27 May 2020
Why did you decide to launch your company?
“I started as a retailer and opened a small fabric store in Bournemouth, while also earning and income from buying and selling furniture. I purchased fabric from a few UK wholesalers, and I realised that most of the quilting fabric available was made in my country of birth, South Korea. On my next trip there I visited the huge textile market in Seoul and made contact with four very good companies who deal with high quality fabrics. I bought samples of many of my favourites, carried as much as I could fit in my luggage and had others shipped on. On subsequent trips I established a connection with a printing company who specialise in digital rather than screen printing. It costs more per metre to digitally print fabric rather than to screen print, but this is only true if you order more than 1,000 metres of a particular design. I continued to import from my Korean suppliers but was driven to start designing my own fabrics and enrolled on a surface pattern design course. My first fabric samples were delivered in May 2018 and I was absolutely thrilled.
These were introduced to the UK market that same year via the companies that I co-own with my husband, online retailer store Sewing Sanctuary and wholesale website Sark Textile. I only featured a small range of designs at first, but people thought it was fresh and very different. My next design range was larger, and to fund this I decided to introduce my patterns to other retailers at the February 2019 CHSI Stitches show. It’s all really grown from there.”
What products do you specialise in?
“Most of my own designs are printed on 100% pure cotton, and with the latest design range I have branched out to use a linen/cotton mix which I feel is better for dress making. I am probably best known in the UK for laminated cotton fabric. I discovered this a number of years ago while travelling in Korea, it completely opened my mind to new opportunities and all my designs have a proportion that undergo the lamination process before shipping. I have my own range of sewing designs that are growing with the range of fabrics, a bag and some of my craft designs have been created to use the laminated fabrics and the new direction is towards dress making and linen/ cotton mix is ideal for these.”
How is your company developing and growing?
“Our focus is on fabric designing, printing our own designs and specialising two different types of laminated fabric. In order to branch out into different patterns and ideas we’ve had to maintain the price per metre to a level that is profitable. I’ve also created sewing patterns and information that relates to the best use of my fabrics in order to help customers get the best out of their purchase.”
What inspires you to create new products?
“I’m influenced by all kinds of things including the weather, environmental issues and the changing fashion industry. These are great sources of inspiration to keep my designs fresh!”
How has the market changed since you first started your business?
“More people have recognised and understood how to use laminated fabric rather than confusing it with oilcloth. Many people still get confused because oilcloth has dominated the market for a good while. I’m doing my best to expose people to the benefits of my fabrics, which has gotten easier over time.”
What advice would you offer to retailers?
“Find what you are good at and specialise/focus on a couple of products rather than introduce a broad range early on. It’s better to be known for doing a small number of things well, than make less of an impression selling hundreds of products.”
What are you currently working on?
“I am making six different garments for a catwalk project. Our new 150cm wide eco-bio laminated cotton dressmaking fabric was launched in late February of this year, so I’m currently creating sewing patterns for these. Feature products will include an adult poncho, raincoat and cross overlap reversible apron.” For trade enquiries go to www.sarktextile.co.uk