Manchester-Based Females Leading the Way in Art & Fashion

From Caribbean-inspired homeware to sustainable, mood-boosting jewellery, here are some of the women making their mark on Manchester's fashion and art scene.

By Emma Davidson | March 8th '22

NSIAH
NSIAH is an ethical, environmentally friendly brand inspired by nature and printed in a UK-based, renewable energy powered factory using organic cotton. Founder, Monique Nsiah has always had an appreciation for the beauty of nature. As part of her photography hobby, Monique often finds her attention drawn to the way the sun’s rays peek through tree branches or the intricate patterns within a flower, which she has incorporated into her designs.

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Proper Good Prints
The lockdown baby of shop owner, Abbie Franks, Proper Good Prints sells funky, feel good art and home decor inspired by all things Northern. Abbie designs all of the prints herself and has something for music lovers, cocktail connoisseurs, self love gurus and city-slickers in the form of wall art, tea-towels, phone cases and stationery.

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The Neighbourhood Threat
Salford-based artist, Holly Ramsey began The Neighbourhood Threat as a way to feature her cool, quirky artwork in people’s front rooms. Her designs are totally unique, bursting with oddity and warm and welcoming weirdness, all handmade in her Salford studio. She’s got coasters with space age female fighters, Babycham cushions, 70s tupperware print tea towels and loads of ace wall art influenced by glam rock, theatre and Northern Manc heritage.

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Lei-Mai LeMaow
From street art pieces in the NQ, beer cans and most recently NFTs at Manchester Art Fair, Lei-Mai LeMaow has had a very busy 12 months – and it doesn’t look like things are going to slow down any time soon for the artist and designer.

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Caroline Dowsett
Caroline Dowsett is an artist, painter and maker based in Manchester, known for her work that’s full of movement, shapes, colours and lines. She’s influenced by feels, sounds and words from the everyday and works with a wide colour palette conveying a creative approach, alongside fluid shapes and words to convey messages and start conversations. She creates murals and a range of versatile art prints to brighten any dull space!

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Sken Studios
Handmade, mood-reflecting jewellery by Sabira Silcock, Sken Studios specialises in sustainable pieces for alternative wearers with a sense of humour. Sabira lovingly handmakes rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets from recycled silver at her Manchester-based studio,
and carefully packages them up using recycled materials, too.

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Shop Strawberry
Shop Strawberry was set up by the brains behind the Grey Milk clothing line, Gwen Harris. The small, independent online store stocks everything from big, bright throws covered in smiley faces, to pillar candles, prints, kitchen trays and cushions to revive your home. Gwen’s distinctive style has filtered through to Shop Strawberry, with her signature pink tones and floral patterns taking you straight to your happy place. Gwen also runs the shop with her business partner, Poppy out of a teeny pink shed in the middle of her back garden!

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Madi Marcantonatos
With their own label ‘Donk Wear’, Madi Marcantonatos is creating clothing and accessories inspired by the late noughties, customising second-hand garms with airbrushing, bleaching, painting and patchwork – reinventing pieces and giving old Nike hoodies and Levi jeans a new lease of life. Madi is also an apprentice tattooer at Manchester’s Hive Studio.

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Grey Milk
The very wonderful Gwen Harris began Grey Milk during the first lockdown after being furloughed from her full-time job. The brand’s ethos is to be as sustainable and inclusive as possible, offering bold, bright printed clothing inspired by the 90s grunge era and kids cartoons. Gwen designs and manufactures everything from a shed in her back garden, creating innovative dresses, mini skirts, tops and t-shirts. 

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Bloq Homeware
Bloq is a concrete interior decor specialist based in Manchester, designed and created by Gabriella Ashcroft. Inspired by simple, Scandinavian homeware, Bloq’s collection is minimal but beautiful, blending perfectly into any room. Gabriella’s creative background in acting has given her the creative flow needed for Bloq, as she’s spent her career devising something small into a big project to be proud of. Her DIY approach has also helped to develop this idea into something tangible. You can check out her pieces on Instagram, but we’re still eagerly waiting for an online shop! Bloq will also soon be making its debut at Manchester’s creative markets.

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Ruby Dean Designs
Inspired by her Nana’s love of her Carribean hometown, Ruby Dean creates vibrant and unique homeware to bring a bit of sunshine to any home. Starting off with beads and elastic bracelets, before moving onto a variety of jewellery styles, Ruby dabbled in various mediums including canvas art, acrylic, watercolour and clay. She finally fell in love with the raw beauty of shaping crystals into jewellery and then discovered the freedom and surprise of using Epoxy Resin, which she currently uses to make most of her products.

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Meme Gold
An on-going collection-based brand, designed and made by ‘Meme Gold’ (Designer/Selector/Performerist/Human) with a focus on the importance of being unique. Almost every item is customisable or adjustable and made to order. Get yourself some DOINGMYFUCKINGBEST socks before they sell out.

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Katie Diana Nelson Ceramics
Lovingly handmade by Katie, none of her products are the same. Rather than throwing on a wheel, she makes everything by hand using a slow, hand-building process, which gives the pieces their wobbly uniqueness. In a world of mass produced homeware, Katie wants to share the joy in life’s imperfections through her creations, keeping the human touch visible throughout.

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Eleanor Bowmer
Starting off her career selling hand-painted prints at makers markets around the city, Eleanor Bowmer has now successfully branched out to huge stores including Selfridges, Boots and John Lewis. Her love of bold prints and colours is apparent throughout her work, which now includes everything from leopard print dog bowls, a huge Christmas collection consisting of pyjamas, cards, gift wrap and stockings, as well as mugs, prints, tote bags, oven gloves and wallpaper. Her signature style celebrates the DIY, hand-painted aesthetic she started her business with, as, fundamentally she’s an artist and a dab hand with the paint brush, still hand-painting most of her designs now.

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Kim Thompson 
Artist, Kim Thompson creates a range of prints for your home taking inspiration from gothic portraits, and a love of kitsch, pop culture, folklore and Afrofuturism, which leads her to create vivid illustrations centring bold characters, both real and imagined. Kim’s work focuses on themes of nostalgia and fantasy, and of empowerment via otherness. You’ll also see a bunch of familiar faces on her page, too, as she’s a big fan of 70s music and cult-classic TV shows including, Twin Peaks and the Addams Family.

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Alex Berry
Alex Berry’s art draws inspiration from the natural world, but blends it with urban exploring and fashion that you’ll recognise from just a short jaunt around Northern Quarter. You’ll often find Alex at various markets and pop-ups around the city, but she also has an online store which you can check out below!

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Maisy Summer
Maisy Summer’s
 illustrations paint pictures of Northern communities through nostalgia and childhood joy. Her distinctive style has a naivety to it through her hand drawn pictures of old washing up bottles, and Manchester music venues full of scribbled, disproportionate crowds surrounded by red hues and hand-drawn film posters. You can buy her work from her Etsy store, and she even does enamel pin badges and laser cut characters to pop around your home, too!

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Aaliyah Nesbeth
Self taught 17-year-old artist, Aaliyah Nesbeth creates incredible, anime-inspired artwork that depict cartoon, futuristic versions of the world. She is currently taking commissions for pieces over on her Instagram, so make sure you check her out for artwork that’ll get your guests talking. 

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House of Payne
Running regular Life Drawing events throughout the city and the ‘burbs, Lisa Payne AKA ‘House of Payne’ also designs and sells a range of prints, cards and artwork, all printed on biodegradable materials. Her life drawing classes are extremely popular too, a chance for people to try out their sketching skills (on a naked human), listen to some jazz, have a few drinks and generally have a great time.

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Ebony Nostalgia
Handmade in Manchester, Ebony Nostalgia creates earrings, homeware accessories, plant pots and general gorgeousness for your home. Being severely visually impaired, Ebony has always found it
extremely difficult to find any kind of hobby that she could physically do and enjoy at the same time. Creating her pieces is both exciting and therapeutic for her, and her creativity shines through in her unique pieces.

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July Child Jewellery
Sinead Flood, AKA July Child Jewellery, has created a brand that embodies everything great about childhood – endless amounts of sweets, saturated cartoons and a no rule innocence.
Growing up in Manchester, she was fully immersed in the music and art scene and cites Northern Quarter as her stomping ground, drawing inspiration from her tribe and also her reflective, nostalgia filled noggin. Powerpuff Girls, flumps, acid-house smilies and Woolworths’ pick n mix, that’s probably the best way for me to describe Sinead’s bold, brave style.

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Icka Print
Illustrator, textile designer and small biz owner, Jessica Crawford, AKA Icka Print designs and sells an amazing collection of prints and cards. Her maximalist style blends big, bold prints with everything from eggs, cats, dogs in jumpers (I KNOW) and naked ladies running through fields to send to your best gal pal! Her design style is mystical, often clashing colours and prints to create prints that paint a big smile on your gob! 

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Nordic Muse
Nordic Muse is an own-label jewellery and branded Nordic lifestyle collective ran by Jenny Maxwell. They have their very own permanent bricks and mortar site on Tib Street in the NQ, offering up design-led products at the right price, with a curated range of wares from home, living, jewellery, accessories, cards, stationary and loads more!

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Aisoléi
Lover of crystals and holistic healing, Aisoléi creates stunning jewellery that incorporates spiritual and healing properties said to have an impact on your mental and physical wellbeing. Her rings, necklaces and bracelets are the perfect statement piece to get a conversation going about the impact of meditation, crystal healing and astrology on your health. No matter what your beliefs are, her jewellery is stunning and her positive outlook is truly aspirational. 

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Thanks a Bunch
Thanks a Bunch is a Manchester based homeware brand inspired by the little things in life. A morning coffee treat, freshly bloomed flowers, laughing till 3am, and park benches at sunset have all given designer, Carly Spencer her direction. All her pieces are made with love and you can catch her regularly down at Levenshulme market!

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Helen Tiffany Glass
Helen Tiffany is a designer-maker working with glass and enamel. She specialises in screen printed glassware and enamelled silver creating colourful pieces for interiors and to wear. Inspiration for her glassware and jewellery is found in the everyday. Helen is drawn to structure, pattern and colour but it’s material qualities and techniques that lead her work. Above all, she enjoys the making process and is driven by a desire to create the best quality pieces, made by hand from start to finish.

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Soleil Dee
EvaD is the maker/designer/fabric purchaser and everything else at Soleil Dee. Based in her Greater Manchester home studio (aka the kitchen table) she hand sews everything you’ll find on her website. Her love for wax prints came from rummaging through her parents stash from visits to Nigeria, where her dad is originally from. EvaD’s aim is to bring affordable brightness to wet and grey days, and, with a huge stash of fabrics, patterns and colours she can create something unique and personal to you!

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