My latest ‘On The Wire With’ interview involved local talent, and friend…. Fran Robertson ‘Decorator of People & Things’.
If you’re a New Zealander you definitely would have seen Fran out and about at vintage/retro themed events with her always brightly coloured hair, and perfectly accessorised outfits. I knew I needed to get her on the blog for a quick interview. Read on to find out more about my talented friend as well as her travelling business.
I love your logo! How you come about the ‘decorator of people and things’ part?
Thanks! A couple of years ago, I was getting new business cards made, and because I have SO many different aspects to my business, I needed to find a way to explain what I do without too many words! I do hair, makeup, styling, wigs, costumes, accessories AND upholster furniture. But, listing all that off on a business card looks a little janky and would have seemed so cluttered!
Where did your crafty loving skills first begin? Can you remember the first crafty thing you ever made?
I’ve always been crafty, for as long as I can remember! My Mama taught art classes, and did so many exciting crafts and experiments with us as kids, so I’ve always been really interested in seeing how things work and figuring out how to make them for myself!
The first thing I remember making all by myself was a Xena Warrior princess costume, that I hand sewed early one morning out of our brown velvet curtains, I think, when I was about 6 or 7. I was so proud of myself! I even sewed a whole lot of Mama’s jewellery onto it, so it looked more legit, but I don’t know how thrilled she was by that.
I heard you used to work for First Scene – what was the craziest thing that ever happened to you while working there?
I loved my time at First Scene! It was the perfect stepping stone into the world I inhabit now, because there is not a single request that shocks me anymore! There were so many crazy moments there, but I think one of the most surreal was when Macklemore and Ryan Lewis just turned up one night before we were due to close, and wanted to hire some stuff for their show that night, and for the video they were shooting here!
They had played the previous night in Dunedin, which is where I’m from, and they said it was the drunkest thing they’d ever seen, which made me so happy, and a little bit homesick!
You mentioned once to me that you made something for the boys at the Rock Radio Station, what was it and why?
I got a call saying that they’d heard that I was the go-to person for weird costumes, and they needed a Bacon and Egg Sandwich costume, that someone could wear whilst handing out Bacon Butties with the Rock Roadies! It was a promo they were doing with Pokeno Bacon, driving around Auckland, and barbecuing up a storm.
They loved it, and I think I did a pretty good job… for a vegetarian!
Wigs – you make them! How did this become something you were interested in and what is the process to make one?
I have a massive head, like, huge, so when I first started doing cosplay, I had to figure out how best to make the wigs I wanted out of the wigs I could get my hands on, which mostly involved unpicking the weft of hair from cheap far-too-small party wigs, and making elasticized bases to attach them to, so they’d fit my gigantic head!
I also studied special effects makeup at Cut Above, where I learned postiche, which is where you individually hand tie each hair onto a lace, with a teeny-tiny hook, to make lace-front wigs, as well as moustaches and beards. This can take hundreds of hours, and is super fiddly, but it’s not a bad sit-in-front-of-the-tv activity, once you get the hang of it!
We both suffer from some pretty awful anxiety at times, how do you cope with days when you just aren’t feeling too good?
I guess the advantage to working for myself is that I can generally fit my hours around my moods, but like all jobs, there are times where I’m meeting with new clients, or networking at events, where I have to be outgoing and friendly, and that can be so tricky! I have to remind myself that my business is my livelihood, I love what I do, and that the key to my success is being friendly and approachable.
It also really helps to remember that there are bound to be other people there who are as uncomfortable as me, so to treat the people I meet in the same way I’d like to be treated.
What is your natural hair colour? And is there a colour you haven’t tried before?
My hair was really blonde when I was a kid, but I think it’s probably darkened up a bit as I’ve gotten older….it’s been a while since I’ve seen it natural! I’ve coloured my hair for, like, 15 years, and I don’t think there’s been a colour I’ve missed, but I’ve got my favourites, and there are definitely a few that I wouldn’t try twice.
Like me, you’re a massive fan of watching serial killer shows and documentaries… can you recommend any must-sees for other like-minded fans?
Oh gosh, my all-time faves are Deadly Women, Wives with Knives, Fatal Vows, and Southern Fried Homicide! As you can imagine, my poor husband gets a bit stressed out if he comes home and I’m watching shows about women killing their spouses, but they’re just so great!
What’s a couple of great vintage hair styling tips that you would recommend for someone who’s maybe just starting out?
Dirty hair isn’t a bad thing, and back-combing is your BFF. People never backcomb enough, so don’t be shy! If your hair doesn’t defy gravity, you haven’t backcombed enough! Also, this gets repeated time and time again, but everyone’s hair is different, so you won’t always be able to get the exact same look as someone else.
Just relax, find simple shapes and styles that you feel comfortable rocking, and build up your repertoire from there.
Far out, isn’t Fran cool? So uber-talented and ultra lovely in person, you can always count on laughing your ass off around her too because she’s super funny!