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Chloe Shinnie

What do you do, Chloe?

I’m a fabric sourcer, print designer and product designer for homeware and accessories. 


What do you use your workshop for?

Here in my workshop, for the person I work for, there’s a lot of making prototypes for some of the homeware. I make the prototype first before I find the supplier, I do the fabric design in here and I also make clothes for myself – which might perhaps be the beginning of something new for me to start as a business. 


What do you like most about the work you do?

For my job, I love sourcing new textiles and now a lot of the focus is on sustainable textiles. I’m focusing on organic silks and cottons and finding the suppliers and these amazing mills which are mostly in Europe but also all over the world in India and places. Working with those people is pretty fantastic and exciting. Receiving the samples and going through them and then seeing these amazing fabrics that I can then hopefully take into my own private world and make into clothes. And I love designing - designing the products for the person I work for and then working out how to make them. The problem-solving and making the prototype – that actual beginning process of designing and then making a physical product, trialing little bits until you get it perfect... I love that beginning problem-solving element of design when you mix it with making so that you’re not just drawing it on a flat piece of paper and sending it to someone - you’re actually designing it and then making it in the real.


What the thing that you like the most about your process in this workshop?

I absolutely love stitching. I find it really satisfying. Stitching and making and having a roll of fabric and then you can turn it into something really crisp with beautiful seams and it’s ironed and it just works. I love the feeling of using the sewing machine and seeing the needle go down – I find it very satisfying. 


Did you always think that you’d end up doing this work?

I went into painting first. I always used to make stuff for myself but I didn’t think I would do it as my job. I went into painting first. This was always my hobby. I don’t think that I really knew that the job I do now existed - I think that’s thing with a lot of jobs that my friends do. When you’re 18, you never know that that actually exists as a job. But then I was making bags for myself and someone told me about a course where it was the combination that I love of design and making. You’re taught how to make but you’re also taught how to design and for me that made so much sense because I’ve got that split brain of half logical – loving Excel, loving numbers and loving logic – and half creative – loving making. I suddenly found what I wanted to do. Here I am, ten years on, and it feels so right.

This is such a special space, what do you feel when you’re in here working?

I feel really excited when I’m in here. I feel like there are so many things that I can do. It’s so cosy, it’s such a beautiful space. You look out onto the garden and I’m in my own world in here. It’s my world and all my stuff is in here and I feel that anything I want to do, or make, or create, I can do in here. All the tools that I need are in here. It’s all organised and there’s a big table and a lot of space. I love it. Growing up, we always had sheds or outbuildings. At the last house I lived in with my mum and dad, we all had our own sheds. Dad had a scout hut workshop, I had an old railway carriage and Hal, my brother, had a shed. We used to joke that mum’s shed was the house. I think I feel very at home and comfortable in sheds which is another reason why I love my workshop so much. 


Does it feel important to have your own space away from everyone else?

Definitely. I can leave things out. I don’t need to worry about my sewing machine being fiddled with or my scissors being used. It feels like I can lock the door and everything is there, ready for me to return to the next day and continue. 


What inspires you in your work?

In terms of making clothes for myself, what often inspires me is a bit of a cliché but antique and vintage clothes definitely inspire me in the way that their made, the techniques, and the fabric. The fabrics that I use are quite often natural linens and cottons so quite historical fabrics. In terms of colours, I’m inspired by nature. A lot of the colours I use are quite muted natural tones. For my work, again, looking at antique and vintage products and seeing what has existed before but then giving it a modern twist in the design. Fabric design, again the designs that we do are nature inspired – flowers and leaves, animals, that we find in nature. It would appear that I’m quite strongly influenced by nature! 

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