As you know we are all about made in Scotland and many of our products are handmade by various talented people local to Duns, where the ScotlandShop HQ can be found. Claire is one of our most local suppliers and makes a variation of products including; brooches, garter, baby shoes, bow belts, messenger bags, cushions, doorstops, hair brooches and Christmas stockings. Claire studied textile management at Leeds University before moving on to work in customer liaison for a lingerie department at a textiles company for ten years. She started working for ScotlandShop after she had settled down in the Scottish Borders with her husband and three children. I thought I would ask Claire a few questions about her work to give you a better understanding of just how much care and detail goes into every single product she makes for us.
Do you make purely for ScotlandShop?
I sew almost entirely just for ScotlandShop, as orders have increased over the years I don’t really have the time to sew for anyone else. I used to be busy at Christmas and then have a massive drop off in orders once Burns Night was over, but as my product range has increased and includes items such as bags and wedding garters, I don’t see such a marked drop off. Just now is probably the quietest time of year.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I don’t think I have a typical day, if I’m having a ‘normal’ working day then I will firstly cut out all the orders I plan to make that day (this is all done by hand). I like to try and group products together so it might be a brooch day or a bag day for example. This can be hard sometimes when an urgent order is required and needs to jump the queue!
Home or workshop?
I work at home and now have a workroom where I have my sewing machine and all my materials to hand. I have 3 children, so this allows me to work some quite unusual hours at times to fit round the school run, Mum’s Taxi, Sports Days etc. It’s not unheard of for me to be up working at 6am and still at it 12 at night, but I may have had an assembly to attend or school trip to help at during the day!
I enjoy making the brooches as each one is different and there is an element of artistic and creative input to every pin. Even if someone orders 2 of the same brooch they will likely be slightly different. I like working with the woollen tartan fabric, it’s great to sew with. I also like seeing all the different tartans, certain products can look totally different dependent on the tartan used, or the way the tartan is placed. My favourite tartans are the muted tones of the weathered tartans and some of the tweed fabrics.
What can you not live without?
During my working day, I couldn’t live without constant cups of tea and the radio! I’m also lost when my favourite scissors go missing. My family all know they must never use Mum’s scissors to cut anything (especially paper!!).
Is it organised chaos or are you mega organised?
I stay organised with great support from the team at ScotlandShop who keep me up to date with when to expect orders/ fabric and which orders are urgent. I have a system as mentioned before where I try to make similar products together where possible. It also helps having a dedicated workroom where everything I need is in one place.
How do you relax?
How do I relax? Did I mention I have 3 boys, aged 9, 11 & 12. There’s not much time to relax, but we enjoy taking our dog Sparky for walks, visiting local places of interest and I love shopping when I get a chance!
Any interesting facts that our customers probably won’t know?
The biggest factor which most people probably won’t appreciate is just how long each product takes to make, they are bespoke items that are being custom made. I take time to choose the thread shade and lining to match the tartan, and quite a few products include hand sewing/finishing.
We love working with Claire because she is so super organised, always enthusiastic about new ideas and her attention to detail is second to none. This is the first in our series of Meet the Maker and we look forward to introducing you to other members of the team soon.