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Dotty Cuckoo is the creation of designer Joanna Conrad, who always made things as she was growing up – playhouses out of cardboard boxes, pop-up books, and her own clothes. After completing an Illustration degree, she went on to make tiny props and sets for animated films at Aardman Animations, and gigantic props and sets for pantomimes at the Bristol Old Vic.
While living in New York, Jo was inspired by pop-up designer-maker boutiques on the Lower East Side and on her return to the UK created a range of bags and t-shirts which she sold at designer markets in London. Two years later her designs had expanded into a full collection called ‘Shirley Geek’ (‘girly chic’ phonetically jiggled), selling in over three hundred department stores and boutiques throughout Europe, USA and Japan. Everything was hand-made in a sunny studio in East London by Jo and her lovely team of twenty hand-sewers.
A couple of years later with a young daughter and newborn twin sons, Jo took a break from designing to spend as much time as possible with them while they were little. She had the perfect excuse to make cardboard playhouses all over again, and stayed creative doing craft projects at school fairs and making costumes and props for kids’ parties.
Once the kids were all at school, Jo started designing again and found that her time spent being creative with her kids, combined with her love of vintage glamour, folk art, woodland creatures, and Pop art, had inspired a new brand.
The Dotty Cuckoo collection is about fun and happy things to wear and enjoy every day.
Everything is made to order in Jo’s South London studio, including the odd cardboard playhouse now and then too.