This brand handpaints vintage bags with crustaceans, it’s called Prawn Cocktail

Words by Christina Karras

Not Shrimps.

“Fashion can sometimes get a bit boring.”

That’s Beatrix Butterfly Rowe, whose name is definitely not boring and neither is her accessories brand, Prawn Cocktail. The 22-year-old’s business is a one-woman-show, breathing new life into vintage and secondhand leather goods by painting them exclusively with sea creatures.

You’ll find handbags, wallets and even boots covered with vibrant renderings of prawns, lobsters and a variety of shellfish.

“I’ve always dressed very colourful and not taken myself too seriously, so it was kind of fun to bring [food and fashion] together through Prawn Cocktail, to make it a bit of a laugh,” she adds of her whimsical retro designs.

It’s not just a love of seafood that inspired the creations, though. For Beatrix, her family dubbed her Prawn Baby from a young age, and crustaceans have followed her into adult life.

“I was always called a Prawn Baby because since I was really little I would just eat so many,” she laughs. “On one of my dad’s birthdays he’d shelled a kilo of prawns and left them in the kitchen. He went outside and I ate the whole thing. I kind of got a reputation after that.”

Both her parents are professional artists and Beatrix grew up drawing and painting before studying formally at the Victorian Collage of the Arts in Melbourne. But she only lasted a year. Beatrix explains the evolution of Prawn Cocktail was all very organic, a hobby gone rogue.

“I was just doing this for fun and then it just kind of turned into a job. So it happened accidentally,” she says. She was inspired to paint a white vintage handbag with a giant gold prawn, and her sister’s reception to the innovation gave Beatrix the confidence to make more.

“Eventually I had friends and family and others who wanted something painted.” And soon, she was painting custom designs on pieces she picked up at local op shops.

Her designs have resonated with many people online, garnering her a customer base of fellow fun shoppers from around the world. Growing up in a surf town on the coast of New South Wales, Beatrix explains says she made her own kind of fashion language while she was growing up, styling pieces in the way she thought felt right.

Beatrix’s playful attitude towards fashion also filters deep into her brand’s ethos. She’s previously designed a tee printed with a pun on the Jason Bourne franchise, reading ‘Prawn Identity, Prawn Supremacy, Prawn Ultimatum.’ The Prawn Cocktail Instagram account also makes for very amusing scrolling, often editing celebrities like Matt Damon (Jason Bourne himself), Trump or Elaine of Seinfeld to rock her seafood designs.

It’s also filled with cinematic icons from bygone eras like Brigitte Bardot or Zsa Zsa Gabor, who Beatrix cites as her main fashion inspirations.

“Jayne Mansfield and Zsa Zsa had the most epic outfits and they just didn’t care. Fran Fine from The Nanny is also big one for me. As well as Eddie and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous, I grew up watching that. They are making fun of it, but they also look kind of amazing at the same time.”

But the retro vibes behind Prawn Cocktail go beyond the #aesthetic. The decision to use upcycled leather goods is one Beatrix made carefully, with the environment in mind.

“Sustainability is one of my main priorities,” she affirms. “I really want to make sure that I’m not putting any new items out there that are unnecessary. There are so many things just sitting there that people aren’t using because it’s a little bit boring or out of fashion.”

“I think its important for people to understand that you can make something old a little bit more exciting and accessible for yourself and I feel lucky to be doing that for some people.”

Sourcing her products from op shops, vintage stores and in online auctions, she is also thoughtful about the general waste of her brand’s practices might produce, using found materials and recyclables as her packaging.

While Beatrix admits it might not be the most glamorous, it also gears the focus back towards the product – after all it’s what’s inside that counts. And her seafood inspired accessories offer a quirky glamour and luxury all on their own.

It also means each one is entirely unique. Despite the resurgence of ’70s food styling, no Prawn Cocktail is exactly the same.


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