Five Go Mad

Friday 24 September 2010

Q and A with Kate Garey

Designer Kate Garey has a fine art and textiles background. She creates products that appeal to the young and young at heart. Her designs feature vibrant colours, and all have a sense of fun. Kate's pretty dresses are perfect with your favourite leggings for the cold winter months ahead, team with one of her pretty necklaces and cute wristlets and you have the perfect weekend outfit. 

How did Kate Garey start out?
I began creating my brand in October 2007 after starting out with an Ebay shop getting cute products in from all over the world. I really started to think that I wanted to design some little pieces like felt brooches and then suddenly I had a whole handbag & accessories collection. In May 2008 I launched my website.

How do you decide which products to create?
Really it’s down to products that I like to use. I started with some Totes, over sized wallets and cosmetic bags, then gradually added clutch bags, vanity cases, wristlets, handbags and larger casual bags and have now moved onto some clothing (pretty feminine t-shirts and jersey dresses) and Jewellery.

What is your best selling item?
The Cosmetic Bags have always been a great seller for us as they make great gifts you can fill with lots of bits and bobs. Anything with my Tea Cup on it is pretty hot too.

What was your favourite toy as a kid? 
I remember loving Catwoman as a child and made my Barbie a black cat suit out of bin liners! It was the best Barbie ever! I also loved play doh, especially the smell.

What is your personal favourite item you sell? 
At the moment I’m living in the Jersey dresses which are cosy, flattering and go with most of my wardrobe.

Five Go Mad slogan is "Quintessentially British" what does that mean to you?
The first thing that springs to mind is a nice cup of Tea! and Eccentrics, I went on a bus tour around Windsor once and there was a man jogging in nothing but his Union Jack underpants, it's a True Story. Also crumpets, seaside shops that sell stick of rock & fudge, cobbled streets, the countryside and Stephen Fry, and me, I think of myself, I love being British! 

What's up next for Kate Garey?
Watch this space (smiles).

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Q and A with Bouton Kids

Modern, yet comfortable and stylish clothes are Bouton Kids trademark. Hand woven natural fabrics with simple cuts combine to create every day wear versatile enough to wear whatever the time of year. Clothes are designed and styled in London and feature limited edition collections. Perfect for that special item for the kids. 

How did Bouton Kids start out?
I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur in a creative field. Becoming a mother sort of brought both of these together, as I looked to create a work life around my daughter. I also love textiles, particularly the traditional Indian textiles I work with in Bouton. I wanted my daughter to wear these wonderful fabrics, with their beautiful natural colours, and vibrant prints. 

That’s how I started Bouton kids, with the intention of blending my love of artisanal textiles, and designing a modern collection of clothes, stylish and classic, yet different from other brands.

How important do you think independent businesses are to the UK market?
They are the creative soul, they provide an alternative to the high street and mass market, especially to the discerning customer looking for something different and special. 

Where do you get ideas for your designs?
My designs are mostly a reflection of my own sensibilities. My inspiration can come from anywhere, looking at a piece of fabric, a postcard or sitting in a cafe people watching. I also consider practicality. Most of the clothes can be easily worn as they are, or layered, pretty much all year round. The prints and colours can be mixed and matched. 

What are your favourite fabrics and materials?
All the clothes at Bouton are made from high-quality, artisanal fabrics from India in pure cotton. These fabrics are produced by artisans who use ancient techniques of weaving, dyeing, printing that date back thousands of years, such as ikat, hand block printing, shadow threadwork, embroidery etc. 

Are your products made in the UK?
The clothes are designed in London and produced in Bombay.

What is your favourite item from your ranges?
The Bouton jacket which comes in different colours. These jackets are very popular, perfect for mid-season, made with handwoven cotton, lined with flannel, and so practical as they’re reversible. My daughter has one in every colour, she’s in them 9-10 months of the year!

What is the Bouton Kids trademark?
The laid back chic styling in vibrant prints and colour. 

FiveGoMad is "Quintessentially British" what does that mean for you?
Quirky, different, fun and fashionable.

What's up next for Bouton Kids?
Bouton will look to expand to retailers in the UK and abroad. I also have an online store. With Bouton I add new pieces to the collection, as opposed to working on seasonal collections. Everything is only limited-edition, so hopefully there is something for everyone…

Liz Appleby

Q and A with Louise Presley of Hope and Elvis

Louise Presley a professional artist and qualified adult tutor runs private day workshops from her studio in the stunning location of Welbeck Abbey, North Nottinghamshire. Holding an extensive and fascinating collection of vintage and salvaged materials, Louise invites people to create something personal to them, something for the home, a friend, or gifts for yourself. With the range of materials available on the course, you have the chance to create something that is truly a one off.

How did Hope and Elvis start up?
I was made redundant from the textile industry and I decided it was an opportunity to follow my instincts.

What's your background?
I have been collecting and making things since childhood. I studied Fashion and worked in the industry as a fabric designer for an international company. Recently I completed a Masters in Fine Art.

What's your earliest memory of being creative? 
I was about ten years old and bought myself a sewing machine from the mini ads in the local newspaper. I just kept fiddling with it until I worked out how to make it sew. I made clothes for my tiny tears.

Have you always loved making things? 
I have always loved collecting things. Making things became a by product of that, the things I collected were always in need of repair or in some way in need of re-loving.

Why did you decide to start running courses? 
I was invited to run a handbag workshop by a Gallery and they filled the spaces three times over so I realised there was a need. I also enjoyed sharing my ideas and fabrics. It's so gratifying to see discarded textiles items given a new life and a new sense of purpose. It also means I can keep on finding things without feeling guilty about the amount I have!

Tell us about your studio?
The studio is part of The Harley Foundation which is a charitable trust, set up in 1977 to promote the visual arts and crafts and to ensure the continuation of specialist craft skills in an age of mass production. Located on the private Estate of Welbeck, Nottinghamshire at the northern most tip of Sherwood Forest it covers the site of the Estate's Victorian gasworks and kitchen garden.

Who are your courses suitable for? Do you need any prior experience?
The courses are open to all no matter what ability or experience as the focus of the day is to support and develop ideas, skills and creative confidence. From the novice to the professional everyone seems to go home with a smile on their face.

Where do you source your vintage fabrics and materials?
Most people ask me where I find all my materials but I always have the same answer, it's absolutely everywhere I go! It's just a matter of seeing things differently I think. I still have vintage garments that I bought from the jumble sale when I was a child, there is no hope for me!

What comes to mind when you think "Quintessentially British"?
The Queen & Tea.

What's next for Hope and Elvis?
I am about to open a shop area in the studio for people who come on workshops. After all the years of collecting its now time to get tough and start sharing all the treasure!

Liz Appleby

Sunday 5 September 2010

Q and A with Tulip and Nettle

Amynta Warde-Aldam, owner of clothing company Tulip and Nettle, taught Fashion at Central St Martins and worked on collections throughout Europe before starting her own business. Tulip and Nettle make unique and traditional clothing for children, their mothers, and occasional pieces for men. The children's range features relaxed pieces suitable for every day wear, while the adult range, which includes pretty tops for women and gorgeous cotton shirts for men, will complement any modern wardrobe

What made you decide to set up Tulip and Nettle?
I set up Tulip And Nettle by degrees, a very slow process that started with clothes for my children and their friends. My son was not keen on football but very obsessed by vintage army clothes as a small boy. I started by developing the trouser that we now sell as Hero Breeches for him. The Yum Yum Dress we include in every collection was dreamt up for my daughter.

We moved to Northumberland from London where I taught at Central St Martins on the fashion course. I felt very out of touch with my old world, I felt children’s clothes would be a good thing to concentrate on, they depend far less on seasonal looks. I wanted to create timeless things people would cherish, that become the hand me downs of tomorrow.

Who is behind the business?
The business is still quite small. Here in the studio I work on the range and my assistant Helen runs the office. We work closely with three machinists and two small local factories.

How important do you think independent businesses are to the market?
So important. There has to be a place where individual ideas can flourish and develop without the constraints of the high street. It's also terribly important that choice exists. It would all be so dull without little niche retailers.

What are you working on at the moment? 
Putting the finishing touches to the Summer 2011 collection and making the most of the last of summer to get it all photographed. We are also working on the Christmas mini collection photographs.

How and where are your garments made?
We make the first samples for each style here in the studio. Our shirts and trousers get made in a local factory and the fleece and T shirts in another one. Our dresses are made by our own machinists.

Does your beautiful location influence and inspire your designs
Northumberland has had a huge influence on the look of the range. Soft country colours, a relaxed romantic mood and a sense of heritage. Our favourite accessories are gum boots! We do all our shoots here so the surroundings are key to the look.

What are your favourite materials to work with for your pieces?
We work with natural fibres wherever possible. Obviously the fleeces are an exception. Otherwise we use cotton poplins, cords, linens, classic cotton and wool mix flannels and lovely wool coatings milled in Yorkshire.

Any British designers you would most like to work with?
We would love to work with Barbour, the most significant local clothing company. It would also be lovely to do a little collection for Liberty. Another nice project would be with Harris Tweed.

What has been your career highlight with Tulip and Nettle so far? 
Hard to pinpoint one highlight, we seem to lurch from crisis to triumph at some point every day. I would say the press coverage we have received is a source of real pride. Nothing beats walking past a child dressed in Tulip & Nettle in the street though. 

FiveGoMad is a "Quintessentially British" website, what does that conjure up for you?
Britishness for me is the colours of old faded Kodak stock, a nice cup of tea in a china cup, chilly bucket and spade holidays. Nostalgic things that contrast with, but contribute to, the cutting edge brave innovation that is also very much a part of the culture. 

What do you think sets apart British style?
British style suggests a slightly wonky approach to grooming! An ancient cardi with a beautiful dress, bare feet with a ballgown. We always have a problem on our shoots trying to stop the mothers from cleaning the children up and brushing their hair!

Who is your favourite British icon and why?
I would say the Tulip and Nettle look has emerged from a mixture of Mabel Lucie Attwell, Swallows and Amazons, Mary Poppins and Commando War Library. I like a kind of Brief Encounter mood, a little bit worn, a little bit sad.

What's next for Tulip and Nettle?
The exciting new project here at Tulip & Nettle involves our first pieces of knitwear. We have a team of grannies on the case and we are loving the classic cardi's and fair isle's available for the first time this season.

Liz Appleby

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