Nancy Mahon (NM): What makes your clothing unique?
Maddy McIndoe (MM): Its fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. The style of the prints are different and bigger compared to other designers.
NM: When and why did you decide to produce your own clothing line?
MM: When I was studying at Manchester, we had lectures about the industry and I thought, if you can design something people like, why let someone else take all the profit? I wanted to try and do my own thing.
NM: How does the process work?
MM: I’ll decide the print first, and then what I want it to go on, like a shirt or a dress. Then I’ll get a couple of metres printed in London to check the colours are right. Then you send a sample of the pattern to the factory to get a quote.
NM: Are your factories based in the UK?
MM: One is in the UK and another in the Czech Republic.
NM: Do you hand draw your designs?
MM: I start with sketches and then neaten them up with a pen.
NM: What is the ethos behind your brand?
MM: To make clothes that make people smile. It’s not really serious high fashion and I try to keep the prices affordable. I don’t want to make a £300 shirt. I don’t know anyone who could pay that.
NM: What challenges did you face when starting up the business?
MM: Finding a good manufacturer was hard. Getting the clothes into the shops was difficult too because people don’t want to take a risk on a new brand.
NM: How did you overcome that?
MM: It was just a matter of time, selling at markets and meeting other designers. I ended up with a network of people, who let me know about different opportunities.
NM: What advice would you give young people that want to get into your line of work?
MM: Test the market first. See how different things go before getting too attached to one idea. Try and sell in different places, on different websites. Don’t order a thousand of one product before you know it’s going to do well.
NM: What’s the structure of your business?
MM: The business is registered as a limited company. I have a seamstress who does pattern cutting and I’ve just got another one to help me make some of the garments. I have freelancers who come in when it’s busy. Sometimes I have interns.
NM: How do you compete with the large established brands?
MM: My stuff isn’t fast fashion, so the quality’s good and its not restricted by being seasonal. The shape of the clothes are quite classic so they’re not going to go out of fashion quickly. Some of the high street shops are more like ‘bish bash bosh’. They’ll get something in that’s going to be fashionable for a few months and then get new stuff in. Maybe the kind of customers I attract aren’t into that anyway.
NM: Where do you see your business in five years time?
MM: I would like to have a bigger product range and do more collaborations. I might do home wear. Wallpaper with prints would be fun. So would bedding or kids wear.
NM: What kind of skill set would someone need to work for a company like yours?
MM: Being organised and having initiative is more important than fashion experience. They need to be nice to work with, able to use their brain to move the business forward, and happy to do lots of different things.
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