With sewing basically in her blood, Nicola at Silver Sixpence In Her Shoe is our perfect next guest to be featured from our pool of amazingly talented UNVEILED Network Members, showcasing her dreamy collection of handmade bridal accessories and gifts.
From headpieces and veils to giftboxes and real lucky horseshoes, these handcrafted designs are just gorgeous. We’ve been finding out how Manchester-based Nicola kind of tumbled into bridal fashion, down the rabbit hole of art and design, textiles, and working as a fashion buyer, before creating the veil and garter for her own wedding when she just couldn’t find anything out there that she liked.
Today Nicola’s been chatting us through the evolution of her brand, how she’s managing to make things more eco-friendly with her choices of materials and suppliers, what she thinks of bridal trends coming and going, and her love of upcycling and vintage pieces.
Plus she’s offering Brides Up North readers 10% off on everything on her site or Etsy store using the code FRIEND10! And watch out for an even bigger discount if you watch her WEDFLICS episode that drops today! What are you waiting for?!
Hi! My name is Nicola and my business is called Silver Sixpence In Her Shoe. I design and make bridal accessories and gifts by hand, in my home studio in South Manchester. This can cover brides, bridesmaids, flower girls and even guests. Occasionwear is a growing area for me too.
Where did your passion for crafting and creating come from?
I have always loved making. My Gran was a head seamstress for a firm who supplied M&S. I remember her sitting with me making dolls, cushions, and she would whip up an outfit for me or my mum in an afternoon! I was always drawing, making and doing things as a child. I don’t sit still much! So it was natural I went down the route of art and design, and onto fashion and textiles as my degree at Nottingham Trent.
Being really interested in clothing and the high street (I had always worked part time as a teenager on my local high street) I went down the route of fashion buying for ten years, at various young fashion brands, before deciding I needed a change.
When I was getting married, I couldn’t find what I was looking for in terms of headwear and so I decided to make my own birdcage veil and headpiece. Which then rolled into my garter and other little bits and bobs. I started making these for others, eventually selling them and it’s all just rolled out from there. I left my job, became a mum at the same time and, a year later, ploughed all my efforts into my business.
Why do you love working in bridal?
I never planned that I would work in bridal to be honest, but as soon as I did, there was a real lovely warm feeling at being part of someone’s special day. It’s a real buzz when a bride is super happy with her piece and I’ve even had a few brides cry which, without wanting to sound awful, is really lovely! I feel quite privileged when someone asks me to make something for them, especially bespoke items.
Tell us about your bridal accessories?
I started out making birdcage veils and I think that is what I am still known for. Veils and headpieces for brides, that are handmade and rustic. Back when I started I used a lot of vintage components, which sort of drifted for a while but is now coming back a lot more with the whole trend for sentiment and sustainability. I do an awful lot of bespoke work and I’m so happy that this is starting to open again so I can welcome brides back to my studio and get back to some fairs in the Autumn. My veil, headwear and garter range has evolved over the ten years – I work on the basis of bridal trends, my materials and what my customers want.
The area that has really developed more recently is my gifting range. It came from an idea I had when talking to my mum about wedding traditions back in her day; brides were given lucky horseshoes (and wooden spoons or balls and chains which I wasn’t so keen on!). I thought there must be something in this that could be revived, as traditions are becoming so much more important to people and I could only see plastic or wooden horseshoes out there. I literally bought some used battered horseshoes from a farmer and it went from there. Now these are a key part of my sales. I think they offer something different to what is out there on the market and I tend to tailor them into my other accessories and trends to coordinate with the styles. They have also developed into gift sets for me. I always go back to my brand name rhyme for inspo, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in her shoe.
Do you have a signature style?
Rustic, handmade and with a bespoke look. I like to think I bring this to even the slickest of bridal trends out there in some way.
What sort of client do your designs appeal to?
I think my standard bride is early to mid thirties, fashion conscious but not overly so and wants a look that is different and perhaps a little quirky but still timeless. Having something unique to them is often the most important thing, such as incorporating pieces of their grandmothers jewellery. Special touches like that mean a lot. But the beauty of a bespoke service is you can cater for so many people. So I may have a classic Silver Sixpence bride but a good designer can cater to anyone really
Where do you find your inspiration?
Bridal trends are obviously key but perhaps a little less for me than for some designers. I like to give a nod to these rather than design whole ranges based around them. I spent so long looking at trend based range plans as a fashion buyer that I realise this can sometimes be a wrong path to go down. The high street has mega sales for a reason! Because stuff doesn’t always sell!
My materials provide me with a lot of inspiration, my brides’ own ideas when we meet form a basis too and, of course, we are always picking up on things that inspire us on pinterest, instagram, and other media forms. Nature is another big inspiration for me. I think I’m influenced by it more than I realise as I always end up using very natural, leafy, floral materials in my work.
What materials and techniques do you use in your creations?
I use a lot of ribbon! And I am delighted that I now use more sustainable sources for this. My ribbons are largely all made from recycled plastic bottles on cardboard reels and by the end of the year, my supplier will have fully switched their plain ribbons to this manufacturing process.
I use a lot of birdcage veiling and tulle too. I try to buy vintage millinery netting where I can for sustainability purposes. Also, vintage jewellery pieces that perhaps need some love and care or up-cycling, metalwork pieces I find online and obviously I need combs, clips and bands to work with too. Swarovski pearls and beads are also key. Recently I have been working a lot with semi precious crystal chips like rose quartz and moonstone too. I’m a self confessed healing crystal addict in my home life.
Technique wise, I do a lot of beadwork and hand embroidery. I am a sewer not a wirer. My background is very textile based and, as that works for me, I’ve never really developed into that wired area of pieces. Hand calligraphy is something I have learnt in the last couple of years too so I can personalise my gifts and boxes for people. It’s a really mindful activity. I love it!
Tell us about the process of working with you – what can a client expect?
If you came to me for a bespoke piece you would expect to have a 3-6 month experience in general, but I can work quicker if needed. I start with a call or email to establish where a bride is up to in her planning and when would be best to meet. We chat through her ideas. It’s all very relaxed.
We would then meet at my home studio for a morning of design consultation. This is all included in my bespoke prices, which start at £150. My sample pieces can be tried on for inspiration, and to see what suits you. I love to see dresses and any hairstyle pictures you have to help with my design ideas too. I have a million boxes of materials to help.
Once we have decided on a way forward on your design, I will email over the initial design ideas and we agree a deposit. From there the level of communication needed is varied. Some brides are very decisive and we don’t need to do much other than me go ahead and make the piece and she pays on collection/postage.
Others may come back for a veil fitting or to revisit some ideas in person or online. I am always flexible and accommodating in this process. It’s really important to make a bride feel like she is part of the process and happy as the design and making is happening. It’s my favourite bit to be honest
You can then expect to collect or receive your piece by post at the agreed time and I hope you’ll feel full of joy from the minute you set eyes on it!
What makes your products and services stand out?
I think in terms of service I am very people-centred. I get on well with most people I meet and I’ve been told it’s the reason I do well at wedding fairs!
Products-wise, I think mine are in a sea of really excellent bridal accessory designers out there now. When I started there were not many of us but now there is so much talent! But I hope mine stand out because I stick to my signature style of bridal accessories for the vintage inspired but modern bride.
What is the feedback like from clients?
Well, you can see plenty of reviews on my Etsy shop and I am always bowled over by the fact people praise the piece and the service. If I ever get any negative feedback, I always like to go back to that client and ask how I can help fix this for them. But thankfully it is not very often.
What would be your top tips for clients looking to invest in their bridal accessories?
- Wait until you have your dress completely decided. It’s key to the process.
- Pick an accessory that works for a variety of hairstyles as you may very well change your mind last minute at hair trials.
- Go bespoke if you can afford that little bit extra – it is well worth the experience and hopefully you will only do this once!
And your absolute no-nos?
- Avoid being too much of a slave to trends – your wedding day is for you. You will look at the pictures forever!
- Stop thinking that you can’t wear glasses as a bride! Of course you can!
- Don’t ask me to copy another designer’s work please!
What trends do you see emerging for 2021 and beyond?
Bows have been bubbling away for a while and have now moved into a really cool tied ribbon trend for sleek low ponytails. I LOVE them! Pearls and statement headbands are still huge! Blush as a colour seems to be coming back through again too – I have had an upturn in enquiries around this. Veils seem to still be the order of the day whether it is a super long tulle or a short birdcage, this is lovely as it’s so varied.
A while back, things looked like they were going too minimal for my liking! Even to the point of lacking accessories but I think people will now go really extra on their headwear while weddings are still small, as they will be saving on budget elsewhere. If not, then I will be looking at a lot of small paired down pieces alongside something extra for a second wedding.
Who would you love to see wearing one of your designs?
Audrey Hepburn in one of my birdcage veils back in her heyday please! Debbie Harry in an oversized bow back in her heyday too – she’s my total hero! There are loads to be honest. Anyone elegant and classy.
Is there a special discount that you would like to offer to our readers?
You can use the code FRIEND10 for 10% off my site and my Etsy store.
(Editor’s note: watch out for an even bigger discount if you watch Nicola’s WEDFLICS episode that drops today!)
Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about?
My newly designed website has just launched! I hope it offers a really user friendly and pleasant experience with a little bit of inspiration thrown in. You can also find me on Instagram, Facebook, twitter and Pinterest.