Vintage and customised trends tap into youth market

Luke Mitchell looks at It’s a Lovely Cake, an Etsy generation start-up that has quickly built a credible fan base of young women and found an eager market for its beautiful and original handmade goods.


The internet has empowered young people to shun traditional career steps and instead cut their own paths to success.

Tom Thurlow, a former Bebo Original, E4 presenter and now star of MTV Online, is one example of someone who stopped their studies and headed in a different direction. Hermione Way abandoned a journalism degree that was failing her, started an internet video company and became a Telegraph tech blogger. And there’s GCSE pupil Christian Owens, who put further studies on hold after generating $1 million in sales with his Mac bundles website.

Whether developing personal brands, growing megabucks businesses or following their passions, savvy youth are fearlessly starting their own businesses and hustling their own destinies.

Even the modern craftsperson can blaze their own trail.

“A few years ago, when we were 18, my best friend Sarah thought we should have a go at making and selling jewellery on the Internet – that had to be pretty simple, right?” says Mud of custom jewellery outfit It’s A Lovely Cake.mud and sarah

“So we raided my mum’s sewing box which was full of miscellaneous vintage buttons, ribbons and beads and started cobbling a few things together. We went into the whole business without doing any research whatsoever. With hindsight if we had seen the competition we faced we probably wouldn’t have gone any further. Fast forward a couple of years and a lot of trial and error, we now have a nice little business that we love to pieces.”

It’s A Lovely Cake’s work chimes with two fashion trends that have grown in recent years. One is vintage, which has risen in interest to earn its own high-profile festival (Vintage at Goodward by Wayne Hemmingway) and numerous vintage fairs at universities across the UK. The other is customisation and consumer preference for unique works rather than the mass-produced.

“Due to the nature of our supplies, every piece we make is one of a kind,” says Mud. “So you’re not going to turn up at a party to find somebody wearing the same jewellery as you.

“We love using vintage components, like charms and buttons, and recycling little pieces of broken vintage jewellery. I like the idea that our materials have been used and loved by somebody a long time ago.

“We spend a long time searching for the perfect materials to make necklaces, earrings and bracelets. eBay is a great place to find tons of interesting stuff. Sometimes our wonderful friends and family will give us old jewellery they have found in their attics or charity shops which we like to take apart and re-purpose. Our Gay Pride of Lions bracelet is made from chunky plastic buttons in rainbow colours and cute little toy lions.”bracelets

“Our favourite things to make are probably detailed and adorned chunky necklaces, which are currently being described as statement necklaces by the media. Personally I’m not really a fan of small or simple jewellery.”

Mud and Sarah spend three days a week creating jewellery. The other days are spent managing their social media pages and dealing with orders. They spend very little on advertising – four Facebook ads in two years – and instead put most of their efforts into sharing their personalities and interests with their fan community.

“Social networking sites are key to connecting with your audience and Facebook makes it so easy.

“The tagline on our website at the moment is ‘Shiny tat for like-minded fucktards.’ I suppose we use this kind of language to connect with people like ourselves. We wouldn’t want It’s A Lovely Cake to be a faceless, corporate brand. Sarah and I probably have a lot in common with our customer base and target market, and hopefully that is part of the appeal of buying from us – to support independent designers and young women.owls

“The styling and graphics on our website are all things that we find inspiring and cute. We both really love animals so we use a lot of pictures of birds and creatures We also have a party page! If you click the target button you get an instant party consisting of loads of cartoon animals, flashing lights and Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. We are all about fun and frivolity, peace and love and this aspect of our website definitely reflects this.

“Music is so, so important to us.”

You can find out more about It’s A Lovely Cake and see lots of their work on their website. Or join over 1,200 other fans on their Facebook page.

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