Mai Accents Collaboration
The Story of a Collaboration I'll Never Stop Being Grateful For
When I first sat down and decided I wanted to run a business, I wrote a list of goals, big and small, that I hoped to achieve one day through my business. I have many brands and people I wish to collaborate with on that list, but my main and most exciting collab goal was to reach out to Marzia Kjellberg - someone I admired more than anyone growing up, who I still admire & adore to this day.
A Few Throwback Insta Posts I Shared of Items from Marzia's Subscription Boxes From Way Before I Started My Business
Marzia was a creator on YouTube back in my highschool days who inspired so much of what I discovered I also loved. I watched all her creative videos (which inspired my own channel I used to run!), I bought every subscription box I could afford & tweeted her fan-art I made which she even responded to.
Fan Art I Did of Marzia & Her Puggies Back in 2017
I also discovered my love for pugs through her too, Marzia also being a pug mumma to Maya & Edgar.
Marzia & Her Puggies, Edgar (left) and Maya (right) 🐾
Marzia now runs her own very successful business Mai Accents, where she handmakes and designs all sorts of beautiful and unique creations. This was the brand at the very top of my collaborate list.
A Few Mai Accents Designs
I saw this collab as a future project, however I was extremely excited and knew it was a big goal I was aiming for. I wrote up an email to Marzia, with absolutely zero intention of sending it, just because I was excited. I wrote up the email I would send if I was able to do a collaboration right then. I explained who I was, what my brand does & is, lay out some ideas, and explained how much of a huge admirer I was. I then promptly saved the email to my drafts, way too nervous to send and definitely not ready to take on a new project.
A few months passed and the email sat in my drafts. One morning I opened Instagram and saw a story from Mai Accents and decided to watch. Marzia was doing a Q&A early 2022 and someone had asked about her collaborations! I wish I had screenshot this question, I would if I had known how important it was.
Someone asked Marzia if she had any collaborations with other brands in the works for 2022 to which she responded she was planning out her collabs for the year now. I took this as a massive green flag from the universe and opened up my draft emails. I had time to take on a new project & even had an email ready to go! After a few nervous read-overs of the email, I hit send with very shaky hands and shut my laptop, my heart skipping beats.
A Scary But Awesome Email I Decided to Send
The next morning, I checked my inbox to find an email back from Mai Accents, tears ensuing. After quite literally a decade of admiring & looking up to her, I had an agreement to do a collaboration with Marzia and her brand!
The End of an Email That I am Endlessly Grateful For
We decided on what we wanted to do, Marzia recommending making a dog toy and designed up a few options. I designed some matching bandanas, Marzia choosing the matching fabrics. I took Marzia's original design and did a mock up for custom printed fabric as well as the first draft of the bandana, which she loved!
Marzia's Designs, the Mockup for the Fabric & First Design of the Matching Bandana
The Matching Fabrics I Found That I Sent to Marzia to Choose From
I put together a giftbox full of some of our best-selling handmade items which I nervously sent off to the UK. Marzia received the box and sent me the sweetest thank you message along with pics of her puggies in our items (which had my inner 15 year old squealing! 😆).
The Giftbox We Sent, Box Waiting to Go Off to the UK, A Handwritten Letter I May Have Cried While Writing
Maya and Edgar in Our Bow & Bandana
All of this happened back in February and over the next few months we had quite a few delays and lots of back and forth organising, drafting & planning. Every email I received from Marzia had me just as excited as the first.
I ordered the custom made fabric (something I'd never attempted ordering before!), the parcel finally arrived and I had mistakenly misjudged how big the pattern would turn out. I had to place a new order with a smaller design. I'm only human so mistakes are bound to happen when tackling new projects but I was still a little embarrassed!
Marzia was super understanding and had no problem waiting, but I was getting more and more excited as more of the project was being completed.
I shared some of the behind the scenes of the project with my close friends and family and had help and advice along the way too - my best friend Roxy recommending I try and make tote bags out of the mistakenly ordered, too-large print fabric so it didn't go to waste! I put a design together, showed Marzia, drew up the very first design to make a tote-bag and sewed up a mockup.
Designs for the New Tote Bag & the Fabric We Used
While I waited for the fabric to arrive, I made a first draft of the snake toy as well as the tote bag. The first toy snake was massive, Otis LOVED it but I decided we needed have a smaller option available for the smaller pups (Marzia's puggies are only very little, after all!).
The tote bag came out ridiculously cute, I was so proud to have mastered yet another pattern too. The tote bags are extremely limited edition as I was only able to make a few of them due to the amount of fabric I had.
The Tote Bag Design & an Email Updating Mai Accents on the Project
Behind the Scenes Sewing Up the Tote Bags
The Finished Matching Tote Bag
After waiting for a few weeks, the reordered fabric was still not here and I was told the parcel had been lost. A new parcel was sent, which was severely delayed due to covid.
I ordered little matching tags to be sewn into each item with both the OtiBoaty Boutique and the Mai Accents logo. I sent off an order for the tags, paid the invoice and then never head back from the supplier for about 2 months (even after my MANY emails!). The due date for launch of these items was pushed out again and again after waiting for a response and for the fabric so I placed a new order of tags with another company and only heard back from the original supplier on requesting a refund (which we luckily received!).
I made the second snake toy while we continued to wait. I decided to make the second smaller one with a pink tongue so it matched the collection much better. I also moved the embroidered eyes closer to the top on Marzias request which I think looks much cuter also! I was super proud of how this toy held up too, trialling a new double stitch I'd learnt how to sew with the tote bag. Even Otis couldn't destroy it! The suede is by far the most high quality fabric I've ever sewn with, Marzia chose the perfect fabric in the end.
The Final Matching Suede Snake Toys
The fabric finally arrived and I got straight to work making the bandanas. I trialled a whole bunch of new techniques, trying to find the best way to make the bandanas as high quality as I possible could. Working with the same suede fabric the snakes were made from, the bandanas feel like pure luxury, a fabric I would never have otherwise thought to use as backing for a bandana.
I accidentally sewed the leaf trim on backwards and decided to omit the gold leaves as they didn't suit it as much as I had imagined it would. The second remake came out absolutely perfect. Now all I needed were the brand collab tags!
The First Bandana Trial and the The Final Design for the Bandana
I created content for Insta, wrote this blog, and took photos of the finished products - ready for launch. I tracked the labels daily and continued to wait patiently. I decided to set the date for the 2nd of June to announce the collaboration, hoping the tags would arrive some time between when I announced the collab and when I was to launch it.
Once again, Marzia was nothing but kind and understanding while I waited, but it didn't stop me apologising 100 times and promising I was still extremely grateful and excited for our collaboration, regardless of the many delays.
After SO much waiting, the tags finally arrived the day before we were due to announce the project, June 1st. Absolutely perfect timing! I sent pictures to Marzia and told her I'd be making her snake toys and bandanas for Maya and Edgar and sending them off to her in Japan ASAP (yes, it took so long to organise this project, Marzia had entirely moved countries by the time I had it ready for launch 😆).
The Long Awaited but Oh-so Adorable Tags!
I've set the official launch date for this collection, the totes, the snake toys, and the bandanas for Sunday June 12th at 7pm. SO much has happened since we began this project back in February but honestly, I'd change nothing!
CEOtiBoaty With His Snake Toy and Bandana
I still can't believe I'm writing this but, a BIG thank you to the incredibly lovely Marzia. I've told you this already but this has been one of the biggest achievements of my life, after quite literally a decade of admiring your work. I am SO very grateful for your designs, your kindness, and mostly your time!
You inspired much of who I am today, your content and creations bringing some much needed joy to my teenage years. I look up to you so much, your business being a massive inspiration for my own. Seeing someone be uniquely and purely themselves, sharing their passions and creations is so important and inspirational to both myself and so many others.
With Love from the CEO & Directors of OtiBoaty Boutique,
Kirstie Wilson & Oti-Boaty