Interview with Kate from Made by Mrs M
LL: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your brand Kate! What inspired you to set up Made by Mrs M?
K: Made By Mrs M really started back in 2011 with my blog. I’d been to art college and used to be very creative but spent years working long hours in the City, and this took a back seat. After my son was born in 2010 I realised I had to go back to what I’d always loved (even if it was 2014 before I became self employed).
The blog inspired me to create more work and eventually I started to get my fabric designs printed – one at a time – it’s grown steadily ever since.
LL: How did you come up with your brand name?
K: My best friend suggested Mrs M Makes and I swapped it around! She calls me Mrs M – it used to be that she was the only one but now it’s almost every person I meet!
LL: What is your design and development process?
K: It used to be very haphazard but now I do actually have a process… I design two small collections of fabrics each year and everything else I do hangs around that. I usually launch one at the end of February and another at the beginning of September. I tend to start work on the next one about a month after launching the last.
I’ll spend a certain amount of time playing with ideas, visiting exhibitions, soaking up the sights on my travels, and over time I distil this into a series of pen and ink drawings which will form the basis of my collection. I then work these up into pattern designs – sometimes this part of the process is quick sometimes it isn’t – my new collection for September took an age to get right (but I’m working on it early so I can make the most of the summer holidays).
Alongside my fabrics I look at what other products I may want to produce that season, and make some art prints to complement it as well.
LL: Where do you work from?
K: I work from my sunny little studio in my home in South London – with views of my lovely garden. My son is at primary school so working from home is really convenient for me at the moment, and enables me to make the most of what time I have between the school runs, and work in the evenings and at weekends when necessary (although most of my evening work takes place on the sofa!).
LL: Where do you find inspiration for your work?
K: It’s a cliché, but everywhere! I’m really lucky to live in one of the most inspiring cities in the world (I’ve travelled a reasonable amount and still think London’s hard to beat) – I tend to spot buildings when I’m out and about or see something in an exhibition which sets off a train of thought. However, my current collection was inspired by trips to Paris and New York last year – coming much closer to home with my new stuff though (practically inside it in fact).
LL: What advice would you give to any designer-makers just starting out?
K: Just do it – but don’t spend more than you can afford. Test the market with things you can produce on a really small scale so it’s not the end of the world if they don’t sell. And if they don’t, keep going and try something new until you hit upon that thing people love. Technology is amazing as it allows us to play with so many different ideas without spending thousands. There’s no way I could’ve done this back in the 1990s when I left college – so embrace technology and just put your work out there.
LL: What is your studio playlist?!
K: Radio X – the “home of new music” which mostly plays indie stuff from my youth!!! I’m trying to listen to some more podcasts now as well and have recently subscribed to Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete and Blogtacular (very late to the podcast party!).
LL: What is your favourite social media platform?
K: I’m going to go against what everyone else thinks and say Twitter. It’s always been good for me and has always grown. I get actual work from it (whether that’s online sales, commissions or all sorts of other stuff) and I get work from it consistently. Perceived wisdom is that you’ll never get work from Twitter and Instagram is the way to go but I find the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the visual element of Instagram (and I’ve recently started playing with video on it) but the engagement just isn’t there anymore.
LL: Who are your favourite designer-makers?
K: That’s like asking me to choose my favourite child! Not only do I know so many people from markets and events but I also come across so many more through the Just A Card campaign (for which I write the blog). So I’d say the whole of the Just A Card team, especially Sarah Hamilton (meet them all here) and then probably a few people I tend to buy stuff from regularly – I Am Acrylic, And Smile, Kabin Shop and US based artist Lisa Congdon.
LL: What are your plans for the future of your brand?
K: At the moment I’m trying to grow my business steadily so I can expand it quickly once I’m no longer doing the school run (that’s another 4 years into the future and I really don’t want to wish that time away!). I’m focussing on refining my designs and continuing to produce two collections a year but also teaching more workshops and writing a lot more. I’m always open to new ideas and opportunities and like to see where they can take me!
LL: Thanks Kate!