In a nostalgic generation, clothes and accessories are being focussed towards the fashion staples of the past. The classic oversized denim jacket, sporty tracksuits, high-waisted mom jeans, and patterned shirts are continuously being revived in vintage stores and urban renewals alike.
Grapefruit Soup, under co-founders Liam Skillen and Lucy Pickard, take this concept and form their own business to make a brand for all audiences from thrift-store lovers, students, and nostalgic adults to the chic and elderly. Here I talk to the creative minds that support the vintage renewal, who also happen to be my friends.
1) Hey guys. So, I have to ask, how did the name ‘Grapefruit Soup’ come about?
We’d been sat in Ugly Bread Bakery the week before trying to create the perfect name. Originally we’d decided on the name “spilt milk” but after making marketing material around this, found out it was already used by a clothing company in the US. Although we could have used it legally as it wasn’t trademarked in the UK, we decided we wanted something completely original. So, the next week in Costa we brought our new ideas together and one of the names I’d created was grapefruit soup. It was really a process of mashing different aesthetic words together until something sounded right.
2) What inspired or motivated you to start your own clothing business?
We were both unemployed at the time and were stressing about the job prospects (or lack of) locally. It was something we’d joked about at a couple of house parties, originally being Lucy’s idea, and eventually I asked if she seriously wanted to do it. We both had the time, so why not. Vintage clothing was something we were both interested in, and with our combined knowledge and experiences it made sense.
3) Your Twitter feed and Instagram stories are simply wonderful. How do you find running social media for marketing alongside navigating your business?
Personally I have a lot more free time than Lucy, so I’m always consuming art, culture, music, anything creative really. Our instagram story is really just a way to share what we’re enjoying, and a fun way to engage with our customers. It’s pretty easy to do this alongside the business as it’s all good fun. There is a pressure to constantly be uploading when we see our competitors doing this, but we understand for our size we’d rather post something of quality, than be repeatedly posting shit or repetitive content.
4) What has been your biggest obstacle so far and how did you overcome/handle it?
I’d say our biggest obstacle is making those initial sales to drive up more business. We try hard to market our business but at the end of the day it’s the sales that matter. Money makes money, and with us depending on organic growth we limit our self to the kind of marketing we can do. We have so many plans for the future so it’s just a case of reinvesting when we can. I’d say the best thing you can do is not be disheartened, continue to promote your business as much as you can, and wait for the sales because they will come.
5) How long has fashion been an interest for both of you?
Not that long… I’d always seen clothes, as a necessity so it wasn’t until around sixth form I realised image is important, especially these days. So I went home and bought a Hollister hoodie. Definitely not the peak of my fashion renaissance but it was better than most of the worn out, ill fitting hand me downs I’d been wearing for years. But its probably only been within the last year I’ve really come into my own and started wearing clothes that radiate my personality, and feel comfortable wearing the clothes I love.
6) How did you join up as partners for this business? So, I suppose I’m asking how was Grapefruit Soup made?
Lucy had mentioned the idea of selling clothing online a couple of times at house parties. I messaged her about making it a reality, we went to Costa to discuss and it all took off from there. Lucy could have obviously done it herself but I think we make a really good team as we have different knowledge and skills, and creatively we bounce off each other’s ideas well.
7) Do you both have any favourite pieces that you’re selling, or have sold?
The first item we sold I was ecstatic that we’d sold something, but I was also a bit melancholic because it was one of the first pieces we’d bought, and previously we’d jokingly said we’d display it in the entrance to our offices as the piece that started it all of.
I’m also a big fan of the blue 90’s print shirt we’re selling, but if I kept every item I liked we wouldn’t have any stock to sell.
8) Do you have a favourite decade?
I’m a massive fan of the 80’s and always have been. In secondary school when everyone was listening to Dizzie Rascal or whatever, I’d be jamming to Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner. It really stood out to me visually too, and I always liked things a bit different to the norm.
There was a certain emotional aspect to a lot of the more unknown 80’s tunes I just didn’t here in music at the time. I could listen to a Kate Bush song and pick apart every word and phrase and what meaning was hidden beneath each haunting melody, which is something I really enjoyed.
There’s also a lot of love for the 50’s. I think that the pre war era allowed for more expression than previously, but there was still a sense of class and elegance. I also have a love for the preppy teen look of the day which encouraged me to buy a pair of saddle shoes the other day. It’s also the era my gran grew up, so there’s some great family photos from around that time. I love the fact, and am slightly jealous her school uniform included a beret.
9) Who are your top three fashion inspirations?
Bananarama! They wore so many amazing outifts I want to steal. The paperbag trousers, the dungarees, just the casual looks of the 80’s really paired with the vivid colours and prints. And when Siobhan left to form Shakespears sister, her outfit in the Stay music video is iconic.
Conan Gray the youtuber and musician also provides me with a lot of fashion inspiration. He’s a huge advocate for vintage clothing which I obviously love, but also promotes individuality which I think is hugely important. He’s definitely one of the people that made me realise I could dress how I wanted and didn’t have to conform to societal norms, even though you can get some odd looks off people in the ex-mining town I live in.
Although not directly influencing my fashion choices himself, Wes Anderson’s films have characters with such unique yet nostalgically familiar outfits. I absolutely love the visuals in his films and the costumes are a massive part of this for me.
10) What’s the goal for Grapefruit Soup?
Eventually we plan to have pop up shops at local venues and events, and would love to have our own website and blog. Its all stuff we’re working on but again the financial aspect makes it difficult, but is something we’ll be constantly reviewing, as we really want to make it work.
11) Will Grapefruit Soup stay local to Nottingham or expand across the UK/to other areas? (I know Birmingham and Leamington Spa has been gifted with some threads, thanks Liam!)
We’re based online so technically we can reach you anywhere in the UK. But we do plan on taking our pop up shop to different locations in Midlands, and maybe even further afield depending on the response. There’s something else planned which could be done in different locations but for now that’s all hush hush.
12) How does your brand operate? What’s the process?
We hand pick all the clothing from wholesalers, only choosing items we would wear ourselves and are of good quality. We then sort everything into sections of what stock each of us are going to process, which is then photographed and put on the store for people to buy, and hopefully the customers will make many more great memories in the pieces.
13) If you can pick one, what is your favourite vintage look?
I’m all about being comfortable, and the 80s teen look is perfect. Slightly oversized graphic tee, light wash dungarees, and trainers. What could be better?
14) If Grapefruit Soup had a theme song, what would it be?
Something poppy and fun, with a don’t care attitude. Maybe something like Gloria by Laura Branigan. I couldn’t really say a single song as we dabble in so many different styles and genres, from all the decades.
15) How would you describe your brand in five words?
Sustainable Fun Independent Creative Crazy
16) We know there’s been one. What’s the worst trend of 2018?
I hate with a passion the mesh t-shirts I keep seeing on asos. I don’t know why, maybe it’s just that I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing that. I’m also not a fan of drop crotch joggers and jeans, which I’ve seen around.
17) Which brand inspires you?
I can’t help but love ASOS. I’m not a fan of fast fashion, but they do produce some good statement pieces, and their “Style feed” is great for getting some fashion inspo.
Lucy and Yak create what might be the comfiest dungarees in the world, and come in a great range of colours too. They admit they’re not 100% perfect, but they have done so much in terms of becoming as environmentally friendly as possible, and working to make improvements to working conditions, it’s honestly inspirational.
18) What makes Grapefruit Soup different from the rest of the brands in the vintage market? What sets you apart?
Not much right now to be honest but our plans for the future certainly do. We’ve got some plans for a clothing line in the future and some other exciting stuff but that’s all top secret for now.
19) A more relaxed question people like to know… What’s your favourite throwback film?
That’s so difficult, I really enjoy the imagery in the Kill Bill films, but I’d probably have to say my favourite throwback film is Johnny Guitar. Joan Crawford is the badass bitch we all want to be friends with in this film. She has her own business, takes no shit from no one, and most importantly dresses like a western goddess. I love the ribbon tied around her collar to make a cute little bow, it’s something I fancy doing myself just to be a little bit extra.
20) This is the “fire round”, guys. You just need to pick the one that you must have over the other – GO.
Purse or fanny pack? Fanny pack
Watch or hair tie? Hair tie (I’m obsessed with 80’s scrunchies despite not having long enough hair to rock one)
Denim or corduroy? Denim
Studs or hoops? Hoops
Beanies or baseball caps? Baseball caps
Rings or nose rings? Rings
Billie Eilish or Lana del Rey? Billie Eilish
Festivals or gigs? Gigs
Brogues or trainers? Trainers
Tartan or stripes? Stripes
21) How would you define what it is to be an artist? Is there any advice that you’d like to give to future creators who feel too intimidated to start putting themselves out there?
I think an artist is absolutely anyone who creates. Music, literature, poetry, pottery, painting, its all art. You don’t have to create masterpieces to be an artist, as long as you’re passionate about what you’re creating that’s all that matters. I experiment in a lot of different things, and none of it’s really good enough to share, but I enjoy creating it and it means something to me, and that’s what’s most important.
My advice would be to block out the haters. Most of the time our insecurities hold us back from following our dreams, or our expectations of what we’re capable of are set by other people. Well who gives a shit what other people think. What ever it is you want to do, just start doing it, right now. There’s nothing to loose.
22) What are your future plans for Grapefruit Soup?
We’d love to expand into some different ventures, but all under the grapefruit soup name. We’ll be revealing more details in the future so remember to keep an eye out on social media for updates.
Visit Grapefruit Soup at:
– Jill Lupupa