Face to Face interviews with our fellow beaders and designers continue!
We’re very happy to bring you an interview with a designer, who loves bold, vivid colors and different kinds of bead shapes and crystals. Her designs are joyful, show interesting structures. She has had a very interesting journey – worked for a magazine, traveled a lot, contributed with her design to International Beading Week 2021, too. Her signature color is pink!
Let’s reveal more about her in the interview!
Meet the Pinkhot Jewellery designer, Chloe Menage!
Please tell us about yourself and your brand a bit!
I’m a designer and maker based on the South coast of England. I love to create vibrant and whimsical beadwoven designs in a riot of colors. I turn many of these into beading tutorials, selling them through my brand Pinkhot Jewellery. Others can recreate these designs and add their own flair to. People often ask me about my brand name. It’s silly but I love hot pink shades, and I thought it was a fun play on words.
I love to teach and share my passion for beads and colour with other beaders around the world. I’ve been teaching my colorful projects for more than 10 years at craft shops and arts venues around the UK and beyond – as well as virtually from my home studio via Zoom.
I was previously editor of the popular publication Bead & Jewellery magazine before spending some time in the corporate world working in marketing. I left the 9-5 behind me in 2018 to run my beading business full time, with a little bit of marketing consultancy on the side. I’m now mum to a gorgeous two-year-old girl, who is my world. Consequently, things have scaled back slightly, as I’m working part-time right now, but still beading, teaching, and creating new tutorials as much as possible!
How did your story as a designer begin? Do you remember the first piece you sold?
I’ve always been crafty, being brought up with an art and textiles school teacher for a mum and scenic artist as a dad it was unavoidable! As a child and teenager, I loved dabbling with beads and making jewellery – but didn’t really have a clue what I was doing! The first piece of jewellery I sold was at a craft fair with my mum, aged seven, when I sold a very dodgy pair of homemade earrings while accompanying my mum on her découpage stall!
Fast forward to leaving university, I discovered The Bead Shop in Nottingham. New to the city, I needed a job and found them to be a hugely welcoming bunch! I learnt so much about beading and discovered a whole new world! My beading journey really started here and I have so much to thank the team there for. As my confidence and skills grew I started teaching classes at the shop, designing kits and tutorials, and experimenting with my own designs. In 2009 I launched Pinkhot initially as an outlet for all the jewellery I was creating, however once I left the shop and moved to Bead & Jewellery magazine, this evolved to incorporate my own patterns and kits, which is now my main focus.
Please tell us how does your average day look like! It’s so exciting to get to know more about your lifestyle!
No day is the same for me! I ‘work’ two full days a week, as these are the days my little one is in nursery – although this will be increasing in the New Year to three! These days end up very busy as they are split between my marketing consultancy work and my Pinkhot work. Like many small business owners I seem to spend most of my time on marketing and admin rather than actually beading or writing tutorials! It’s amazing how much time answering emails and updating my website can take up. Then of course there is photography, diagram drawing and video creation. I tend to do my actual beading and designing on the sofa in the evenings in front of the TV.
When I teach classes, it is usually in the evenings and at weekends, although I’m careful to balance my time and not over commit myself, or else I find myself a little burnt out. I occasionally catch up on tutorial writing and other work in the evenings and usually part of the weekend, if I’m not teaching, as my husband is around to help with childcare.
On the weekdays when I am not working then we do lots of craft activities; my daughter loves to draw, read books and “do beading”, now she’s getting older we’re enjoying learning new things and exploring new crafts. We also go for windy walks on the beach – we’re fortunate to live 15 minutes’ walk away – and meet with friends.
What makes your designs stand out from the crowd of other designers? Which are your favorite colors, shapes, materials, etc?
I think I’m known for my use of vibrant colours! I love to create component-based designs as I love the versatility of these. My struggle is that I get bored quickly if I have to do something over and over or if I can’t see results quickly – which is why I don’t tend to do ropes or bracelets that are built in one section. Making component-based jewellery is not necessarily a conscious decision but I think that’s the reason behind it!
I love working with Japanese seed beads, either Miyuki or Toho, Czech glass (including shaped beads), and rivolis! You’ll probably find rivolis in most of my designs as I just love the sparkle and focus that they bring. I also enjoy using round glass beads like druks and pearls, and am so happy that they now come in so many wonderful colors! I dabble in bead embroidery too and enjoy the flexibility it offers.
Where does your inspiration come from? Do you have some rituals to boost your creative energy, a favorite place for work?
My inspiration comes from all over the place! It might be a moment of pondering whilst driving, thinking ‘I wonder what would happen if…’. Other times it’s seeing a piece of costume or fine jewellery and thinking ‘Could I construct something like this out of beads? I like this part but I could add this or that to it’.
Sometimes I am inspired by fabrics or flowers. A trip to India in 2014 was a huge blast of inspiration for me with so many colourful flowers, amazing fabrics and incredible clothing. I made my Peacock Pendant taking inspiration from the motif on a sari I brought back, and since then have worked a lot more with gold tones.
Often inspiration can be from a colour pallete I’ve come across. Most often though I pull out lots of beads from my stash with a vague idea in mind, push them around my mat and see where the beads take me.
Do you have a piece of jewelry you made, that is somehow special to you?
I have several that come to mind. My Peacock Pendant is special because it reminds me of an amazing holiday. My Beaded Locket is also special as it has a photo of my Nanny in, who has now passed away. I’d like to make more of these to commemorate other family.
I have to mention as well my hair comb that I made for my wedding. It was a tricky piece to make as it was all in white – who knew there were so many different shades of white!? It has lots of elements in that remind me of my friends and family and some of my beading friends who couldn’t be at the ceremony stitched little rows of the seed beads! I also hid my husband’s name in there – drawing inspiration from the Indian tradition of hiding your husband-to-be’s name in the bride’s mehindi! My something blue was the Ultrasuede backing.
If you could design something for a well-known person or maybe a fictional character from a film or book, who would it be, and why? (If you already made such a design, please share it with us!)
Ooh a great question! I would love to create a statement necklace for a period film or fairytale film. That would be amazing, the scope would be magnificent! I always enjoy looking at the jewellery in films like Maleficent or the TV series Once.
I’ve also been thinking recently that it would be a lot of fun to design and create a ‘wow’ necklace for a drag queen. You could really go to town with colour, texture and bling!
What kind of clothes and accessories do you wear? Who are your favorite designers and why?
I love to wear bright colours and bold prints, and I am drawn particularly to floral prints and mandalas by Spanish brand Desigual. They use also pretty textures and patterns and I wear a lot of this brand.
I used to be a huge fan of Betsey Johnson as a brand too, although I have found my style has evolved in the past few years. I still really enjoy her wacky and whimsical handbags and jewellery – I find her handbags hard to resist! She also sells beautiful and unusual shoes – my wedding shoes were Betsey Johnson; beautiful embroidered slippers encrusted with gems. Many of her pieces are just so wonderfully sparkly!
I usually pair my favourite Desigual tops with statement necklaces, like my Aztec Wings or Khepri necklace, or Crescent Mandalas and Aurora Jewels pendants. And I also love bangles! I used to wear a lot of beaded rings but since becoming a mum, closely followed, by the pandemic, this changed. I don’t really wear them anymore. Hand sanitizer and beaded rings don’t really agree with each other!
I’m very into statement earrings at the moment too – especially with tassels! Even if I am wearing no other jewellery I will usually have on a pair of earrings!
What is your goal in the future? Where would you like to see your brand?
I suppose my goal is to share more of my designs with more people! I have so many ideas for kits and new designs, just not enough time to make them a reality! Haha!
I’d really like to teach abroad again, and do a teaching tour of the USA. I’d also love to return to Sweden to visit my friends there.
Ultimately – as long as I can keep beading and sharing my designs with others through my patterns, then I’m happy. I’d like to keep doing that for as long as possible.
Where can we see and buy your designs?
For my beading patterns, kits, and workshop dates please visit www.pinkhot.co.uk
I’m also on Etsy: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Pinkhot
Thank you for answering my questions, Chloe!
It was wonderful to meet you and know you better!
Dear friends, you can use the comment section if you have more questions you would like to ask, or greet Chloe.
Stay tuned for more interviews for Beadingschool.com by Erika Sándor!