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Making in the UK; the tiny growth shoots of bigger plans!

  • By Catherine Clavering
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Making in the UK;  the tiny growth shoots of bigger plans!

We (as in me and Lyzzy from Ava Corsetry) have been very, very slowly setting up a tiny workshop in Sheffield for about a year now. Sounds like ages, right?

Progress is slow because neither of us has £50,000 to throw at the project, so it's all been done on the usual compromises, friends favours, knickers-bartering, inexplicable gifts of industrial sewing machines (thanks Sam at FairyGothMother!), hunting for people who can tolerate freelance bits and bobs of work and have lingerie skills, finding places with the tiniest rent you can imagine, we're working around all sorts of other jobs or tasks, and all that sort of jazz. If I had to put all the risks together for a kickstarter I'd probably just give up on the whole notion!

So why bother? Well, increasingly it's clear that for KMD to work best, we'd be better off having a place where we can develop new products without having to ask factories to slot in lots of sampling that might go very wrong, since that's expensive, time consuming and really annoys them. It also means we can do ridiculous stuff like lingerie capes and silk knickers without having  to find a factory thats ok with just doing 6 pairs (there are places that will do this, but it'd mean charging a fortune).  And finally, it means we can consolidate patterns, tech space and make-packs in one place so that if anything happens to a factory we work with (remember, there aren't many factories, so if one we're working with randomly gives up, falls apart, explodes, falls out with us, or runs out of money, KMD runs into trouble). It's part of a long term project to make us more manufacturing-disaster-resilient.

Ava Corsetry's needs align with KMD being as Lyzzy needs somewhere to keep small piles of corsets and make more small piles of corsets!

Though Lyzzy and I both spend plenty of time in London, Sheffield is closer to her UK home, and is a heck of a lot cheaper for workroom space. Though, even at minumum/'living' wage, I'd need to make an extra £1500 a month or so to keep someone toile-ing a way there full time. So at the moment, we have two folks doing freelance hours. One is Lou, a lingerie graduate with a passion for tiny, detailed work. When I talk about The Littlest Deadly, that's who I mean. The other is Amy, another contour graduate, who works more towards the costume design/corset end of things. You'll probably be seeing a bit more of them in the future, or at least, we're all hoping so!

This week, we're mostly working the Fan Lace Girdles, Demi-Corsets and Garter-Pockets,  then we'll be steadily progressing through taps pants, capes and possibly stockings . . . basically, watch this space!

 

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