Henry Rude & Victoria Henry Founder
Victoria Henry is the Founder of Street wear brand Henry Rude and Victoria Henry; the jewellery, accessories and homeware brand. Living between Sweden and Ghana, Victoria brings African prints to a Scandinavian market through contemporary casual wear. We also learnt first hand how important creating a positive social impact is to Victoria, in all aspects of her work.
We caught up with the Designer at the African Market in Spitalfield’s, London.
When did you start Henry Rude?
I registered the company back in 2013 but I had been doing jewellery for 10 years before that as a hobby and then when I registered the company I started doing it more seriously. So it’s about 3 years now.
Are you based in Sweden and Ghana?
I’m mostly based in Sweden but I travel to Ghana every 6 months to produce the new collections. I’m going on October 1st and I’m staying for 6 months this time, usually I only stay for a month.
I’m really excited to go and I’ll have time to focus only on my brands because usually I work full time on the side as well, but now I will have 100% focus.
What do you do full time?
I work with young refugee boys who come without their parents. I work in a home for them and I really love my job too so I can’t really see myself not working there, but it’s a nice combination I think – creative work and social work.
In the 6 months are you looking to produce a new collection?
Yes, I am producing a new collection for Henry Rude and my other brand – Victoria Henry where I make jewellery, homeware and textiles. I want to develop that brand as well and maybe start doing some clothes, but in a different way. Here [pointing at Henry Rude stock] is mainly focused on African prints but Victoria Henry will be more down to earth. I’ve started getting really interested in natural dyeing, using plants to dye fabric. So we’ll see what I come up with.
Are you working with artisans there?
Yes, to get the fabrics I source them from the local markets in Accra the Capital and I have some tailors and seamstresses who I work with to create the clothes, and for the jewellery and textiles I work with artisans as well. I mainly just design and then have them produced there. I used to do more jewellery before but it takes such a long time and I’m not a Smith so it’s easier to do those parts with an artisan and then I add the beads afterwards.
So your self taught with both?
Yes, I just had a big interest and I learnt by doing on the way. I just started networking and learning from other people. I think if you’re really interested and you really want to do it you can find a way to do it somehow.
“I think if you’re really interested and you really want to do it you can find a way to do it somehow.”
What’s the reception like in Sweden?
It’s been really good. Especially the last collection, it sold really well and I think now the brand is becoming known. In the beginning it was hard to get people to wear all the colours and the prints because Scandinavian people like black and minimalist fashion, but I also have small items like the cap for people who are not ready to wear the whole outfit.
What would you say is the hardest thing about starting your own brand?
I’d say the production. In Ghana the tailors are used to making one garment. Usually in Ghana people go to the market, get the fabric they like and give it to the tailor with their measurements. It’s been difficult to get them to produce say... five of the same, even if it’s the same size they can differ. So you really have to be there and make sure they understand what you mean; that’s been the most difficult part I think – but that’s also what’s charming about it, it’s handmade, it’s not made in a big factory, it’s made by a small independent tailor.
“But that’s also what’s charming about it, it’s handmade, it’s not made in a big factory it’s made by a small independent tailor.”
How did you transition from a non-creative career to working in the fashion industry?
I’ve always been really interested in Fashion. When I was younger I wanted to study Fashion but I never did. I started with the jewellery when my mum opened a vintage store, making new jewellery with the pieces she had and started selling there. She also had these amazing vintage fabrics – I just used whatever I could find really and made one-of-a-kind pieces. I guess I come from a creative family, because my Mum and my Dad are both really creative – painting and playing music.
When I saw these amazing prints in Paris I just felt that I had to do something with them, especially as in Sweden you just don’t see these types of fabrics so I wanted to let everyone see how amazing and beautiful they are. Also to show them in a different way not just as traditional garments.
Thank you Victoria!
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Words: Swakara Atwell-Bennett
Images: John Ogunmuyiwa