Jenni Healy’s love of fashion began as a child. When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, Jenni would always respond with ‘fashion designer’.
Infatuated with all things retro, when she wasn’t dressing up in her grandmother’s jewels, she’d be saving pocket money to buy herself items from the charity shop or fabric from Boyes.
And now at 26-year-old, she continues to collect thrifted furniture and prints for her retro dreamhouse.
What started as a love for dressing up as a child, quickly turned to falling head over heels for art and design in school, then to textiles and fine art in college, and finally studying Fashion Design at Manchester School of Art; this was always the route Jenni dreamed of going down.
“In my third year of uni, my collection was chosen to be shown on the catwalk at Graduate Fashion Week in London. My collection was, of course, retro inspired, featuring bold graphic prints with a real kitsch feel.
“I also won an award with Tu at Sainsbury’s which led me to a year-long internship where I designed a range based on my final collection that would be sold nationwide both in-store and online.
“I moved to Coventry and worked two days a week on the collection and the remaining three days as a design assistant, which taught me a lot about the commercial side of fashion.
“The collection launched in June 2019 and I stayed on at Sainsbury’s for another year and a half after being offered a permanent design assistant position. During the pandemic I found it difficult being away from my family back home in Barnard Castle.
“I also found that, over time, I wasn’t being as creative as I’d have liked to be and constantly thought about my childhood dream of starting a fashion brand. Whilst it was a great experience, I was ready for something new. Sainsbury’s went through a restructure in March 2021 just as I decided to move back north and I felt it was a sign to leave and start a new adventure.”
The timing seemed perfect for Jenni to take a leap of faith, and soon after moving back home, Peach Eyes was born.
“My Granny has played a huge part in bringing my dream to life. I was so lucky to be very close with her whilst growing up. She was such an inspiration. She loved painting and gardening. She taught me to paint and to sew and was always there to cheer me on and encourage me.
I knew I wanted my brand to pay homage to her in some way. Unfortunately she passed away shortly after I won my award. She kept a gardening journal and I decided to go through that looking for inspiration.
“In the journal she mentioned ‘peach eyes’ – a flower she loved – it is a breed of Dwarf Iris and I just really liked the name and the subtle nod to a very special person in my life,” Jenni smiles.
Noticing a gap in the market for her ‘more is more’ approach, Jenni began work on her designs.
“I have always loved print! I love graphic, bold geometric designs and love to take inspiration from artists such as Bridget Riley. I have always gravitated towards anything retro. I love 60s/70s films and music. I really like the whole movement of the time and what it meant for people to express themselves in a new and exciting way,” she explains.
“I usually start with a mood board. I’ll collect odd bits of imagery I like, sometimes cutting out a neckline from a magazine or random little print sketches I’ve done. I work on quite a lot of trend forecasting, which usually inspires me in terms of colour.
“For shape, I often find visiting libraries or archive websites and looking at photos of the 60s/70s very inspiring as well as collecting vintage and retro dress patterns and fabrics.
“I’ll then reference my mood boards as I start to build on my own prints to sit into the collection. In addition to this, I like to try and add in personal touches; for example, for my spring collection, I have been sketching up auricula flowers (one of my Granny’s favourite flowers) which will sit with geometrics and fabric textures.
“I take inspiration from all sorts of other things. Sometimes I’ll be out on a walk and see colour combinations in nature and flowers – I think my Granny probably has a lot to do with that! I often find if I’m feeling a bit uninspired I like to get my paints out and start painting flowers or whatever comes naturally, then that will usually lead to a ‘lightbulb moment’,” she adds.
In terms of ethos, Jenni wanted to ensure her brand was sustainable and British-made after learning about the negative impacts the fashion industry has on the planet as well as the negative treatment some workers face and the ‘throw-away’ culture we live in.
“When starting my own brand, I wanted to do everything right. I wanted it to be sustainable, high quality, British-made clothing. It always made me sad that the UK has such a rich history of clothing manufacture, yet now most things are made on the other side of the world adding to carbon emissions. With that in mind, I have worked very hard at being as responsible as possible. We are not a fast-fashion brand, each item is cut out, sewn and pressed by hand by local skilled pattern cutters, working with small and limited batches,” Jenni passionately explains.
“Our prints are all created using environmentally friendly methods, using Azo dye-free inks on OEKO-TEX certified fabrics. All of our fabrics are responsibly sourced using recycled, organic bases or dead stock designer remnants with exception of a few fabrics from established high quality British manufacturers such as Linton Tweeds.
“In addition to this, all of our packaging is recycled and/or recyclable. We also encourage our customers to re-use any tissue paper or packing products where possible,” she adds.
Already an award-winning designer and now making waves in the world of sustainable fashion, we can’t wait to see what big plans Jenni has sitting on the horizon.
Shop Peach Eyes’ latest collection online at: peacheyes.com