As regular readers will know, I’m a huge fan of the handmade industry – give me a unique, handmade piece of loveliness and I’m in seventh heaven! So today it’s my absolute pleasure to share with you some pieces from Kate Slater who makes the most scrumptious handmade lace embroidered wedding head pieces, collars, shawls and accessories.
Kate, could you tell us how your interest in craft started?
“My interest in textiles began when I was a very young child . My Nan had several tins and jars of beads and buttons, yarns and trims; and every time I visited I would love to sift through them all and organise them for her. My Nan always had a knitting, crochét or sewing project underway, and she was the one who taught me the basics, I then caught the ‘craft bug’.”
“It was at University that I truly found my passion for constructed textiles, and began to experiment with ways to create contemporary lace and embroidery. It was a really creative time and being given the freedom to explore design was so important. After graduating I pursued a career as a College Lecturer of Fashion and Textiles. During this time I also had 2 children. Teaching had sparked my interest in designing textiles specifically for fashion and wedding markets. I had also started to think about my long term plans – my dream of running my own studio, but didn’t really know where to start.”
“Finding the concept of starting a business a little daunting, I knew I needed some extra help and advice. So in January 2010 I approached The Princes Trust. They were fantastic – I attended their intensive Enterprise course which covered a variety of areas including promotion, finances and tax returns. They loved my products and business proposal, so I was assigned a mentor and in April 2010 I took the plunge and moved into my first studio. Scary but very exciting.
I think I sat at my desk simply smiling all day. My nan gave me her button collection which took pride of place on my desk! I started to develop some design-led craft products and accessories, along with some soft furnishings which were sold in art galleries. I started to take on various commissions and network with local artists and retailers. I was asked for cushions, head pieces for Ascot and children’s accessories.”
Did you find setting up a business challenging?
“Setting up a business during a recession definitely had its difficulties, plus with 2 young children it was certainly a juggling act at times! And now there are 3 children to consider! I actually finished a commission the week before my youngest was born in January 2013. I do find myself wishing for more hours in a day, like many designers and small business owners. I must relish the challenge though , and can honestly say I thoroughly enjoy my work…
……….its not a job, I get to do what I love. It fits around having a family and I get to meet some lovely people. Working with brides and gown designers gives me the variety I crave – each project is completely different. I love starting with a spool of yarn and a bag of fibres, a few doodles next to my sewing machine and watching the design evolve as I sew. It is a very organic process, which is what gives my lace such a delicate finish. I can adapt it into any colour, images, scale – there aren’t really any limits to what can be created, which is what makes it so exciting. My inspiration mainly comes from nature – flowers and butterflies feature quite heavily, and are also popular with clients.”
And what does the future hold for your business?
“I have new designs in the pipeline for Autumn 2014 collections, including a collaborative project with a bespoke wedding dress designer. I also plan to create some designs for younger bridesmaids/flowergirls. Info about new work will be tweeted and updated on Facebook nearer the time.”
Many thanks to Kate for sharing with us x