I'm pretty sure my grandparents played a major role in shaping my values; I learned to knit and sew, observed animal husbandry on a dairy farm, helped on the vegetable plot walking with them became dazzled by the magic of the hedgerows. An innocent and enjoyable lesson on how delicate the balance is between humans and nature.
Working on projects with sustainability at the core, have been and continue to be my focus. I was privileged to be able to take time out in my 50s and became the oldest fashion student in town volunteering on the 'Exbury Egg' project (as seen on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces). With fellow students we designed and made a small capsule collection for the environmental artist Stephen Turner.
In the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, I decided to merge my passion for fashion with an ethical/sustainable business model. After witnessing the harrowing media coverage, my conscience dictated there was no other way to continue working in the fashion industry. I am very aware as to how our choices, as consumers, have a negative impact on people and planet and try to raise awareness about this through my marketing and social media profiles.
As my final year at university approached, I began to dabble in the potential of print. Using a cross-section of Marram grass at a cellular level I created a ‘lace’ effect as seen above, digitally printed on bamboo silk.
At the graduate fashion show, the model wore the circular skirt with an upcycled leather corset (previous life: pair of boots).
Following my degree, I decided to work from home. I have Fibromyalgia, and designing and making in the comfort of your own home has its advantages!
One of my first lovely clients, Rita came back to me after several alterations and introduced me to her daughter.
Their inspiration was the gorgeous colour of this ribbon. This is often how a commission begins. A bride has the colour and a design in mind. Fabric is chosen and illustrations are prepared.
A happy bride with her bridesmaids in the gorgeous blue crinkle silk. Job done!
It’s such a pleasure to work on a commission with mothers and daughters; building relationships, developing ideas and advising on possibilities. The ultimate compliment is when a bridesmaid comes back for help on her wedding day!
“The bridesmaids dresses made for my daughter’s wedding and the alterations to her wedding dress were perfect. I would definitely recommend Suzie and continue to use her!”
For all of us, the past few years have brought challenges and opportunities. Weddings were cancelled when the pandemic arrived. I had a re-think and began to design and make a sleepwear collection for women who experience the symptoms of menopause, chronic illness and/or disability.
It became abundantly clear when analysing my market research that I was not the only woman who was being underserved by the fashion industry!
I have recently founded the Southampton Sewing Hub hosted by Spectrum, the Centre for Independent Living at Unity 12, Rose Road. Here I hope to develop the collection, involve the community in consultation, fun workshops and hopefully teach some sewing skills. Do get in touch, and hopefully we'll see you soon