Tell us about yourself?
I had an incredible childhood growing up on my family farm. I have the most amazing memories from when I would spend dawn until dusk playing, and later working, on our farm with my siblings, we were very fortunate to be able to roam free for hours on end.
I studied Exhibition and Event Design at university before moving to London where I worked in the high-end retail industry for a number of years gaining valuable experience before I moved to Leicestershire and launched Butler Stewart in May 2015.
Two of my ancestors have been hugely inspiring to me other the years and have helped shape who I am and my business; George Courtauld, who established a successful textile company called George Courtauld & Co. and was a worldwide manufacturer of fabric, clothing and artificial fibres which is hugely aspiring. His decedent, Sam Courtauld, then went on to found the Courtauld Institute of Art and the world-famous Courtauld Gallery in London, something that I feel is incredibly special in my family history.
What made you decide to be a fashion designer? How did you start? And when?
I landed a dream job managing a tailoring company in London and discovered my love for beautiful British fabrics and fashion designing. During my time in London, I felt there was a niche for high-end clothing that could be worn in the country while being just at home in the city. I wanted to create a brand that would showcase stunning, luxurious and sought after garments while still being ethical with timeless designs that can last years or even a lifetime. I designed and launched my first collection in May 2015 which went on to sell out and exceed all my expectations.
What is it like being a brand from The Midlands?
Being based in the heart of the country is the perfect location for Butler Stewart, the scenery is stunning and makes for the most beautiful backdrops for our photoshoots. The transport links to the capital are within easy commuting time so I get to have the best of both worlds. The breath-taking Midlands countryside influences each of my designs and is hugely inspiring for my seasonal colour palettes.
What is the fashion industry like here in your opinion? Do you feel you have more customers from further afield?
The Midlands is a great place for the fashion industry, there are some fantastic local fashion businesses and designers with a strong past to inspire those just starting out. The region also has well-respected fashion, clothing and textile courses at local universities and is renowned for its textile industry including my ancestor’s company, Courtaulds, who’s factories were based in Belper, Derbyshire and Coventry. We have customers from all over the country and worldwide but we love it when customers are local to us.
What are your greatest achievements so far with your brand?
I was delighted to receive a highly commended award at the 2017 Rural Business Awards in the ‘Best Rural Clothing & Accessories Business’ category after only two years of trading. Last September Butler Stewart’s sponsored event rider, Caroline Powell, won the best-dressed rider at Burghley Horse Trials’ trot up wearing our striking knee-length Eleanor Coat.
Who would be your dream client?
The Duchess of Cambridge – her style is impeccable and always on point for the occasion. She is never anything less than flawless. Our signature knee-length coats would fit perfectly with her timeless and elegant royal style.
If you were not in Fashion what would you be doing?
Landscape designer. Combining my love of designing, gardening, flowers and the outdoors. Since I was a youngster I have had a flair for designing and it would always have to be a part of what I do.
Do you have any tips for young/or new designers hailing from The Midlands?
Gain as much experience as you possibly can. Even the simplest of pieces of information you pick up along the way can be valuable when designing your own garments. If you're looking to start your own business begin with a strong business plan. I revert to my business plan regularly which sets out my businesses aims. I change the document as the business grows but make sure I keep to my core values. This helps me keep on track to achieve the goals I have set out for Butler Stewart.