Simple lines, airy essentials, clothes so comfy you feel almost guilty wearing them in public but they're too adorable not to. This is Bees + Bones. This quickly blossoming little clothing brand has become such a commonly referenced name around these parts that it's hard to believe Brooke's only been sewing for the last few years and selling her handmade clothes since the start of this summer! Brooke works from her home creating delicate, made to order garments in distinct styles she loves for people who adore them.
I had the joy of sitting down with Brooke for a coffee and a chat and although we hadn't met before, she is so cheery and sweet that it was an incredibly casual interview (so much so I forgot to take very good notes!) I had a hard time not wanting to sit all day and talk about her business, her creativity, and this amazing local creative community we get to be a pat of. Her business may be brand new and moving fast, but you can tell from her shining energy, she's in control and already has bright plans for its future.
Picot: Tell us a little about yourself and your business
Brooke: Oh man it’s always so hard to talk about yourself - I’m Brooke, I’m 21, I’m happiest the sun and Bees + Bones is my collection of simple, feminine handmade clothes!
Picot: I love your business name! How did you come up with it, and what is its significance?
Brooke: I had made a list of words I liked (liked saying, meanings I liked, things that felt good). I wanted something that expressed my clothing and myself. And man, was that hard to find. I fiddled around and eventually fell in love with Bees + Bones. I liked the youthful playfulness of it but also the strength and fragility of both the words and meanings. Bees are nature’s little wonders, pollinating everything, giving us food and flowers and thus rich colours and textures and natural fabrics. Bones are the sturdy yet delicate things that make up all of us. They provide structure and shape and can be so sexy (in some weird way!!?). The combination of feelings evoked from those two words really encompasses what my brand is! Also Bone just so happens to be my mom’s maiden name!
Picot: What challenges have you overcome that lead you to a deeper understanding or a shift in perspective for you?
Brooke: I wouldn’t say challenges lead me to a deeper understanding/shift in perspective but the realization of what slow fashion, sustainability and community really are. I lucked out and was quickly welcomed into this amazing group of women and makers who supported what I was doing and also showed me what quality, beauty and strength there was in the hand making of things. If anything they challenged me to be a part of that movement and to make and sell my clothing as a means of giving people the option of beautiful ethical affordable clothes.
Picot: Can you Describe what you mean by slow fashion?
Brooke: So much of fashion today is created and discarded quickly, shops like Forever 21 and H&M make everything in every colour for a really low cost and for quickly changing trends. It's all very temporary. I create things that are handmade, and local. They take care and time to make with the intention of them lasting and being in fashion for a long time.
Picot: What makes you most excited about the evolution of your business?
Brooke: Meeting and working with other artisans - people who naturally dye fabric, or artists who screen print their designs on fabric has got me really excited about creating clothing that isn’t just about it being something to wear - I want to collaborate and create unique fabrics and play around with the artistic side of what clothing is. I don’t see my business becoming huge and mass producing. I see it as an outlet for fashionable creatives. I want to make unique original pieces that are still affordable and wearable but [also] art, if that makes sense?
Picot: What first sparked a desire to make and design clothes?
Brooke: Not finding what I liked in stores and also seeing how simple the clothing I liked was. I figured it couldn’t be too hard to make my own and so I did!
Picot: How long have you been selling you clothes as Bees and & bones?
Brooke: Since February, but I really didn’t start selling things until June. When I started I just put photos of my clothes on instagram and let orders and inquieries come in that way.
Picot: It's certainly grown since then! What is a key defining characteristic or choice you have made in developing your business, and why?
Brooke: Simplicity and making things I like, making things I would wear. Sometimes it’s really hard sticking to those 2 ‘rules’ because not everyone has the same taste as me… And then you worry about making things that won’t sell. But my clothing line is an expression of my style and I know that it’s not everyone’s style. I don’t think I’d be happy making things I didn’t like, and what’s the point in doing something if you find no enjoyment in it?
Picot: Where or who do you draw inspiration from?
Brooke: Art, architecture, bodies, lines. Whether I’m seeing these things from travel or pinterest or instagram or books, those are the things that make me excited to create.
Picot: What is your favourite part of your job or creating process?
Brooke: Getting a compliment on something I’m wearing and being able to say I made it! It’s a pretty incredible feeling. Also seeing people in my clothing or meeting people who bought something and hearing how good they feel wearing it makes my day!!
Picot: Can you tell us about a specific time in your life when your path had a trajectory, or had a catalyst moment that lead you to where you are now?
Brooke: I don’t feel like it was one moment but a continual moment - My dad owns his own business that organizes conferences and he gets to travel a lot with it. Last year I had a little “free write” session and wrote everything that was in my heart. I wrote about what thoughts, music, places, ideas, things make me happy and huge points on that list were making things and exploring. I started working for my dad so he’d take me on his trips and we went to Spain for a conference and after we stayed to explore Spain and Morocco and then he left and I was alone in Spain for a couple weeks. That trip sparked something in me for the beauty of architecture, uniqueness, simple living, and the pure truth that anything you want you really should be able to make. A couple months later I quit my other job to go travelling with my boyfriend and again that spark grew. We did a lot of walking in strange small communities and drinking coffee and wine and talking about what we wanted in life. And those conversations led me to B + B and I knew that’s what I needed when I got home.
Picot: Has there been a time where you were unsure about your business, or afraid to move forward?
Brooke: I get that feeling all the time and I think it comes with putting your art or hard work out there. The worst was a couple days before I was sending things out to the first shop. I was panicking that the quality wouldn’t be good enough or it wouldn’t fit properly! I think because I didn’t go to school for fashion design I worry there’s basic things I should know but haven’t learned. Sometimes that fear makes me rethink jumping straight into making a business out of my hobby. But then I see people wearing my clothes and reordering and telling me it’s beautiful and those little reassurances go a long way.
Picot: What would your advice be to budding creative entrepreneurs?
Brooke: Do it, put it out there, draw inspiration from whatever or whoever you need, but keep it true, if you’re doing it with your heart people will notice.
Picot: What are you most proud of?
Brooke: All of it - It’s an unreal feeling starting a business and seeing it take off. I am so proud of myself for creating this line and making something out of a little spark of interest
Picot: Tell us 7 things people generally don’t know about you
- I’m a huge nerd about the human body. I think it’s so fascinating understanding all the things your body does
- I hate wearing socks, and avoid them as much as possible
- I can’t draw, or sketch anything good... But I can draw mazes!!
- I wanted to be a faerie so bad growing up I used to write letters to the faeries of plants we had in our backyard and ask them to turn me into one
- Ironically I make clothes but hardly wear them when I’m at home…
- I moved to San Fran after high school to pursue my dream of being a contemporary ballet dancer
- I didn’t like ice cream until a couple years ago
Picot: What would you tell your younger self?
Be comfortable doing what you want. Ask yourself if what you’re doing feels right, not forced, authentic. Push yourself until it feels like “you”. I’m always trying to be true to myself and I wish I’d learned earlier that you don’t need to be like everyone else
Picot: What is your favourite piece you’ve designed?
Geez it changes all the time!! The Bee dress in yellow is what makes me feel the happiest so probably that?!
One of the greatest testaments to Brooke's heart being in her work is when I asked if she wears her work daily as self-promotion.
"Not so much for self promotion but I do wear it daily. I feel weird when I'm not wearing anything I've made. Sometimes I'll put on jeans and a T-shirt and think why don't I just make t-shirts so I can wear t-shirts?"
And while we sat and chatted she was wearing a B+B top and a beautiful sunflower print bag she had created for herself.