25th August 2015

Georgie kirby use

Sixty Seconds with Georgie Kirby from The Big Beautiful Bunting Company

Georgie Kirby is the creator of the Cornish-based Big Beautiful Bunting Company. Georgie's fabulous bunting has adorned many of our TV sets, so we wanted to find out what makes both her bunting and business unique. She has an eye for upcycling unusual fabrics and creative designs - her bunting can truly transform any venue into something magical. BBB is flying high - let's find out why. 

How did you get started?

I did a Foundation in Art & Design at Falmouth University. I couldn’t afford to do a degree at the time so I started a textile business with backing from the Prince's Trust.

Why bunting?

I used to organize local events and found it hard to source affordable décor that could be re-used. Parties tend to create a lot of waste. Using my sewing skills and some old curtains, I got to work on the first sets of hire bunting to test the idea and set up a website. Nobody knew that you could hire bunting at the time, so I had to be very clever with keywords and SEO so that my bunting hire service could be found organically on search engines such as Google  - that was back in 2007. Within a few months there were other bunting hire businesses popping up on the Internet but I took that as a compliment. It helped create awareness that bunting for parties, weddings or any other event could be hired. I then set my sights on being totally unique. When you walk into a party, you want to feel like you are stepping into another world. Bunting injects that colour and beauty to the all important space above your heads that flowers and table cloths can't reach.

Where do you seek inspiration to make your bunting stand out from the crowd?

Travel, nature, architecture. The sky’s the limit when it comes to shape and colour, bunting doesn’t have to be about triangles. I am dying and printing my own fabric at the moment, which is really exciting as it creates totally unique decorations. When I first set up the business I was warned that bunting might be a passing trend but actually it’s just like fashion. So long as you keep coming up with new ideas, customers will keep coming back.

Is there anyone in particular who has inspired/motivated you over the years?

There are too many to name but when it comes to putting colour and pattern together it has to be American- textile artist, Kaffe Fassett. I got to kiss him on the back of a golf caddy at The Handmade fair last summer, so my life is now complete.

What is it about maing bunting that you love?

The best bit is watching an empty, blank marquee or space be transformed into a colourful party space in less than an hour. People are always impressed by what a difference it makes. I also love it when a brief arrives from Kirstie Allsopp. Her TV production teams are great fun to work with as they are open to weird and wonderful ideas. The Lobster Claw bunting I made for Raise the Roof Productions Kirstie's Christmas Craft show for Channel 4 last year really stands out in my mind!

 

How would you describe your work – in three words?

Eclectic, innovative and beautiful (of course)!.

Did you expect your business and indeed bunting to be so popular?

Bunting has been around for a very long time but I think the use of floral fabrics gave it the revamp it needed to make it so popular. What made my business popular was the idea you could borrow bunting and give it back afterwards. I really pushed the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ message when I first started 8 years ago. My original sets of bunting are still being hired out and will have been at over 100 weddings by the end of this season.

What makes your bunting unique?

My bunting is made from a combination of up-cycled, collected and shop bought fabric so each set is completely unique. All my bunting is handmade here in the UK. My seamstress and I use vintage industrial machines as they can buzz happily away for hours.

What exciting projects have you been working on recently?

I have been experimenting with chalk paint and fabric. What I love about Annie Sloan Chalk Paints TM is that they are non-toxic and that a little goes a long way. My latest project has been marbling patchwork pieces with incredible results.

Where do you source fabrics for making bunting?

All over the world as I’m an avid collector but I particularly love working with vintage Sari’s. I have various Christmas sets made from old Indian wedding saris.

What top tips for making your bunting could you share?

Upcycling old favourite clothes into bunting projects can be extremely satisfying and guarantee uniqueness. Our pocket bunting tutorial has been really popular as it is the perfect solution for keeping all those odds and ends off the kitchen table or bedroom floor. You don’t need a lot of money to make your home beautiful. Just some enthusiasm for up-cycling and some inspiration.

What are your aspirations?

I am currently designing a super-sized marbling trough for making my own bedding. My dream job would be to design and print my own range of bed linen.

What advice would you give to other budding crafts people?

Working with other artists and pooling your skills/resources, experience and contacts can be epic. You don’t need to be business partners, just work on one idea or event together and see where it leads. Often crafters work alone and while it’s fun to be lost in your own creative world, there’s nothing like bouncing ideas around with another creative person.

What does the future hold?

I am working on several new projects at the moment but every year brings interesting new clients and new briefs for projects. It’s what makes working in the creative industries so exciting; you never know what’s around the corner! 

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Carrie hunter

Author

Carrie Hunter