It’s officially autumn, so what better way to welcome in a new season than with a Q&A featuring one of my favourite British brands: Needle knitwear and its lovely founder/designer Lizzie Cawthray. I don’t know about you but one of the best ways to get my head around autumn is to focus on all the sweet sweater-wearing opportunities it provides and as Needle’s new AW 15 collection has just launched, I thought I’d catch up with Lizzie to chat life, work, instagram and how she’ll be styling up her beautiful knits this autumn.
DESCRIBE YOUR AVERAGE WORKING DAY/WEEK
My average working day…umm I don’t think there is an average working day or week for me. At any point we usually have 3 collections on the go, so that involves developing a new collection, taking another range to wholesale and then actually selling a produced collection online or going to shows. One day I can be working in London showing the collection to buyers, the next day I can be planning a new season colour palette. There are times when I am out of the office at consumer shows just selling our pieces and meeting our lovely customers. The most glamorous/exciting days are when we are on set for a photoshoot because it brings a collection to life or on a calmer day I am simply in the office packing parcels and doing emails. This job is so varied – no one day is the same!DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE YOUR OWN BOSS?
I don’t think I ever thought about starting up my own business as being my own boss; I just always wanted to do something for myself. In hindsight yes I wanted to be my own boss but I really just wanted to achieve something for myself. Setting up Needle was not the initial plan but has turned out to be great journey
I love winter clothes, don’t get me wrong I love the sun too but winter fashions are just nicer and easier to wear. I struggle with summer wardrobes whilst I can fill my time looking at warm, snuggly winter clothes and for me knitwear is the epitome of winter style. My business partner Emma, whom I met whilst working at LK Bennett, is a trained knitwear designer and she introduced me to this area of fashion. I adore seeing a sketch come to life through the development of a style and images to a product we sell and then finally seeing people wear a piece of Needle. I really enjoy the incredible process of developing clothes. I guess logically knitwear makes sense to me and it’s pretty versatile so you can wear it all year round!!YOU DIVIDE YOUR TIME BETWEEN HARROGATE AND LONDON – WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT EACH?
Predominately I am based in Harrogate, that’s where my husband, Tobias and I live and my family are based in Harrogate too, so it’s always about the simple family life here. It is a slower pace of life but mostly I love waking up to fresh air and incredible scenery. That said I get a kick out of being in London and the buzzing environment there. A lot of my friends are still based down in London so it’s always manic trying to catch up with everyone and combine my time with meetings. There is a lot more going on in London which is always a good change for me but I love getting on the train and coming back home to Yorkshire.
WHAT’S YOUR PERSONAL STYLE – HOW DO YOU LIKE TO WEAR NEEDLE PIECES?
The brand is really based around my kind of style which is classic with a contemporary twist. I tend to dress in straight legged ankle skimming trousers for work with a Needle jumper on, or at the weekend I love nothing better than skinny grey jeans, ankle Chelsea boots, a white shirt and a Needle jumper. Then I’m ready to roll: simple, clean and classic. I always admire other people’s style but I know there are certainly things that don’t work on me. I can never look really scruffy, I look silly and I hardly ever wear heels, so I love finding a good pair of flats that are a bit quirky or ankle boots.
Having started up Needle I have been incredibly lucky to make new friends who have their own brands too – we share our experiences. Everyone’s business is in varying areas, but it has led to me living in the Davina Combe stacking rings, and I desperately want to own my own house so that I can have some Juliet Travers wallpaper in a room. I am looking forward to visiting Hero shop in Stockbridge in October to be inspired by Laura Turner who runs the boutique there – fortunately for Needle she stocks our collections – and her instagram is addictive.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO ON YOUR PERFECT WEEKEND?
My perfect weekend would revolve around coffee, food, family and friends. I like to get up on a Saturday morning and do a Barre Core class just to kick start my weekend but then I try to make my weekend about spending time with Tobias, drinking coffee, going for a walk and then going for a meal with friends. Sunday is always about a big family brunch. We all go to my parents on a Sunday (grandparents, my sister and her family) for a feast which always involves lots of coffee and cake. We are a family of bakers so cake is always on the menu!
TELL US ABOUT THE NEW AW/15 NEEDLE COLLECTION
The Autumn/Winter collection is a timeless, fresh, capsule collection. The range is small as we like to have 10 beautiful pieces rather than 20 average pieces. My personal favourite is the Cleo coat (pictured above) – she is just so easy to wear. We were at a BBQ at the weekend and I knew it was going to be cooler to stand outside for drinks so I put on Cleo with skinny jeans, silk shirt and some red flats and I was so cosy! Cleo is the ultimate easy throw on stylish piece. The Camilla cashmere jumper (below) is a safe everyday piece for me when I don’t have to think about what I’m wearing – she feels so soft but also has pops of colour on the cuff and hem which is nice for winter when the colours are always darker.DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN 3 WORDS
Passionate, driven but a big softy, just like our cashmere!
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
If it was easy everyone would be doing it! That’s what my Dad always says and it is so true. There are great highs and great lows with running your own business but the buck stops with me so if I don’t do something, it never gets done. You have to get up every morning and love what you do, which I do.
The AW15 Needle collection is available now if you fancy treating yourself to a special piece of knitwear this autumn. Also, check out Lizzie’s lovely instagram account for more inspiration.