As I turn over the “back in 10 minutes” sign on the virtual shop door I thought it was worth putting up a explanation for anyone who missed my earlier social media post. If you are wondering what’s going on, I’ve made the difficult decision to temporarily close the online shop as of Sunday 11th April. What this means is that made-to-order styles like our Seirian, Perle and Adara will not be available online for the forseeable future. The reason for this is that I try to keep the shop at a 4-6 week turnaround and right now, I can’t hope to keep up with that on my current waiting list! Demand means I’m currently booking in July/ August work so in order to make sure everyone gets the service they deserve I will reopen the shop when I’ve got better turnaround times to offer to you lovely people.
You can still place bespoke orders as usual (bearing in mind the long lead time!) and if you’re happy with the wait on delivery you can send me a message at any time to get added onto that list! Naturally, if you already have an order placed with me that still stands.
Needless to say, I’m still here doing what I’ve always done, and just to prove I haven’t been idle, I released a new style last month! You can check out Heledd here, a standard size stealthing corset suitable for daily wear, with multiple options to help you get a great fit.
Last but not least, I’ve added a new item to the shop that will remain live during the shut down. A bespoke design pathway! When you enquire about a bespoke order and we have worked out the basic details I will be asking you to purchase one of these to take us to the next stage of design development. It’s not an extra charge but a downpayment of sorts on the time taken to work on your ideas, taken off your final balance payment when you place your order. This allows me to give my focus to clients who are ready to commit to the design process as time is so short these days. Thankyou to everyone who has embraced it so far! Seeing how you readily value my time and energy has been really touching. Including some people who have purchased one before we’ve even spoken! I feel endlessly blessed with the clients I have gathered in this little nook of the internet! You’re good eggs, as my gran would say.
Here we are again friends, we wave 2017 off in a fanfare and think about our goals for a new year! At Orchid there has been a lot to celebrate, though I won’t pretend there weren’t a lot of difficult days inbetween! But I did want to share our year with you, a behind the scenes glimpse into life at the studio, and all the adventures we’ve enjoyed along the way. Thankyou to everyone who has joined us for the ride! Your support and interest make it all possible.
In the cold dawn on a new year, I began designing our Heartland collection, following a move back to my motherland of Wales in December. From the start I had a strong feeling about the designs, which felt cohesive and bold, and really just ran out the end of my pencil! I also began making plans with my web wizards at Moghill for a new streamlined website with a more accessible online shop. I felt so invigorated with plans and ideas for the business, and was excited to make them a reality.
My 30th birthday! Working between Wales and England was starting to take it’s toll as I had a 3 hour daily commute to the studio and was trying to find a way of setting up a workspace in Wales. But every challenge is an opportunity, and while plans for that were underway I was using my train commute through the valleys to work out ways of accommodating the requests for wholesale orders I was starting to get from overseas boutiques! Cue the lovely Amy joining me for a training day!
At last- after 3 months of commuting I found a place to set up with space to move production! This left my lovely Shrewsbury space free to dedicate to client fittings, while allowing me a moment to redesign my workspace, with standing height bench for pattern cutting and pinning. I can’t begin to tell you what a difference it makes at the end of a long day without stooping! Having an extra 3 working hours back in each day meant I could get back to sampling the new Heartland collection and plans began to develop for the new website!
April was just packed with lovely orders, and fun photoshoot collaborations! A huge joy of the job is the unexpected combinations that clients bring my way, such as this ribbon corset, made in grey coutil with alternating fuschia and deep teal grosgrain ribbons. I will admit that I couldn’t quite picture the result when the client decided on it, but I had a feeling it would be stunning!
Speaking of joys of the job- in May I worked on a second corset for a very special client. We began working together in 2016 and in collaboration with the ladies occupational therapist I designed a corset that would work with her mobility limitations. My client was a wheelchair user and needed a corset that would offer great back support but be easy for her care team to put on every morning, we came up with a fully front opening and adjusting design. She liked it so much that in May this year, she ordered another in black!
June was a tumultuous month for Britain. Still reeling from the Manchester bombing, we saw an attack on London, just days before the general election. I felt so proud of how our citizens reached out to those who were affected, donating blood, making cups of tea for the dazed survivors and opening their homes and businesses as shelters. In amongst the hatred of a few individuals, a nation came together. And of course, we carried on sewing.
Well by this point, I had the Heartland collection complete and ready to go. But I had made the decision that I wanted to wait to release it until the website was finished, as the new shop would make such a difference to how people experienced it. So cards were still close to the chest! I passed my driving theory test (a “now I’m 30” resolution!) and these lovely ladies came to try on some corsets and get measured!
My best friend from college, Emma, got married, and asked me to be her best man! I had the great pleasure of making her wedding corset, which was inspired by the Napoleonic uniform of the 95th Rifles- or Sharpe, if you’re a Sean Bean fan! Her husband is in the Navy, so they were both in uniform! A truly beautiful day, that ended with the Perseid meteor shower.
Inbetween client orders I try to find some time to experiment and develop my skills. I finally finished the 20 panel corset I’d been making for myself (full blog post to come!) and embellished it in time for a charity Ladies Day I was speaking at. We raised money and awareness for Crane Counselling, which is building a nationwide service, based in Shropshire. I also gained my first US stockist! You can now buy our corsetry at the gorgeous Anya Lust!
Everything was gearing up in October. The site was nearly ready to launch which meant long nights of adding products, learning new systems and rewriting pages! I also took it upon myself to design a few extra pieces for Christmas, including our Isolde neck corset, which is designed to reduce our waste of luxury fabrics even further and add something different to our standard size collection!
It was with great pride that we launched our new website and the Heartland collection! I’ve been so thrilled with the reaction to the new designs. It seems that many of you share my own favourite set- the Adara! There were some lovely orders taking advantage of our custom colour corsets. Oh and one other small thing… after nearly a year of lessons, I passed my driving test first time!
December is always crazy, even in the slow fashion sector! The week before we broke up for Christmas was a real challenge. Making sure that January’s clients were ready to go when we got back to work, ensuring couriers got overseas parcels, and running headlong towards the last posting dates! When it all came to a close I was feeling victorious, but really quite run down, so it was really rather special to have a bit of a Christmas miracle.
You see, I’ve missed out an ongoing saga that has been running since August. I put an offer on my first home which was accepted! Through all the intervening months there has been a long struggle with mortgage applications and all the legal stuff that accompanies house buying. No stage of this has been easy, and at the end of the working year there still hadn’t been a final confirmation on the mortgage. I was resigned to there being no more progress till January, but on Christmas day, I heard that they had finally approved everything! As sorry as I feel for that person, working at 5pm while everyone else was sleeping off their dinner, it meant the world to have that piece of the puzzle in place!
So although we’re still waiting on a few more details, it seems pretty certain that in 2018, I will be able to move Orchid to a permanent home studio! This will change some of the ways we work on fittings with clients but the freedom and security I can now look forward to is very exciting- I look forward to sharing the adventure with you!
It’s been longer than I realised since I sat down to share our news, but in my defence it’s been a busy couple of months! In addition to the usual commissions and photoshoot plans, I’ve been moving the studio and changing the Shrewsbury address into a dedicated client space and fitting area.
I know some of our readers will have visited us at Charlton House for their consultations, and we get lovely feedback from clients about how much they love our town and the funny little attic space we call home. For those who haven’t climbed our stone steps, Orchid HQ for the last 6 years has been up in the eaves of a converted medieval manor house, which still has the stunning exposed stonework of the original building as you enter! My sunny little garret looks out over the rooftops and chimney stacks of Shrewsbury town centre, and is a wonderful little creative hub. We also have a friendly ghost called Lady Sarah, according to the local paranormal tours.
However it has always been the dream to separate studio life into a fitting space and workroom, so more space can be dedicated to display and scene setting with clients, and I can be free to make creative muddles and spread out as the commissions fill the work table. A recent home move back over the border to Wales has increased this desire, as it’s a long daily commute! But I’ve found a perfect temporary workspace back home, which has enabled me to do long awaited things, like setting up a proper height pattern cutting table so that I can work standing up at long last! It’s been fantastic to have a driving force behind all the things I’ve been waiting to do for the business, and the resulting studio is a pleasure to work from. After nearly 11 years in business it was high time that some updates were installed!
But the real investments have gone into the fitting area. It’s still a work in progress with a long way to go but the additional space in the Shrewsbury address instantly created opportunities. There is now a huge three part mirror so clients can view themselves from all angles during a fitting, with a sumptuous rug and racks full of samples to be explored. The mannequins gather around, dressed in their own finery to intrigue our visitors, and of course, tea is waiting to be served! The antique changing screen, embroidered with peacocks by my great grandmother still graces the corner, waiting for you to try on something precious and fall in love.
There are many more jobs awaiting me in the fitting space but for now, it’s a lovely work in progress, and I will be delighted to welcome you to the studio area for your own bespoke commission! Our waiting list is already filling up through the summer but there are spaces for special projects and made to order corsets from our online store.