An interview with Faith Tilleray of Damselfly

DamselflyI recently had a chance to have a chat with Faith Tilleray, who makes beautiful girlswear under the label Damselfly.

Here is her story:

Hi Faith, can you tell me a bit more about yourself and why you set up your company?

Damselfly is a mother and daughter team (my daughter just completed a fashion degree). Before launching Damselfly, I ran a textiles teaching centre that had tutors and participants visiting from all over the world, so I have some special techniques that were developed there which will appear on the clothing as the seasons progress.

How would you describe the clothes that you make?

Our vision is to make clothes so that the girl who wears them feels that she could fly, and this feeling of being special comes from knowing that what she is wearing has been made by people who love what they do. Each piece has that ‘something special’ added by hand.

In which part of Britain are you based?

We’re based in rural Shropshire and are lucky enough to  have premises to work from at home in the form of an old dairy.

Why did you decide to manufacture in Britain?

Our decision to manufacture here is part of our commitment to sustainability but also because we want to retain control of all the processes. This gives us flexibility and enables us to constantly monitor quality.

Who makes your products?

The production of the garments is done partly here in our own production unit and partly by outworkers who have their own small production studios. I also have two embroiders who  help with the detailing, one of whom has just finished training at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court.

What has been the hardest part of getting your clothes made in Britain?

Finding seamstresses who can work to the standards we require has not been easy. Many people who have worked in an industrial setting worked on a batch and queue system where they repeated the same operation over and over. We use a whole garment system (more efficient and more satisfying for the sewer) so we need people who have a wide range of skills. The small team we have developed  is perfect for our needs at the moment, but in the future we would like to train up an apprentice or two. Most of the workers we’ve talked to who have any skills are over 40 – this is going to be a big problem for any companies wanting to produce in the UK in the future I think.

And what has been the best part?

We are really fortunate in having an engineer with years of experience in the apparel industry living nearby, so we’ve had the best advice on what machines we needed to start up, and just the right person to source and maintain them for us.

You can buy the Damselfly collection from their online boutique, and for a limited time they are offering 50% off of their Spring 2011 range.



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