Member of the Moment
First up, can you tell me who you are, and a wee bit about your business?
Highland Natural Accents is a retail business located in the We Frame It gallery in Portree on the Isle of Skye. HNA exists to help you be your own interior designer or wardrobe stylist with the vibrant textiles we offer. Highland Natural Accents sources textiles primarily from Scottish makers and artists. Depending upon the maker, the textiles can be derived from local mills or are spun, loomed or knitted by hand. Made of natural or up-cycled fibres, we provide high-quality finished textiles of home accessories and fashion, allowing you to own a unique part of Scotland and beyond in remembrance of your travels in Skye.
I am Leslie Foale, owner and creator. After making my 30th move in my lifetime, I decided to not only change my personal life but also my professional life. With Scotland being my new home, I began exploring different avenues of possible work. In 2016, I attended Scotland’s Spring Trade Fair in Glasgow. Seeing the talent and artistry of exhibitors at this venue was amazing. This incentivised me to combine my 30 years of practical business experience with my passion for quality textiles and craftsmanship to create my own business. In spring of 2016, Highland Natural Accents was founded.
HNA is a professional focus for me as an entrepreneur and artist. Creating a new business from scratch challenges my knowledge, skills and ability to adapt quickly. Through HNA Associated Makers, the makers / artists supplying finished textiles to Highland Natural Accents, I learn a great deal about wool, design, weaving, knitting and the mechanics of producing such products. After a five-week experience at the Global Yell studio in Shetland learning how to weave, I decided that weaving would become my speciality as an artist and maker. From this discovery, Skye Textiles was established (a business arm of Highland Natural Accents).
I do my best to support local textile makers through the business of Highland Natural Accents. These makers / designers incorporate nature’s beauty from the islands, highlands and beyond through their fibres, textures, patterns and colours to create hand crafted artefacts. In turn, visitors and others who are involved with Highland Natural Accents support local businesses, as well as enhance the trend of the rejuvenation of the local textile industry.
What does a typical day look like for you?
After hopefully a good night’s sleep, I start the day with some exercise (swimming, rowing, or bicycling), to then start the work day. During High Season when the majority of tourists visit Skye, most of my time is attending to international travellers’ needs. After checking and responding to emails, I can be addressing several aspects of existing projects or operational matters, or work in the front of the Gallery of We Frame It, where Highland Natural Accents operates its retail business.
Operational matters may include orders to be made (analysing stock and historical sales to determine what products to order depending upon the supplier), following up with placed orders (some orders are not fulfilled at once but provided to HNA in portions, depending upon the maker’s ability to have available stock and/or make the products to order), or addressing the financial aspects of the business (i.e., ensure payments of orders are scheduled, analyse cash flow, understand current expenditures).
When I work in the gallery of We Frame It, I address both Highland Natural Accents and We Frame It customer needs. This work ranges from determining and fulfilling a specific customer’s request of an item, providing customised framing services, or replenishing stock after the customers have made their purchases. And then there are also the daily operations of making the businesses run smoothly.
During High Season, the Gallery is open seven days a week; Monday through Friday 9 – 7 and weekends 10-6. Thus, I tend to work 12 – 14 hour days with maybe one day off in a month during this peak time of the year. It is full on.
After High Season, it is time for strategising. A typical day can include researching industry news, understanding what products and colours were most popular for HNA, analysing sales to forecast estimated annual spend per maker, and forecasting next year’s budget for HNA. Talks and/or visits with suppliers help maintain clear communication and understanding of each other’s needs for current and future business.
Where does your passion for the industry stem from?
As a young girl, I liked working with my hands. This guided me as to which hobbies I chose. My grandmother and mother taught me different crafts, including needlework, crocheting and sewing. I also studied music by playing the flute and piccolo. As an adult, I chose a stable career in finance to make a living. But I always found opportunities to design and create on the side. This includes designing my own jewellery and business suits, welding, sculpting, helping others with their wardrobe or home décor selections, and seeking opportunities to practice photography, especially when travelling.
Having moved to Scotland for personal reasons, I channeled this new chapter in my life into an opportunity to pursue a long-lived desire to create my own business. Choosing textiles as my business focus was a logical step given my artistic background.
Did you study? Where?
My formal education was obtained in the US. In 1988, I received a Bachelor’s of Science dual degree in Finance and Marketing at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management in Syracuse, New York. After four years working in the personal consulting and investment banking industries on the East Coast, I moved to San Diego, California to obtain my Master of International Business degree at the University of San Diego’s International Business School.
In February and March 2017, I began the learning about the process of how to weave through the members of Global Yell in Shetland. This opened a new door for me. Weaving to me is a logical combination of music (the sound of the shuttle creating the weft by hand and the warp being shifted), maths, and artistry.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
I am most proud of being able to combine and apply skills, talent and ability to create a new business, while helping other small businesses and individuals. Finding purpose of giving back is what drives me to make Highland Natural Accents successful. The analytical discipline instilled in my first career resulted in a means towards this next step – building a new business. My background and business acumen has led me to be an architect, artist, entrepreneur, and mentor.
Who are the influential figures you look up to for inspiration?
Family members and artists have given me much inspiration and hope. Specifically, my grandparents and parents provided me the seeds and soil to grow my ideas. In addition, my husband has provided me the platform to create and build a strong foundation for Highland Natural Accents. Artists and makers whom I work with to provide an array of textile selections for our customers are also a great inspiration to me.
What exciting projects do you have in the pipeline for the near future?
There are two main projects which I am working on for Highland Natural Accents:
1) Skye Textiles, and
2) establishing an independent location for Highland Natural Accents.
Skye Textiles is a recently developed business arm of Highland Natural Accents. It provides me an outlet to design and create woven textiles. I began the process of designing a throw in the spring of 2017. This process has evolved into producing a limited edition collection of throws for 2018. Currently, I am working on Skye Textiles’ 2019 limited edition collection of throws. In addition, Skye Textiles is taking its next step to expand its products. Given customer requests in the last year at the Portree gallery, I have begun to work on new woven products which are targeted to be ready for retail consumption next year. Skye Textiles focus is to provide exclusive finished textiles woven in Scotland and hand finished in Skye. The development of Skye Textiles is a methodical work-in-progress that will evolve organically in its own time.
In the near future, Highland Natural Accents is to successfully establish its own independent retail store. Highland Natural Accents has been given an advantage through We Frame It to establish and grow its physical retail presence through the We Frame It galleries. After two years in operation, HNA has grown and arrived at a stage which it needs to properly brand itself and maximise growth.
A new retail space in Portree will be available to Highland Natural Accents within the next year or so. Highland Natural Accents’ objective is to remain and have sole presence in Portree with its retail operations. Once this new retail space has been finalised, Highland Natural Accents will be able to create an exclusive image for its brand and expand its selection of high-quality textiles.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
A favourite aspect of my new career is creating happy moments for others. You see that sparkle in the customer’s eye or hear that wee giggle they can't manage to contain because the textile they just saw makes them feel so happy. You know then that the textile will remind them of that moment, time and time again, when they use it.
In addition, I enjoy helping artists make their business better in some way. The result can be increased efficiencies and/or profitability for them.
What is the biggest mistake you have made in your career so far and how could it be avoided?
The biggest mistake I have made in my professional career is not starting my own business sooner. Over time, I have learned that fear is lack of knowledge. You cannot gain knowledge unless you try, and sometimes fail, at doing whatever. The key – do not fear failure.
What does your workspace look like?
My workspace is anywhere and in my head. Laptop, iPad, mobile and camera with lenses are in backpacks, always ready to go. The most permanent space I have is the retail and storage space at the We Frame It gallery. The day when Highland Natural Accents opens its own doors for business will be very exciting one, indeed.
Who is your design inspiration?
I was born in Venezuela and brought up on the East Coast of the United States. I have travelled in various countries of five out of the seven continents of the world. Different cultures influence and inspire me – Japanese discipline, Chinese inventiveness, Spanish / Latin American vitality, Turkish vivaciousness. A trip to Turkey in my mid-20’s inspired me to not be afraid to mix all sorts of colours and textures together. Family teachings and exposure to New York City gave me the foundation of recognising high-quality workmanship, being open to a variety of ideas, and understanding great contrasts. It is the mixture of these experiences, cultures and places that influence my designs.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Go with your gut instinct; it is your best mentor.
What are you looking for from the textile industry currently?
I thirst for knowledge about current events and forecasted trends in the local textile industry. As I move forward with Highland Natural Accents and become more specialised and focused, I will continue to seek resources for materials, designs and talent from the textile and other industries.
Any final thoughts?
Know where you stand with your cash. Take calculated risks. Build good memories for you and others.
Find Highland Natural Accents online:
website / twitter / facebook
Hello, I’m Flora Collingwood-Norris. I started Collingwood-Norris in 2016 and now create luxury colourful knitwear from my studio in Galashiels. The range includes scarves, hats, reflector pom hats, fingerless mitts, and jumpers. I design, knit, and hand finish each piece myself, and try to bring out the best in the natural fibres that I love using, especially lambswool.
I don’t really have a typical day! I do whatever needs doing - often that involves knitting at some point, but sometimes my days are more about customer service, emails, finishing, labelling, packaging… there are so many different things that I have to do in a day! They all start with taking my dog, Stitch, for a walk though, and there’s always an afternoon walk too, I’m very lucky to be surrounded by beautiful countryside, and it’s important to get out of the studio every now and then.
I’m still learning about it - it always keeps me interested. I’m happiest when I’m knitting, and love all forms of it; from hand knitting, knitting on my hand frame knitting machines, or exploring what can be achieved on the digital machines. I still feel really lucky to be able to work in an industry that fascinates me so much.
Yes, I studied Textiles at Heriot-Watt University, specialising in knit. That’s where I learned to use knitting machines, hand frames and Shima. Before that I did a foundation art course at Leith School of Art in Edinburgh, which gave me a great creative base to start from.
What I’m doing right now. There are a few things I’m proud of: some crochet pieces that were challenging to make for clients when I was still working freelance, and I’m still proud of my graduate collection, but starting my own label is the most exciting, challenging thing I’ve done, and the most rewarding. Every day I’m working for myself is a massive achievement.
I’m very inspired by my friend Anna Skodbo, founder and designer of phannatiq, an ethical clothing company based in London. She is passionate about ethical fashion, and has made her business as transparent as possible, showing the journey of her sustainable clothing from fabric manufacture through to the end product. Anna's integrity and passion constantly inspire me.
I’m currently working out how best to take the business forward, and there’s a collaboration on the horizon, so watch this space.
This is a hard question, because what I think what I love is the full process, from designing and making something through to seeing someone wearing the finished piece.
Hm, probably taking on some bespoke work, which wasn’t right for my business and was time consuming without being very rewarding. I’m now being very firm with myself, and I’m not saying yes to absolutely everything anymore!
It’s a light room, with two large desks that are normally covered in yarn, knitting in progress, labels and general stuff, and there are boxes of yarn wherever there is space for them! I have two knitting machines set up all the time, and a big comfy chair that Stitch tends to use it as her bed during the day.
I’m very inspired by landscapes around me, and colours I see, particularly on the West Coast of Scotland. I have a section of my studio wall that’s covered in things I like and that inspire me - there’s a lot of Islamic / Middle Eastern art and tiling, some old Kenzo by Antonio Marras, some Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Leon Bakst, interesting places from my travels and colourful postcards I’ve collected over time - inspiration comes from a wide range of places and people!
"Measure twice, cut once."
More eco-effective designs and materials, more transparency, and skill sharing. There are exciting times ahead if we could lead the way for these.
Find Collingwood-Norris online:
website / instagram / twitter / facebook
Kalopsia was established in 2012 by British / Swedish duo, Adam Robertson & Nina Falk. Kalopsia began as a textiles and design organisation to challenge the way textiles was seen. We began everything by asking the question; "What are textiles?"
Today, Kalopsia operates as a Social Enterprise in Edinburgh’s busy creative and cultural port, Leith, with the aim to batch manufacture textiles products more ethically and sustainably in Britain.
A typical day for us usually involves lots of cutting and making of products, drinking lots of coffee, and heated discussions with the team and interns over lunch (mostly regarding fashion trends and ethics in textiles). As many of our clients are actually based in London, we often have a lot of Skype meetings and phone calls throughout the day and while this is happening there is always at least three machinists manufacturing in the background. We like to think that the general feeling of our micro-manufacturing space is positive, relaxed and welcoming, though often quite noisy with all the machines and music!
Our passion has always been there; we started the business to address the challenges we were facing as freelance designers. We care about the services we provide as these are services that we needed when we started out. The ethical and sustainable aspects of what we do came in later, but once we had seen the true extent of these issues we knew we had to do something about them. This further fuelled our passion and drove us to make more conscious decisions about how we produce.
Kalopsia’s three directors have a mixed and varied background, with degrees ranging from Textiles at Norwich University of the Arts, Textiles Design at Osaka Seikei University Faculty of Art and Design in Japan, Fashion Tailoring and Design in Stockholm, to Illustration at ECA and Custom design in Bristol. We are a real mixed bag which is great and means we always have broad wealth of knowledge to tackle projects and challenges.
This year we were shortlisted for “Manufacturer of the Year.” This was a huge honour for us and it was truly amazing to be recognised that this level. In 2016 we hosted the launch of the Scottish Government Circular Economy strategy in our work space ‘The Facility.’ This was a also a huge honour and we were so pleased to be part of the launch of such an important initiative.
Another thing that we are very proud of is some of the more creative projects we have been asked to be part of such as making and designing costumes for the international circus performance group Gynoïdes circus female intelligentsia.
We don’t particularly have a figure that we look up to but rather organisations and collectives that excite us and push us to do more. Some of the key ones includes Svenskt Tenn, Bauhaus and The Vkhutemas Arts School. All of which have sustainable, mindful and utilitarian production at their core.
We will soon start working on an order for a newly opening design museum in Scotland (but we can't say anymore about this yet...). We also have a fashion shoot coming up in Stockholm for our new additions to the Assemble collection. The shoot will feature the print works of a range of British Designers.
We are really lucky that we get to work with a huge variety of both British and international textiles creators, and turn their fabrics into ethically and sustainable commercial products made here in Scotland. There is something truly inspiring about the range and depth of materials we get to work with. From print to weave and knit, we work with some fantastic creators and businesses.
When we first opened up our manufacturing services, we were very eager to please and would often find ourselves taking on work that wasn’t appropriate for us to be doing. This put a huge amount of pressure on us and created some very tense relationships with some clients. The key thing we think you need to do to avoid this is to be clear and firm about what you can and can’t produce, both when you are working with clients but also in your media and branding. Be excited and positive about what you can do and never be afraid to turn down work that you know isn’t right for you. It can take a while to get that message right but once you do, it will completely transform the way you work with clients and will free up a great deal of your time.
Kalopsia is based in Leith, Edinburgh's unofficial creative quarter; located on the Firth of Forth, in the North of the city. Our micro-manufacturing space is in a industrial estate just off New Haven Road where we produce all Assemble products. Our small but efficient production space is fairly traditionally laid out with cutting tables, industrial machines, heat presses. Where is differ from more conventional manufacturers is in the construction of our systems around the manufacturing. We are always looking for the most effective way to manufacture products as well as handle orders and client relationships, which means the look and feel of our space is continuously evolving and improving as the business develops.
The inspiration for the style of our print designs comes primarily from constructivism and abstraction. We have both always been really excited by those modernist mid-century ideas and colour palettes. The imagery for our latest print collection ‘Konstrukt’ (which is available to buy by the meter from BeFab Be Creative) was inspired by Leith scenery. Primarily the dock lands, and industrial areas.
The Assemble products on the other hand have been more inspired by Nordic design. We really love the minimal and utilitarian feel of a lot of Scandinavian design. Balancing design with functionality and effective use of fabric is always of real importance to us, and we were also really mindful that as we moved into producing apparel that we didn’t want to create any garments that would exclude anyone because of size or body shape, so we intentionally created a collection with simple, classic shapes that we knew would complement a wide range of people.
We once got a very blunt and very true piece of advice from a business mentor of ours after we had another company steal our logo and branding and refuse to change it - “Don’t let people you do not respect upset you.” It sounded brutal to us at the time but we very quickly realised how right she was. We all should spend more time work on the positive, exciting things we are doing and not let the ourselves get dragged into the negative aspects of what we do.
We are lucky in this respect, as what we have been pushing for from the textiles industry for many years is beginning to happen! We are starting to see a greater shift towards more thoughtful and conscious ways of producing products and design. We are delighted to see an increased focus on the environmental and social impact of what we collectively produce as an industry. We are also so proud to see Scottish companies leading the way in many of these fields and discussions and hope that we can continue to push for solutions and be the world leaders in how we tackle them.
Find Kalopsia Collective online:
website / instagram / twitter / facebook
My Name is Martin Scroggie and I own luxury contemporary menswear brand MG Gabriel.
My day usually starts with me heading in to the studio for 8:30/9am, and it usually depends on what’s happening at the time. Recently I’ve been looking over last nights’ progress to see what needs to be completed. I’m currently manufacturing a new collection so testing the complicated parts of the garment so they are correct and fit and amending on the patterns so they can be signed off. Then I go through the process of cutting and prepping the garment before sewing. Depending on what stage I’m at with the collection, each day follows from when the last stage I left it at. I also try to make sure I do some social media and check my emails too, so by that time it’s about 9pm.
I guess I would have to say it comes from observing the success of other designers past and present; looking at their achievements and aspiring to have a similar success. I had some family and have so many friends in the fashion industry. Their success and achievements have always spurred me on. My story won’t hold exactly the same successes and achievements as theirs, but it gives me the passion to go to the next stage of my career.
Yes I started my studies at, then, Cardonald College. I then moved to London to study at London College of Fashion. After that I worked in the industry for four years, and moved back to Glasgow in 2010 to start my Masters at Glasgow School of Art in 2011.
Starting MG Gabriel. It was something I had always thought about when I started but I never thought I could do until I had gained the experience. Since starting up it’s been a joy to go to work. The part I’m proud about is taking that thought as a teenager and actually creating the brand years later.
In the past it’s been eccentric designers like Galliano, Gualtier, Viktor & Rolf, and Westwood; then I found interest in designers like the Antwerp 6. I still find these fashion figures inspirational but I’ve also found people like Bill Cunningham and Iris Apfel inspirational due to their outlook and unique approach to style and recognising it.
I'm currently looking for manufacturing, trade shows, or shows to showcase at. I'm also looking for stockists. Moving from being a bespoke tailor-made brand, to having stockists outside the studio is exciting for me. It’s a change in direction and a positive change for the brand.
Being able to design, create and see people wearing my clothes. Also I love meeting other designers and sharing experiences and information with them.
Holding back and not taking enough chances. I used to miss opportunities because of that. It’s something I’m changing in myself for the better and I’ve learned to approach people more and ask questions and get feedback.
What does your work space look like?
Right now? A creative organised mess. Well my area of the studio is. I share a studio at the Fashion Foundry with five other designers - so in the middle of a new collection it means that there is a lot of paper, various patterns and fabric over my desk. I have a timeline on the wall with a checklist of things completed and things to do, along with a George Michael calendar for motivation. The rest of the studio is maintained better however which is ironic.
I always think that inspiration is limited by the inspired. I don’t think there has been one person of design inspiration that I’ve gravitated towards. There have been so many and not just in fashion. For me, there’s always an opportunity to be inspired by many forms of design and designer.
Do things at your pace and when you feel the time is right.
Advice, support, information and be part of a good strong network of people.
Just always do something you feel passionate about. You find yourself gravitating and surrounding yourself with the people who share that passion and it becomes encouraging.
Find MG Gabriel online:
Hello, my name is Jessica Giannotti. I’m an Italo-Venezuelan designer living in bonnie Scotland. I founded Crùbag in Dec 2013 after finishing my studies in marine science.
We are an emerging design studio based at an old teaching marine laboratory at the Scottish Marine Institute near Oban in Argyll. We are dedicated to producing colourful luxury textiles inspired by the oceans and science. We love sustainability, craftsmanship and the sea so we combined the three!
Our product range includes scarves, foulards, pocket squares, bow ties, napkin sets and cushions. We only work with natural fibres and our products are all designed by us, printed in the UK and finished by hand in Scotland, England and / or Italy.
A typical day varies depending on deadlines and pending projects. I arrive at the studio in the morning and first of all, I make a nice coffee and then review and update my to-do list. I go for a walk at the beach with the dog to kick start the day.
Most days I have to do admin work, like working on cash flow projections, bookkeeping, VAT submissions and applications.
Working with imagery and content creation for our website, social media, our science outreach projects and printed materials are a key part of our work as well. We just launched a new website so we spent a lot of time doing that. At the moment, I have to wear so many hats! Developing a collection takes a long time, I work on gathering inspiration every day. However, designing which I love so much, as well as working on sampling and production is done in cycles.
Crùbag is a multidisciplinary studio. We work at the interface of ocean sciences, textiles, design and environmental education.
I always loved textiles, colours and textures: the fascination of how beautiful pieces are made with a variety of materials, how good design evokes an emotional response and how culture is expressed through textiles.
When I came to Scotland I decided to fulfil my childhood dream which was to study marine science. I studied BSc Marine Science at the Scottish Association for Marine Science, University of the Highlands and Islands. I’m currently completing a course in Managing Luxury Brands from Bocconi University. I was very lucky to have been selected for the inaugural 2015 Scotland Can Do Scale intensive entrepreneurship training programme at Stirling University with professors from MIT and Harvard. For the last four years I immersed myself in the world of the textile industry, visiting fashion weeks, doing textile design courses, workshops and working with wonderful mentors.
The reactions of people when they see our designs and touch our textiles. The spark in their face is the best feedback we can ever get! The most proud moment was when I took my first samples ever to my mentor Pamela Conacher, from Emergents. Materialising a vision from an abstract idea in your head is priceless. Sometimes I come to the studio and see all scarves hanging on the rail and still can’t believe it is real.
The American author and journalist, Joan Didion taught me not to be afraid of my mind, and the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and her colourful life inspired me to use unexpected colour combinations. They both prevailed despite major adversities.
Alexander MacQueen’s also had an impact on me. His designs are poetry for the eyes. The complexity, passion and rawness of his work is beyond any zeitgeist.
My mother who is a painter is also of great inspiration to me.
One special project that is very close to our heart is the continuation of the Murray collection into the Challenger collection, using the original challenger reports. The HMS Challenger set sail from Portsmouth, England in 1872 and spent nearly four years exploring the world’s oceans. Sir John Murray and his colleagues made seminal discoveries and carefully produced reports, which helped establish modern oceanography. They are stored at the marine institute where we are based. The illustrations on these reports are going to be the basis for our new collection.
Furthermore, our upcoming A/W collection will bring to the surface mysterious and unseen creatures from thousands of metres deep seamounts. Here, a combination of science imagery, grounded dark and rich colours and hand made drawings will give the collection an opulent natural history aesthetics. For our S/S 2019 collection I can only say that it is going to be a tropical exuberance of colours and lightness.
I love learning about all these scientific projects. Establishing collaborations with scientists is so exciting and personal, it gives me the sense of community and bouncing ideas is fundamental to stay sane. The design process is one of my favourite parts. Getting lost when designing, forgetting the world around me and being completely present and immersed in the creation process after a period of incubation and latency where the inspiration has been absorbed and worked by the subconscious mind before it re-emerges into the surface is just pure joy.
I jumped headfirst into the fire and had no idea how to design, print or run a textile based business. I never wanted to be a designer until that moment and had to figure out how I could do it – I didn’t know about fabric! It took me at least three to four additional years to learn about the industry. I took time to take design courses, and also to learn production. For that reason, I didn’t grow as fast as I hoped because I needed to learn so much. I was naïve and very enthusiastic but that is not enough. I decided to step back and focus on learning first, getting the product right. This is a huge industry, everyone is amazing and specialised. People study to be a designer for years and I didn’t have that. It’s really difficult to make it, and so I decided to let Crùbag grow organically. It was the right decision.
Our studio looks like a hybrid marine lab/design studio! It is rather eclectic, spacious and we have plenty of natural light pouring in. It is a second home.
Nature has an incredible capacity to surprise me with its unusual patterns and intrinsic forms. The oceans are a never ending source of design inspiration.
The best and the worst piece of advice I have been given was by my dad who said I could do whatever I put my mind to and be whoever I want to be.
The textile industry welcomed me with open arms. I look for the textile industry to continue to be a platform for development, exchange and inspiration. Amazing new technologies and materials are being constantly developed while traditional skills are being nurtured and preserved, I love the combination of cutting-edge technologies, innovation and traditional craftsmanship. I wish for the textile industry to make it easier for companies and designers to be more environmentally sustainable and to have a clearer and traceable supply chain, to be the voice of sustainability and lead by example.
We would love people to join our campaigns of knowledge based activism. Our current campaign is called The Power of Small. Good things come in small doses. Every third breath we take has oxygen produced from phytoplankton photosynthesis, and these tiny marine organisms are vital for us. We live in blue planet and the oceans are our live support system. We donate 10% of our profits to scientific institutions to support continued marine research.
Find Crubag online:
website / instagram / twitter / facebook
My name is Jane Macmillan. I am the Content Creation and Education Officer for the Harris Tweed Authority (HTA) here in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.
The main duties of my role here at the HTA include: managing our Social Media content (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vimeo), maintaining our website content and updates, designing our Point of Sale materials (boards, leaflets, flyers) visiting and supporting schools and hosting workshops about the Harris Tweed industry, working ongoing projects such as the Harris Tweed App and our new exhibition room to work on.
I am very passionate, as an islander, about our Hebridean culture; our music, our language and our traditions. Harris Tweed comes into that world – weaving is an old tradition of the isles and Harris Tweed is something that belongs to the people of the Outer Hebrides. It’s part of our heritage, which I’m very proud to share with the rest of the world.
I went to study Classical Music first in Edinburgh, but I didn’t last long and had to move back home to Lewis – I was too homesick! After that, I studied Scottish Cultural Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands and then I started working at the HTA.
Photography: Lewis MacKenzie
I initially started working at the HTA on a year-long maternity cover post as an administrator. I worked hard and took every opportunity that was handed to me. I was very proud to be offered a new post as Content Creation and Education Officer and thankful to our CEO Lorna Macaulay for recognising my potential and for giving me the chance to explore the more creative aspects of the HTA.
In all honesty, the figure of the Outer Hebrides is what I look to for inspiration; the people and place. When I’m looking for social media or creative content inspiration, I always fall back on the colours of our landscapes and the stories behind our island people – those creating history today and those no longer with us, who left us great stories to tell the next generation!
I’m currently working with a design team on creating our Harris Tweed brand room exhibition. The space will tell the story of Harris Tweed; how it’s made and why it must be handwoven by islanders at their own homes in the Outer Hebrides from wool dyed and spun here also. It all comes back to the Harris Tweed Act of Parliament 1993, and that is what the exhibition will be about.
I really enjoy the social media aspect to my job. Connecting with people around the world over something we mutually love (Harris Tweed) is a great feeling.
I’ve only been working at the HTA for just under three years, so it’s a fairly new career break for me. Before that, I was a full-time musician! I’m sure there will be some pivotal career changing moments (and mistakes) to come in the future though, and plenty to learn from.
The HTA is located in the upstairs of the Stornoway Town Hall building. It’s a beautiful old building, right in the heart of Stornoway – tall ceilings, old doors and preserved fireplaces. It’s the perfect home for the ‘Guardians of the Orb’, which we’re ‘unofficially’ known as!
So far, my favourite piece of career advice is to make sure your colleagues are like your family. You can ask their advice, work as a strong team and bounce ideas off one another; working with people you love makes the job so much more enjoyable.
I would love for everyone to know the Harris Tweed story. Why Harris Tweed is the choice of fabric for many, why it’s so special, why it’s protected and why so many people fall in love with it. I want everyone to walk into a shop and know why they’d choose a garment or product in Harris Tweed over any other. I want people to understand that Harris Tweed is purely a fabric and be aware that there is an Act of Parliament to protect it. Most importantly, I want everyone to understand why it’s worth protecting.
I think it’s so important to love the job you have. When you think of how much time in your life you spend at work and with your colleagues, it seems silly to be doing something you really don’t enjoy. I consider myself very lucky to be working alongside such incredible people, with a brand I’m truly passionate about and in the place I call home. It’s wonderful to be part of the Harris Tweed family here in the Outer Hebrides and I can’t picture myself anywhere else.
Find Harris Tweed online:
website / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter
Jane MacMillan interviewed by Kimberley White
Our first Member of the Moment in 2018 is the New Lanark World Heritage Site.
My name is Melissa Reilly and I’m the Marketing and PR Officer at New Lanark World Heritage Site. New Lanark is one of Scotland’s 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites of “Outstanding Universal Value” and welcomes around 300,000 visitors annually. Founded in 1785 as a cotton-spinning Mill Village by David Dale and Richard Arkwright, New Lanark became internationally recognised under the enlightened management of Robert Owen. Today, New Lanark is still a living and working community with over 100 residents as well as a range of tourism facilities including an award-winning Visitor Attraction, Mill Shops, Mill Café, Hotel, Hostel, self-catering cottages and outdoor Picnic & Play Area.
Once a powerhouse of the cotton industry in Scotland, New Lanark today now uses the historic textile machinery to produce a high quality range of woollen yarn. In 2015 New Lanark launched the world’s first ‘Organic Tartan’, fully certified by the Soil Association.
New Lanark is looking to expand its audience by introducing a programme of world-class touring exhibitions in its newly developed Exhibitions Gallery. The first of which will be ARTIST TEXTILES Picasso to Warhol, opening on 26th January and running until 29th April. This stunning exhibition explores 20th century art in fashion and textiles with highlights including prints of work by artists such as Picasso, Warhol, Matisse and Dali.
A typical day for me always starts with a cup of tea! (in my favourite ‘Addams Family’ mug which my musical theatre society performed in 2016). As a force of old habit, my first task on the computer is always to check all of New Lanark’s social media channels for activity, comments and posts that have went up through the night.
Every day can be different at New Lanark, one day I might be meeting a foreign TV company to facilitate their filming at the site, and the next I might be designing a press advert for one of our upcoming exhibitions.
I usually check my emails in the morning and then turn Outlook off so that I’m not constantly distracted through the day by emails coming through – if someone desperately needs me there is always the phone!
One of my earliest memories is playing with my ‘Fashion Wheel’ and wanting to be a fashion designer when I grew up! I have always been interested in creativity, crafts and design and this is no different today.
At University I studied for a BA HONS in ‘Applied Graphics Technology’ which was a diverse course covering a whole host of creative subjects from website design and product design, to HCI (Human Computer Interface) and video production. Since University I have worked on a range of freelance design projects and I regularly assist my musical theatre society with the design of their promotional materials.
Before working at New Lanark I was the Social Media Executive for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Being so closely involved in the successful delivery of the #BestGamesEver and to be in the heart of Glasgow during the summer of 2014 was something I’ll never forget! I’m also very proud to have been awarded the ‘Rising Star’ award at the 2016 ASVA Awards (Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions) which recognised my contribution to New Lanark.
As I mentioned before right now I am very busy delivering the marketing campaign for ARTIST TEXTILES Picasso to Warhol which is opening at New Lanark at the end of January! After that I’ll be moving onto working on promotion for our next textile exhibition ‘Making the Great Tapestry of Scotland’ and then it’ll be summer before we know it and GAME PLAN Board Games Rediscovered will be opening.
New Lanark is such a special place to work, not only because of the village’s fascinating history but because of the beauty of the natural surroundings. There’s nothing better in the summer than sitting with a New Lanark Ice Cream cone by the Waterwheel and watching the river (and the world!) go by.
I’m not sure if it’s a ‘mistake’ but a learning I have gained over the past year has been the importance of managing visitor expectations within marketing, in terms of the imagery and wording used. Something as simple as using the phrase ‘enjoy a day out…’ can lead to people believing that the activity being advertised will actually fill a full day. Thinking back, I accidentally posted a picture of a cheeseboard I was enjoying on a Saturday night to a corporate account I was managing through my phone due to an Instagram glitch!
Right now my workspace is overrun with ARTIST TEXTILES marketing and Picasso quotes – not a bad thing at all!
It has to be the Scottish granny classic - “What’s for you won’t go by you”. I very much believe in this and through past experience it’s turned out to be very sound advice.
As we move into 2018 I think it’s a really exciting time for the textile industry and attractions in Scotland, to develop our offerings to allow more people to engage with textiles through new and innovative events, exhibitions, workshops and activities.
New Lanark are running a Textiles Design Competition to celebrate the travelling Artist Textiles Exhibition. Check out their website here.
Melissa Reilly interviewed by Kimberley White.
October 2017, and our Member of the Moment is the talented Eliza Kesuma of Moody Monday.
I am Eliza Kesuma; the surface and pattern designer and director, of Moody Monday. We create luxury artisan design-led bespoke wallpaper, fabrics and accessories for interiors, both contract and residential market; from our studio in Edinburgh. My designs are inspired by unconventional beauty that surrounds us. For me, it's about taking inspiration from the most unlikely places.
We have a very small but effective team here in the studio; at the moment the main team consists of Andrew and myself. Andrew is our studio and sales manager. We also have a small team of talented freelancers and volunteers that help us out when we need an extra pair of hands.
I studied Design for Textiles (Fashion, Interior and Art) at Heriot-Watt University School of Textiles in Galashiels, specialising in Print.
A typical day for me would be an early start, with the first priority being to put the kettle on and brew coffee in the French press. While waiting for the coffee to brew, I scan through my notes, calendar and Trello board to see what outstanding work I have to do for the week, keeping an eye on any deadlines, and plan my day based on this. I will then spend the next hour or two checking and responding to emails and tying up any loose ends from the previous day.
For the remainder of the day, I turn my attention to continuing or finishing any design or non-design work to progress existing projects and to ensure I meet the deadlines I keep noted on a list in my studio.
From time to time, I will have meetings scheduled for the day or I will attend events. I tend to schedule most of my meetings into the same day where possible, so I will have an uninterrupted few hours on a particular day to concentrate on any studio work in progress from my priority list.
I would say, not as glamorous as some might think. It’s very practical and low key, much like myself!
I showed signs of an interest in creativity at a very early age. At six years old, I was either drawing, or writing poetry on the walls of the house, or ‘customising’ my clothing when I got my hands on a pair of scissors, much to the dismay of my poor Mum.
Whilst attending school, it was obvious to me that I was more interested in, and performed better at, the creative subjects as opposed to the more academic ones. I was drawing on anything – clothes, arms, textbooks, notebooks, bags, folders, shoes, etc. I even used to have my classmates queuing up for me to draw on them!
I would also design and make cards and gifts for friends and, with their support and encouragement, I started an early venture called ‘Nature’s Tribe’, featuring found objects and ink illustrations, which I worked on after school and then sold to classmates. My family convinced me to enter various design competitions held by different department stores in Jakarta, where we lived, and I won. The most notable of these was designing cards for Hallmark.
I moved to Scotland in 1999 and had aspirations to be a fashion designer, at first, enrolling at Heriot-Watt University to study Textiles and Fashion Design. At the end of my first year, I had more of an interest in textiles and decided to focus on this area going forward: specialising in print design. Throughout my time on the course, including placements, I found that I liked both print and surface design in both fashion and interiors; the versatility and tactility of the materials and colours used in fashion and the longevity/permanence of interiors. I also wanted to bring the excitement and innovation associated with fashion into interior applications: this is why I love playing with colours and different subjects and textures in my designs.
I don’t think I could choose one single proudest moment of my career, as I am pretty proud of all of the experiences and achievements I have had so far. The creative industry is a hard one to break into, so you have to be proud and grateful for every single milestones you reach and give yourself a pat in the back for the great things you’ve achieved from your hard work; no matter how big or small, they all count for something.
Both my late Mum and Grandmother were big inspirations for me. My Grandmother would always make interesting bags for me when she visited from Singapore and my Mum was always painting or making clothes for me, despite working full-time as a teacher. They both expressed their creativity in multiple ways, and were hoarders of interesting fabrics and fashion items.
On a more mainstream note, I really admire Bjork for her ever-evolving creative pursuits. She does what she feels is right at the time and does it with such originality, poise, and conviction.
I suppose the similarity with all of the three above is that they’re all fearless creative interdisciplinary passionate females!
In addition to the bespoke projects to the contract market we are focused on, we are working on licensing partnerships with other brands and businesses to spread our design passion as widely as we possibly can.
Getting to see the look of sheer joy on the client's face when you finish a project and having them tell you that it turned out better than their initial expectations. Makes me feel like I’ve died and went to heaven, every time!
Our studio move initiated last year and only just concluded in the past few months. Without going into great detail, it was a bit of a disaster and unfortunately had a significant impact on the running of the business. However, I believe that with every setback there is the opportunity to gain something invaluable out of it.
I think there are some setbacks or disasters that are impossible to completely avoid; in spite of the due diligence, research and investigation you’ve put in to ensure that you are making the right decision. Unless you can look into the future, there are some things in life just can’t be controlled. In this instance I had to force myself to accept what had happened, in order to get on with my life and the business; making the most out of a bad situation.
It changes all the time, because there are just so many inspirational talents out there: past, present and future speaking, especially within the vast creative landscape beyond the world of interiors and textiles. I find a lot of people and subjects inspiring, even if they’ve not been intentionally so. It depends on what my mind is interested in, obsessing over and what I have found inspiring at the time.
A noteworthy one worth mentioning though is Barbara Hulanicki, whom I have had the great honour and pleasure in meeting in person, during a screening of the documentary ‘Beyond Biba’ a few years back.
“Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”
It’s from a Japanese idiom that means when life knocks you down, stand back up no matter what has happened, and continue on.
Someone gave me that advice during a very difficult time of my life, which sounded cliché and mildly insulting at the time, as if I was in the Karate Kid. But I saw the value of it much later on and been hanging on to it like a mantra ever since.
1. A sales agent to represent our business to the trade market in the UK and overseas, we are at that stage where we require a sales representative.
2. A means to a physical (brick and mortar) more permanent platform to present Moody Monday’s full collection, so people can take their time to absorb and appreciate the beauty of all we have to offer!
Any final thoughts, Eliza?
I think it would be great to have a dedicated sales-agent hired and assigned to represent and secure sales for Scottish textiles businesses, as a different kind of support from the government. The landscape of business looks a lot tougher and is rapidly changing; therefore the support we are getting from government and its supporting organisations needs to reflect this as well.
You can visit Moody Monday online or take a look at their Instagram.
Eliza Kesuma interviewed by Kimberley White
This week we were lucky to catch Clare of Prickly Thistle, to hear all about her exciting textile mill plans.
I'm Clare Campbell, a Chartered Accountant turned designer. I established Prickly Thistle in 2015 as a new challenge after accomplishing all my goals to date. I asked myself how I could apply the skills that I've gleaned from other successful organisations and create a business that gives people around the world an emotive experience and champions an economic uprising for the Highlands. Prickly Thistle was born, to give clients the opportunity to weave their own piece of history through bespoke tartan designs and products.
A typical day would be a different day every day; no two have ever been the same! The range of client services that we offer at Prickly Thistle can see me in the design studio working on a new bespoke tartan for a client based on the research information they have uploaded to their private design book on our portal, to visiting the mill to film new commissions being woven, to working on the new Highland mill plans and even scheduling a late Skype call to speak with clients in North America about their product collection labels. No detail is ever left out. But I suppose one aspect that is essential to every day, is my coffee routine…
What made you want to get into the industry?
I have always had a love for how beautiful a tartan cloth can be, a simple design in the sense of mirrored horizontal and vertical lines. But as I began to research the history, it connected with me; in that this cloth carries an almighty sense of purpose and belonging for so many, certainly for the last 200 years. Then I asked myself the question – how can I disrupt the next 200-year chapter? Today we live in one global nomadic society and long for experiences that connect emotionally, so what does that mean for tartan?
The design process that I share with clients is one that discovers a story, their personal story, so to be able to present them with a tartan design that manages to encapsulate all of this, whilst adding to their legacy with its formal registration into the National Records of Scotland, makes me feel proud and privileged.
All entrepreneurs who have the tenacity to follow their passion and vision. To to quote Steve Jobs, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do”.
The headline project has to be my crowdfunding campaign due to launch later in 2017. This will be to raise funds to build a textiles mill in the mainland Highland region once again, a heritage industry so synonymous with this region that the wearing of a tartan kilt is known around the world as being part of the “Highland Dress”. Watch this space!
At the moment my favourite thing about my work is the challenge of bringing my vision into a reality.
What does your workspace look like?
I work in the design studio looking out to Ben Wyvis and the Cromarty Firth from one window and from the other I see the steading that is waiting to be restored as a mill. On my desk I have a desktop workstation which I use for my tartan design software, also paired with a laptop it is great to have two devices on at the same time to double up on admin and creative work. Pantone charts are a must at all times, at least 6 notebooks all for a different purpose – design notes, product prototype sketches, marketing ideas, even one just for to-do lists.
Not everyone is your customer.
An opportunity to protect and preserve tartan weaving skills, but also promote innovation and disruption to the traditional methods and applications. The power of collaborations are never to be underestimated, and a continuous opportunity to collaborate with like-minded people is something I will always look for in this industry.
What will the world history books say about Scottish textiles in 2217?
You can visit Prickly Thistle online or email Clare directly to discuss opportunities or collaborations.
Clare Campbell interviewed by Kimberley White
We were lucky enough to grab a chat with busy bee Laura Spring on all things textiles.
Firstly can you tell us who you are and a wee bit about your business?
I'm a textile designer/screen printer based in Glasgow with a huge love for colour and bold prints. My business started kind of by accident in 2011 after a journalist (Charlotte Abrahams) saw my wet weather suitcase I had made for a Craft Scotland show earlier in the year and invited me to be part of her 'Spotted' showcase at the trade show Top Drawer in London. I was away on a craft residency at Cove Park at the time so had to pull together collection quite quickly, but I did and it all snowballed from there!
Things have developed a lot in those five and half years and I'm happy to say I now work with a local manufacturer to produce 90% of my collection which is great because it means I have more time to focus on designing, printing and planning for the future. I love working on projects/commissions too, so am usually juggling multiple things at once but it's how I enjoy to work!
What made you want to get into the textiles industry?
I’d always loved textiles from a young age, but somehow ended up studying Visual Communication for my degree at The Glasgow School of Art. Much of my work during that time was more ‘handmade’ than computer made and it’s where I learnt to screen print. As soon as I graduated I started trying to get work in a more textiles based environment, as it was what I felt most excited by and probably the most natural to me. I didn’t really know where I fitted within textiles at that point but knew I loved to ‘make’ and design so completed a placement with Timorous Beasties pretty much straight after graduating and then spent several years working in the costume department of TV, films and opera before combining my passion for screen printing, fabrics and design to begin my own practice in 2011.
There is really no such thing for me. I think part of running a small studio is that you have to get involved in many aspects of the business so each day is different depending on the time of year and things that I’m working on. A typical studio day though usually starts with some emails at home, then arriving at the studio about 9.30am where I’ll stay until about 6.30pm. I’m lucky to be in a lovely studio environment where we all tend to eat lunch together which is really nice. It’s good to take a proper lunch break and hear about someone’s sculpture problems (I share a building with mainly fine artists) or discuss each other’s lunch options. It refreshes the brain for the afternoons tasks!
That there’s so much variety in what I do. I love that I wear many hats – designer/printer/explorer/researcher…I love working on a variety of projects as well as designing collections, it keeps it interesting and I’ve been really lucky that my job has taken me to many exciting places and working on many exciting commissions.
I’m based in an old sawmill on the north side of Glasgow by the canal. My workspace is a double studio – one side is my print room, the other more of an office/clean space. Quite often it’s a bit chaotic as there’s always multiple things to manage but I love it when I have my print class once a month as it makes me do a really good tidy up. I also have quite a few plants in my space – plants are important.
Be kind to yourself. Running your own business can be all consuming so it’s important to invest in yourself – take a holiday/day off etc. You’ll do much better work if you do.
Can you tell us about another Scottish creative that inspires you?
I have so much admiration and respect for Hilary Grant. I first met Hilary at a trade show; probably in 2012…she was behind me, on the other side of the partition wall at Pulse. I knew of her brand a little bit and loved what she was doing so we got chatting. Over the years, we’ve got to know each other well (we were both on the Fashion Foundry pilot programme and have shared an exciting trade mission experience to Japan) and it has been amazing to see what she’s achieved in that time. Her designs are really beautiful and intelligently structured. She’s really clever and knowledgeable about the industry and her work ethic is incredible. I think she’s created a really unique, strong and respected company that I find hugely inspiring – plus she’s a really nice person with a genuine belief in what she’s doing and I think it shines through.
What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned along the way?
I think there’s a couple of really valuable things I’ve learnt. The first being, always trust your gut instinct. When you run your own business, it’s essentially all your own ideas/vision pouring out in to the world and sometimes you know there’s something you want to do or a decision that needs to be made and it’s hard to explain why but you know it’s the right thing for you, so my advice is to always listen to that voice. It’s really important in a highly competitive industry to remain true to yourself, it will keep you focused, in love with what you do and I think, make your company stronger.
I would also say that I’ve also learnt that mistakes are inevitable so it’s important to learn from them and move on in a positive way. No-one knows everything, sometimes it can be painful – financially or emotionally but the recovery is the most important thing and how you handle it, so be prepared to fail and have the courage to do things that might scare you and make you fail, but it will lead to better things, I’m sure of it! Staying in your safe place is never a good idea in my opinion so be brave!
What has been the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
I actually feel incredibly lucky to have a few projects to choose from in regards to this question. Without doubt India Street (a project curated by Katy West) was a total highlight as it involved working with a small group of amazing designers from Scotland and India and then being taken over to India to learn how to block print with an incredible team of crafts people. The two weeks we spent in India were so rewarding and enriching for me as a designer. The exhibition at Tramway last summer was a delight to be part of and I think told the story of the project so well and I’m excited to be continuing the project with a workshop on Mull shortly.
What kind of projects or plans are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a project that has very kindly been funded by Creative Scotland and has been developing in my mind for the last eighteen months. I took part in a residency in the summer of 2015 at Arteles in rural Finland and came across some old catalogues about a particular type of Finnish weaving known as Täkänä. The catalogues really caught my eye because of the graphic nature of many of the designs and also the way the cloth was woven using only two colours which is something that really resonates with my work. I was recently back in Finland exploring the history of this technique, visiting archives and speaking with curators and experts in this area.
I’m now working on pulling my thoughts and findings together into a new collection and new work to be launched at designjunction in September this year. It’s been really interesting for me to explore weave as potential way to work and has opened up so many interesting conversations with people already. It’s kind of what I meant in the earlier question about trusting your gut and taking yourself out of your comfort zone, as a print designer trained initially in graphic design, my knowledge of weaving is very limited but it is so exciting to explore this new technique and dream of new outcomes and collaborations…
What words of advice do you have for the next wave of upcoming talent?
Look forward, don’t try to imitate what’s happening right now, you want to be part of what’s happening next. Be nice to people, so much of what we all do is about building relationships and without the help and support of good people around you, nothing will happen.
What do you do to unwind from your busy creative life?
I love being outside. I love the silence of a forest and the chat around a campfire…away from computers and emails!
Final question, what do the next five years hold for Laura Spring?
Hopefully continuing to build on what I have now, working on projects that excite me with people who I love to work with.
You can find Laura at lauraspring.co.uk and get a look behind the scenes at @lauraspringstudio.
Laura Spring interviewed by Kimberley White
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