Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Coming Up Roses: A Night with Cath Kidston!

I think it's safe to say that if something reminds me of the English countryside, then I'm obsessed with it.  I grew up on Laura Ashley; the dresses, the bed linens, the wallpaper.  And I bought just about every one of Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic books.  So imagine my delight when I discovered London's Cath Kidston.  Her designs are very much English countryside with a modern twist, and a few nights ago I was fortunate enough to attend a Cath Kidston talk at the V&A.

Kidston reminisced about about her idyllic childhood in the Hampshire countryside, giving us glimpses of her first sparks of entrepreneurial spirit.  She told us how she picked vegetables from her aunt's garden only to sell them back to her aunt and how she constantly was moving around her mother's soaps so that they were arranged as prettily as possible.  
Like many of us, Cath Kidston started her career doing odd jobs and internships.  Unlike most of us, one of her first internships was for the incomparable Nicky Haslam.  In many ways, the internship for Haslam seems to have been a polestar in her life.  She mentioned that she had very little confidence before she started working for him but that he allowed her to pick out fabrics and to explore her designer's eye.  With a laugh, she also said he had her walk his dogs, but that even this task taught her an important lesson about attitude and the importance of all tasks to the larger picture.
One of the most interesting parts was her discussion of her business planning, in that she didn't do much of it in the beginning.  In many ways, she seems to credit her success to this lack of planning and places a great deal of importance on following your passion and doing what you know to be true.  She admitted that she does little, if any, market research.  Rather, she just observes the way her friends live and observes what inspires her, and then creates textile patterns.  She declared, "No matter how much training you have, you must have passion.  People can tell if you don't have it."
Above is an early Cath Kidston catalogue.  She actually took many of the pictures for this catalogue and designed a great deal of it.  

Cath Kidston also said that business success or growth has never been her motivator, but that she did always want her product to be a recognizable brand.  In achieving that goal, she has found it important to stay true to the character of the brand and not to follow trends blindly.  Because of that, she is proud that you can always spot a Cath Kidston product.   I must say, I do love all of my Cath Kidston items!


  1. That's really great that you got to hear her. I love her "natural resume´"!. I see that she does digital fabrics. If that sounds fun to you, visit www.spoonflower.com and try your hand at it. Very fun stuff! Enjoying your blog.

  2. I agree, I love the list of jobs. I feel like that should be shown to students of all ages throughout school to show them it's okay to find one's path by trying many different things. Also, love the tent and what they did with the embassy is awesome.


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