- Julia Gash
I've been visiting some of the factories we work with in Yorkshire this week. I'm trying to find out more about how our suppliers work and therefore how we can make the most of the opportunity our business relationship brings. I spent a fascinating two hours at Joseph H Clissold one morning, a traditional textile factory that weaves wool into top quality suiting fabric. They're just up the road from us in Yorkshire and the worsted cloth they make is finished with natural spring water, making it the softest, woollen suit fabric in the world. It eventually ends up being used by Savile Row tailors and high end design labels. Here's one of their men and machines in action ...
So how come an eco-bag manufacturing company is working with a traditional woollen suit fabric business? I got an email out of the blue from Ruth at Joseph H Clissold last year, with a request to make bags using remnants of suit cloth for a textile trade fair giveaway where they were showcasing their fabrics. We obliged, loved the bags, and I saw their potential as an interesting, eco-friendly, high quality tote bag. As it was full of British character I knew it would be perfect for our new Talented Totes range of bags. I subseqently created a series of simple, quirky British themed prints to overlay onto the classic suit fabric from Clissold and hey presto .. our Best of British bag collection was born!
It's onwards and upwards with the woollen suit fabric bags and here I am with Ruth from Clissold, choosing fabrics for our next Talented Totes collection.
We still buy end of line fabric, so each run is a limited edition and it's an eco friendly and cost effective way of working. If you can't afford a Savile Row suit then why not settle on a Best of British bag made from the same, beautiful fabric!
We also had our monthly Celebrate Success meeting on Friday. This is where every one in the company sits down together and gets to look at what we've achieved the previous month, focus on our key aims for this month, share in our successes and rally around where we need to do better. We also hand out an award to our Employee of the Month (who gets a day's paid holiday for this achievement so it's a heavily fought contest!). We then headed off for a quarterly company get together. After we rolled down the hill for a quick pint at the Gardners Rest, we regrouped at a pool hall in town.
I'm always impressed with what men do with balls (on a pool table, sports hall, field or court) ... something that simply isn't part of the landscape of the female mind ... or body :-)
As I'm sure you can appreciate, there is no photo to illustrate this point.
The next day, Saturday, I went in to work on my own to start designing the next Talented Totes collection. This is what I love. Being in a big factory on my own and finding a stillness where my creative mind can hopefully come up with something interesting and new to say in print. I'm happy with what I created so I then sit down with Richard, our designer on Monday to develop the designs into positives (they're like print plates) so that we can start sampling. This is when I start to get excited. It's all very rough at first but, like a sculpture, it takes shape at every stage until you instinctively know that you've got there.
I'll leave it at that for now but will have something to show you soon ...!Tweet