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  • 23-Jun-2017 2:18 PM | Kimberley White (Administrator)

    This week we were lucky to catch Clare of Prickly Thistle, to hear all about her exciting textile mill plans.

    First up, can you tell me who you are, and a wee bit about your business?

    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.


    What does a typical day look like for you?

    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?


    What are you most proud of in your career so far?

    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.


    Who are the influential figures you look up to for inspiration?

    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”.

    What exciting projects do you have in the pipeline for the near future?

    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!


    What is your favourite thing about your job?

    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.


    What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

    Not everyone is your customer.

    What are you looking for from the textile industry currently?

    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.


    Any final thoughts?

    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.

  • 31-May-2017 11:21 AM | Kimberley White (Administrator)

    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.

    What does a typical day look like for you?

    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!


    What is your favourite thing about your job?

    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.

    What does your workspace look like?

    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.


    What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

    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.

  • 02-May-2017 12:54 PM | Kimberley White (Administrator)

    Last month Kimberley got to know new member Kate Davies of Kate Davies Designs.

    Tell us who you are, and a wee bit about your business...

    I am Kate Davies. I founded my business in 2010, initially selling digital patterns and designs online. The company has now grown to manufacture our own brands of yarn, publish popular books, and create collections of designs for hand-knitters, all inspired by Scotland’s rich textile history and heritage.  My designs are enjoyed by hand knitters in over 60 countries worldwide.




    What does a typical day look like for you?

    Any small business owner will tell you that no day is typical! I might be designing a sweater, researching or writing an essay about the history of Shetland knitting, processing invoices, checking stock in the warehouse, working on a commission, responding to enquiries, or all of the above! But whatever I’m doing, I always make time for a long walk with my dog, Bruce, usually along the West Highland Way, where we live.

    What made you want to get into the industry? 

    I always loved making and designing my own clothes, and was pretty good at it. I also have a PhD in history, and a strong interest in Scottish textiles. Until 7 years ago my career was in the latter field, as an academic historian. I had a stroke in 2010 (aged 36), and was unable to continue working in academia. So I started a business which combined my design skills with my love of textile history.  Now I live in the best of both worlds, creating contemporary, wearable designs inspired by the landscape which I love, and which surrounds me.


    What are you most proud of in your career so far?

    Two things: Writing and publishing six successful books completely independently and being awarded the title of Microbusiness Of The Year from the Federation of Small Business and Worldpay in 2016.

    Who are the influential figures you look up to for inspiration? 

    The women of Shetland, many of whom are amazing knitter-designers, and some of whom are also brilliantly creative entrepreneurs. You might not have heard of them, but they have quietly shaped and influenced the direction of Scottish knitwear design for the past two centuries. And there are some amazing women running textile businesses in Shetland today: Wilma Malcolmson. Joanna Hunter. Niela Nell. Hazel Tindall. Natalie Cairns-Rattar.


    What exciting projects do you have in the pipeline for the near future? 

    We are currently working on two large projects – a book of photographs and a new knitwear collection – using some occasionally surprising aspects of my local landscape for inspiration.

    What is your favourite thing about your job? 

    The basic thrill of making stuff, words or designs, that other people enjoy and want to read or wear.

    What does your workspace look like?

    Out of one side of my studio window I can see a small lochan, and out the other, Ben Lomond. The outside is much more beautiful than the inside – I’m a strong believer in the creative power of mess and seem to work most productively from within the middle of an encroaching mountain of books and yarn.


    What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

    If you build it, they will come.

    What are you looking for from the textile industry currently? 

    All our products—from books to yarn—are designed and produced here Scotland and this is very important to us as a business, indeed it is a linchpin of our brand.  One thing we’ve really appreciated with the publishing side of things is the support and service we’ve received from our Glasgow printers, Bell and Bain – we are only a small company, but, in producing our books they treat us in exactly the same way they do their larger clients and are genuinely interested in our ethos and what we do. 

    I believe that a sustainable way forward for the textile industry as a whole might be found in a similarly mutually respectful relationship between small businesses and larger manufacturing operations - working together in ways that have their local economy in mind. That I’ve raised this matter at all suggests that this is sadly not always the case.  


    You can check out Kate's work at KateDaviesDesign.com or get in touch with her at kate@katedaviesdesigns.com.


  • 11-Feb-2016 12:27 PM | Kimberley White (Administrator)

    Michaela from Scott & Fyfe had a cup of tea with Kimberley this month to chat all things innovation.

    First up, can you tell us your name and a wee bit about yourself and your business?

    My name is Michaela Millar and I am a business development officer at Scott & Fyfe. A 150 year old, employee owned company. The company manufactures and supplies technical textiles to a global market using processes including stitch bonding, warp knitting, coating and weaving for markets including abrasives, flooring, composites and cured in place pipe. Based in Tayport, we are not your typical manufacturer, for our offices imagine a cross between Google HQ and Teletubby land! This is because the company has completely transformed itself over the past five years with a design and innovation led strategy.

     

    What made you want to get into the industry?

    I graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone having specialised in woven textile design, and in all honesty I had almost zero knowledge of technical textiles! However, whilst showcasing our work at the annual degree show I met Michelle Quadrelli, Business Director at Scott & Fyfe, and as a result I was offered a 3 month internship. I thought this was a great opportunity to learn new skills and was curious to see what type of textiles the company produced. Whilst at University I was obsessed with pushing the boundaries of textile structures and seeing what they could do. Many of the textiles produced by Scott & Fyfe are extremely innovative and are in markets that I had not even considered utilised textiles, so I was intrigued to find out more.

     

    As an innovative and forward thinking company, who do Scott & Fyfe look to for inspiration?

    When looking for inspiration Scott & Fyfe tend to look in unexpected places. For example, Glasgow School of Art inspired the company to approach business in a completely different way through applying design skills and an innovation approach. Also, Scott & Fyfe hire many interns from different areas and locations around the world as each has a fresh pair of eyes and different way of looking at things. This provides a constant inspiration to employees.

    SCOTT AND FYFE INNOVATION SPACE AND MUSEUM OPENING

    From an Employee Ownership side, S&F look to other EO companies for inspiration. Employee Ownership is a great model and we fully embrace it however, it has many challenges so we are constantly looking to share experiences and best practices with other companies. Through the EOA network I was fortunate enough to attend an event hosted by John Lewis recently and on a personal level I was utterly blown away by the level of detail that they go to in order to ensure that employees are engaged throughout all areas of the business. After the event I came back to the office with tons of ideas for our employee forum, as did my colleagues.

    What exciting projects do Scott & Fyfe have in the pipeline for the near future?

    Amongst many others, we literally have exciting pipeline related projects coming up as we are soon to be launching the Alphashield range of trenchless repair materials for the cured in place pipe industry. This is actually one of the things I love about Scott & Fyfe and technical textiles in general. This product range is for the sewage market. Not a market you would normally associate with innovation but here, our new product range is used to repair pipes without any requirement to dig up the existing pipelines (a process that is often called trenchless technology or cured in place pipe).  The product is in simple terms, pushed through the existing pipe, inverted and injected with resin. Once set this flexible, glass knitted liner creates a pipe within the pipe with ultimately better characteristics than the original.

    scott & fyfe product

    What is your favourite thing about your job?

    Definitely the innovation culture and all that this encompasses. Every morning I come into work and see a brightly coloured open plan space with grass on the ground and great areas to work in. It is a very inspiring working environment.

    Then there is the way that we actually work and the responsibilities it brings. Instead of sitting in a board room for meetings and being overshadowed by colleagues with a higher status, we use round tables and tools such as mind mapping and dotocracy allowing all employees to have a voice and say in matters. This has applied from the minute I began work here as an intern to the stage I am at today. Coming from a design background I have to say it is fantastic to be able to use the design thinking skills in a business environment.

     

    What advice would you give to other manufacturers in your field?

    To consider an innovation and design led approach. We have embraced it over the past five years and will continue to do so as we are seeing real benefits. I am under no illusion that Scott & Fyfe is the most innovative manufacturing company out there, but we are constantly learning and adapting what we are doing and slowly but surely are seeing the company grow and become more innovative.

    A key piece of advice I would give to other manufacturers is to embrace failure. There have been plenty of failures since we took on this approach but so long as you learn from them and are ready to adapt then it is not an issue.

     

    What are you looking for from the textile industry currently?

    Overall, we would really like to see more collaboration in the industry. It would be fantastic for us to work on more projects with other textile companies. I think there is a huge wealth of experience and expertise out there that companies could be sharing to mutual benefit. In the same strain, I think there could be a lot more textile company / university partnerships developed and this is something that we would welcome.

     

    Visit Scott & Fyfe online

    Tweet them

    Collaborate or contact Scott & Fyfe here

  • 16-Oct-2015 12:13 PM | Kimberley White (Administrator)

    The wonderful Solii over at BeFab Be Creative took an hour out of her busy day to sit down with Kimberley of Textiles Scotland, and have a chat about her business.

    First up, can you tell me who you are, and a wee bit about your business?

    We are Solii and Zoe, we’re sisters and we run BeFab Be Creative Digital Fabric Print Studio.

    We’re both very creative although in different ways, my background is originally in design, having worked for Habitat in both training and management capacities.  Zoe has a science background, she chose the more sensible career option of Business Analysis and project management, within the banking sector.  So we cover a good skill set between us, whilst sharing some pretty important key values of wanting to provide a great service whatever it is we do.

    Zoe and Solii BeFab Be Creative

    At BeFab we print for small to medium size designer makers, specialising in runs from 1-5m, working with reactive dyes onto natural fabrics like silk, cotton and linen, with two linen options. We’re proud to say are woven here in Scotland.

    What made you want to get into the industry?

    Honestly, it was a bit of an accident! I was made redundant whilst Zoe had just had her daughter Izzy and we were both trying to work out what we wanted to do when we ‘grew up’.

    I was trying to get some of my own designs printed on to fabric and it seemed a bit of a horrendous and complicated process. The main problem seemed to be the requirement to print on far longer print runs than any small designer would want to work with. So after a little research, and some gentle persuasion of Zoe on my part, to look over the numbers; we got started.  Having worked together before, we knew it was something that we could do again and with what some might say is a reckless attitude we believe that there isn’t much between us we can’t learn. We decided with an obvious gap in the market that we could surely make this a much more enjoyable and simple process for new and up and coming designers looking for high-end short run printing. So that was us, after a whole lot more research meetings and conversations round the kitchen table (like with all good businesses start-ups)! Nine months later Bertha (our printer) arrived and we got to work finding out quite how hard the world of Digital Fabric printing really was, and haven’t looked back since!

    Who are the influential figures you look up to for inspiration?

    We could say some really amazing designer, successful business person or philosopher but really, the people who inspire us the most are the people around us; especially the designers we print for, their work is incredible. Also, the technical support we have in all different guises: friends and family, to the creative community in general. There are so many inspiring, hard working, passionate people working in Scotland and beyond.

    We absolutely love Fi and the MakeWorks recourse, and the guys behind Creative Edinburgh; oh and its members are superstars.  Put simply, it’s the little people just like us who work late, strive to do good things and help those around them to do the same, who we are really inspired by.

    What exciting projects does Be Fab Be Creative have in the pipeline for the near future?

    We’re really excited by Printed and Co which we launched earlier this year. Printed and Co is a curated collection of some of the very best designers we’ve worked with at BeFab. We wanted to create a home where new and emerging talented could sell their designs on a range of different fabrics options without any initial outlay themselves; so with Printed and Co we’ve created that home. So we’re looking forward to working more on this and seeing it grow from strength to strength in the next few months.

    printed co

    What is your favourite thing about your job?

    The people – our client’s reaction when they receive their orders! It’s a bit like being Santa, they seem to forget they paid and just act like we’ve sent them lovely gifts. It’s pretty awesome knowing you’ve made someone’s day.

    We also love promoting and hearing about our designer’s successes, it’s great to see that we’ve had a small part in them making their business successful. That’s what is so nice about working at this end of the market: we get to know the people we work with very well, even though more often than not we’ve never met them.

    What advice would you give to up and coming designers / makers / manufacturers in your field?

    If you’re looking to print fabric – sample. In fact if you’re looking to have anything made, always sample if you can, it may take a little longer in the short term but this usually pays off in time and money in the long run.

    If you’re starting out in anything, do your research, then however much research you’ve done accept you will still probably not know half as much as you’d like to, but you’ll learn, and most importantly that’s OK, it’s par for the course!

    Make sure you have a good support net work around you, tap into a relevant networking organisation too, no one likes to network but it is invaluable and say yes to opportunities but trust your gut when something’s not right for you or the direction you want to go.

    If you do nothing else, ‘work hard and be nice to people’, those two things go a long way no matter what you’re doing in life but starting out even more so.

    What are you looking for from the textile industry currently?

    Training and funding opportunities are always good to hear about, it’s hard to find the time to work through all the different organisations to find what opportunities are available to you, so something that made that simpler would be amazing.  We are always looking for quality seamstresses that we can add to our existing offering; it seems to be a dying art in Scotland (and the UK in general) and this desperately needs to be addressed before it’s too late!

    Any final thoughts?

    We’re really proud to be able to say we manufacture in Scotland, though our clients are all over the world. To see the designers we work with be able to add a ‘Made in Scotland’ label is such an important thing to us and we’re really optimistic about the growth of the Scottish Textile sector with so much talent still to tap into.

    For more on BeFab Be Creative:

    Visit BeFabBeCreative online

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    Send an enquiry

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