‘Peely wally’, ‘belter’ and ‘taps aff’ are phrases we’d usually say, not wear. That’s until Bonnie Bling exploded onto the scene and put Scots slang in style. Rachael Fulton caught up with jewellery designer Mhairi Mackenzie to find out more…
Fresh from dusting the uc
uckles of celebs like Lana Del Rey and Rizzle Kicks, Mhairi Mackenzie is up for the prestigious Accessory Designer of the Year Award at the Scottish Fashion Awards for her funky Scots slang jewellery. With a host of celebrity followers, a product design award under her belt and Bonnie Bling’s success rapidly sky- rocketing, it’s hard to believe that the idea was dreamt up just over a year ago as a joke between friends.
“My friend and I were just bantering and using these Scottish words and we thought it might be funny to have the words as necklaces,” recalls Mhairi, 33. “Then we thought, hang on a minute – that’s not actually a bad idea, maybe we should look into that!”
After doing some research into how the jewellery could be made, Mhairi realised that her dream of Scottish slang accessories could actually take off. She saved up enough money to hold a stall at Scotland’s Trade Show, where she was awarded Best New Product Award for her Och Aye necklace and earrings.
Since then, Mhairi’s Scottish trinkets have catapulted her into superstardom. Her bespoke knuckle-dusters for Amelia Lily featured frequently on the X Factor live finals, were papped in magazines and drove the fashion blogosphere wild.
“It was bizarre seeing a product on TV that I’d sat and designed, put together and posted off without knowing what might happen to it,” recalls Mhairi. “Amelia turned to face the camera to sing and I saw she was wearing my knuckle dusters. It was so surreal.”
MTV presenter Laura Whitmore is also a massive fan of Mhairi’s designs and flashed her Bonnie Bling on London Fashion Week’s red carpet last year, while the designer’s Hard Core knuckle dusters graced the fingers of Lana Del Rey in a Paris photo shoot.
“I went through a week of waking up every day and there being some new, exciting news,” says Mhairi, who is now taking Bling into England to capitalise on regional dialects down South.
“It’s been frantic, because up to now it’s been me doing all the work. I think that’s really important when you’re setting up a business though, so you know how every aspect of it works. There’s no better way than doing it all yourself.”
The next Bonnie Bling goal is to buy a laser- cutting machine so that Mhairi can make all her products entirely by herself, begin to hire staff and develop a fashion brand. Her recent catwalk clothing collection and brand new skateboard deck design are just two ways in which Mhairi is developing her business and the young designer has dreams of making Bonnie Bling global.
“You never know where it’s going to take us,” says Mhairi. “I love that people celebrate their language, and wherever you go people are very enthusiastic about it. That opens a lot of possibilities for Bonnie Bling.”
Whether you feel like a ‘stoater’ necklace or some cheeky ‘taps aff’ knuckle dusters, check out the full Bonnie Bling range at www.bonniebling.co.uk.