Claire Austin Reveals How Stephen Fry Helped Kickstart Her Business
Crafting away at Cockington Court’s Sea Change Studios is Award-Winning Claire Austin, a bespoke bridal accessories designer from Torquay. Being renowned as master of her craft, we went to Meet The Maker and find out more about her work.
What started as an idea for a cute Christmas preset for her friends, led to the birth of ‘Claire Austin England’, a bespoke bridal accessories company. After seeing some hair accessories in a shop, Claire’s mum helped create her piece while working at a West End Theatre in London. While the performance was on, Claire would twist and turn together her head pieces; word got out amongst the Shakespeare cast and one of the leads - Stephen Fry - tweeted to his 5 Million followers about Claire’s creation.
Seven years later, Claire now has her own studio in Cockington Court, where she invites brides-to-be to come have some tea and cake while designing bespoke accessories for their perfect day. Claire continuously pushes her craft into different areas; in 2017 she worked with Artizan Gallery in Torquay to present her work, which resulted in her becoming a back-to-back winner at the South West Wedding Awards in 2018 and 2019. We wanted to Meet-The-Maker, so we popped to Claire Austin’s studio at Cockington Court for a chat.
“Whatever the bride wants I like to translate from their head into a reality. The thought that I've made them a completely bespoke headpiece which they can treasure forever is why I do it.
I was working in a West End theatre about four years ago, it was coming up to Christmas and I went shopping with my mum and we saw these winter woollen headbands which were really beautiful with a lovely rose on them and I said I really want to make those for my friends for Christmas. So my mum sent me a package in the post with some notes on on how to do it. I used to make them when I worked on the stage door at the theatre and all my friends there and they all started asking me to make them for them so I did.
It was a Shakespeare show on at the time, Stephen Fry was in the show and he very, very kindly tweeted about me to his five million followers at the time. So I got loads of followers on Twitter which is amazing so I thought oh I'm gonna set up a little website now. And that was nearly seven years ago, and I can't believe it started from being on stage door making my little headbands to now having my own studio in Cockington.
Brides usually contact me on social media or they might send me an email and then I invite them to come into the studio for a design consultation with tea and cake. Then we go through some ideas they might show me how they can of their hair or photograph of their wedding dress or sometimes they even bring the wedding dress in which is very exciting. And then I design something completely bespoke, that no one in the world has got which they can treasure forever and feel just really beautiful on their wedding day.
A couple of years ago, I had a launch party at the Artizan Gallery in Torquay. Julie and Jacob there, they were fantastic to work with they were so helpful and really passionate about what I was doing. So I had this new collection that I wanted to show to everyone. so I invited current brides, past bride's, wedding industry people, friends, family and we had a lovely evening; I had live music, canapés, fizz… it was lovely and it was really nice to do it in an actual art gallery, it really showed off all of my pieces.
I'm from St. Marychurch in Torquay, so I've been coming to Cockington for years and I've always wanted a studio here but I've just never plucked up the courage. But last October I came here and I saw there was one to let and I thought I'm just going to go for it, I'm going to apply and I'm just so happy that I did it because it's just been the best thing I've ever done.” - Claire Austin, Bespoke bridal accessories designer.