• Idle Hands Collective

Conversation with Ear Things

Katy Dickinson is the head and hands behind Ear Things, a handmade mindful accessories company based in Manchester. Katy’s craft came out of a way to escape from the fast fashion machine and help to find a little more brightness in life. In our chat we discuss shopping independent, using Instagram and tips for crafters wanting to take the next step!

IH: What is Ear Things and how did it come to be?

KD: Ear Things are handmade and mindfully made polymer clay earrings. Last year I was working in buying at one of the biggest fast fashion brands in the UK, I got the job straight from graduating (literally the day after my final exam) but after a year and a half there I knew it really wasn’t for me for sooo many reasons. At the time, my mental health was pretty bad (not entirely from work but it didn’t help) despite the appearances on the surface. I had studied for 3 years, landed the dream job. Then in January of last year, I was made redundant which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was suffering from anxiety and being sat at home job searching made me look for something to distract myself from the situation. I played with a few things including calligraphy, drawing, painting before finding polymer clay. I started off with a kids set of clay from amazon and slowly started using the proper stuff! I didn’t intend on selling what I had made or even showing anyone! But I realised that I’d ended up with so many pairs of earrings, a vision and an actual passion for something so I created my ear thing Instagram!!!

IH: What is the importance of craft in the fashion industry?

KD: Craft is using people’s skills rather than machinery and huge production lines. It’s generally a greener way to work  and creates jobs for those who have a real passion and skill, it’s so much more personal. There are so many talented and creative individuals out there that there just isn’t a need to shop from huge corporate fashion companies. Also, each sale from a small independent business will mean so much more than big companies where you’re just a sales figure on a report. Craft is so important in a world where everything is digitalised and impersonal. 

IH:How do customers respond to the handmade aspect of Ear Thing?

KD: I started making my products available to buy from Instagram in November and I had sooo many people buying from me for Christmas presents, helped by the move of people pledging to shop more independent. People love it because I can create custom styles in their ideal colour way so each style is individual. I think more and more people are becoming conscious of where their products come from, I’m very transparent online about my making process. Everyone can see what they are buying is made solely by my lil hands and with passion, sometimes they see the step by step process and I always ask my followers for suggestions and what they want to see. So it’s a lot more personal! 

IH: What tips would you give for fellow crafters that are wanting to make their hobby a business?

KD: I would say firstly don’t be scared!! I was sooo nervous and put off going live with my products for so long. I honestly thought that I might sell 2 pairs and then have to slyly delete the Instagram and any evidence it ever existed!Everyone is so supportive in this industry of anyone’s creativity and as long as you back yourself and keep going doing what you love there is really no harm! Also don’t be afraid to ask for help, I’ve made so many friends online and we all ask each other for advise from time to time, everyone does things slightly differently. It’s been trial and error with my earrings which can be time consuming and frustrating but there is always someone out there who is happy to help! 

IH: How can we be more sustainable consumers?

KD:I think everyone could find a way to be more sustainable and for me, shopping habits surrounding clothing and accessories are an easy way to start. Shopping is addictive, you get a buzz then you go searching for it again and again forgetting about the thing you last bought. When I was in my buying job there was a pressure to be on trend and go out in different outfits every weekend ‘for the gram’. Now I’m out of that world, I hardly ever buy clothes and if I do it’s either from sustainable/vintage brands, charity shops, Depop or items which are going to be timeless that I will keep forever! I think if we start listening and caring about the state of the planet, it’s so easy to start making more sustainable choices and create new habits. This year I’m taking on the rewear, rotate, buy less and rental revolution. Nearly everything you would want to wear is already on resell platforms like Depop or in second hand shops, we need to stop feeding the fast fashion market and start giving the planet more love! 

IH: Where can we find Ear Things and what's next for you?

KD: I have my website all set up now.. which will be changing very soon!! I’m also working on my first proper range. When lockdown happened I decided to put a halt on my planned ranges and create products to spread some cheer.. hence the smiles!! My next range I have just finished making, its hopefully travelling down to Cornwall for a shoot by the coast and I am so proud of the product! I’m also stocked in The Norah Store now who are opening their doors next week so you can shop my product in person. I’d love to one day hold some workshops to bring people together and so they can experience the therapeutic side of clay!

Find Ear Things on Instagram @earthings and Katy @katyedickinson.

Or on the website