Kitch of Bispha Studios was looking for something new and creative to occupy her time during Melbourne’s lockdown and started experimenting with sculpting clay figurines and shapes.
After developing her technique, Kitch began working on body positive shapes and from there Bispha Studios was born. A beautiful selection of original clay designs hand sculpted in Melbourne.
We caught up with Kitch to discuss her inspiration behind creating Bispha, how she thinks society has progressed in celebrating the different forms of the body and how sustainability is reflected in her work.
Tell us a bit about yourself, what does your day to day look like?
Truthfully I'm a workaholic! I currently work full-time in digital marketing at a creative agency, so I wake up, have a shower and coffee and get straight to work (currently from home! Blessed). After work I have time for Bispha, so I make any candles that are due to be packed & prepare any outstanding orders, then dinner and I'll post on my instagram, @soybabie_
. Weekends are usually a bit more fun and I love to do creative things for Bispha experimenting with new product ideas, catch up with friends, shoot content and often go for brunch with my partner.
Did you have a creative upbringing? What was your childhood like?
I really did! My Mother is a fantastic artist and studied fine art at College in her younger days. She said as a kid I was always painting or playing with clay/play-doh etc. She always made so much effort to give my sister and I fun, tangible activities to do like paper-mache, painting & colouring etc. I grew up in Northern England before moving to Australia with my family, so sometimes it feels like I had two lives, growing up in the UK but having my teenage years in Australia, I feel really connected to both cultures.
What was the inspiration behind creating Bispha?
The pandemic is when it all began, I've always loved creating and women’s bodies were often at the centre of my art through my paintings. I was bored and looking for something new to occupy my time in Melbourne's lockdown 1.0. I was already painting often and decided to have a go with some clay. Suddenly I was sculpting different figurines and shapes and posted some on my Instagram. I had a few requests to sell them and decided to give it a go. At the same time I was seeing a lot of torso candles on Pinterest of these Kim Kardashianesque shapes and wondered why nobody was making any that looked like me or other women's figures. I decided to sculpt some more body positive shapes and learned how to cast them in silicone to create a candle mould. Essentially I just wanted to have something that was less intimidating than what was on the market and create something that is actually handmade, unique and ethically produced in a world where everything seems to be moving toward machine-made and mass produced.
What do you think it means to be a woman?
This is a tough question! I wish I had something wise to say, but really being a woman can be whatever you want it to be. Women are strong and determined and often so intuitive. I'm definitely a 'girls-girl' and love being surrounded by women that support each other regardless of their background, sex or career path.
How do you think society has progressed in celebrating the different forms of the human body?
I do think we've progressed hugely in 2021 since the 2000s for example. Being stick thin is not the only embraced body type in the media. However, we still have huuuuge progress required. We're still very much surrounded by a typical idea of beauty and often one that is white. I'm very much in a bubble, living in inner-city Melbourne and surrounded by progressive people, I often forget that the rest of the country and world isn't like that. So sometimes I do feel positive about the way we're moving, but often realise this is only a small fraction of how the rest of society is. I have friends from all different backgrounds, different shapes and sizes and many of them still feel extremely under-represented and portrayed throughout art, media and particularly in fashion. I do think we are moving forward, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
How do you stand out in the creative hub of Melbourne?
Great question! I'm not sure if I can say I do, however I feel like embracing the fact that your business is yours, unique and on your own trajectory is important. Luckily, I feel that most small businesses I connect with have a similar mantra of not competing with each other but trying to support and learn from each other. Being in the small, ethical arts business niche seems so much more welcoming than other small business avenues I hear about and that has been so welcome.
I continue to stay in my lane and focus on what I'm creating, doing it because I love it and hope others will whilst also staying in tune with where the market is going. I try not to look at other businesses for inspiration or become jealous of how well they may be doing. Social media has been key for my brand, I have a lot of fun with doing shoots and creating fun content that helps my business to stand out.
What does your sustainability journey look like? How does it reflect in your work?
As you said it's definitely a journey, I'm not perfect but I definitely make conscious efforts and strides towards being as sustainable as I can be. I don't buy new clothes often, I eat a vegan diet, recycle properly and try to minimise how many items I buy in general. However, plastic is something I need to work on improving - soft plastic in particular, remembering to take it back via REDCycle at the supermarket etc. In terms of my business, I'm proud that everything is as sustainable as I can possibly make it! We use recycled cardboard and paper for our packaging, our supplies are bought in bulk to ensure minimal packaging and postage, even our fragrance oils are produced in glass bottles as opposed to plastic. I'm always looking into sustainable materials whenever we introduce a new product range, such as colourants for the candles and different waxes on the market. At present none of our candles contain any plastic, parabens or paraffin and are made from 4 natural, vegan waxes.
Your personal Instagram has a following of 15.4k, what’s your relationship like with your followers?
It's lovely! It feels more like a personal blog than a business which has always been important to me. I didn't start an Instagram to make money or sell products, I just share my life and some people chose to follow along which has been great. I've met my 3 best friends from Instagram after I moved to Melbourne and I love having conversations in my DMs with people all over the country and world, learning from each other but also just having some funny, light-hearted chats and sharing memes. Recently it's been harder to produce content as consistently as I used to now that Bispha has become more successful, so it's nice sometimes to take a break from posting in-feed content and just engage with people via stories.
Has it been helpful running a brand with a bit of following already behind you?
Yes definitely, it's one of those fortunate coincidences. Many of my friends I met through Instagram also have followings of their own and are kind enough to share support for my business across their platforms too. I also feel that some of my followers really know me after following for a while and understand how much time, effort and intention goes into my brand and want to support that or feel reassured that their money is going towards a product that aligns with their own values too.
Now that Melbourne has slowly transitioned back to normalcy, how have you been spending your time?
Freeeedom! It's been so nice to know we can just make plans and do things again. I've really benefitted from some mindset changes since the pandemic and am trying to make plans with a bit more intention and do things I've always wanted to do, instead of just thinking about doing them. I've been riding my bike a lot, trying new cafes & coffee shops and catching up with friends in person. My partner and I are also learning to surf so have been trying to make more regular trips down the beautiful surf coast and enjoy the ocean here.
Which Lois Hazel piece is your must have?
The 'Dots Bias Cami' is absolutely amazing and flattering so I would highly recommend it! I also have my eye on the 'Tie Dress' which looks so elegant and stunning. Lois is so talented all of her pieces would complement my wardrobe and yours!
We absolutely love following Kitch and highly recommend you check out her honest, real and beautiful instagram @soybabie_
as well as treat yourself to one of her incredible handmade candles via her business Bispha Studios.