Meet Rebecca Brinkhorst, local designer and creator of Beqi Clothing. Rebecca took her first laser-cutting class at MADE in 2020, and has been using the tools here to make pretty//punk adornments at MADE ever since. We’re so excited about her work that we even sell it in our MemberMADE Gift Shop! Read more about her in this exclusive Q&A:
when did you start making?
Rebecca : I’ve been art-obsessed all my life, but the first time I sewed something I was 9. It was a pincushion with a heart pocket in the front, out of the most 70s pink polyester ever seen. My mom still has it on her dresser.
From there it was doll clothes, then altering my own clothing (I ruined countless pairs of jeans), then designing clothing for myself. So by the time I was 30, I had 21 years of sewing under my belt. It made sense to start doing it for others, since it was something I was already good at.
What inspired the creation of Beqi?
R : A lifelong desire to run my own business, a background in vintage clothing, and a comically large bottle of Merlot.
What are you working on right now?
R : Today I’ll be making t-shirt screens, so I can come in to the print shop tomorrow and print. This week started off with laser cutting jewelry pieces. I’m also doing sort of a pocket collection of #fanart pieces from the movie The Shining, of which I’m obsessed. That will launch sometime this year, when I’ve finished all the prototypes.
What did you make during lockdown?
R : I made a TON of stuff, including my most recent collection. Clothing, jewelry, purses, headbands, t-shirts, and felted wool berets. I also made face masks, so for a few months I was actually busier than I wanted to be. But I do get some satisfaction in the fact that I helped to stem the tide of the pandemic.
R : I like all of them, but I probably use the lasers the most. I’ve been desirous of making my own designs completely for years, so it was the next step from using commercial craft supplies. It feels more like art to me. I plan to start wood working classes this year so I can go even design the perfect booth setup. The feeling of mastering new skills is super satisfying.
How has MADE impacted your creativity?
R : MADE has given me the tools to make bigger and more intricate pieces that are truly mine, as well as the displays to show them on. All of the displays in my booth at this point have been designed and manufactured by me. It looks cohesive, packs flat, and has my logo on all of it. I’d say I’m in MADE at least once a week, if not more.
I love knowing the ideas I have are just a vector graphic away from realization.
What kind of advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own brand?
R : I’m asked this a lot, actually. I’ve been in business 20+ years now, as long as I’ve been married. I’m kind of a realist, so my advice isn’t generally the flowery inspirational kind. I tell people that doing this full time is an unbelievable amount of work with no expectation of remuneration. It’s a gamble, and it is always more work than people realize at the outset.
My suggestion is to dip your toes in first. Figure out what your products will be, what workload you want, design (or have designed) a logo and other marketing tools, and research the legal stuff. Get a standalone website or Etsy shop, and make sure it’s updated constantly. Keep your paperwork organized. Get good photography of your products (this is HUGE; this is what show promoters, store buyers, and customers will see. You only get seconds to grab someone’s attention, so either get a light box and decent camera and photo editing software or farm the task out to a pro.)
You’ll need organizational, administrative, and people skills to market effectively. The stereotype of the flaky artist needs to disappear the minute you take money for your work. Word of mouth is key. I get a lot of customers just because people tell others when they buy from me. To this end, you’re going to need to develop objectivity where your work is concerned, because you’re going to get a lot of rejection. Be ready to drop product lines that don’t sell.
Get an accountant. Taxes get very complicated when you own a business, and you will need to have yours in order.
If you love what you do enough to work on it all the time, to do boring paperwork constantly, to work with the public, and to possibly lose money for a few years before you find your footing, then you will probably be alright. If you’re a workaholic, even better. The successful artists I know are nose to grindstone nearly 24-7.
It’s a hard job. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But for those whose cup of tea it is, it’ll be the best damn cup of tea you ever had.
Oh, and coffee is your friend.
Be sure to check out Beqi’s website to browse the collection and support local creatives : beqiclothing.com/