Jean and Fran

Vintage loving neighbours – the story of Crystal Heirlooms

We’ve been waiting a while now for our new blog and we’re really excited that it’s finally here! There’s so much we want to share with you – real weddings, tips for choosing the perfect accessories for your wedding, glimpses of vintage fashion, lots of fascinating stuff about vintage jewellery, and whatever else we think you’d enjoy that’s fun and newsworthy.

Firstly a MASSIVE thank you to our secret weapon – the cool, calm and talented Patrice Fiset at Webcoop in Montreal who did all the techie things to make this happen! Working remotely with this company in Canada has been a really enjoyable experience.

For our very first post it makes a lot of sense to tell you all about Crystal Heirlooms. We’re what they call a “micro cottage industry” – a partnership between myself and my neighbour, Jean Dyas. We live and work from Sunbeam Cottages – a cluster of farm workers cottages built by the Titsey Estate in 1900, with views to die for across open farmland and the National Trusts’ Limpsfield Common. We’re just outside Oxted on the Surrey, Kent and Sussex borders, not far from Westerham with gorgeous antique shops and Sunday French market.

The pretty market town of Westerham on the Surrey/Kent border
The pretty market town of Westerham on the Surrey/Kent border

Jean is a qualified veterinary surgeon and a totally crazy cat lover – as am I. Our friendship really blossomed when one of her many cats – Jimmie the Ginger Tom – decided he wanted to be an only child and moved in with my husband and I a few doors away. There was the inevitable custody battle, but it was Jimmie himself who determined the outcome. I think he secretly likes having two mums who love him to pieces!

Jimmie with his friend Mr Floppy
Jimmie with his friend Mr Floppy

We also both share a love of all things vintage, especially from the Art Deco and Art Nouveau eras. Neither of us like wearing make-up or high heels (seems a waste of time in the countryside) and both of our husbands are ex-air display pilots – so they have plenty to chat about when we’re mulling over wedding trends and ideas for a new collection of headdresses.

Jean’s husband, Dave, proposed in late 2011 and in early 2012 we took ourselves off wedding dress shopping. What a wonderful experience! She tried absolutely everything, from lacey fishtails to massive princess gowns, from Jenny Packham Art Deco to 1950s style couture designs. “The one” turned out to be a floaty, simple, loose, comfortable and practical dress for her wedding in rural Sicily!!

And then there was the big problem of what to wear in her hair. Nothing quite pleased her – it was either too blingy, too small, too twee or too same-y. So finally she decided to make it herself with vintage jewels, the pearls that her Mum wore on her wedding day, and a few surprise pieces that made it truly personal. It was stunning, and she so enjoyed making it.

Jean made her own headdress and peachy vintage headdresses for her bridesmaids
Jean made her own headdress and peachy vintage headdresses for her bridesmaids

That was the moment when we realised that the headpiece is just as important as the dress. It’s there in every single photograph of the big day, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity to be unique. We wanted to be able to share that experience with discerning brides, so Crystal Heirlooms was launched at the National Wedding Show in February 2013.

Crystal Heirlooms on the catwalk at the National Wedding Show
Crystal Heirlooms on the catwalk at the National Wedding Show

Jean designs and hand crafts all of our one-of-a-kind headdresses and accessories around original vintage pieces, sometimes adding feathers or new Swarovski pearls and crystals to create beautifully contemporary pieces. We spend many enjoyable days out at antique and collectables fairs hunting for inspirational vintage jewels, exquisite lace and appliqués and high quality vintage jewellery. We’re also lucky enough to live in an area with more than its fair share of vintage emporiums, curiosity shops, and country fairs and markets. And over the past few years we’ve made friends with some wonderful dealers in America who supply us with exquisite vintage flowers and trimmings and high quality jewels from the big New York design houses of the early 20th century.

My role in Crystal Heirlooms is to look after everything involved in bringing you details of our products and ensure you enjoy the whole experience of buying your wedding headdress and accessories from us. Your special day really is as important to us as our own wedding days were – we know how much every little detail matters, how stressful it can sometimes be, and how important it is to have friendly, helpful suppliers that won’t let you down.

Enough about us! The rest of this blog will be about you and we hope you’ll share your comments and join in the fun!

Fran Taylor

 

 

Share this articleShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest