Thursday, 18 July 2013

Interview | Rachel Lovatt, Small Castle

Small Castle manufacture leather bags, belts and accessories by hand in Nottingham, England. We have only just came across the brand in the last month, via social networking, and we were instantly drawn in by the carefully selected and limited hand made leather goods, that were available from their online store. 

Rachel Lovatt, the founder and designer at Small Castle has been everything from a scrap vehicle dismantler, to an award winning packaging designer, so she knows a thing or two about drive shafts and cardboard. She is a strong advocate of British design and manufacturing. 

As we are an online publication that is always on the look out for new company's, artisans and designers, to focus on their commitment to quality, craftsmanship and innovation. We were eager to delve deeper and find out more about Small Castle and its founder Rachel Lovatt.

An Interview With Rachel Lovatt

Who are you, and what is your role in the company?
I'm Rachel a Neo-Artist & Crafter, Product Designer, Maker and Photographer, with disparate kingpin duties.

What is the first thing you do when you get to work?
Make a pot of peppermint tea, tune the radio to BBC6 Music, paint my toe nails, like some Instagram pictures of my friends shoes, then either answer emails or just get on with making up the orders, depending on whether crafting things or administrating things is the priority.

What are the tools of your trade?
A blank page, a well sharpened pencil, some very sharp knives and devilishly sharp scissors, assorted antique sewing machines and an idea that some things would be much better if they had a well designed leather vessel to keep them safe.

When was Small Castle founded and by whom?
I got Small Castle on it's feet about 9 months ago, and it is still very much in the process of learning to walk.

What sparked the interest in making leather goods?
I have always been a designer and maker of articles and objects, be it ceramic, wool, glass, timber, silk, dough or concrete as the raw material. Constructing goods is something I have, and will continue to do, at the moment the medium of choice is leather.

Who or what inspires you?
The who's, I'm currently finding the writing of Sophie Heawood rather motivating, and Tom Ravenscroft can play a good record. With what's as 80's German cars, 70's Japanese cameras, origami, butterflies, kaleidoscopes, sunshine, and the beauty of the everyday. These things are taken through the prism of modern life and it's needs, forming new and influential visions from which to feed. The latest product is a case in point, a shockingly simple keyring developed from some ingenious ribbon tying on a birthday present.

Your goods are of high quality and are made to last. Could you tell us about the materials and processes used?
At the moment we only use English Bridle Leather, an expensive, but satisfying material to work with. It's a pleasure to cut and sew, which I hope shows in the finished article. Each piece is individually crafted with care, and whilst patterns are followed, by it's very nature of being all are to a certain extent unique.

Your based in the UK, and all your products are made in your workshop in the UK. Is this challenging?
Not in the slightest, the joy for me is to create, I would get no satisfaction from outsourcing our products. The only exception I foresee is if a collaborative project came to rise and necessitated the inclusion of elements that were beyond our scope of capabilities, in that situation a suitably talented British company would be enlisted to assist in it's realisation.

There seems to be quite a rise in made in England products of late. How important do you think it is that people buy British?
Wherever possible British made, or designed goods should be chosen, partly to fund the British economy, and partly because we make some extraordinarily good stuff here in the UK and it should be revered. If you purchase an item from a small British company, and have an issue with it's function, just pick up the phone or pop round to the factory and have a word.

What is the future goals and aspirations of the company? Do you see yourselves growing on a big scale, or are you happy being as you are now, selling quality made products here in the UK?
We'll stay small, and stay pure.

Thanks Rachel for taking time out from drinking tea, painting your nails and what must be a busy schedule, to give us an insight into your company and your field of work.ACM

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