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.
Clare Campbell interviewed by Kimberley White