15 years of Colour!
It’s been 15 years since we started unleashing rainbows on the nation’s wardrobes – and there have been plenty of colourful moments along the way. Read all about them in our special anniversary interview below...
Can you tell us about the early days when you first launched?
I remember thinking that John and I had achieved so much by the time we launched our first catalogue and website. We had produced a collection of colourful T-shirts, photographed them on friends and family, and had designed and set up the website, catalogue and systems. We were all set for the phones to start ringing and to take orders but nothing happened; they were eerily silent. It felt like we had got it horribly wrong. Even worse, we had invested our own money from the sale of our house in London, and were renting in Somerset with two young daughters and our third child on the way.
John, feeling the pressure of responsibility for the family, said he had no choice but to go out and get a job but my instinct was to learn from our mistakes and keep going. Thankfully, I managed to persuade him to stick with me as John is the backbone of the business and it would not have worked without him.
What would you say have been the biggest changes over the past 15 years?
The arrival of broadband! We used to dial up to access the internet and some days there was no connection at all. It was just the two of us then, but fortunately we had complementary skill sets. We now have an efficient team of 25. The collection has grown from a handful of plain t-shirts in 20 colours to a full range of jersey basics including prints, textures and stripes as well as dresses, skirts, trousers, jackets, knitwear, scarves, handmade leather bags and belts. And the miracle is that we offer more than 300 colours at the last count! If there’s a shade we’re missing, please let me know.
What have you learned over the past 15 years of running Kettlewell?
The meaning of the word ‘quality’. It’s something I’ve learned to achieve with experience and attention to detail. I make it my mission to continue to improve our quality every season. I’ve also learned how powerful colour is; how it affects our responses, how it makes us feel and how it can help you succeed. From a practical sense, I now know the limitations of colour too when preparing lab dips for the fabrics. Achieving colours from the Winter palette is the most challenging. Every season I lab dip more ice and jewel colours than any other in hope that the fabric will take the colour perfectly.
Additionally I feel like I’ve learned more about our customers and what they’re looking for. I’m continually discovering new things about body shapes, clothing personalities, fabric and fit and why one top is perfect for one customer and unflattering on another. That’s the reason we’ve recently launched our new Style Quiz to help direct customers to the right styles for them.
What three words sum up the brand?
Colourful, joyful, accessible.
When we launched for the second time, the risk and all our efforts had finally paid off. It was also thrilling getting our first bit of PR when we were featured in YOU magazine and the orders poured in. A constant highlight is seeing the collection through from concept to production and hearing glowing feedback from customers when we’ve got it right for them.
Where do you see the brand in 15 years’ time?
We’ve just launched in the US and I’d like to see us operating in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UAE. I love meeting customers and helping them to look and feel good so I dream of having a physical shop one day…but that’s another story.
And finally, how are you planning to celebrate 15 years of Kettlewell?
A weekend in Rome with my gorgeous husband!