The animal hood craftsters on accidentally going into business
Interview by Sofie Jenkinson
Meg: My name is ‘Meg’, Harriet gets ‘Harri’, which together is ‘Merri’. We were originally going to swivel the outer-layer of a friend’s tent round and leave a note for her saying she’d been ‘Merried’.
H&M: We never really set out to start a ‘business’. We’d had a summer of festivals and wanted to go to one more and needed a way to afford it. We’d spent the summer in hoods that we’d made at uni and they’d gotten quite a lot of attention so we decided that if we made 30 more we could cycle to the Green Man festival, sell them on site and would have enough money to eat and get trains home. And then we did it again for Bestival and now it’s two years later.
M: I’ve loved art and animals for as long as I can remember. Pretty jammy job this, really!
Harri: The rat hood is my favourite! We have a pair of rats that live in the studio and when they come into town with us they sit in a hood and peep out at the outside world.
M: Our ideas are often inspired by what fabric we come across! My mum didn’t exactly have a pool so much as live somewhere that had one, but we had lots of brainstorms in it. Often with a can of ginger beer and rum.
M: An Arctic fox hood of ours appeared on BBC2 the other day (really exciting!) and since then it hasn’t felt like we make anything other than arctic foxes!
M: I definitely don’t identify myself as a businesswoman. Well, it sounds weird, that’s for sure. But I would recommend doing something along the lines of what we do! It has its pros and cons. Mostly pros – it’s fun, it’s rewarding, it’s an amazing way of learning, you don’t have to go to work when you have a hangover and, especially given what we sell, we get to talk to some really brilliant customers. The only con is that it’s sort of hard to switch off.
M: The competitors we have, for better want of a word, actually motivate us to push the brand further, so we have a lot to thank them for! Who’s to know if anyone has ever tried to steal an idea! I hope not. It can be easy to think so, we’ve certainly seen a lot of other companies emerge over the last year, but it’s likely that people are having the same ideas at a similar time.
M: Making a hood can take anything from just over half an hour to six hours, it really depends.
M: Harri made two pterodactyl hoods, which, when we came to flatten them to put in the post looked like vaginas! That’s completely true, it was hilarious.
M: I’ve had many a drunken “hello” to people wearing our hoods, mostly at festivals. To the ones I remember having had fun chats with online – especially when people have commissioned another animal altogether – they’re easy to spot, but sometimes I’ve seen them in the street. It is a bit odd.
H: Oh it’s so exciting when we see people in our hoods! And it’s a fun game to guess which month it was made in by spying which lining is in it!
M: I used to roller skate and unicycle to school, but bikes just win really. I LOVE CYCLING! I love wheels in general. We park our bikes up outside the studio and I couldn’t begin to guess how many photos we have of them. It’s since knowing Harri that I’ve been really into it. I think my love affair with bikes began on Brighton sea front. And we once did a Naked Bike Ride. (Best day ever.)
H: After we got back from Berlin we were inspired to ‘decorate our life more’ so our first project was to paint our bikes. Meg’s now looks like a brilliant clown bike and mine is sky blue with nine clouds on it – so I’m always on cloud 9!
One of our friends out-biked us both though, she covered her bike in pom-poms for her final piece. Just brilliant.
M: Here’s a winner: If you get off the train at Falmer (nr Brighton) you can free wheel all the way to Lewes. I put my feet up and rolled for 16 minutes last time. When my friends did it, they got back on the train straight back to Falmer and did it again.
M: I’m massively in love with our studio at the moment. It’s a bit of dream, we’re lucky. It’s very handsome and huge enough to make mess without feeling swamped. And somehow it always has EVERYTHING we need, however random.
M: It’s harder to get a job as a Drag Queen if you’re already a woman.
H: One of my favourite hobbies is making good-looking post for friends. It’s surprising what the postmen actually manage to deliver; so far their records include a tea bag, a helium balloon and a letter the size of a 50 pence piece!
M: I think Anthony Burrill got it right with his “work hard and be nice to people” when it comes to making it.
M: Free public transport, more “hellos” to strangers and less X-Factor would make the world better. Oh and for people to always look like they do at festivals.
H: Merrimaking is my greatest achievement. Or, cycling with no hands- equally as fun, and much less work!
M: Merrimaking is the most significant project I’ve ever worked on. It’s got to be (and also the fact that my puppy now sits down when we get to a crossing!)
M: At the moment we’re working on pieces for a Selfridges window display.
Head to merrimaking.co.uk to read more.