Meet The Founder: Black & Beech
Black & Beech is a design-led brand, started in 2016 with a range of contemporary teething jewellery designed with style-conscious women in mind by fashion design lecturer and mum Stacey Grant-Canham.
Sareta, founder of Women Who Rebrand catches up with Stacey to find out about her small business journey and juggling it all as a mother.
#WWR has also partnered with some fantastic podcast guests and Black & Beech to give a lucky UK-based winner a chance to win a fabulous gift. Details can be found at the end of this interview.
While my children were young, I was a stay-at-home parent, and the gram was my saviour. Motherhood was a popular topic at the time. Many of us were happy to honestly share our parenting tales, our struggles with loneliness, and in some cases, being the default parent.
The Mummy Blogger community supported other Mothers as they found their voice online or took steps to be financially independent. Either monetising their content, creating events, or starting small businesses. Black & Beech was one of them. Stacey began a fantastic brand incorporating feminism and female empowerment.
Seven years later, I’m incredibly proud to see her growth and achievements. There have been many ups and downs, including a considerable change to social media and how audiences engage; amazingly, the brand is as strong as ever.
STACEY: In 2016, I had my son Clement and was on maternity leave from my lecturing job.
I saw some of my friends at baby yoga wearing teething jewellery, which I didn’t know existed and felt I needed. However, I hated how they looked – super colourful and garish, not my aesthetic at all!
I started creating my jewellery in black and wooden beads. I designed something that was Scandi Minimalist, cool and useful. I had no intention of taking that path or developing the business. It was just something to keep me occupied while my husband was studying most evenings.
In 2017 Donald Trump became the president of the USA Brexit happened, and the fight for reproductive justice in Ireland was making real inroads. For me becoming a parent was a deeply politicising experience. So I came up with the slogan, ‘A Mother’s Place is in the Resistance,’.
I commissioned an illustrator to create an image I had conceived of in my mind and made a conscious decision to support my local abortion fund by selling this product. This was a really challenging decision. I was in the ‘new mother and baby’ sector and had planned to speak about abortion, which was still very taboo in Ireland. This experience and my subsequent involvement in donating to the repeal campaign plus other charities gave the business a whole new dimension and me a stronger sense of self-satisfaction.
As a trained fashion designer, I also got much more creative fulfilment from working with clothing, and this led me down the path that I’m now on.
SARETA: How involved are you in designing some/all of your products?
STACEY: As a small business founder, I’m involved in every aspect of this business!
The design process, research and development, and all the concepts are always mine. I design all the knitwear from scratch. Anything we manufacture in terms of silhouette, shape, and cut, for example, the pyjamas, is down to me.
At the same time, I adore collaborating with talented illustrators such as Rebecca Strickson, Layla Holzer & Phillip Morgan. When you’re in business on your own, it can be a bit lonely so working with others is refreshing, especially when you have synergy. I’m also not a trained illustrator; I’m a fashion designer. I don’t have the well-honed skills to create some illustrations, so I collaborate with trained illustrators to produce our products.
I am my own garment technologist, quality control and product developer, so everything goes through my hands multiple times; I oversee everything.
SARETA: As a mum, fashion design lecturer, and brand owner, how do you juggle it all?
STACEY: The truthful answer is that I don’t. I have spent the last few months attempting to rebuild my mental health after burnout and work-related stress. It was inevitable. Juggling being a lecturer, a business owner, and from the back of all the private personal life stuff we’re all dealing with.
My biggest investment/luxury this year has been therapy and time spent with good friends who lift me up. I generally try to have a big holiday at Easter with my family to pay back my kids for the time they don’t see me in Q4.
SARETA: What does intersectional feminism mean to you, and why is it incorporated into your brand?
STACEY: This is such a great question.
I have been a feminist for as long as I can remember. As a young student at art school, when I was 18, I was involved in a production of The Vagina Monologues, and we raised £6000 for local women’s charities. It doesn’t sound like a vast sum of money. Still, it was a massive event that united the whole community and ignited my passion for activism.
Being a feminist is much more than words on clothing; it is a social justice movement and means we sometimes have to take action to change the world.
Intersectionality recognises that although I experience inequality due to my sex, I also have the privilege of being a white cis heterosexual woman. As an economic migrant to the UK, my appearance and accent give me the benefit of assimilation on many levels. As an intersectional feminist, I tried to interrogate this. I explore how race, disability, gender identity, and other factors impact women disproportionately to myself. I’m passionate about the women involved in the garment industry and the supply chain, and I want to make things feel as fair as possible within the system we are working within.
SARETA: What advice would you give to women thinking about starting their own business?
STACEY: If you want to spend more time with your children in the early stages and think you have the flexibility to start your own business, maybe reconsider. There may be a better time to achieve this.
While running a small business, you often do everything, and switching off can be difficult. You need to start making money to build a team; otherwise, it can be challenging. Having said that, my goal is to be the ruler of my own destiny and live life on my own terms, which I’m working towards more and more every day. Having a business means that you can do that.
Another thing is to explore protecting your intellectual property through design rights or trademarks in the early stages. This is a regret as I have had my slogans copied many times.
Finally, having just one or two friends in the business that you can sense, check ideas and learn from is a huge advantage! It’s not something that I take for granted.
Black & Beech Feminist Icon Pyjamas
A signed copy of Little Prisons by Ilona Bannister
Wear ’em Out Light Trial Pack – Three Reusable Pads
We Knew The Moon 2023 Lunar Planner
Indigo Healing Harmony Crystal Set
The competition closes on 15th December 2022, and the lucky winner will be announced on 16th December 2022.
T&Cs can be found on Instagram.
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