Interview: Studio Five

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Specialising in sustainability, Studio Five are a fashion and interior brand based in Edinburgh – run by sisters Lucy and Kitty. Together they’re tackling waste and fast fashion by creating just two collections a year with limited stock. So, get a look while you can!

Hello Lucy & Kitty, thank you for chatting with me! How are you both?

Hello!! It is a total pleasure. Thank you for interviewing us! We are good, it has been a crazy couple weeks but we can relax a bit now.

Tell us a little bit about your backgrounds and how you became a duo in business.

I (Lucy) studied Design for Textiles at Heriot Watt University specialising in digital print and graduated in 2016. Since graduating I have been working full time as a Marketing Assistant and just got a new job which I am very excited about in this field. Kitty studied Fashion Textiles Design at Robert Gordon University and also graduated in 2016. She works full time as an Studio Assistant for Edinburgh Tile Studio. Coming together to start Studio Five was a very natural thing for us. We both studied textiles, and both graduated at the same time. Neither of us wanted to leave Scotland to work for big companies in London so decided to go in it together. We got started very quickly in fact. Studio Five first launched in October 2016.

Where did the name ‘Studio Five’ come from?

Well coming up with a name is one of the hardest parts. There are so many factors to consider but Studio Five came from the idea of the 5 senses one of them being touch. We use predominantly organic cotton which especially on our tshirts is incredible soft and I don’t think I’m alone here but when I go shopping I like to touch everything. So that’s where it stemmed from.

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What do you sell?

We have a website www.studiofiveuk.com and we sell at The Scottish Design Exchange in Edinburgh and Glasgow and in Flamingosaurusrex in Brunsfield, Edinburgh.

I love and admire that your brand expresses the importance of being environmentally friendly! Is this ethos easy to follow and how does it affect your business?

It is and it isn’t easy. This again was a natural thing for us to be sustainable as much as possible and that be our main ethos for the brand but finding the correct suppliers, fabrics etc was a lot harder and ofcourse more expensive. So we have had to put in a lot more money into the products but also try and remain as affordable as possible as that was an issue we found that young people think buying sustainably is unaffordable.

Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?

We are inspired by the natural world. Each collection has looked at a specific theme or place we have been to and then we look at the animals in that area. We like to add personal touches to each collection, for example our A/W17 Collection had the Nelly Tee which was a bear print inspired by our dog Nelly (who looks like a bear). We try and tell a story in each collection and capture the setting the best way we can.

What individual roles do you both play at work?

We like to join forces and share each stage as much as possible but we both have our areas of expertise. Kitty is the illustrator there is no doubt about that. She does the majority of the drawings and I help collate them into repeat patterns/ designs etc. And I am more business minded. I do majority of the website up keep, marketing and ordering. But like I said we make sure to split things as equally as we can but taking advantage of our strengths.

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How many collections have you created so far, and if so, what’s your favourite?

We have just realised our 4th collection “Dark Side of the Moon” which seems crazy that we have managed 4 already. Every new collection we do becomes my favourite. Our S/S18 collection “It’s a Dry Heat” was a very personal collection to both of us as it was inspired by Arizona where a lot of our family live and we have spent a lot of time so that was really amazing to be able to express our love for the place. But this current collection I think has been our biggest triumph. It is the first collection we have done where we have both been working full time as well and I was very concerned at points that it was too rushed and that we weren’t able to put in the hours it deserved but I think we have managed to pull it off and it has turned out to be very successful. The thing is with each collection comes more knowledge from the last so I think we will constantly be improving with each one.

How important is it for your brand to collaborate with other artists/brands?

We love collaborating with artists/brands. It is a fantastic way to build relationships and support other small business. We work with up and coming people all the time whether it is models, photographers or other designers and it is always a fantastic experience. It also builds up a network of people that you can contact if you have seen something you think they might be interested in or vise versa. It is tough out there so we have to help each other.

What’s been the biggest struggle you’ve faced getting your business off the ground?

I think the biggest struggle is knowing your worth and being able to stick up for yourself. We have hit a few issues that have ended up being massive learning curves for us and not feeling like you have to say yes to everything. We only do things now if we feel like it fits in with our ethos and aesthetic rather than saying yes to every opportunity as much as we are thankful for it.

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What’s been your most successful commission to date?

Our biggest seller still to this date is from our first collection, the Mana Tee. We did not realise how much people like manatees and the cute factor really helped. We will one day bring him back as we still get people asking for him.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start a business with a sibling/friend?

Patience. Me and Kitty have a very close relationship and we get on 99.9% of the time but there are stressful situations we have to deal with and it can cause tension, but you have to be able to let the small things go and cooperate as much as possible. We don’t have to agree with each other all the time but we do have to respect each and come up with solutions we are both happy with.Interview: Studio Five

What can we expect from Studio Five in the upcoming year?

We have exciting pop up events coming up for Christmas including Lolli-Pop Up at White Stuff in Edinburgh on the 24-25th Nov and 1-2nd December. And we just realised a capsule collection with illustrator Amy Killin which can be found on our website too. For 2019 we will be working towards building our name/stockists and being involved with more fashion shows/events. Collaborating with more creatives and being inspired. We want growth but being stable and building a strong foundation for us is key for us at the moment.

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You can find Studio Five on their website ‘www.studiofiveuk.com’ or follow them at ‘www.instagram.com/studio_five_uk’. Photography by Kitty Tang. The models are Rosalind Main, Addison Judith and Kier Eunson.

Pollyanna ShawComment