Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stitching all day long...

Since I finished my placement I have felt a bit lost and have nothing really to do until I have to go back to Uni in a couple of weeks. A few weeks ago I treated myself to the Womans Weekly Home Series Craft Special magazine and when I browsed through I found a really cute cross stitch pattern. I usually love Cross Stitch but find the pattern kits that are around a bit dull and old fashioned.

This pattern was fresh and modern and really cute with the little birds in the trees. It took about 2 and a half weeks of evenings to complete and I am really pleased with how it turned out.

I am not 100% sure what to do with it yet, I may put it in a frame - Im not sure!

I have also been drooling over the Kiss and Hug cushion kits from Emily Peacock but at £75 I can't quite stretch to that! I found that Cross Stitcher magazine gave away the Hug chart as a free gift on their January issue so after a little bit of hunting I tracked one down.

This pattern is a lot bigger than the one I have just completed but I am already zooming through it!

It is really nice and relaxing to do and I really like how it is turning out.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 14

Today was my last day of placement at Lowie :(

It started of quite peacefully as I sewed a 4 white bows on caps for the Winter orders and then carried on making bows until Skye came in.

We then had to go through 5 big boxes of old winter stock, some of which is going to be carried forward til next season, and stock take it. I was really nice to see all the different garment and accessories but it made me sad to see the big box of discontinued items!

I then carried on making some bows while Bronwyn and Hannah went through the order for the winter stock. They went through each item deciding on how many to order and in which colours. After a about an hour and a half the final order was decided. It is going to cost just under £47,000! This cost is also just for the stock for the online shop and not for any of the boutiques and shops that have put in orders Bronwyn thinks that this stock will easily sell however and that they may need to put in another order later down the line.

As I lost my big snood when I was on holiday I thought I would treat myself to a couple of bits from Lowie and I choose the stripy organic cotton wrap, the mohair lacy wrap and two pairs of the merino cable mittens. Bronwyn very kindly gave me the mittens as a gift which was really nice :) She also said that they would have me back whenever I liked so I will definetely be going back for another couple of weeks as soon as I can!

Here is a close up of the mittens as you can't really see the detail in the above picture.

I have really loved my time at Lowie and think I have learnt alot about the day to day running of a small fashion business in the time I have been there.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 13

I started off today by sewing 2 flowers onto caps for a order that needed to be sent out this morning. After I had sewn the flowers I collected all the other bits for the order which were mainly belts and checked that everything had labels on. I then went back to the big order for Australia and separated it out into styles of garment, i.e. cashmere all together, merino all together etc. I then wrapped the pile in plastic and sent the delivery out.

After lunch I had the fun task of sorting out a giant box full of ribbons! It was really nice to see all the different types that Lowie has and I enjoyed separating them out into groups like velvet ribbon, and vintage ribbon. Bronwyn has picked up some really interesting vintage ribbon from flea markets. The nicest one however is a silver ribbon from the 30's. I'm pretty sure that the ribbon itself has real silver running through it. Whilst sort through the box I found this little person: -

Bronwyn said I could keep her so I made her into a brooch. After sorting out all the ribbon I found that we had plenty of white velvet ribbon which is good as we needed to make some white bows for the winter orders of caps. It is really nice to see what has been collected over the years and I really enjoyed sorting it all out and making it nice and tidy!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 12

Today started off like usual with sewing bows onto hats for the winter orders and making more bows to go on more hats! We got some good news though that Bronwyn had passed her target for today of £1,030 for the London to Paris bike ride for EJF. It is really amazing how generous people are - some people were giving £50!

After all the hat making, which lasted until well after lunch, I had to go through a large order of stock that is being sent to Australia.

It is all Winter 2009 stock and it was nice to be able to really get a good look and feel of some of the garments. First of all I had to check what was already in the box and check that each item had the correct tag on. Then I had to retrieve the rest of the items from the relevant stock. The order included some of the Superfine Merino teadresses which although are lovely, they are also very heavy!


Whilst checking the tags I noticed that the clothing item have a little card in the tag with a spare button and some spare wool. I think this is such a nice touch and much better than having the spare button sewn onto the inside label!

Tomorrow I will need to start to pack up the order as small as possible without damaging the items so that it costs as little as possible to send.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 11

Today has been a very productive and interesting day. I started off by working through a list of customised hats that need to be made for the winter orders. I had to find the correct style and size of hat and sew the correct colour bow in place. I ended up finishing nearly 20 hats, which means we are a good way though the orders.

Bronwyn asked me to go a few stores in the west end that stock Lowie for market research purposes. I needed to find out what brands were merchandised with the Lowie stock. I was also on the look out for any other competitors. Bronwyn showed me this fabric poster she made of everything that Lowie is which is really interesting.

This trip meant I got to go the the Anthropologie store on Regent Street which is an amazing store. The overall layout and style of the shop is really interesting and modern yet has a vintage touch.


The Lowie stock seemed to be grouped with like minded brands and it was interesting to see the competitors up close.
When I was looking around I noticed this cardigan which reminded me of the cardigan that Bronwyn brought back from New York a couple of weeks ago. It is all knitted in a pretty pastel colour palette. It is also really flattering and if is was so expensive I would have bought it for myself!


I am so intrigued by this cardigan that I think I will try to make something similar.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 10

I started out this morning by making customised caps for the Winter orders. There are a lot of orders for the caps so Bronwyn thought it was best to start making them now. However we ran out of Black, Pink and Red velvet ribbon so I visited Barnett Lawson on Little Portland Street. It is an amazing treasure trove of a place that I could easily have wandered around for hours. They had every sort of ribbon and trimming you could think of.

After lunch I started making bows...lots of bows! I ended up making 23 in just under 4 hours which is pretty good considering they are made of 4 pieces each. I like making bows, its quite therapeutic.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 9

Today was the second day I worked in the EJF pop up shop on Carnaby Street. It was a much better day today as there were less volunteers in so customers didn't feel intimidated to come in. As it was quite quiet in the morning I was able to have a better look around the shop and looked more closely at the ethical brands that that were upstairs. I love this dress by Goodone. They only use recycled fabric and this jumper dress is made of a variety of knitted fabrics.

Next week I am in the Studio all week.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 8

Today has been quite a busy day. I started out by having to sort out a giant box of clutch bags. All the bags are made from recycled fabric or vintage scarves so they are all one of a kind pieces. I found 27 different styles of bag and then had to count each design so they could be put up on the website.

As I mentioned before i had suggested that Lowie invest in a rotary cutter system for cutting out the circles for the flowers appliqu├ęs. The cutter arrived yesterday and today I had a chance to try it out. It is amazing! It cuts through multiple layers of fabric and cuts perfect circles every time. It is like a giant compass so is very easy to use. I ended up making 10 flowers as it made it so much quicker to cut out all the circles.
As this is the first time Lowie is having to export a large amount of stock to the USA for Anthropolgie I had to call the American Embassy to ask details about the import taxes and duties. It is a very complicated business although I spoke to a very nice American man about it and he helped me a great deal. It seems that the duty is paid as a percentage of the final transaction value of the item for example exporting a knitted scarf to the US costs 9.6% of the final value. It is going to be complicated to work out because each item has a different percentage of tax!

Tomorrow I am working at the EJF pop up shop again and I hope it is a little busier!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 7

Today has been pretty slow. I made some more bows this morning and then had to sew 2 flowers and 2 bows onto the sample hats that we received back from the supplier. These had to be perfect as they needed to be sent off to Anthropologie in the US so they could finalise the big order they have with Lowie. Anthropologie wanted the hat shape to be different from what Lowie usually does (a mens style flat cap) and now it is really commercial and no one really likes the shape of it! Hopefully Anthropologie will!

I then had to source a new computer for Bronwyn as her computer is really slow and she has been looking to buy a new one for a long time.

I hope tomorrow is a bit more exciting. It should be really interesting when Bronwyn starts to design the Summer 2011 collection.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 6

Today started quite slowly as I was finishing off bits that I left yesterday. I started by duplicate stitching all the red thread with cream thread as for some reason the factory had changed the desired colourway! It was really time consuming and tedious at times as it did not end up looking very neat. It did make me notice that the items really are hand made as they had quite a few mistakes in them.

Whilst I was sewing the correct colour onto the leg warmers I sat down with Bronwyn and Hannah and we went through the whole website checking that all the images and text was correct. There seemed to be a lot of changes that needed to happen, from resizing images to changing whole paragraphs of text. It was quite interesting to see this side of the business and it makes it even more clear that they do everything themselves.

Bronwyn then asked me to make a chart of marking on the progress of her fund-raising for the London to Paris bike ride in aid of the EJF. It took a long time to make and ended up being bigger than me! She is aiming to raise £1,300 but needs to raise 80% by next Wednesday. At the moment £680 has been raised.

I also found out today that Lowie sells their items through the websites http://www.ethicsgirls.co.uk/ and http://www.notonthehighstreet.com. Any item that sells get sent out from the Studio like usual however Lowie then have to pay the appropriate website a commission. This is quite a good way of getting the Lowie brand out there with other like minded brands.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 5

Today I went to London College of Fashion with Bronwyn to meet with Alex and Dilys from the Sustainable Fashion Department. They give really good business advice for to businesses of all sizes to help them go forward in a more ethical and sustainable way.

It was a very interesting meeting as I found out more about Lowie as a company and found out that Winter 2010 season has sold nearly double that of last year. It's really nice to know that the company is expanding and I hope it continues in this upward spiral.

After the meeting we popped into Topshop as Bronwyn had spotted some chunky cotton knits - which is the initial inspiration point for Summer 2011. We tried lots of things on my nothing really grabbed us as inspirational as it was all quite muted and grungy where Lowie uses bright colours and a vintage style.

When we got back to the studio I started making bows again! Its nice to know that I can get on with bow making if there is nothing urgent for me to do. After lunch Bronwyn had a delivery of the samples that Anthropologie US had kept from her meeting over there from a couple of weeks ago. I sorted the boxes out and put everything away nicely.

We also received a small delivery of samples from the factory which included some mittens, capes and hooded snoods. Before this can be put away with the rest of the samples I had to sew a Lowie label in them. Some of the samples had been made up in different colour combinations so I have to duplicate stitch over some of it tomorrow.



Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 4

I completely forgot to update my blog yesterday! I was pretty tired after my first week at Lowie.

Yesterday I volunteered at the Environmental Justice Foundations Pop Up Shop in Carnaby Street.


They are selling 100% organic t-shirts that have all been designed by top designers such as Luella, Christian Lacroix, Alice Temperley and Richard Nicoll. The theme of the t-shirt is about childhood, lost innocence and hope which represents over a million children who are forced to work in the cotton fields all over the world. The t-shirts cost £30 but 100% of the cost goes straight back to the charity as the t-shirts themselves were donated and the designers created the designs for the EJF.

They also are stocking some ethical designers brands upstairs in the shop including Lowie, Pants to Poverty and Goodone. It is a really nice space which makes it even more amazing that the shop was donated rent free to the EJF for 2 months.


I ended up buying the Richard Nicoll t-shirt and 2 pairs of Pants to Poverty pants! But I dont mind spending money on things when I know that the money is going to a good cause.

More info on the charity can be found here http://www.ejfoundation.org/ or pop down to the shop before it closes on 4th May.



Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 3

Today has been really productive. I spent most of the morning on this gorgeous sofa making bows! I have got quite quick at them now and they are really addictive to make. I think I am going to start making them at home for wrapping birthday presents.


Here are some of the bows I have made. I love the gold/mink coloured ones at the bottom. I also love all the velvet ones, they feel nice!

Bronwyn then set me the task of trying to find some eco friendly or organic yarns that could replace the yarns that Lowie use at the moment. She went through some of the range with me and explained where the wool comes from, the merino and cashmere are the most gorgeous feeling wools! However Bronwyn really wants to make less impact on the environment so I started researching and 3 hours later had found a handful of possibilities who I am going to e-mail on Monday for more information.

Bronwyn also invited me to go to a meeting with her at London College of Fashion to meet with the sustainable fashion department - which should be really interesting and helpful for me as I would really like to be more enviromentally friendly!

I am working at the Environmental Justice Foundation pop up shop in Carnaby Street tomorrow which should be really fun. All the profits of anything sold go directly to the charity so I am really looking forward to volunteering there. More info on the foundation can be found here http://www.ejfoundation.org/shopforejf/

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 2

Today has been quite a productive day. I carried on making flowers for the large anthropologie order. The flowers are made of 8 circles which are cut out by hand - however I have suggested a rotary cutter that is used by quilters which should make it easier and quicker to cut them out. The flowers are similar to this one:-
Hannah then showed me how to make bows, which I never thought was so complicated! But I enjoyed making them out of gorgeous velvet and grosgrain ribbons. I have to try and make at least 10 a day and today I made 12 flowers and 6 bows so it should be quite easy to do.

more flowers and bows await me tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lowie Placement Day 1

Today has been a really good day. It was the first day of my placement at the knitwear company Lowie. I set off this morning and arrived in Brixton and wandered up to Piano House where the Lowie studio is based.

I walked up the stairs to the 5th floor and found the studio which is light and airy and full of gorgeous old furniture which marries really well with the modern decor

I met Hannah first and she showed me around the studio and I started packing up some online orders that had been sent over the Easter weekend. I was quite surprised to see that people were ordering from Hong Kong and San Francisco.

Bronwyn, who is the designer for Lowie, came in after being in New York last week and we sat down and had a meeting. I learned that there biggest buyer is the American shop Anthropologie and I found out that there is a possible order for 1000 customised hats which I will have to make a start on!

After the meeting, we went to a local fabric shop to get some fabric for the hat samples. The fabric shop was really cheap and will have to remember it for next year.

I then had my lunch and decided as it was a nice day I would sit in the decked area on the roof, you can see right across London from the roof.
After lunch Hannah showed me how to make a flower that will be attached to the hats. There are made of circles of fabric with peacock feathers and scraps of fabrics squished on top! I hopefully will be able to bring one home.

At about 4 o'clock I had to take some samples over the the Heals head quarters as they are interested in stocking Lowie and then I made my way home.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring!
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