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Meet local maker A is for Alice
Ruth founded A is for Alice in 2014, after numerous requests from her toddler to create a dressing up box! With many years experience as a theatrical costume designer, maker and tutor, she takes delight in being able to create magic for kids across the country, creating heirloom quality costumes and accessories to delight for generations to come!
1. What first fuelled your passion to make/create your designs/ product?
I trained as a theatre designer at university, with my passion being costumes. After spending years working in theatre making and designing costumes for adults, then teaching costume design; after my children were born it was a joy to start making them for kids! My two children are my muses and biggest critics! (I'm currently being told to make cat ears and tails...watch this space!)
2.Tell us about the origins of your business.
My daughter was desperate for a certain princess dress, and after seeing the choices available, I knew I could do a better job! I love being able to create quality costumes that last, and can be loved for generations!
3. What’s your motto?
I love this quote from Roald Dahl; 'A little magic can take you a long way'. We certainly all need a bit of extra magic in our lives right now!
4. How would you describe your designs / products?
I have a big interest in vintage clothing and nature, so try and bring a bit of that into things - whether it be woodland animals or a bit of sparkle from times past! I am keen to use softer, natural fabrics, and keep my designs neutral enough so that any child can make it their own!
5. What was the first success / landmark moment for your designs / product range?
I was contacted by the BBC and asked to make some superhero capes for one of their children's programmes...it turned out to be for Justin Fletcher/Mr Tumble (anyone who has kids will know he is a legend!) and seeing him wear my items on tv was a really proud moment for me, and my kids!
6. Tell us about your materials - where do you source your materials from?
I try and use UK companies where I can - I source my felts from a place in Nottingham, and my cotton from a supplier in Kent. I spend a lot of time researching new fabrics and accessories, and love building a personal relationship with my suppliers too.
7. Tell us about your making process?
Everything is designed and sewn by me! I have some help from a lovely friend who does lots of cutting and gluing for me, and then it's all made, packed and shipped from my studio in Stirchley!
8. Have you ever had any interesting commissions?
I love it when customers ask me to make bespoke items, and I've helped fill lots of party bags, including a customer who worked for Vogue in New York!
9. Do you have a favourite of the Birmingham museums? If so, why?
I'm originally from Hall Green, so spent many happy childhood days at Sarehole Mill (although the wheel terrified me!) I also love the Pre-Raphaelites in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, and they have inspired my love of art and nature from a young age.
10. And finally, a tourist arrives in Birmingham for the first time ever, where do you take them?
If they had kids, we'd go to Thinktank to see the Triceratops head; stop for bubble tea in Grand Central; on to Martineau Gardens in Edgbaston for a play on the pirate ship; and finish up with some theatre or a pottery class at MAC and an ice cream in Cannon Hill park. (And if they didn't have kids, I'd take them to my home turf of Stirchley for a tour of the breweries and awesome indie food places!)