Meet the team - Sarah, Senior Designer

From inspiration to concept, sketches to samples, and then on to the final piece, our Senior Designer Sarah (a stylish Sweetpea Summer) sees to it that the fit, fabric and colour of each Kettlewell piece that hangs in your wardrobe is the best it can possibly be…


Can you tell us you came to be Senior Designer at Kettlewell? Have you always worked in fashion?

After studying Fashion Design at Bournemouth Arts College, I moved back home and worked for a while in a womenswear boutique in Dorset where I learnt a lot about dealing with suppliers and stock buying. It was small scale but invaluable experience. Whilst there a mutual friend introduced me to a graphic designer from Kettlewell, who recommended me for this role. I’ve been with the team seven years now. To begin with it was just Melissa and I working on the designs, but over the years the design team has grown, which means we are now able to explore lots more exciting avenues…


Sarah and Melissa planning the SS18 collection in our old Crewkerne HQ

Tell us about your role and what it involves…

I work from the initial concept of the designs – gathering research, images, inspiration – and taking that and turning it into a range. Then it’s building spec sheets and tech packs with drawings and diagrams of the styles to send over to our suppliers. Once in their hands they’ll start work on the patterns for sampling, and from there we work on the fit and colour selection. Much of my time is spent communicating with our suppliers, some of whom I’ve worked with since joining Kettlewell. I consider them colleagues, even though we’ve never met in person! 

Talk us through a typical day – if such a thing exists!

Firstly, I’ll sit down and check my emails – our suppliers are in different locations over various time zones, so I come in to all sorts! Depending on what’s occurring with the different production my day can take any shape or form. If there’s an issue with a garment it usually means we have to down tools for a while to sorts things and everyone works to find a solution. If things are running smoothly then I usually work alongside Sophie, our Design Assistant, to sketch out new styles for sampling and getting the packs to suppliers.


What’s your favourite part of your job?

Hard to say – I love so many different aspects! I think seeing the final garments out in the world being worn by customers is always a great feeling. It’s amazing how much work goes into even the most basic of styles, so to see people wearing and getting joy from them is lovely.

The recent collaboration with Prue Leith has been a real highlight for me at Kettlewell. It has been a challenge in a completely new way and a massive team effort. I feel really proud to see it come together. 

You are always such a calm, unflappable presence in the Kettlewell office. Does it ever get pressurised?

All the time! There’s always a lot of projects on the go at once and when a new season approaches all of our suppliers are chasing us for approvals of fit and colours. There are a lot of plates to keep spinning.

Photo shoots can be a big-time pressure for us. Obviously, we want to photograph as many of our colours as possible so it’s crucial we work to a strict timeline in order to get the fabrics we want made up in samples in time. It can turn into a big jigsaw puzzle for the shoot team if the colours have to change last minute. 


Tell us about having your colours done and your palette. What season are you?

I had my colours done within my first week at Kettlewell, as Melissa was keen for me to understand the concept. I went to see Gilly from House of Colour with my colleague Sancha, who manages the warehouse. I was diagnosed as a Sweet Pea Summer, which puts me in the middle of the Summer palette. I was so happy with my best colours and it was fascinating to reflect back at my sketch books and collections I designed at university to see how I was always drawn to those softer pastel colours. 


Sarah enjoyed finding out she was a Sweetpea Summer - and her dog, Norman joined in for National Pet Day!

If you could pick your favourite Kettlewell styles what would they be?

I love all the merino knitwear pieces. I’m an Ingenue Natural so long, loose-fitting dresses are a uniform of mine and I like to wear them all through winter by adding boots, tights and a lovely luxury piece of knitwear like the Connie Sweater.

I’m so excited about the new knitwear pieces to launch for AW23 – they’re the best yet in my opinion. All the summer blues are my favourites to wear. In wintertime I’m always drawn to the deeper berry and burgundy colours.

Some of Sarah's favourite knitwear styles

Provence Connie Sweater | Cameo Marl Hailey Merino Sweater | Burgundy Albany Coatigan

Print or plain?

I can’t resist a ditsy floral print – they always seem to work so beautifully in the Summer palette. Luckily, I never find them hard to come by. In terms of style I love pieces that are really simple in design and I don’t really subscribe to seasonal trends. Working at Kettlewell has really helped me to discover what works for me. Cost per wear is a big factor when I shop. I have pieces in my wardrobe that I have worn for years and years.

Outside work how do you like to relax on the weekend?

I’m a bit of a home bird, having bought my first house a couple of years ago. Soon after came my first dog, Norman, whom I love walking in the countryside and along the Dorset coast. I spend a lot of time gardening and shopping for new bits and pieces for my home. There are some really great vintage shops nearby that I could spend hours looking around.


Chris Pole on Aug 27, 2023 9:09 PM

What a lovely article. Great to hear about you!

Melissa on Aug 27, 2023 1:07 PM

Sarah, You and your team hit it out of the park this season. I already have wish-listed my first run at a capsule wardrobe and I could mix it up all season with just 9 pieces. Add in investment pieces from previous seasons for a myriad of possibilities. I agree, the knitwear is always my favorite every season and this seasons knitwear is especially lovely with styles to suit every body shape and style personality.

[email protected] on Aug 27, 2023 10:13 AM

Interesting to read your blog.

I really wish you could design a couple of jackets in a true petite length (but up to size 16 &18)! I am 5’3” and short waisted with long legs. I’ve tried on every single one of the Kettlewell jackets & had to return each & every one. They are 3-4” too long & swap me (& no doubt many potential customers like me!).

Please research the petite ranges in M&S & other big brands & try & come up with a funky Kettlewell variant of a jeans style jacket and a smart round necked jacket.

Happy to try on prototypes & to continue to give feedback!!

Annamaria Kish on Aug 25, 2023 10:12 PM

Thank you Sarah!!!!!

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