Frankie Meaden and Jody Stewart from Beautifully Frank. Image supplied.
Frankie Meaden and Jody Stewart are the designers behind Beautifully Frank, which offers gorgeous one-of-a-kind artwork on denim jackets and canvas featuring paint and hand stitched embroidery detail. The pair also make pretty limited edition patches that they drop monthly. Frankie launched the business in 2019, with Jody joining in July 2020 and together they bring their love of sustainable fashion and art to repurposed denim pieces which have become increasingly popular here in Aotearoa New Zealand.
We caught up with Frankie and Jody to find out more about their brand, what inspires them and what you would never catch them wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
We are enjoying using lettering and neutral tones in our latest painted and embroidered denim jacket collection. Also, for something completely different, we have been experimenting with upcycling quilts. We have made a collection/series of quilt jackets and are looking forward to sharing them very soon.
What made you become a designer?
Frankie: It’s always been a calling of mine. You know, for a long time I was a little bit scared of admitting that I wanted to be an artist or designer, which is a pretty good indicator that it’s exactly what I should be putting myself out there and doing.
When I was young my parents were missionaries, and we’d often shop at op shops. And I’d often be drowning in items that were too big. So I learnt to repurpose items from op shops from a pretty young age. Taking them apart and putting them back together was pretty much how I learnt to sew.
Other than clothes and shopping, I love drawing, design, sewing and just creating in general.
As a teenager I studied Art and Fashion through school and for a year at Uni in London. One highlight of that was having my work selected by the Tate and displayed for a few months in one of the Tate galleries in London. I was 18.
Beautifully Frank has been my way of fulfilling my desire to create, without being part of the fashion pollution problem.
Jody: I have been designing clothes since I was a teenager. My mum bought me my first sewing machine for my 12th birthday. I officially became a designer for Beautifully Frank in July 2020. Frankie inspired me to get back into sewing and upcycling clothes, which was something I was always into but just had trouble finding the time. As the brand grew, she needed support to keep up with the demand so I was pretty happy when she asked me to come on board. It was time to dust off the old needle and thread!
Detail of Beautifully Frank embroidery (left) and a Beautifully Frank jacket (right).
What inspires you?
Frankie: Pretty much all my inspiration comes from being outside, and/or spending time with God. I believe all my creative ideas come from my creator.
Jody: I’m inspired by broad thinking. I like seeing people try new things and experiment with different ways to do fashion. It inspires me to find new textiles to play with or make new combinations. Colour also inspires me. I love going for a walk through the botanical gardens in Christchurch and taking photos of all the flowers and how they are landscaped together.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
Frankie: My wardrobe is pretty casual and down to earth. Tonnes of autumn tones, and tonnes of denim.
Jody: My personal style is fairly casual. My favourite shoes at the moment are my platform Doc Marten’s because I find they go with everything. I love wearing denim and so I think that influences my designs. I want to design on denim, add to denim and elongate the life span of denim clothes.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
Jody: This is a trick question because my all time favourite item is my denim jacket but I didn’t purchase it, I swapped it. These days, I hardly purchase any clothes. Pretty much, all of my clothes are acquired through clothes swaps with my friends.
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
Frankie: A jacket that can be dressed up or down is essential, and layering is key, especially in Aotearoa New Zealand climate.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Jody: The only rule that I go by with fashion is that if it makes you feel good, wear it. No one should have to adhere to a set of style rules or be judged because what they’re wearing doesn’t fit with a narrow viewpoint of what fashion is to someone else. Fashion is like wearable art. If it makes you feel good and you like it, then wear it.
Denim jackets by Beautifully Frank.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Frankie: Recently realising that my art is being worn all over the country, that I’m starting to live my dream of being a stay at home parent and working from home artist/designer. Being able to have as much time with the kids while they are small as I can, while keeping myself sane with the challenge of growing a business that is also a creative outlet.
Jody: The highlight for me so far was attending the General Collective market at ASB Showgrounds last year. That was an amazing experience because it was an opportunity to engage with our customers face to face. We were able to receive direct feedback, witness customers’ reactions to our products and give them a chance to try things on. It was also an opportunity to be amongst other brands who are working hard to create beautiful products.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
Frankie: Fur comes to mind. A friend of mine recently invited me to a fur event… I didn’t know what to say! I’m not great with words and tend to avoid conflict so I said something like “No that’s not for me, I don’t wear fur”.
Quick google: “Far from being a natural resource, fur production is an intensely toxic and energy-consumptive process, with pelts being dipped in toxic chemical soups and animal waste runoff from fur factory farms polluting soil and waterways.”
I try not to judge though. We’re all on a journey to being more sustainable and I know there are many areas in which I’ve got lots of improvement to make. Learning all the time.