What's your 'day' job?
I work at London College of Fashion as the Study Abroad Coordinator. I coordinate the Study Abroad programmes for students coming to LCF from overseas. I’m lucky in that I can work flexible hours, so I work 35 hours in four days and have Fridays off to concentrate on my side hustle! I’ve worked here for nearly three years in three different roles, and also graduated from LCF in 2014, so I’m quite attached.
What's your side hustle?
I run a small business, called Issay Issay, which makes hip hop and R’n’B illustrated kitchenwares. I draw the faces of my favourite hip hop artists (and a few wildcards – bald Britney circa 2007) and then transfer them onto enamelware. It’s been going for nearly 18 months now and I have three, wholesalers including one in Belgium!
What made you start this side hustle?
I am a trained embroiderer and began embroidering hip hop artists’ faces and logos onto clothing and pieces of fabric to then frame; this transpired into illustration as embroidery was taking such a long time, however it is something that I’d like to reintroduce.
I chose hip hop as I love it and you don’t see hip hop and embroidery mixed together often. So, that’s where the initial idea was born. I like drawing people who make people smile: one of the main goals of my work is to be playful and light-hearted.
If you had no money constraints what would be your next product?
What a question! I have so many ideas bouncing around my head, I’ve always wanted to do an underwear collection with my embroidery and illustrations on. Drake on your bra and Craig David on your knickers kind-of-thing! I’d also love to get back into embroidering sportswear.
What is the biggest struggle you faced when starting your business?
I decided not to take any loans or borrow any money, so I used the money I earned every month from my day job to put towards my business. This meant that progression was slower than I would’ve liked and that I had to be very careful with money. It also meant a lot of creative problem solving to get around issues. For instance, originally I wanted to use porcelain mugs but didn’t have access to a kiln and struggled to find places to use one without having to pay a monthly fee. To get around this, I decided to use specific transfers for enamelware where you can use your oven to secure the illustration to it.
How would your friends describe you?
I think they’d described me as: ‘never known a vegan to love chicken nuggets so much, creative with a warm heart‘ (I recently turned vegan, but I’ve had a few relapses).
When you were younger, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a pop star, but after many rejections for singing parts in school plays in primary school, I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer, which I still would love to be!