Karen Radley, Founder of Scoop in conversation over a cup of coffee with fashion designer Anne-Marie Holdsworth. Founder of Brodie Cashmere and Wispr.
You live in Yorkshire, can you share what you love about the area?
I love to be close to my roots, so Yorkshire people have to be at top of the list – full of pride, friendly and have a great sense of humour! We’re surrounded by beautiful countryside and the coast is never too far away. And of course, a trip to Betty’s for the best afternoon tea!
Tell me about your design background and your family wool business?
I’ve always loved great design and fashion, especially in knitwear. My family has traded in cashmere, and we decided to continue the partnership with our factory in Mongolia choosing to only source sustainable cashmere. We work with nomadic herders in the region to produce ethical, conscious cashmere, traceable from the origin. By supporting these workers, we continue to make beautiful knitwear with a considered design. I’ve always loved wearing cashmere, and who doesn’t want to design fabulous products that are ethically made?
Why and when did you launch Brodie Cashmere?
I launched Brodie 12 years ago with my daughter Jes. Together we wanted to develop a brand which would be accessible to the world. She was integral in pushing the brand forward! Brodie is made from 100% pure cashmere fibres and combines loved styles with contemporary colourways. We started with 15 styles and 15 colours at a small stand at Pure. That first show was a huge success and gave us the confidence to continue. As a new brand coming to London, it was amazing to get such a strong reaction.
How are you inspired? Can you tell me about your design and production process?
I started with my own personal style and then developed it by bringing in family and friends to discuss what they loved about cashmere knitwear. These transformed into samples which were all tried and tested by people who I believed had great style, a great eye and knowledge of colour. It’s always been very much a family led brand, inspired by my family and my girlfriends. We’ve never lost the essence of mother daughter transition and want to be a brand that every age and every person can go to. I think that a jumper can be worn by all age groups in different ways just from the styling of it. Our designs are inspired by the amazing women around us!
Now we have a team of talented designers who look globally for fabulous ideas and colour inspiration to marry in with the same family led interest. We have a handle on every element of the knitwear process. From grazing to garment, we’ve partnered with the Sustainable Fibre Alliance, so we can guarantee the ethical production of our cashmere. Sustainability is at the heart of what we do, to safeguard our herding community, to the welfare of their animals to produce consciously crafted cashmere. We have an eye on every process and ensure everything is finished to the highest standard with the best quality.
Is there a signature look for Brodie Cashmere?
Brodie is not afraid of colour, and this plays a big part in our identity. We craft great designs with timeless fits to deliver luxury ready to wear. The ‘Splatter Foil’ design was instrumental to our success in the U.S and put us on the global map.
Who would you say is your typical Brodie customer?
The Brodie customer is confident, expressive, vibrant and colourful. Who looks for sustainable luxury that can elevate their mood. We stock in beautiful speciality stores throughout the world that can provide a personal service and who know their customer well.
If a woman was to own a piece of Brodie from your collection - which one would you suggest and why?
We want women to feel good in what we create regardless of the style. Style is very personal; we feel that if something makes you smile then wear it. My favourite Brodie would be the novelty styles – standout pieces that are fun and bold. The sophisticated edit styles elevate softer tones and natural colours of cashmere for the purest cashmere wearer.
Do you have any words of positivity to share with our readers?
As a female founder my biggest motivator was to never give up on my dream! So, my advice is to never put off tomorrow what you can do today. Work hard and it will be worth it!
Sustainability is integral to preserve our world – let’s try to slow fashion down together. We are at the forefront of sustainable cashmere and rethink our business to better ourselves and our environment. For us, the responsibility doesn’t end as soon as we sell a jumper, considering the afterlife is always just as important!
Find them on stand A80 at Scoop x Pure, 8-10 February, The Truman Brewery London.