STAYING POSITIVE: String Ting might have started as a small lockdown side hustle, but after enjoying many a viral moment it’s quickly evolving to include collaborations with buzzy label Hillier Bartley and a new venture into vintage clothing.
Founder Rachel Steed-Middleton started the brand in the summer of 2020 after seeing how badly some of the people around her were affected by the COVID-19 crisis and wanting to teach her children the importance of “doing something beyond themselves.”
The idea was simple: Creating the “beaded equivalent of a lemonade stand” by hand-beading sunglass chains, bracelets, or phone straps and selling them for charity.
Between the colorful, optimistic beads and child-like designs, the brand took off and had many viral moments, as the likes of Dua Lipa, Kaia Gerber, Gigi Hadid, Ariana Grande and Kendall Jenner shared selfies with String Ting beaded straps hanging from their phones.
“It was a difficult time with people looking for human spirit optimism and I was creating something colorful and positive that everyone could connect to. Beads are also tactile, it connects with your inner child and brings back memories of creating things,” said Steed-Middleton. “Plus it’s just fun having it on your phone and not having to carry a bag. The phone is becoming the new bag these days.”
To keep up the momentum now that the world is opening up, Steed-Middleton is starting to connect with other creatives on collaborations and looking beyond the brand’s popular phone straps.
The brand has just debuted a collaboration with Hillier Bartley of phone straps featuring its signature crystals with Hillier Bartley’s bunny logo. “We matched our two signatures but also it’s about women coming together. Katie has become a tremendous mentor, and there’s something incredible about women who are senior in their field sharing knowledge,” added Steed-Middleton.
She is also delving into clothing for the first time — while keeping her tongue-in-cheek aesthetic and slow growth approach.
Partnering with a number of vintage wholesalers in London, the brand sourced a selection of vintage pieces ranging from Yves Saint Laurent herringbone coats to Benetton polo shirts, and gave them a new lease on life by adding some of the brand’s cartoonish illustrations and child-like flair.
“Seeing the vast warehouses these wholesalers worked from made it clear we were doing the right thing, choosing to work with vintage clothing,” added Steed-Middleton, who made a point to keep prices accessible, between 30 pounds and 250 pounds.
“I want everybody to be able to have a piece, the idea is that it’s merch. Our focus is to share the brand ethos through this launch.”