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It's Kellie from Buisjes en Beugels+++

Wednesday, 16 July 2008 by Irene Hoofs


Please meet Kellie Smits from Dutch children's fashion label Buisjes En Beugels+++ ... I love this brand because it's funky, new, different and the colors are fresh and bright and they fit perfectly! I also admire this women very much for her strenght, design skills and most of all her passion for her work ... well maybe it's better if I let Kellie do the talking today ...enjoy!
{Kellie herself between the boxes and her collection}
1. ) Can you tell us a little about your background and what path led you to what you’re doing now?
I started photographing when I was 14 years old in black & white and printed them myself daily. When I was 18 I was admitted at the photography academy, but they told me that I was more than a photographer and they advised me to go to a art academy to develop my creativity in a more general way and to discover what else I could learn except photography. I did and choose 3-dimensional art. I made a lot of installations with photography and I used a lot of textile. The theme that always came back was ‘the body and the skin’. I never thought of fashion, because I thought it was too superficial to just ‘dress’ someone. But in secret I loved it! I won three art prizes and exhibited international. But after 3 years being an independent artist I felt isolated and I missed the interaction and I wanted to use my creativity in a wider context. I thought that because I was very creative I could do much more with it then making exhibitions and mean much more for society...
...but I did still not know how to start. So I decided to get admitted on the fameous and interesting Design academy in Eindhoven. Where the Droog Design movement was up coming. And I felt tremendous attracted. I found the challenge which I was looking for and also started working with textile, but no clothes. When I got pregnant in my last year at the Design academy I started for the first time making some clothes. When I got pregnant of my second son I started my first collection, because a friend of me asked me for designing something special in her kids boutique. I was sewing every night orders and I did not like it, because I worked for a few euro’s and I do not like sewing the same every time. I received a project fund of Fonds BKVB in Amsterdam and I decided to start a serious company named Buisjes En Beugels +++.
{view from the apartment, Rotterdam and her youngest son}
2.)Where do you live, what kind of house and with whom?
I live in Rotterdam on the Noordereiland (island) with a great view on the beautiful Erasmusbrug. It’s a maissonette on the third floor. It’s far too small for me, my husband and my two sons (3y & 4,5y), with its three rooms.  And we have recently bought a new house (3 levels) with the ground floor totally for BB+++ and a garden. They are building it on Katendrecht and will be finished next year.

{'Our children's gorilla’ on floor in livingroom}
3.) Can you describe your style, what kinds of furniture do you like, any particular brands?

I don’t know if I have a style, but I am really interested in new shapes, new color combinations used in designs with a story. I like to be surprised, but I am also looking for the connection with its own history.  I need to understand where the designer is started and its thinking. Just new does not mean anything to me.
{both Kellie's sons at the diningtable}
I am also inclined to reduce a design to its essence. I prefer the minimal, but I also enjoy the richness of profusion, but defined. Brands I love at the moment are: demakersvan.com, jorislaarman.com, studiojob.nl, moooi.nl, richardhutten.com.  All dutch designers I just consider while I am writing this. What I like about them all is that they break a tradition, but at the same time they show the tradition.

{The studio / atelier}
4.)Is your studio located in your house and do you always work alone or do you have helpers?
Because our house is very small I hire a small atelier in Rotterdam. The first 1,5 year I worked alone at the kitchen table. But now I work with a trainee constantly. Next to that I collaborate with a lot of small independent workers, called ZZP-ers. It’s better than personnel, because they work for me in the periods I need them. I also working together with agents constantly. My family are my best helpers: my mother is babysitting frequently, my father helps with administration and the computerizing, my brother is the webmaster of BB+++, my sons are models and fitting models and my husband lugs a lot of boxes. Thanks you so much!
{the studio}
5.) Where do you find inspiration and where do you buy your fabrics and where are you clothes being manufactured, are their any tips you can give us when searching for the right manufacturer?
I find my inspiration in all the beautiful I see. I’ve got so much ideas that sometimes I am exploding and writing it all in my sketch books. I almost never sketch for my collections I just make it immediately. And sometimes I change it a little. I visit a lot of fabric/textile fairs and get in contact with interesting suppliers. But its difficult, because they are not so interested in the small ones. For kids clothes you do not need so much meters as for adults and next to that the price also need to be kept lower then adult fashion...
...this means that I have to pass a lot of interesting fabrics and its often a big puzzle to create a collection with the fabrics I found. The manufactures are also difficult to be kept (not to find, by the way), because they ask for a minimum of pieces per styles. In the beginning they are interested, but when your amounts are not growing quick enough they are also not interested any more. So you need to be alert constantly and always thinking of backups and worst case scenarios. Not the nicest part of my company.
{labels and logo}
6.)The whole identity (including photography) of BB+++ is very beautiful, did you do the design yourself or did somebody help you with this…and can you please let us in about the three ‘+++’? How important do you think branding is for BB+++?
I am very happy with this compliment and question, because I did it all myself. The last two collections I asked the help of a photographer who understands my ideas very well. We talk about my idea before a shoot and I take care of the styling while she photographs. I also do all the graphics myself, because I love to do it.  Sometimes I discuss with people who think I do too much myself. But I love it all and I think it makes the identity complete and authentic. It’s the major part of branding I think.
Branding is off course very important, you can’t without. Especially on the web it’s important to be a recognizable identity and the web helps to become international recognized.
{Kellie's son Elvis + her Kek award}
7.) What are you most proud of professionally and what would you still like to achieve?
I am very proud on the (inter)national recognition of media. A lot of big magazines wrote about BB+++ and a lot of stylists, art directors dress their children with BB+++.  It sometimes helped me in persevere when I had a disappointment to get over.
I like to achieve a stable company, in which I’ve got the space/time to develop new creative ideas next to the BB+++ kids collections. To achieve this I need to find in the future a good business partner to head for this  grow.
{toys on the floor}
8.)What kind of toys do you usually buy for your boys and what are their favorite activities?
I do not buy so much toys, because my oldest loves to tinker a lot. My youngest plays with everything, he has a lively imagination. When I do buy then most of the time something which they can use in different ways. Like building units, clay, animals, train sets, elements to built a world. And… they both have a favorite cuddly toy and several alternatives…which they sleep with and twiddle their thumbs…
{Boy's bedroom}
9.)The room looks so cozy and fun for them…how do you divide your time between them and your business?
They both sleep in one room and they like it. I think it’s cosy for them. When they are older they can get their own room. I work 4 days a week and a lot of evenings. I need to. On Wednesday I am with my kids...
...sometimes I phone a little or mail but that’s all. My mother is so nice to baby sit one day a week and the other days  they go to a nursery. They are used to it, because I did it from they were 10 weeks. It’s hard working, because my husband is a hospital doctor and works a lot and on a irregular base. But we do both what we are passionate about and that gives a lot of energy. And we divide the housekeeping equally...
{Kellie's son wearing wovenplay}
10.)Besides your own beautiful clothes you sell some great labels in your webshop, why did you decide to sell them as well…and does your son enjoy wearing the wovenplay outfit as much as we as parents think he does?
Because I have a lot of visitors on the web site I thought I was a pity to not offer a wider range of nice products. I discovered Wovenplay and Our children’s gorilla and immediately felt in love with the designs and materials! And when I am in love with something I want to do everything to promote and help them to get known. Designs like Wovenplay are rare and I want it to stay on the market, because I know it’s difficult to survive. My son loves to wear Wovenplay, because it touches the imagination. He thinks he’s a pilot when he wears it. But he stopped wearing the hat, when some boys on school said something about it..
{the new collection on rack, summer 2009}
11.) Can you tell us a little bit more about your new collection? How did it come together, was there a particular theme, colors or inspirations you worked from?
The newest SS09 collection is inspired by instantly the trend of the eighties and a very nice printed poplin I bought. The dessin were printed triangles. This symbol: the triangle became the repeating theme in this collection. Triangle shaped pockets, dessins, fluor pink trench coats and bikini’s, triangle closures etc.. The star of the collection is a beautiful ‘folded’ dress, which is developed out of the idea to approach textile as paper..
{wooden shoes}
12.) I love the wooden shoes, are they part of the new collection and if yes why did you chose for them?
The wooden shoes are inscribed wooden clogs with BB’s logo (+++). Finished with a lacquer. I let them made by a farmer woman for my first collection. They were props for the shoot. I also painted some clogs with blackboard paint. The models chalked on it.
{Image: Kellie's sons waiting behind the scenes during the photgraphy shoot for the new collection}
13. And finally is there any advice you would like to give young designers who would like to start a business like BB+++?

"Be prepared to work a lot and just do it!"


..Buisjes En Beugels +++..
..more info about BB+++..

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