Sunday, 17 November 2013

Working to a deadline

    House and Garden Magazine has been listing current designers, month by month, and I was not surprised to see one of my clients, Penny Morrison, described as a leading decorator with her own  workshop in Wales.  I remember her very clearly as she stopped at my outlet in Freshford and told me she had to completely re-style a boutique hotel in the Caribbean and had only a few weeks to get everything together.   She instantly approved and bought  a huge pile of coarse, creamy, hemp sheets for all the curtains and bed covers - she was looking for a very cool relaxed look, and then there was the question of how to trim the curtains and valances to give them some definition and style.  Everything had to stand up to strong sunlight, endless laundering, and frequent hoovering and brushing.  Looking round my sheet and linen stores, she spied the 8 inch wide webbing in bright blue, natural and cream strong cotton braiding I had used to cover the metal supports of the shelving there.   She intended  putting a border at floor level on all the bed valances, which would not get marked by shoes and the Hoovers, and a border line down each leading edge of the curtains;  very smart!  I had justbought some huge rolls of the braid, all in a rather mad moment at Francine's Boutique in  Isle sur la Sorgue, Provence, when she offered rolls at  give-away prices because she too had had a mad moment and bought  dozens of these braids in rolls of over 90 metres.  She kept on saying that she would never sell them all and she had wasted a lot of money.   Funnily enough,  I was able to sell mine with ease for all sorts of projects and I had to explain to my buyers that the braid was used to make the uppers of espadrilles, the colourful beach shoes of Spain and the Med. so would stand up to sun, salt and sand.  I went back to Francine for more and I found that she, too,  had sold out and gone back to the Pyreneese to buy massive more quantities from the old shoe factory.   This all helped to encourage me to start  buying larger quantities of interesting and original textiles that I really liked, and it paid many dividends when I became a supplier to various film wardrobes and their massive requirements for crowd scenes.

Last year House and Garden magazine listed 100 leading designers and I was not  surprised to see a client of mine, Penny Morrison, with a picture of a cool creamy bedroom.  I remember her well as she arrived with a list of window measurements and said she had to transform a very unattractive boutique hotel in the Carribean and wanted to convert to pale creamy curtains and matching bed dressing, but all had to be sewn and ready within weeks for transport in one lot to the island!   She was so pleased to find I had vast piles of good coarse linen sheets, ideal for both windows and bed covers and then the problem was to find something that was practical (to stand up to endless and possibly rather unskilled laundering, the constant rubbing of hoovers during the daily clean) that would bring colour and definition to each bedroom.

  Looking round my showroom  Penny spied the very unusual blue, gray and cream striped braid that I had used to cover the metal base for all the shelving there and asked me if I could supply 'really a lot' :  Luckily, only weeks before, in Isle sur la Sorge, I had bought a huge roll of about 100 metres of braid which Francine (owner) said had been used to make the open-toed Spanish espadrille beach shoes.  Francine said she had overdone it, it was ridiculous and no-one would ever buy this stuff - I thought I was mad to buy so much, though the price was only a few hundred francs for the lot, and yet it turned out to be exactly what Penny was looking for!  After that I bought a great deal still at the silly price and now it has all gone - Francine went on buying it and probably still has a stash in her huge stores!

  It is quite exciting and very rewarding to be able to supply someone's wants and necessities all on one big shopping expedition, and one has to remember that you have to have a decent stock, if it is available, on the day that desperate customer calls or telephones - huge advantage now that Email is so instant. - tomorrow or next week is not much use when deadlines have to be met.   This applies specially to film wardrobe ladies!


1 comment:

  1. I can just see those large piles of textiles and I want to touch them
    I love hem material and trims
    It amazes me how a plain pile of hem materiel can be made into magic for a room