2016 was not a great year for Sew Curvy. Between Brexit in June, and having to register for VAT in April, it’s been a bit of a struggle. I've done my best to keep prices stable considering the volatility of the the Euro and the fact that all my steel comes from Europe. I've also had to find ways to efficiently continue and expand the business while keeping costs down.
Black busks are an essential part of my range and have been for a very long time, but the factory in Europe charges me over £1.00 per peice to coat them and I have to order 100 of each size as a minimum. This obviously means that they are extremely expensive and that is the reason that i’ve had to stick with black in only 3 sizes for all this time as it’s the most popular alternative colour. Those black busks are powder coated and the factory in Europe have always offered to supply any colour but as you can imagine, buying 100 of each size, in a variety of colours is going to be uber expensive and not sustainable for a small business such as mine.
So one day about 6-7 months ago while pondering various business conundrums, I had a lightbulb moment! I googled 'powder coating metal’ or similar, and to my utter surprise, discovered not one, but two operations in the small West Oxfordshire village where I live, both established for over 20 years and both providing a metal powder coating service. I immediately visited said establishments, explained what I needed and with some amusement it must be said, they sampled black busks for me, along with a few other colours which they matched from samples of coutil that I gave them. Although the cost isn't hugely different, and there are still minimums to meet, the minimums are not based on size, so I can now have a full size range of powder coated busks which means greater choice for my customers at no extra cost to me or them! Win Win!
However, because my busk stock is the most expensive outlay for me at Sew Curvy, I still have to be quite careful with it. I simply don't have enough to hand enough over to the powder coaters to get every colour in every size right this minute! So coloured busks will be a slow roll out over the coming months. We already have black and white in every size, and to come will be red, cream, grey and purple. Flat colours only to match the coutils in stock. Get your black or white busks by clicking on the picture below:
I'm not the only person looking to inject a bit more excitement into the humble busk though. And I'm not about to do custom colour matching or anything other than the plain flat colours. Why? Because stock, and because I don't do it myself. I just dont have time, the will, or the resource, but I know a girl who does and that person is called Nikki, and she runs "Narrowed Visions". Nikki, also an accomplished corset maker specialising in reproduction antique corsets, does glittery busks in jewel-like colours, in metallic finishes and also holographic finishes which have incredible depth! Because she powder coats the busks herself, with her own equipment, she can provide a truly personal service to any corsetiere who needs something special and bespoke. You can find her shop by clicking on the picture below:
Ofcourse the busk revolution really started with another amazing lady who lives in Australia and is the mastermind behind luxury clothing brand Vanyanis. Lowana decided that she wanted to bring back the patterened busk loops of antiquity, methods for which have so far eluded many a corset maker who had tried in the past. However, Lowana worked for months to find a way of doing it and she wasn't about to stop until she found a way. You see, the busks of old were stamped with designs, because in Victorian days, busks were made with different metals and processes, and you could simply stamp a design onto a busk loop to define your brand - in much the same was as a hallmark works. Nowadays, busk loops are chromed steel and you can't stamp them. Either they will not take an impression, or the chrome coating will shatter leaving something very unattractive behind. Not a good look for your bespoke corsetry. Lowana was determined, and she found a jeweller to work with, and between them they pioneered the modern engraved busk. These busks are available to buy from Lowana directly and many a bespoke corset maker has done so. Because the designs are laser engraved, it means that you can supply your own artwork to Lowana and therefore have your own branded engraved busks, just like the old days. Amazing. The engravings come in three colours too so you can get really personal. Why stop at busks though? Lowana also takes apart her busks by hand, and uses the engraved loops to make earrings and necklaces for the true corset obsessive. Check out Lowana's shop on her website by clicking the picture below!