hypebeast flea squarespace clova me old china angels nailz grillz jewelery ceramics nail art london event market creative streetwear interview url irl activation
hypebeast flea squarespace clova me old china angels nailz grillz jewelery ceramics nail art london event market creative streetwear interview url irl activation
From URL to IRL: How Three Creatives Are Leveling Up Online and Offline to Engage With Their Communities
Hypebeast caught up with Angel’s Nailz, Me Old China and Clova ahead of Flea.
Presented by Squarespace

Hypebeast Flea is only a couple of weeks away, and for this two-day retail and cultural event, we’ve teamed up with Squarespace to spotlight three creatives from London who are shaking up their industries.

Having profiled Angel’s Nailz, Me Old China and Clova, we now delve deeper into the creative processes behind the brands and expand on the importance of connecting to their communities both in the digital world as well as physical activations.

With a mission to support entrepreneurs and give small businesses the tools they need to bring their ideas to life, Squarespace’s design-driven platform is at the forefront of these creatives’ journey who have turned their passion into a business. At Hypebeast Flea, the “Best of Squarespace” section will be hosting the three brands for visitors to shop, interact with their products, and get the chance to know the craftspeople behind the labels.

Make sure you sign up to get your free tickets for Hypebeast Flea on September 9 and 10 here.

For Angel My Linh, the creative behind Angel’s Nailz, it was during (and after) the pandemic that she started to notice how much traction her online content was receiving. Having been fine-tuning her craft for as long as she can remember, her process is intricate, her aesthetic is bold and her product offering is eye-catching. These features that make up her business not only makes for highly engaging content that attracts customers from around the world but also allows her to push boundaries with her designs.

She has since translated her skills to create original paintings, bringing her artistic flair to the canvas for culturally inspired pieces. “I love painting. I think that’s why I really started painting on nails because I loved art but I only ever knew nails. So I was like, I’m just going to apply it onto nails.”

You can shop Angel’s press-ons on the brand’s Squarespace website here.

Hypebeast: What theme best describes your craft best?

Angel My Linh: I love a 3D nail. Anything with texture or some kind of shape coming up from it is my thing, that’s me.

Talk us through your creative process.

I usually have an idea at 2 a.m., just before going to bed, and I sketch it out in my notepad first. Within the next few days or months, I make it and nobody ever sees it until somehow it’s on someone’s nails [laughs]. The minimum of anything I do will take two hours, no matter how difficult. If it’s more of the really intricate designs or 3D sculptural pieces, then it goes up from there.

“When you do nails, it’s the best feeling ever [...] I hope I can replicate that at Flea.”

How has your online presence helped Angel’s Nailz expand?

You can only do so much in real life, but when you’re online, it reaches the States and places you want to be outside of London too. It’s great. It’s helped me get a lot of jobs internationally and meet clients abroad, potentially doing pop-ups globally.

I was always so against it because I thought that because my work was already good, I’d be fine. But it really does help, and the more effort you put into it, the more it comes out of it. It helps your brand — people will know you and they can put a face to the brand. It’s very helpful.

It’s not easy though, I went from posting once a year to every day just because the busier you get, the more you post, and the more content you need to post then you get even busier. I’m not going to say it happened overnight, but it was quite rapid growth and when COVID happened, I was everywhere which is great and really helped the brand.

How was the process of setting up your online store on Squarespace?

I’m someone who can’t even reply to emails [laughs], so my boyfriend designed it all and made it look so easy. He literally whipped it up in 20 minutes — it looks so professional, so clean. I even convinced my mom to get on Squarespace, she’s got her own business and I told her how easy it is to set up and now she’s got her own site too.

What do you want people to walk away from your stall at Flea feeling?

Feeling happy. I’ve always said that when you do nails, it’s the best feeling ever. When you finish and the client is looking down at their nails and they’re so happy, it’s a different kind of feeling. It’s like getting a haircut or something like that, it just makes you feel good so I hope I can replicate that at Flea.

What advice would you give an emerging creative?

Honestly, just do it. I feel like a lot of creatives are scared of what other people think or if it’s good enough or they compare themselves to other people doing similar things. You just got to keep doing it and get it out there, not being scared of anything and it’ll pick up naturally.

Creating hand-painted ceramics is what has helped Me Old China thrive in the homeware market. Merging his graphic design background with early memories of visits to London’s pubs allowed founder Nick Dynan to paint unique designs onto porcelain products ranging from vases and lamps to mugs and plates.

Having only launched in December last year, Me Old China is one of the youngest brands to showcase at Hypebeast Flea but has amassed a loyal following who buy into Dynan’s intricate processes behind his long-lasting, timeless heirlooms.

Check out Me Old China’s ceramics, and what the expect at Flea, on the brand’s website.

Hypebeast: How did the idea for Me Old China come about?

Nick Dynan: My dad used to take us to pubs back in the ‘90s and there was always a swear jar on the bar. I think that triggered something when I was thinking about Me Old China and I started to paint the alphabet round with one swear word in there like ‘ABCDE FUCK’. It just carried on and kept growing, now it’s become one of my staple products.

What’s the creative process behind making a Me Old China product?

I’m not a potter, but I see ceramics as more of a medium for me to work on. I start by sanding the vases down, sketching the wrapped design, picking out the color, painting on two layers and clean everything off before I stamp the bottom and paint the lip around the top. After that, I dip it in a clear dipping glaze and let it dry before taking it to the community kiln which is around the corner from my studio and collect it a few days later. Some people think it’s just about painting but there are a lot of steps that go into making a Me Old China vase before it’s ready to be sent out.

“Whatever you want to pursue, whatever you’re interested in, just do that because eventually, it will turn into a job.”

The font is a classic, what inspired you to use it?

It’s a take on an Old English font by a tattoo artist from Ohio and I’ve just developed it from there. I treat it like graffiti where I use it as a base, and when I’m painting, add my own flair. Add extensions to certain areas, stretch some places further, and add some curves — just give it my own spin. A kind of Me Old China Old English font.

People know Me Old China for its vases, are there any other ceramics you’re looking to expand to?

I’m working on mugs at the moment and some plates that I’ll probably do a limited, super-exclusive run of at Flea. I also want to do big dinner table platters with slogans around the edge — I imagine it having a big roast chicken in the middle [laughs].

Why is having a good online presence important to your brand?

It’s literally how I’ve made every single sale apart from friends and family. Having my Squarespace site has meant that I can sell to people from anywhere in the world and market it in a way that actually resonates with them. If I hadn’t set one up, I’d have to travel there physically. It just makes the world a smaller place, you can be everywhere and tap into loads of different markets instantly. What I learned during my time freelancing is that you can tap people who aren’t necessarily going to walk past your product, so if your marketing can grab their attention, it’ll sit in the back of their heads, and maybe a few months down the line they’ll order something.

How has using Squarespace helped with growing your business?

It’s so easy to use. I basically run the whole thing through the Squarespace app. The email signup tool is great — I’ve got a few hundred so far and I know it probably doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s a few hundred people that actually want to hear from me so I’m grateful. The app lets me know when I get new orders, how much money is coming in, and whether I need more boxes. I didn’t have the app at first but it’s super handy and it’s changed the game for me.

A few of the other tools I find useful is analytics because I can compare month-on-month sales to help me understand if I need to push out marketing or if I’m doing well and at capacity. The activity log also helps with my social media platforms as I can see what countries are engaging with my products to see who I need to market to.

What are you hoping people walk away from your Flea stall feeling?

A bag with a vase in it would be good [laughs]. But it’s all about understanding the concept and where this has come from. The products I sell aren’t throwaway, they’ll sit on your shelf for years, so people have to think before buying. Communication is important to me, even if people don’t take a vase at Flea, they’ll be able to walk away with a flyer or poster that’s got some of my details on it so there are ways to reach out to me and get the brand’s backstory if they don’t get the chance to chat.

What advice would you give a young creative trying to break the industry?

I watched the philosopher Alan Watts’ video If Money Were No Object when I was 24 and it made me quit my job. I recommend it to everyone. It’s about how you should do what you love and money will follow. That always resonated with me massively because I hated working in an office and I always felt like I wasn’t in the place that I needed to be. As soon as I started Me Old China, I became calmer and more relaxed, I feel more content by just doing what I want and love. So, whatever you want to pursue, whatever you’re interested in, just do that because eventually, it will turn into a job. Life’s too short to be in a dead-end job that you don’t enjoy just because it pays well.

Clova Rae-Smith launched her eponymous label when realizing the potential of merging her passion for sculptural jewelry design with an interest in mouth accessories. Currently based in New York, the CSM graduate honors the London creative community for not only inspiring her craft but also for getting the brand to the position that it is in now.

From launching an online giveaway competition for a silver tooth cap, Clova has since drawn clientele from around the world for her art-led conceptual grillz. Making the most of her time in London, Clova will be taking molds at Hypebeast Flea for visitors to get their orders completed before she heads back to The Big Apple.

Make sure you visit Clova’s stall at Hypebeast Flea to get your grillz molds done and check out the brand’s price list on its Squarespace website.

Hypebeast: What inspires your conceptual designs?

Clova Rae-Smith: I would say most of my work is quite organic. I love nature, and thorns have been a recurring theme for quite a while but I’m trying to make new work and find myself. I think I’m going through a creative transitional period at the moment, I’ve been living in New York for a year and I’m trying to evolve and grow more as an artist.

Talk a bit about the creative process before getting out your designs to the world.

Honestly, I’m struggling a lot right now to create new jewelry especially when there is so much overconsumption. It feels like everything has already been done. With grillz though, I can collaborate with the client, go off a brief they provide, then I’ll look at paintings or do a bit of art research, and then an idea will hit me and I can make the piece. I try to stay away from using other jewelry as inspiration so that I can come up with something fresh.

What’s the importance of having a good online presence for businesses?

I wouldn’t have my business without it. You can find a community and create an audience for your work. It’s how I do all my marketing and at little to no cost, which, when I first started, I didn’t have my own money to invest in ads. Social media has been particularly good for this in my personal experience. I also love making new friends within the grillz community and meeting other artists to collaborate with, this is something I lack day-to-day as I work in a studio by myself.

Why did you set up your Squarespace website? And how has this grown your business?

I set up my website so that people could have access to information, like my price list and process, all in one place. It just makes customer service more streamlined as people are informed and know what to message me about so I can take on their order. The use of Squarespace scheduling has streamlined this process even more, so now people just show up to the appointment, I have less admin to do and more time for creating. It’s definitely made life easier. I prefer having face-to-face interactions and getting to know my customers personally so I can make something that is specific to them and that they will hopefully love.

What do you want people to walk away with after your Flea showcase?

I really want to personally connect with my audience a bit more as everything is very much online nowadays. It would just be cool to get to know people, see if I can improve on anything, and just show more of myself and who’s behind the work. I rarely get the chance to do this.

What advice would you give a young creative who wants to expand?

Stick to creating the work you want to make, being authentic to yourself makes your work stand out. Even if the people around you are critical, there IS an audience for your work, you just have to figure out how to get it seen. There is space for you and it won’t happen overnight but working hard pays off. Please don’t give up or change yourself to fit in. The internet is a great tool for this, learn how to use it properly and the rewards will come.

Explore Squarespace’s products, tools and templates and how its unique offering helps emerging creatives bring their ideas to life digitally here.

Senior Editor
Ali Mohammed-Ali/ Hypebeast
Carlota Lopez/ Hypebeast
Benji Reeves/ Hypebeast
Senior Producer
Natalia Palacios/ Hypebeast
Aaron Crossman (london), Nate Shuler (new York)
Olivia Velvet Gilson (london), Hayden Bullard (new York)
Project Manager
Marta Camarada/ Hypebeast