In the run up to my launch date, I had a huge dilemma to resolve. Which was going to be the best route for my business? Me, hand tailoring every skirt or, finding a manufacturer that would reflect everything I wanted my business to be. As with most things there are pro’s and con’s.
For the first time ever, Jester was only a 5 minute drive from my home and now that he was fighting fit, we could start riding again. This gave me the opportunity to ride every day in my skirt and to start putting it though some vigorous testing. Come rain, shine or even snow.
After Christmas my horse ‘Jester’ fell very poorly and had to be taken into hospital to have fairly big head surgery, which involved the removing of a large tumour. The operation went well but poor Jester then had a fairly long recovery period, confined to his stable.
Prototype No10 turned out to be everything I had hoped for. So the next big thing was to figure out the best weight of fabric …and the best solution to keep it secure while riding.
After a few silly mistakes (entirely a product of my excitement and enthusiasm) jumping in and doing, the first short version was complete.
As I had hoped, it behaved in the same way as the long version but something still wasn’t quite right… the length! Having spent so much time contemplating the issue, coming up against the same snag, I realized that I needed to take a different approach. Just the one length, a ‘midway’ skirt, eureka!
Christmas was coming and I had successfully joined the Princes Trust ‘Explore Enterprise Course’.
I was feeling really ready to embrace every aspect of my business venture, from marketing and selling, even down to the accounting! I was hungry to learn as much as I could and with prototype No8 ready to sew. I was as excited as a child might be on Christmas morning.
I booked Joy to come and spend another day with me in the studio to help with the next couple of prototypes, as I wanted to change my skirt from a 6-panel skirt into 12 or more panels! Things were about to get a whole lot more complicated…
This has been a very exciting week for Nouvelle Habit.
We have been testing our riding skirts on location and photographing the results.
I’m lucky I have a
super supportive mum and dad, both willing to listen to my crazy ideas, give me
advice and most importantly, let me follow my heart.
prototype stage I had been bombarding them with photographs and filling their
inboxes with questions. Taking them with me on the roller coaster of emotions
that I was going though every day! From elation to devastation, my parents
experienced it all too.
My ‘Hobby Horse’ was fantastic for cosmetic fixes but as a rider I knew the importance of live tests. Moving in the skirt while mounted, the drape of the fabric and the range of movement the rider would have, the way my design behaved in every kind of weather. These were all crucial aspects of the product in my mind’s eye and I was determined to get them right.
Before starting prototype No4 I realized that I really needed some form of horse at home. Making a garment that’s intended to be worn on a horse is tricky when you haven’t got one at your studio to sit on to try things out. Where there is a will, there’s a way. I had a large wooden saddle stand made especially for the job. I set up the ‘Tailor’s Hobby Horse’ in my living room with my saddle.
Minor tweaks were
made to the design for prototype No3 but in all other respects, prototype No2 was
built upon. This time making use of a heavy material to replicate the weight of
the waxed cotton and exploring the lining it to get an accurate idea of the
finished look and feel…
No1 was relatively easy, as I had already made this when I was at Bath Collage; the only difference being that it was in miniature. So the first step was to make it to fit me.
I was still battling
with certain elements of my design and decided to contact Joy (who was my
teacher at Bath collage) and see if she would be able to give me some one to
one coaching to help accelerate my project and complete the first prototype.
For me to be able
to transform my idea I needed to learn a whole new set of skills, so I enrolled
and became a student at Bath collage.
During my time
there I was taught the magic of pattern making. Learning to make my own designs
into working patterns.
As you can imagine, for someone like me who loves fabric, this was the fun and exciting part. However the fabric hunting process took a very long time. I searched high and low for different waterproof materials.
Time to build a
I had been playing
with ideas for months and it was getting closer to my first big course on
pattern cutting and what I needed most was a workshop….
As with the idea for the skirt the name came from inspiration when out riding with a friend. I had been playing around with ideas for a name and knew I wanted it to include the word Habit, as I wanted to maintain a strong connection with tradition. But I was really stuck on what else was needed.