We’ve long been fans of Flora Collingwood-Norris textile designs. Everything she touches is timeless, beautiful and we’re constantly inspired. Her work is inspired by the natural elements that surround her, in the Scottish landscapes of the Borders, which we see clearly reflected through the textures, materials, and colours of her work.
Her luxury Scottish knitwear is made with the finest natural fibres and designed in her small studio in Galashiels. These accessories are crafted either in the studio by Flora, or in small batches at a local mill she works very closely with.
We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Flora some questions to pick her brain on all-things-creative and hear more about her work.
If you don’t already follow Flora do yourself a favor and hit that follow button for some serious, serious inspo.
A CONVERSATION WITH FLORA…..
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY AND HOW YOU GOT YOUR START AS A DESIGNER.
I started knitting when I was six. I’ve loved making things for as long as I can remember, and I wanted to create high quality clothing of some sort for years. After school I did a foundation art course at Leith School of Art in Edinburgh, which I absolutely loved, and then went on to Heriot Watt University in Galashiels to study Textiles, specialising in knitwear. After that I ended up working freelance, with clients such as Christopher Kane, Jasper Conran and House of Holland, but also some wonderful local companies like Carruthers Associates.
In 2016 I was ready to start Collingwood-Norris, as I wanted to be designing for myself, and creating a business with my own values. I wanted to create something that was different to mainstream fashion companies- creating quality, design-led pieces that don’t exploit people or the planet.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE LOOKING TO START A CREATIVE BUSINESS?
Make sure you really love what you do!
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
So many things! My childhood holidays to Mull and Iona inspired a lot of my colour choices, and more recently my trip to the Outer Hebrides. In terms of my work process, making inspires me. I try an idea out, that inspires the next idea and the next sample, and so it goes on.
WE’RE HUGE ADVOCATES OF SHOPPING SMALL AND SUPPORTING LOCAL ARTISANS. WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A SMALL BUSINESS IN THE SCOTTISH BORDERS?
I’m all for supporting artisans, local or not (although local is better of course). I love being based in the Scottish Borders, it’s really the perfect place to have a small knitwear business. I’ve started working with one of the mills in Hawick, and it means I can easily visit, get to know the people there, and know that my products can be made locally- I feel very lucky to have that practically on my doorstep.
WHAT’S A TYPICAL DAY LIKE AT THE STUDIO?
I’m not sure I have a typical day. All days start with a long dog walk, and then often a dog bath! Then I might be knitting, answering emails, organising workshops, packing up orders, or getting ready for an event. It’s one of the things I love about being self employed- my days are generally varied and flexible. There’s always another dog walk in the afternoon, sometimes a second dog bath (my dog can find mud on the driest of summer days), and then back to knitting.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST CAREER MOMENT SO FAR?
That I’m still doing what I love, even though at times it’s really tough.
WHAT ARE THE MOST REWARDING ASPECTS OF YOUR WORK?
Seeing people wearing my designs, and getting emails from happy customers. Nothing beats that.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED, EITHER PROFESSIONALLY OR PERSONALLY?
I always think the advice my dad gave me: “measure twice, cut once” is good!
WHAT ARE FIVE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT AT THE MOMENT?
Waterproofs, wellies, wool, darning, and popcorn.
WHATS YOUR PERFECT WEEKEND IN THE SCOTTISH BORDERS LOOK LIKE?
Ideally the weather would be good, and I’d be off for a long walk with my dog Leni, maybe doing a bit of the Southern Upland Way with a picnic and flask of hot chocolate. The landscape here is beautiful, and I appreciate it more every year.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR FLORA COLLINGWOOD-NORRIS?
Hmm, good question. This year there will be more focus on the repair side of my business, with more visible mending workshops, downloadable tutorials and videos. I’ve come to love mending as not only an environmentally friendly thing to do, but also a creative outlet, and I find it really relaxing into the bargain!
Flora also offers a bespoke visible mending and creative repairs service to all her customers. She teaches these skills in workshops in Edinburgh and London, helping you look after your knitwear. To book your place on a workshop visit Floras Events page on her Website.