Today we’re excited to share another post in our interview series. Shannah Warwick is a textile artist and fashion designer who creates spectacular accessories. She owns BlkBts, a great shop that showcases her dramatic scarves, shawls, and other creations.
What is your professional background?
From a fashion and business perspective, I worked in a high-end woman’s boutique for about 6 years. In the boutique I was a window dresser, visual merchandiser, and assistant buyer. I learned so much about the fashion world through my experience that has carried over into my own business.
What inspired you to open BlkBts?
BlckBts, pronounced black boots, evolved from my love of fashion, fabric dyeing, and sewing. My business name and concept started with an idea to make pieces that can be worn with your favorite black boots. We all have a pair we love and making clothing and accessories to wear with them became a driving force behind BlckBts.
I started dyeing fabric and working with textile design in college and had previous collections focusing on interesting dye techniques. That went well for a few years but I hit a wall, something was missing.
Texture. As much as I was trying to create texture with dye, I wanted to feel it. Then I stumbled upon nuno felting: a process that combines wool into silk or cotton and shrinks to create a puckered texture. Felting allows me to create pieces in a sculptural way with little or no sewing.
From this point, I decided to fully pursue and commit myself to BlckBts as a business. I now see BlckBts evolving as a strong presence in the art and fashion world.
Are you formally trained or self-taught?
I have a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia where I took my first textile class. In addition, I have taken numerous Dye and a few Felting workshops from talented artists and designers. The rest I learned through a mix of trial and error and online research.
What has been your best source of knowledge in your art?
My best source of knowledge in my art has been other felters and designers. I belong to many online groups that have helped me trouble shoot and also improve my skills. Other designers are great to have as friends because we can bounce ideas off each other and brainstorm.
Describe your style in one sentence.
BlckBts is a combination of art and casual glamour.
What inspires you in your day-to-day?
I am inspired by the symbiosis between street fashion and high-end designers. Women who set off their classic style with a beautiful, handmade statement piece inspire me.
What are your favourite items to make?
Each piece I make is one of a kind and that makes it really hard to pick a favorite. I love the process of nuno felting and waiting for that magical moment when my fashion illustrations and inspiration becomes a reality.
What projects are you currently working on for Blk Bts?
I am currently working on a few projects for BlckBts. I have a big trunk show coming up for first Friday in October at Toile Atelier. I’m doing a few seasonal and holiday artisan markets in the fall. I also have a huge sort of secret collaborative project that I am working on with a fellow artist. Stay tuned to http://www.blckbts.com for details.
What is one thing you’d like your fans to know about you?
Something I would like my fans to know about my line is a bit about the techniques that I use to create my pieces. Each piece is hand dyed and nuno felted.
Nuno felting is a technique that incorporates wool fibers into the weave of a fabric, allowing me to incorporate texture and sculpture into my work. In nuno felting, the wool fibers are agitated and migrate through the weave then “shocked” and shrunk to become a permanent part of the fabric. This technique allows me to create pieces that are truly one of a kind, organic in shape, and a distinct wearable work of art. I use high quality materials and fibers that have a wonderful textural feel against the skin.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
Things that I find most rewarding about my work is watching someone try on one of my pieces and feel amazing in it. I am not only designing a brand but I am providing work that makes a client feel great about themselves.
Best piece of advice for someone looking to open their own small business?
Keep working. Keep learning. Grow a body of work you love and keep growing it.
You can see more of Shannah’s beautiful work here:
BlckBts Dusty Purple CrissCross Ombre Scarf: nuno felted, dreaded fringe
BlckBts Ammonite Shibori Scarf: hand dyed, nuno felted