I am happy to report that Edinburgh is most certainly riding a creative wave. Being an 80:20 kind of person (specialising in almost ‘getting there’ but often not being able to see the wood for the trees for the last 20% of a project) I have discovered that collaborations are most definitely the way to go.
I met sisters Solii and Zoe Brodie from BeFabBeCreative fabric print bureau in Edinburgh over a year ago and they have proven to be the catalyst for turning my designs and aspirations into physical products. They print my patterns onto a variety of natural fabrics (locally sourced Fife linen being one of my favourites) in the most astoundingly efficient manner. They also own Printed and Co, a carefully curated collection of textile designs stemming from ten U.K based designers, of which I am delighted to be one. Customers can purchase lengths of any of the designs on any of their fabrics allowing the patterns to be used in dressmaking or interiors. Wonderful flexibility and it is all printed to order so no waste either.
So I have a smooth and enjoyable means to produce textile designs but I also wanted to manufacture products. Enter Nina, a Swede living in Edinburgh with an armful of design related Degrees, a Swedish fashion label behind her and honed seamstress skills.
She is the Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective, an agency that works with textiles from concept to manufacture. Nina knows what I am describing before I even reach the end of my sentence so our collaboration is working like clockwork and I now have silk scarfs, linen make up bags, mens ties (more on that in a sec) and some silk tops in my range, some of which are available from my Etsy Shop (more being listed very soon).
But my biggest focus is currently on a niche market, a micro market I suppose. On a trip to Rome last October, I was searching for a replacement watch strap. I popped into a shop selling leather luggage and asked them if they sold watch straps. The manager literally took a step backwards and looked at me square on and said, ‘No! I sell luggage!’ My stupidity seemed to offend him but when I looked rather sheepish he softened his voice and said, ‘you need to visit Marco‘ and directed me to a tiny slim shop with a wise old man sitting under a vintage task light replacing watch straps. Attached to the wall were literally hundreds of shades and widths of beautiful watch straps and of course I found the perfect strap. Mission accomplished. I doubt if anyone would go to that shop and not find precisely what they were looking for. It was therefore very well known and a ‘go to’ destination – nobody would even think to waste their time shopping around. Job done.
With this new mind set I asked where I could buy a pair of leather gloves for my friends 50th birthday, Sergio di Cori, Piazza di Spagna of course. Again, every conceivable colour and length of leather glove were there displayed on beautiful panelled walls. They sold nothing else. Don’t complicate the process, they sell gloves, brilliantly.
So I finally reach the point in telling you this tale. I want to sell linen ties. Linen I hear you say. Yes linen, not silk. I want to design ties less ‘officey’ than silk which will convey more individuality and hopefully more spirit. Laid back formal. I want a ‘Slow Food Movement’ kind of tie. In other words I want a tie that is designed, made and stitched locally on locally sourced linen. Designs that have slowly been forming over, in my case, many years. And this is what I’ve been working on and by the end of this week, six patterns will be finished and be safely delivered into the hands of Scot Street Style who is kindly launching them in New York City during New York Tartan Week. My ties are not tartan in case you were wondering but Tartan Week celebrates all kinds of Scottish business and I am thrilled to have them represented there.
Below are other bolts of fabric waiting to be made into ties – cloth is cut on the diagonal for ties so these designs will look quite different when they are made up.
Do you go to a specialist ‘go to’ shop for anything?