This month, we caught up with west country designer-maker Rebecca of fashion brand Dakota Rae Dust, who talked to us about  juggling her day job and her creative practice, her love of recycling and being inspired by her fellow market traders…

Hi Rebecca! Tell us a bit about what you do..
I am a self confessed textile junkie with a passion for pattern. Although I make many of my creations from scratch, I would say I am primarily an embellisher. My small business is based around sourcing unusual fabrics, rescuing garments from charity shops, unearthing hidden treasures at kilo sales and repurposing them. With great attention to detail and quality, I either hand customise or completely reconstruct them to give them a new lease of life.

I use a combination of applique and layering bold, vinyl printed patterns that I design to add textural detail to my pieces. These can range from an intricately customised, jewelled sweatshirt to a handmade clutch, cut from some gorgeous, vintage skirt fabric, or a birthday rosette made from recycled fabric.
Why did you decide to come and trade at The Frome Independent?
I have a degree in Surface Design and worked in London for 5 years designing prints and embroideries for fashion, which I loved, but I have always wanted to create a business of my own. It’s still a work in progress but having moved back home to the south west it has been a delight to discover that there is this incredibly creative, ethically minded, buzzing hub of independents, flourishing with the support of The Frome Independent market right here on my doorstep.

From my first proper market as a suitcase pitch seller up on Catherine Hill to becoming a Designer Maker section regular it’s been lovely thing to be a part of, getting to know my fellow traders and making friends with the market’s visitors.

What do you think are the benefits to selling directly to the public at markets?
I still work an almost full time job so having this monthly deadline helps keep me on track and gives me a valuable opportunity to talk to my customers directly, getting feed back and advice on how I can improve my products and service. When you work alone, or in a very small business, it’s so important to get out and connect in real life too.
Tell us about your best-selling product and the work that goes into creating it?
Last year’s success story was my embellished sweatshirts. I either source these from an ethical supplier who use only renewable energy in their factories or offer a customising service, taking my customers already owned items and adding my embellishments in a style of their choice.

I embellish the décolletage (or “bib area”) of the sweatshirts but sometimes work on just the sleeves or shoulders. I create a base for my embellishment using appliqué panels, cut from my precious patterned fabrics, then vinyl print a bold, costume jewellery-inspired, vinyl print over the top. This is then further embellished and I use both machine and larger hand stitches to add extra detail.

The result is ornate and textured looking. They are very time-consuming but I’m a big believer in creating something really special and of quality that will last. It’s a rebellion against the high street’s throw away fashion. REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE is an excellent motto to live by and if I can encourage people to rejuvenate an old favourite sweater or choose a clutch purse made from recycled fabric then I’ll be very happy.

What is your favourite stall at The Frome Independent?
I’ve got so many favourites, it’s hard to pick one! Probably the most inspiring trader, who I have been drooling over since the very first time I visited, is The Bakemonger. Her cakes are out of this world! I also recently brought a honey lip balm from Hive Originals, who keep their own bees and hand make all their natural skin care products using the honey and beeswax. I’ll definitely be going back for more when it runs out.

I’m seriously inspired by everyone at The Frome independent – all passionately and independently working away at their businesses. I love catching up with everyone and hearing what’s happened since I last saw them and where they’re heading next. It’s exactly what I need after a month of beavering away at home.