Made in Sheffield: Thebearsthebears
We are shining the spotlight on local fashion with our new ‘Made in Sheffield’ blog. With so many gifted artists, makers, creators and fashion producers in our city that deserve more attention, Exposed fashion blogger Kelsie Marsden has embarked on a journey to find out the stories behind the brands.
For our very first post we caught up with Lucy Revis, founder of quirky t-shirt brand Thebearsthebears.
So, Lucy, tell me about Thebearsthebears.
I did a picture that was going to be the album artwork for a friend’s band. I drew everything with my left hand (even though I’m right handed) to make it look quite childlike, signing them ‘Lucy, aged 27’. I took my sketchbook with me on a trip to Berlin and I met an artist there who thought they were hilarious, so then he said he really wanted to help me do something with them. I’m a musician really, a doodler I think rather than an artist, but he did me 500 screenprints for free in his gallery in Berlin and sent them to the UK. Selling the prints paid for my first set of t-shirts and it snowballed from there. I sold my first set of t-shirts in about a day and it’s just grown from that.
So why bears?! How did you come up with the name?
Well, the band I initially did the album artwork for had ‘bear’ in it and by the time I’d drawn the first bear, I just couldn’t stop. The reason I call it ‘Thebearsthebears’ rather than just ‘Thebears’ is because it’s just always happening all the time. Once you start thinking about ‘the bears’ you start thinking about all the puns and then you can’t say the word ‘bear’ without trying to think of a pun. It’s so tiring! It’s completely silly! I made a bet with some friends; they thought this whole thing was going to go somewhere and I wasn’t so sure. I said if I sell 1000 t-shirts, I’ll get thebears tattooed on my body. I never thought it would happen but it did last year – and I’m a woman of my word! So now I’ve got three little bears tattooed on me forever! God knows what I’ll think of it when I’m 50 but it’s hilarious right now!
You’re originally from Northampton, so why Sheffield?
I did my undergrad and my masters at Sheffield, so I stayed on afterwards. I just love it here. The thing with Sheffield is the creatives all work together, which means there isn’t any big rivalry. Everyone wants everyone else to do well, which makes for a great atmosphere to work in. The more people think about the independents, the better it is for the whole creative sector. There’s a huge amount going on here, you just have to scratch the surface and it’s all there. Sheffield has an amazing music scene too!
What’s your favourite thing about fashion in the city?
Basically I think it’s just such a fashion hub; everything is so accessible. You just walk down Division Street and you’re getting straight into what’s going on. Division Street is great and I really love Inherited as well. The people of Sheffield really want to be wearing Sheffield brands, the unique stuff. They don’t always want to have to go online to get it. They will actually make an effort to go and find out where all the cool stuff is and I think that’s what’s amazing about this city.
Where do you see the brand going?
We are starting a kid’s line of t-shirts very soon. We are starting out small, with just one design, but they have sold well already in Moonko and pop-up shops. I’m a bit of a control freak. I don’t do the printing myself, I outsource that to Yorkshire Tee who are also based here, but I like to be the one doing everything else. There are a couple of places around the country now that would like to stock us but I’ve just got to make sure I’ve got the time to be going over there. At the moment we’re in Moonko, Bird’s Yard and mainly online. We will be expanding next year I think.
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to start their own business?
Just be really sure that you love your product. Don’t make things that you think people will like, make things that you think people will like and things you really like. Get your inspiration from everywhere and try to connect with as many people as you can. At the end of the day you can have a great product, but unless you get out there and speak to people nobody is going to know about it. You’ve got to be vocal about it! Social media is so important now, so make yourself seem huge! When I first started, I sold loads through Instagram. I just had people messaging me asking if they could buy pieces off me. All my commissions in our first year were through Instagram.
If you’re a creator, artist or maker and you want to get involved with Made In Sheffield, email firstname.lastname@example.org