Introducing Behind The Counter, a new monthly series that celebrates the passions and hobbies of the people that work at Oliver Spencer.
Here's Bleue Burnham, our Head of Sustainability and Assistant Store Manager at Lambs Conduit Street - alongside his work at Oliver Spencer, Bleue is also the founder of his own eponymous line of contemporary men's jewellery, Bleue Burnham: inspired by British modernity, using recycled precious metals and made in London.
Introduce yourself, and describe to us what you do at Oliver Spencer...
My name is Bleue Wickham-Burnham, I'm 26 years old and in one life I own my own jewllery line called Bleue Burnham and in my other life I am the Head of Sustainability and Assistant Store Manager of our Lambs Conduit Street Stores at Oliver Spencer.
What inspired you to work on the shop floor, and how do you think it has helped shape your understanding of the industry?
I have always been in to clothing and style in general, so working on the shop floor for a brand I was a big fan of felt like a natural first step. From the shop floor you learn a lot about product; how people engage with clothing when shopping and the retail calendar. The shop floor of our Lambs Conduit Street store is very unique as our head offices are just below both stores. So having the combination of the shop floor and head office on my doorstep has been my biggest source of industry education; interacting with wholesale, marketing, ecommerce, design and production on a regular basis enabled me to understand how these business functions work: what were working towards, the challenges we face and how this formulates the brand and the industry as a whole.
How did you end up becoming Head of Sustainability at Oliver Spencer and what are some of the changes you have seen?
I studied environmental sustainability at university and after working for Oli in the shop for a few months I put together a proposal of how I thought we should move forward - he agreed and that was the start! The company has the perfect posistioning for positive progress becasuse everyone here cares about the impact we have! Over the last couple of years we have transitioned just over a third of our collection to use low footprint fabrics such as organic cotton and European linens, we now power all of our stores and our head office from renewable energy, we have reduced our packaging footprint by 36,000kg per year, we have planted 300 trees with the Woodland Trust and we have tried to engage our customers and anyone who is interested on what we are doing and why it's important. There isn't a golden posistion for us, it's a process of continual development.
Tell us about your jewellery line, 'Bleue Burnham' and how you got it off the ground...
I first started making in 2014 when my partner at the time, was a trained woman's jewellery designer who produces her own line of jewellery, 'Luc:e' - she tought me the basics of wax modelling and from there I started making pieces for myself - then my friends, then their friends, and slowly but surely it shaped into a business and I launched my first collection in April 2018.
What influences your approach to design?
I'm really interested in what it means for men to wear jewellery. I want to make jewellery that feels, and looks contemporary but still has historical references and a cultural narrative. I'm interested in the cultures and subcultures that have shaped where we are today and how this affects what jewellery men want to wear. For my 001 collection I have explored counterculture through new and opposing thought; this collection breaks tradition in a relaxed and playful way and will be available in stores (including Oliver Spencer) from August 2019.
Also, my final design rule - no skulls allowed!
Tell us a little bit about your relationship with jewellery, and the part it plays in the modern man's wardrobe...
My relationship with jewellery is a long standing one. I have been facinated with jewellery and how it fits into style from a very young age. As I have no professional jewellery training and a menswear background, menswear has naturally been a key influence in how I approach designing jewellery and running the brand. The aim is for any guy who is into their style to be able to relate to the jewellery and feel like it compliments their clothing.
How do you define your personal style?
I like comfort, colour and texture. Like most men I wear a lot of navy, but try to add colour in where I can. As for textures - seersuckers in the summer, cord in the winter. To be honest my style consists mainly of vintage clothing, Patagonia, Oliver Spencer and silver and gold jewellery!
What does the future hold for Bleue Burnham - any developments in the pipeline?
Yes! I am very excited about 2019! From a jewellery perspective expect to see a much more diverse collection, which will include bracelets, bangles, pendants, more gold and gemstones. From a brand perspective expect to see more work around environmental progression - not only working on our personal footprint but approaching the environmental crisis as an issue as a whole and trying our best to contribute positively towards that.
In one sentence answer the following:
Best resturant near Lambs Conduit Street?
Ciao Bella for food, Noble Rot for wine.
Interesting facts about Oliver Spencer?
He doesn't like wearing jewellery...yet.
Favourite piece on the shop floor?
Grandad Shirt Hattinson White! A beautiful fabric which is made in organic cotton.
When you're not working, we could find you...
Spending time with friends, enjoying music and swimming!
What are you listening to at the moment?
Celeste - Lately EP - such an amazing piece of music, and I can't wait to hear more from her!
If you are interested in more of my musical inclinations you can find me on Spotify bleueburnham - where I have a selection of playlists for all your musical needs.