Scottish Textile News
The wonderful Solii over at BeFab Be Creative took an hour out of her busy day to sit down with Kimberley of the STLA, 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.
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.
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:
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Scotland is showcasing some of its luxury interior products at Holiday House NYC 2015. Holland & Sherry, The Isle Mill, Johnstons of Elgin, DC Dalgliesh, Harris Tweed Hebrides, Ronda Carman Fine Fabrics, Arran Aromatics and Glencairn Crystal will be showcasing Scotland's wonderful offerings at the premium event from 11 November – 2 December.
Scotland’s textiles are desired across the globe and are famed for their unique quality and inspiring designs.
We’ve been producing the very best in lace, tweed and leather for centuries and have a strong reputation as leaders in textiles for interiors. Some of Scotland’s top companies attending Holiday House NYC 2015 include; Holland & Sherry, The Isle Mill, Johnstons of Elgin, DC Dalgliesh, Harris Tweed Hebrides, Ronda Carman Fine Fabrics, and Arran Aromatics.
Japantex is a boutique interior trade show where visitors from interior-related, design and hotel businesses descend on Tokyo to look for new products and suppliers. For the first time, Textiles Scotland is attending Japantex to showcase the best of Scotland’s interior textiles to people from all over the world.
With Tokyo due to host the Olympic Games in 2020, a number of new hotels are opening or being renovated as the country’s tourism and hospitality industries are enjoying unprecedented booms in tourist visitors to Japan. Textiles Scotland will be on-hand to highlight the quality, heritage and design of our interiors products to a growing hotel and contract market.
Visitors to Japantex will have the chance to see Scottish textile interior products from a number of famous Scottish textile manufacturers including MYB Textiles, Sekers,The Isle Mill and more.
This year's event takes place from Wednesday 26 October until Friday 28 October.
The event will attract 27,500 visitors and is a leading international trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens and takes place in Frankfurt from 4-7 of May.
J&D Wilkie and Culzean Solutions will represent Scotland's technical textile offerings at the show.
Technical solutions from Scotland
J&D Wilkie have over 140 years’ experience and is a leading manufacturer of technical textiles in Scotland. Supplying customers globally, J&D Wilkie have unparalleled knowledge and experience in manufacturing textiles, composites, medical and engineering product combinations and have been a supplier to the military for over 100 years.
Culzean Solutions is based in south-west Scotland and has been at the forefront of new product development and the manufacturing of industrial and medical fabrics for over 25 years.
As true pioneers of technical fabrics, Culzean have invented woven cabling strong enough to propel space crafts in space and even chew-proof netting for pirhanas. Whether it’s outer space or the South American seas, Culzean can offer technical textile solutions globally.
You'd be forgiven for thinking Harris Tweed's presence stops at clothing (jackets in particular) but it's far more varied than that. Scotland's most iconic fabric has a strong heritage and a versatile future - limited only by your imagination.
Harris Tweed is the only kind protected by an Act of Parliament. As a legal requirement, the fabric has to be hand-woven at the weaver's home on double width looms The cloth is then returned to the mill and completed prior to being stamped with the Orb.
Modern designers and tailors have taken the traditional design properties and created softer cloths for both fashion and interiors, often in lambswool, merino or even cashmere.
Harris Tweed Hebrides recently provided 9,000 square metres of fabric in a range of colours for use on bespoke luxury furnishings throughout one of Glasgow's newest five-star boutique hotels – Blythswood Square.
To this day, the Harris Tweed Authority continues to develop the industry as a means of livelihood for those who live in the Outer Hebrides. Three mills produce the yarn which is then sent out to the weavers.
The Royal Warrant of Appointment dates back to the advent of the monarchy. By the 15th century, Royal Tradesmen were appointed formally in writing by the Lord Chamberlain - a practice which continues to this day.
Kinloch Anderson first supplied King Edward VII tartans in 1903. The first Royal Warrant was granted by King George V, and subsequently by King George VI.
The Balmoral Tartan was designed in 1857 by Prince Albert, Prince Consort to Queen Victoria. It is the private property of The Royal Family and can only be worn with permission from Her Majesty The Queen.
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