MiAL Insights Interview: Emily Carter
“I grew up in the countryside, and as a child I was always in the garden looking for bugs and creatures…”
And with that ladies and gentlemen, we introduce to you this weeks Insight interviewee, Emily Carter!
First, could you give a brief introduction to yourself and your practice?
Hi, my name is Emily Carter and I graduated from London College of Fashion last year (2014) where I studied BA Fashion Textiles. Since graduating I have set up my own brand specialising in luxury accessories, in the form of illustrated silk scarves and pocket squares.
You’ve immediately mentioned illustration! On first look, your work could be taken for that of an illustrator, rather than a textile artist, could you describe to us the journey that brought your drawing skills to be so deftly combined with textiles?
For my degree I studied textiles and specialised in mixed-media knitwear; I wanted to learn new skills and enjoyed the tactile nature of fabrics. But at the same time I had strong skills in drawing which I intended to continue developing alongside my degree. So I entered many illustration competitions to enable me to gain a more diverse range of work for my portfolio and develop a personal illustration style. It was only in my final term that I decided to experiment with print. I wanted to see if I could create something original by combining my illustrations together, in the hope of being able to sell my own products. It was then that I developed my illustrated and graphic prints, inspired by my interest in surreal flora & fauna and scientific illustration. This was the starting point for my brand, and it has continued to grow and flourish ever since.
You joined MiAL during the summer after you graduated (2014), do you think the experiences you’ve gained while being with us helped you with the transition from student to professional?
Yes, MiAL has been a very important platform for my development as a designer and for my brand.
I have been involved with many exhibitions and events such as the London Illustration Fair and Christie’s Multiplied Arts Fair which I would not have been able to be a part of if I hadn’t exhibited with MiAL.
I have also sold a lot of my products and gained excellent exposure through various articles and interviews which has all really helped the growth of my brand and products.
Your work is currently stocked in several other well known outlets, how do you keep on top of all the orders?
Recently I’ve found it much easier to keep on top of orders as I’ve realised it’s just down to keeping sales records, stock records and making sure you are always prompt with sending out orders. I am an exclusive brand so my stock levels don’t need to be high. It’s just a case of making sure you always have a certain amount of each product ready to be sold. I have kept sales records for the past year so I know which items are best sellers, so I generally know how many of each product I need to have.
I also think it’s important to have a balance of store stockists and online stockists. I am stocked in boutiques which retain their own stock so they send out orders directly for me. But for online stockists I send the orders out myself, which means I have to store my own stock.
I also think it’s important to have a reliable relationship with your printers/manufacturers. I have had many last minute orders over the past year but because I have built such a strong relationship with my printers, they always do a fantastic job at getting everything printed just in time!
Do you have any advice or words of warning to someone considering joining MiAL?
The most important advice I would have for anyone wanting to join MiAL is to get yourself involved and make the most of the opportunities that are available. MiAL is rare in that it offers so many shows, exhibitions and events for you to be a part of. I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I have done with MiAL over the past year and have gained a lot of exposure, contacts and sales through each exhibition and event. MiAL are really keen to get you known and help you in growing your brand.
I think it’s also important to attend the MiAL events and private views even if your work isn’t apart of that exhibition; it’s vital for networking with other MiAL artists and making people aware of you and what you do. If anything comes up I’d recommend always saying yes, as I really believe that the more you put into something the more you will gain in return. I also would suggest promoting yourself and anything exciting you have coming up through MiAL and sharing everything you do with them on social media. This will enable you to build your brand awareness and let a wider audience know what you’re up to.
Finally, what are you currently working on and where do you see yourself and your practice going next?….
I actually have an exciting few months ahead which I’m thoroughly looking forward to. I am working on my new collection and a slight rebrand at the moment, and I’m really pushing menswear as it has sold very well over the past year. In terms of events I’m preparing for Paris Showrooms in September where I am exhibiting at Premiere Classe with Not Just a Label. I also have Handmade at Kew coming up in October with ARTSTHREAD which I plan to have the new collection ready for. Design wise I am currently experimenting with a softer, more fluid style of drawing and incorporating more colour; this will be seen in the new collection which will be launched in a few months’ time.