Catching Up With Good Squish Founder Billie-Jo Cronin
Good Squish is about to become – if not already – your favourite hair accessory brand. Adored by the likes of Chloë Sevigny, the label repurposes deadstock fabrics to create a range of whimsical scrunchies, referred to here as ‘squishes’. We caught up with founder Billie-Joe Cronin to discus the label’s origin, inspirations, and future plans.
Hi, Billie! Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. To start, how did Good Squish come about?
It started because I wanted something of my own to work on whilst working in fashion and a way to express myself, something playful and not too serious, as the fashion industry can be very serious at times. I had a lot of Victorian linens, which I’d wear in my hair as bandanas, and I was at a dinner party once and my close friend told me I couldn’t wear a napkin in my hair to dinner (which I totally disagree with now in hindsight) but I decided I wanted to work out a way to wear them in my hair, so I asked my ex-boyfriend's very lovely mum Annabelle, who is also still working for GS, to help me turn them into squish. We made the first few, which I gave to friends, and they lent them to their friends, and eventually, people started messaging me and asking me to buy them, so it started from there.
… and what does the name Good Squish mean?
It means: be good and squish.
I read a quote about being curious about the world in which you live, and from that, I thought of Good Squish, and it just made sense.
What does a typical ‘day in the life’ look like?
Wake up at 7am and shower before heading out for a walk with Cowdog. I leave my phone to help clear my head for the day ahead. After that, it’s a bit of studio prep, usually listening to a podcast (though by studio, I really mean my house until we move into our Hackney studio at the end of the month! Which is a big deal). At 10am, it’s a full house, and we get on with work. I spend the day trying to focus on creating new products/improving existing products/collaborating with other creatives and people I love, as well as managing the team, as I usually get tied down in the nitty-gritty of the business. We finish the working day around 6pm when the team leaves, and my baby brother – more like big brother – Phoenix-Blu (who is also my business partner) usually work until around 10pm. I find I work best creatively at night as the world is quieter then.
Your squishes are made using deadstock fabrics. What kind of places do you source them from, and why is upcycling such an integral part of your brand?
We were born out of using old Victorian linens and lace, and we try and use deadstock from everywhere/anywhere we can! My original go-to was eBay for one-off trims and special pieces, and we're actually bringing out a line which uses only one-off vintage trims, which will be 1 of 1 and much more elaborate than the rest! We then go to lots of car boots, antique fabric fairs and so on, and have a few stores in London that specialise in deadstock.
Good Squish is so incredible as we really can use almost anything we find on our travels to create something long-lasting that can withstand time. You can wash and re-wear again and again! We also promise to always FIX YOUR SQUISH should it break, and we really want to carry this through as we grow and move into other products. Upcycling just makes sense in a world so full of fast fashion. I have always found it incredibly hard to shop and mostly only buy second hand, so it makes sense to me for this to be a main mission of Good Squish, and for us to constantly seek better solutions to try and work towards being as sustainable as possible.
One of your most famous clients to date is the one and only Chloë Sevigny. How did it feel to have someone you admire take a shine to your brand so early on?
This was a pretty big moment, and when I first started Good Squish, I wrote a list of the five people in the world I would want to wear them, and Chloë Sevigny was number one. Then when I was away in Greece and going through a pretty hard time, I woke up to a DM from Chloë saying “Hi! How does one purchase these wonderful squishes?" and I couldn't believe it, it happened really organically, and I really thought I was dreaming as she really was the only person on the planet I’d care about wearing GS! She purchased one, and I gifted another, and she posted, which was very kind of her, and meant a lot.
For anyone toying with the idea of launching their own, what were the main obstacles and successes you experienced starting your small business?
I started it as a passion thing, something I could do for fun and without limits! I went in completely blind and not with the mindset for it to turn into a proper business, so I wasn't really prepared for how challenging it would be. I did it for the first 9 months alone whilst juggling a second job in casting. I think my words of advice would be:
It is incredibly, incredibly hard, and you really have to live and breathe it. Be prepared to work around the clock. Be prepared to face challenges, and be strong enough to overcome them. Most nights, I’d finish my other job, then package until 2am or 3am in the morning. Weirdly, those are some of my fondest memories of Good Squish as it was so *XYZ*.
But if the work wasn’t done by me, it just wasn’t done, plain and simple.
Another bit of advice is: build as you go! Rather than grow the brand and build it later. There are so many caveats to building a business, and in hindsight, I wish I had spent more time focussing on those. Luckily my brother swooped in when things got tough and helped me implement and build infrastructure. It was also challenging for me to communicate my ideas and my way of doing things to a team. It still is challenging, but if you do small bits as you grow, then it sort of falls into place.
Finally! Take some time for yourself when you can, step away, leave your phone if you have to, anything to get some perspective. It’s easy to feel swamped and overwhelmed, but when you take a step back and process what’s going on, it helps a ton. I still run myself into the ground, but if I take myself away, I can work much better. Also (sorry, I know I said finally), but trust your gut! Your intuition is often spot on!
Talk us through your work playlist…
Ok, so my team truly hate me for playing songs over and over again whilst we work, but my top 3 songs are:
'Hey Moon' by John Maus'(I Married a) Monster from Outer Space' by John Copper Clarke – if I need to get things done and focus.'Real Bad Lookin’' by Alex Cameron,
Oh, and Shawty Pimp’s ‘Kickin’ Pimpin’’ feat Red Dog.
Thinking outside of fashion, did you ever have any outlandish career choices you wanted to pursue?
I do, at some point, want to study anthropology! Maybe not outlandish, but it's a subject I'm interested in. Humans, to me, are the most interesting – it’s a subject I’d definitely love to explore.
If we had to suddenly evacuate Earth and could only bring three items each, what are you taking with you?
Cowdog, because can’t live without him, a Cowdog wearing a squish!A notepad to write ideas into. Oh, would also need a pen.My terrible Sony handheld camera to document the moon!
What was the last film, series or book you were obsessed with, and why?
I was shown a film by a friend called Only Lovers Left Alive, directed by Jim Jarmusch. I watched it twice and spent an evening videoing scenes I liked so I wouldn’t forget them. It’s filmed beautifully. I love it because I love the complexities of the relationship between the two main characters and how they feel in a modern world, and because they’ve been alive for several centuries, it made me think about how I feel about being alive for such a small amount of time and what I am going to do with that time. I’m not quite sure if that makes sense!
Before we sign off, what has Good Squish got on the horizon for us to look forward to?
We have two new products coming out in January next year that we are very excited about! A new website coming soon. We have a whole roster of pop-up stores on the horizon also, so we can meet some of the Good Squish family in person.
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