Every Shop, or business, has a story, a background, drive, or inspiration. Meeting the ever so creative Robyn, the exceptionally proud and enthusiastic owner of Share No Soul, Abergavenny, was absolutely no exception. I could have written a whole book on her experiences, and the people who she has met, and who she now platforms in her eclectic boutique.
Born & raised in Manhattan, NYC in the early 80s when modern art and pop culture were at an apex (as was crime), no one wanted to live in Manhattan with children, the city was ripe however, with Avant-garde, independent, anti-mainstream, experimental artists such as Keith Haring, who had pieces all over the village. Such pieces always mesmerized a young Robyn and there was still a huge influence of Lichtenstein and all things Pop Art and also the early start of Graffiti. She remembers seeking out new street art on the way to school.
With a heavy influence from her mother who was a model, and deeply involved with various small time and semi radical artists, musicians, models, photographers, poets, writers, drag queens and the like, all of whom supported each other in what was then the poor and small community of freaks of inner Manhattan. This influence of various types of cultures, books, food, travels, music, and textiles deeply affected her and formed her foundation. Her mum remarried and moved to Britain and Robyn remained with my father and stepmother in the US, now in New Jersey, until she graduated, when she moved over to London in1995.
London had worked its magic and hookline and sinker, captured Robyn’s heart, especially when it came to music in the late 90’s and early 2000’s where she associated with lots of up and coming, producers, dj’s, bands. This is where the huge influence of music became imbedded.
Now inspired, she started wanting to do more within the industry from the business side and started up a small agency representing DJ friends, a small club night in East London and a small label to capture within dance music the same idealism as the degenerate art of her youth in NYC
Soon she was traveling around the world as an international drum and bass dj, event promoter and brand / label owner and producer. That gave her the opportunity to travel and get paid to explore. Having always been interested in jewellery and exotic textiles she would be up early after a night playing until 6am to trawl markets in Bogota or Toyko, checking out little shops and artisans in cloud villages in Tanzania or haggling her way through the spice infused cobblestone streets of Stone Island in Zanzibar.
Robyns stepmother had worked in the Manhattan jewellery district in the 70’s and 80’s, and remembers now her great stories about visiting her boutiques where she was surrounded by glittering jewels of all kinds, as well as always bringing something breathtaking home.
After moving back to the US to care for her father who was ill, for seven years, Robyn started teaching herself jewellery design and eventually, once she moved back to the UK, enrolled in a few short courses in Bristol.
At first only selling to friends, and associates, however, it wasn’t long before Robyn Chaos Jewellery emerged, and became increasingly popular. She continues to learn, and has branched from sterling silver, handmade, original pieces, to working with castings in yellow / rose / black gold plating & semi-precious beading for bracelets and necklaces. All her designs are handmade and unique, and are influenced by history, fairy tales, fables, cultures, travels and all sorts of whimsical, imaginative ideas that makes humanity amazing and magical.
Previously working alongside many unknown, yet, talented artists to design flyers for her music brand, Therapy Sessions, one of the things she spearheaded within our small music scene, was the idea of branding like bands. Breaking the mold wanting to do something much more creative than a ‘man in a hoody in an industrial unit’ image. Soon a thriving merchandising side of the business arose, with the highly Skull based and dramatic imagery, you can now see displayed and on sale in her shop.
Incredibly, at the same time, one of my artists that I knew since he was 14 (now 27) started dating a young woman who is a woodcarving print artist, and when she sent her designs to Robyn, she was so inspired, she just wanted to support another young person’s dream. This was the catalyst to her decision to expand into non-music merchandise. So she bought her designs and began supporting more unsung artist.
The more she delved into these artists the increasingly passionate she became about promoting art with a back story, and leaning less towards more commercial images.
Along with her producer boyfriend, and long term colleague, Limewax, she decided to keep the whole project in house and call the brand Share no Soul after one of his songs.
With a Welsh partner, it wasn’t long before they eventually settled in Abergavenny, as it was a town both loved visiting. Both falling in love with the space, nature, artists, music, people and all in this lovely market town on the edge of the gorgeous Brecon Beacons.
It wasn’t long before she decided she’d love a shop, a platform for her ideas, and creative items. And as if by magic a small unit became available on…………almost seemed …
Collating designers with a similar outlook to her own, she now has
Nina Van der Ven (Holland) the wood craver
Gabi Bastarda (an amazing tattooist in Lithuania)
Hand painted and designed scarves by Shovava – based in Australia
Peaked Clothing, run by another Musician, Cabin Boy Jumps Ship and his story was so inspiring. In short, in his early 20’s and he was practically homeless, with little or no direction.
While in Leicester getting himself together, he started playing with clothing design and images based upon his own influences. Fast forward a few years and he has now a thriving business that he and his small team work extremely hard for and has now bought his first home. So inspiring, which Robin connected with, and now you can find some of his work in her boutique.
New York company ShadowplayNYC uses real photographed images gathered by NASA. These stunning pictures you can find on lightweight cotton scarves, shirt and leggings / leisure wear.
Robyn, as many of us, admitted to having a bit of a candle addiction, and one of her favorites is a relatively small US company, not often found in the UK, called Voluspa which she thinks are hands down, the best luxurious yet affordable candles in the around.
All the shirts, Robyn explained, are printed by an independent UK printers based literally out of a garage unit. She said that ‘fashion doesn’t work without quality which is something we seem to have lost lately. So, the designs speak to my inner emo teen but the attention to quality is all adult’
SHARE NO SOUL offers something with an individual, fresher touch not only to the tourists, who flock to the beautifully Abergavenny, but to the younger people.
Robyn, said as a youngster she remembered feeling ignored in society, and having moved to Abergavenny didn’t want the youth to feel the same as she, so therefore her gift is her shop. Full of things fresh and exciting.
Why not pop along to the stunning little boutique on Monk Street in Abergavenny, or check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sharenosoul and take a sneaky peek to some of the fabulous range on offer.