Small Brand Spotlight: Pepita Makes

Every week, we shine a spotlight on the best small brands we think are worth shouting about. We love our great British high street, but there are so many fantastic independent brands out there making clothes, accessories, homeware and more from a place of passion and love and we need to support them – now more than ever.

From fashion and beauty to homeware, accessories and food, we bring you the best small businesses you need on your radar. This week we chat with Nona Thompson, founder of Pepita Makes, the colourful eco-resin accessories brand.

Pepita Makes
Pepita Makes

How did Pepita Makes come about?

I started my business as a side hustle while working in buying. Making things has always brought me so much joy, and Pepita is my middle name, so Pepita Makes was born!

Years before, I studied woven textile design at uni and still had a stash of beautifully coloured silk threads that were waste from weaving. I couldn’t bear to throw them away, and so I began to make brightly coloured tassel earrings out of them. I was made redundant last year, and all I could think of was how happy I’d be if I could make things all day long! That gave me the drive to double down on my business and learn a technique I’d been dreaming about ever since I took a resin class at uni, setting my colourful wasted thread scraps into resin to make a durable, zero waste product.

What three words would you use to describe Pepita Makes?

Joyful, bold and considered. I take a very serious approach to light-hearted design, so even the brightest, most playful hair clip will still be ethically made and have a strong, practical grip.

Who is the Pepita Makes customer?

Someone who cares deeply about the environment, but also has a strong sense of style and wants to express that. These are definitely people I’d be pals with! I am my original customer because I love pretty, colourful accessories, but I also need them to have a purpose. I don’t wear jewellery every single day, but I’ll always have a hair clip in to give some pizazz to my overgrown fringe!

Where do you find inspiration for your designs? Tell us about your design process.

I’m massively inspired by bright and bizarre colour palettes; it can be as simple as the packaging on some Chinese supermarket dumplings, painted shutters on a house or a stack of vintage games consoles for sale in rainbow colours.

I also gather inspiration from vintage textiles and homewares. My parents have an antiques business, but not the stuffy kind; it’s practical, everyday stuff, with the most unreal colours and intricate details. I particularly love their stacks of French enamel and Italian Florentine trays in teal and gilded gold.

Ideas for a new range usually begin with an object or idea that has taken root in my brain. My last collection was born out of spotting some ancient upholstery trims in a scrap store, and thinking, ‘What if I could preserve these and turn them into something to be used every day, not languishing in a rummage box where no one wants them?’

I’m also constantly looking for ways to reuse waste in a creative way; I love the challenge of seeing what I can do with every scrap! Even the waste resin that collects in my mixing cups; the marbled colours and half-moon shapes are very visually appealing, so I turned them into a zero-waste coaster.

Once I have the theme of the collection sorted, I experiment with yarn wrappings, resin testers and shape sketches before I get down to making the products in my spare room studio.

Is the brand striving to be sustainable?

Sustainability has always been at the core of Pepita Makes – the business started out of a burning desire to not waste something beautiful. Being sustainable is really important to me in my personal life, but if there’s one thing that gets my goat, it’s the fact that so many sustainable products seem to only come in black, white or beige. The ultimate goal for my products is to prove that you don’t have to sacrifice your style to be kind to the planet.

This passion is woven through the entire business; I use an eco-resin, thread scraps from my tassel earrings, and recycle any imperfect resin pieces into my zero waste trinket trays and coasters.

Which piece is your current favourite?

My current favourite has got to be the Bertha hair clip. It’s named after my grandma, an extremely pragmatic woman who made basically everything herself and loved a floral pattern. I picked up this ribbon at a market in Shropshire, spotting it peeking out of an otherwise unremarkable basket of plain zips and cotton. Every time I wear this hair clip, I’m reminded of my embroidery-loving grandma and all the fun I’ve had scouring flea markets and charity shops with my family.

Anything exciting planned for this year?

Yes! I’m always full of ideas on new colours, resin techniques and shapes to make sure there’s a Pepita Makes hair clip that every single person will love. I’m also working on some projects that lean towards my weaving and textile design background. The zero-waste element of my products is vital, so I’m going to be making more textile work that will in turn feedback into my resin accessories and homewares.

YOU’s 3 favourite things:

pink gingham hair clip
Pepita Makes

Ginny Pink and Orange Gingham Hair Clip, £15, Pepita Makes

resin tray
Pepita Makes

Pink & Yellow ‘Party Ring’ Sustainable Trinket Tray, £25, Pepita Makes

red pink hair clip
Pepita Makes

Pink & Red Hair Clip, £12, Pepita Makes

Shop the full collection at etsy.com and follow @pepitamakes.