Introducing: Tee & Coffin
Manchester based alternative clothing company Tee & Coffin launch their debut collection today, here’s the story behind the company.
“My name is Helen Hebenton, I’m a freelance graphic designer and illustrator based in Manchester and I draw things that your parents wouldn't like.”
“Art is something I’ve created for as long as I can remember,” Helen reflects. “The first things I started to draw were probably cute animals on my parent’s walls – how things change. I’ve always been drawn to the dark side of things, whether that’s in music or illustration, there’s just something I love about it, even though I’m not a morbid person at all.”
Helen Henbenton, perhaps best known as the bassist in Manchester alt rock band A Mouth Full Of Matches, is an artist in every sense of the word. A soul who lives and breathes art through music, illustration and beyond, today launches the next step in her creative career.
Tee & Coffin is a new alternative clothing company, founded by Helen and her girlfriend Laura who are now proud to unveil their debut collection: “I met my girlfriend Laura just over a year ago, we both have a passion for art and fashion and we discussed our mutual interest of starting an alternative clothing company last year. It wasn't until around August this year that I really started thinking about ideas and concepts one night whilst at my house. I still remember just sitting there sketching out little thumbnail ideas for brand names and concepts.
“After we went through a few ideas and concepts for names, Tee & Coffin came to me when I was sat at my desk appreciating two of my saviours that help get me through everyday life, tea and coffee. From that I was messing around with 'tea' & 'tee' (for t-shirt) and 'coffee' & 'coffin', as a play on words.”
Together, they know to work to each other’s strengths in an industry that can be so cruel, making the company’s promise both robust and bright: “Laura and I are both the heart of all aspects to do with Tee & Coffin from the concepts, to the design work, to the photography, we basically do it all which makes our brand very personal to us. The only thing we don’t personally do is the screen printing, we leave that to the experts! I focus on the concepts and designs while Laura looks after the website, photography and general logistics like costs etc.
“The first thing we will be doing is launching our Autumn/Winter collection, this will include a few t-shirt designs and jumpers. I’m so excited to launch this collection as I think design wise they are really unique and I love the photographs Laura has taken of the models wearing them in London/Manchester. We are so pleased and flattered by the support/interest Tee & Coffin has received already, it just makes us even more eager to launch!”
Whilst studying at university, Helen began to create the artwork for her own band, including their logo and cover for their debut EP, Tasting Fire. From here the snowball effect began, rapidly gaining momentum as other bands, deeply appreciative of her work, hired her to, like Dr Frankenstein in the pale moonlight, breathe life into their own artistic concepts. Since then she has designed album covers for the likes of Skarlett Riot, Black Tide, local punk rock band Tirade – who we featured here – and even branding for Texas based Copperhead Brewery. Now, with that accelerating momentum right behind her, and the loving support of her partner Laura, Tee & Coffin is set to push their creative abilities to new, exciting heights.
“As most of my work at the moment is commission based it means I’m mostly illustrating someone else’s idea and helping it come to life. However I am so excited to be able to have full creative control with Tee & Coffin. This means you’ll see a lot more of the work I’m so passionate about doing. I want to think outside of the box and create unique designs that will make people look twice.
“I’d say the most established band I’ve designed work for is Black Tide but I aim for Tee & Coffin to be my biggest achievement to date...so watch this space!”
And with the Autumn/Winter Collection now thrust out into the big wild world, like a young sparrow who has just learnt to fly, Helen and Laura are looking forwards to what 2016 could bring to the company and how, by this time next year, we could be witnessing a blossoming, thriving new company.
“We have already started thinking about which conventions/festivals we would like to sell at next year, it be really cool to get out there and meet everyone,” says Helen about a company who already have a strong social media presence. “Another dream of ours would be to get our brand into alternative shops in the high street so keep an eye out.”
Though Helen’s design’s and Laura’s photography skills speaks loudly enough for themselves, it’s clear to see that this is a company founded on love, on integrity and passion. If they are to succeed, it will not just be because of the quality of their products, but of the beating hearts that drive it all.
Words: Phil Weller