STYLE TAILOR: Cleo Barbour and Honey B

Footwear & Accessories Designer Cleo B and her Wire haired Dachshund Honey B

StyleTails speaks to Cleo Barbour, the beauty and brains behind playful accessories label CLEO B and designer dog range WOOF! with her very glamorous canine muse Honey B. 

In a world where black always seems to be the new black, Cleo Barbour’s collection of bold and off-beat accessories are a welcome injection of fun. The designer and die-hard dachshund lover who’s worked for the likes of Nicholas Kirkwood and Salvatore Ferragamo, took the plunge in 2009 launching her CLEO B label of playful footwear and accessories. Inspired by her pretty pooch Honey B, she has more recently teamed up with luxury leather brand Beauchamp’s of London, to create WOOF! designer dog accessories,  which launched with StyleTails last month.

Cleo and Honey B talk to StyleTails about being brave, standing out from the crowd, and diving under the duvet for a snuggle when you need one.

Footwear & Accessories Designer Cleo B and her Wire haired Dachshund Honey B

You worked for Nicholas Kirkwood and at Salvatore Ferragamo after graduating from Cordwainers. What gave you the confidence to go into business for yourself?

It’s always been my dream to have my own fashion brand and run my own business, so it just seemed like the right thing to do. At a young age you are brave, it was a good time to launch!

You’re renowned for your bold use of colour. What inspires your colour choices?

CLEO B collections are inspired by a massive variety of things and each season tells a different story which in turn results in a different colour palette. For example AW13 was inspired by the video-game Tetris, whereas SS14 takes reference from the ‘60s Beatles film, Yellow Submarine.

Which is your favourite part of the design process?

My favourite part is choosing the final designs to go into the collection, especially when I have come up with a good variety to choose from. I love having flashes of inspiration, they normally happen at random times!

Who is the CLEO B woman and who would you most like to see in a pair of your shoes?

The CLEO B woman wants footwear and accessories that stand out from the crowd – think bright colours, bold design and quirky detailing. Our customers are of all ages and come from all walks of life, they are however all looking for something a little bit different; unique designs that are innately stylish but not necessarily trend led. I like to see strong independent women wearing my designs.

Your shoes are real statement pieces – do you like to see them teamed with a paired-down outfit, or bright and bold all over? 

My personal style is definitely bright and bold all over, however, I love seeing the different ways people style my shoes and accessories.  That is definitely one of the highlights of the job – happy customers!

Footwear & Accessories Designer Cleo B and her Wire haired Dachshund Honey B

Who is your ultimate style icon and why?

I have to say I don’t actually have a style icon?! That may sound strange, but there is not one person who inspires me significantly more than others I am inspired by style from all different types of people. Mostly those who have their own unique sense of style, rather than actresses or popstars.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give someone looking to launch their own creative venture?

Do not be scared to fail, because you will only learn from your mistakes. You get heavily involved when you have your own business or brand, so make sure you are still able to step away and see the brand or business from an outsiders point of view. Learn how to prioritise, I still find this extremely difficult!

Which other brands do you most admire and why?

I admire a huge range of brands for a number of different reasons but a few favourites include; Lazy Oaf, Kate Spade, Anya Hindmarch & House of Holland. I take particular interest in women who have successfully created their own lifestyle brands, as I admire them.

What’s coming up for CLEO B that you’re excited about?

We are just wrapping up SS14 and I’m now in the process of designing for AW14. In the studio we’re busy organising events in the run up to Christmas and I’m also concentrating on designing an expanded range of leather accessories as part of my main CLEO B collection.

Footwear & Accessories Designer Cleo B and her Wire haired Dachshund Honey B

Tell us about your wire-haired dachshund Honey B? 

Honey B has just turned three – she is my sole companion and soul mate – I love her immensely. She is a constant friend and as long as she is there, I never get lonely. I can chat away to her all day long and she listens, she keeps me company on late working nights and loves me no matter what!

Why did you choose a wire-haired dachshund? What do you love about the breed?

I have always loved dogs and ever since I saw a mini wire haired dachshund I knew I had to one day have one. I grew up with Labradors and am not a great fan of small dogs in general, but dachshunds are extra special in some way.

Footwear & Accessories Designer Cleo B and her Wire haired Dachshund Honey B

Is she a permanent fixture at the CLEO B studio?

Honey B comes to CLEO B HQ at Great Western Studios in Westbourne Park everyday with me. She loves coming to work because she has so many friends – dogs and humans- in the building and everyone gives her lots of attention!

We were SO excited to launch your WOOF! collection of dog collars and leads in the StyleTails store. Was Honey B the inspiration for the range and why did you decide to launch the collection?

For Honey B, I struggled to find a collar that was stylish but still also practical and long lasting. Alex Fagan from Beauchamp’s of London (co-founder of WOOF!) and I noticed a gap in the market for luxury stylish handmade collars and leads and decided just to go for it.

Footwear & Accessories Designer Cleo B and her Wire haired Dachshund Honey B

QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS FOR HONEY B 

Describe yourself in 3 words?

CUTE, HAPPY, LOVING!

Who’s your dream date?

My dream date is James who works upstairs from our studio. I’m so obsessed with him, he makes me so excited I wee myself! I cannot go a day without going to see him and lick his face. But I still love Cleo the most.

What’s it like being a canine muse for Cleo’s new WOOF! collection?

The best – I’m pretty famous these days! Also, I have the biggest selection of collars and leads ever! I love being face of the brand.

Which is your favourite piece in the WOOF! collection? 

At the moment I’m loving my pink collar with lion studs. Grrrrrr!

What can’t you live without? 

Squeaky toys, Lily’s kitchen and teddies.

Finish this sentence “I’m happiest when………………..” 

….I’m tucked up under the duvet in Cleo’s bed.

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Emma Watson

Can you tell us some of your favourite dog-friendly places where a hound can hang out?

You are allowed dogs at the beautiful Limewood Hotel in Hampshire, That’s my dream weekend! I have been to the Four Seasons in Hampshire as well. They have great walks! Other than that, I have been known to hang out in The Prince Bonaparte in Notting Hill.

Shop the WOOF! collection in store at StyleTails now

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Sara is the Founder & Editor of StyleTails. A writer, design-lover and long-time animal-hugger, Sara launched StyleTails in 2012 to inspire people live a more beautiful life with their four-legged friends. Along with her canine sidekick George, a rescue Yorkie with a big attitude, Sara regularly commentates on luxury pet product and lifestyle trends and has been featured in Elle Decoration, BBC Radio, and is also an expert contributor to WGSN, the leading design trend forecaster.

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