage Barbie dolls to be sure of that. She tells us that her favourites are obviously the big-haired ones from the 80s. ‘I just got a fantastic one which I can actually remember from when I was little.’ she says, ‘She’s got spray on jeans, big hair and a pink mohair jumper!’
Anna’s come a long way since graduating and has done a sterling job of setting up a flourishing business from her little studio in the green belt of Oxfordshire. Of course, it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to really get things off the ground so we’re thrilled to be seeing Custom Made jewellery and accessories pretty much everywhere we go. When it comes to setting up an independent creative venture and seeing it through things can be tough, so Anna left us with a little advice, ‘Do plenty of research. Have confidence in your work. Cost it properly, get yourself out there, test your products and don’t give up!’
Currently working on fresh printed bag designs and a new mini collection of original jewellery, Anna is immersing herself in a world of pastels, metallics, classic novels and a great track list in order to roll out a new range of Custom Made products that will undoubtedly please a tonne of people this summer. If living your dream is crafting awesome golden pineapples and tigers from a sunny studio in the south, Anna Butler has nailed it and is the envy of us and a million 9 to 5ers the world over.
Find more here
Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth