Working from her studio, The Little Stitchery in South Wales, Nicola began her career as the original pattern cutter for Welsh clothing company Toast. Nicola currently teaches sewing, design and garment manufacture and is a creative director for ethical clothing factory, Visible Clothing.
Nicola designed Bird Kitchen Clothing’s inaugural range.
What clothes do you wear to cook in at home?
I’ve got an apron that one of my best friends made for me out of a vintage fabric. It’s the only pinny in my kitchen; it fits over the head and has a domestic goddess kind of look plenty of frills. I absolutely love it.
Favourite food to cook
Weekdays I keep it simple and clean - steamed salmon with vegetable, a tray bake with roast vegetables & balsamic vinegar. It’s got to be something quick and easy to feed the kids after school. At the weekend, we get more creative with pastes and marinades and enjoy our treats. Go to meal for a special occasion? Wild mushroom risotto. It costs a fortune to make - wild mushrooms, truffle oil, the best rice but it’s good.
How did you get into Design?
My mum would always make us something from nothing - something handmade for a party or special occasion. Back then, we had more time and less money. It was all about make do and mend, the utility of the process and I grew up around these skills. In my mid teens, I would spend my wages on fabric rather than clothes because I was tiny and high street clothes just didn’t fit. I would make lots of crazy clothes and from an early age, I gained lots of experience in deconstructing clothes and then reconstructing them. My standout item was a lace wrap top which was like nothing anyone else had seen before and everyone wanted to wear - think Madonna in the mid-80s.
Favourite types of clothes to design
Anything with flexibility. I love stretch fabrics because they move and are very forgiving. I like timeless and traditional garments like fisherman’s smocks and I always like to include something adjustable, like an adjustable waist band or sleeves which may be rolled to fit.
Qualities needed to work in clothing design
You need to be objective and design for your market rather than yourself.
Benefits of good design in workplace
Comfort, breathable and with a contemporary element. Clothes enable me to feel how I want to feel, be it dressing up to feel professional or dressing down to deliver a communal class.
How do carve out time for yourself?
When I can, my guilty pleasure is a glass of wine and a spot of eBay shopping for vintage finds.
Who inspires you?
Anyone who has created something from nothing and is nailing it, such as Annie Sloan, Kath Kidston.
In terms of someone I know, it’s got to be founder of Bird, Vic North. Vic is a mother, entrepreneur and friend with shared values - we both recognise gender equality whilst celebrating difference and see strength in diversity. Plus she has an excellent taste in clothes!