Gather&See is an award-winning online ethical fashion retailer launched in 2014 by childhood friends Alicia Taylor and Stephanie Hogg.
Priding themselves on personal service and authentic relationships, Alicia and Steph have worked tirelessly to highlight the need for a more sustainable fashion industry over the past 8 years. The pair run Gather&See across two continents (Steph is based in Nairobi, Alicia in Leicestershire) and are both Mums to young children.
As part of their new 'A gathering of minds' founder series, Alicia and Steph interviewed LPOL founder Katy. And as a special treat, they are offering you 15% off LPOL products when you shop online at Gather&See using the code GatheringOfMinds in the checkout.
In this first of a new series where we really try to get under the skin of the very special individuals behind our brands we caught up with Katy Maskell-Bell, one half of handbag brand LPOL. We are sure you will find Katy's insights as inspiring as we do.
First of all please can you introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about LPOL and how the brand came about?
I am Katy, Founder & Creative Director of LPOL (Lost Property of London). I work with my business partner and husband, John, Co-Founder & Brand Director.
LPOL is an independent British design brand specialising in made-to-last leather (and upcycled) handbags, totes, rucksacks, and accessories. We are passionately committed to considered design, responsible material sourcing, the employment of local craft skills and zero-waste methods. Our design studio is located in East Sussex and our collections are made by hand in dedicated London and Kent workshops by local, skilled artisans. We are proud to design and craft bags to be worn by design-conscious and environmentally aware shoppers around the World.
The brand came about quite organically after passing the same bundle of surplus coffee sacks every day dumped outside a coffee shop in Borough Market…and thinking someone should create something with them. I can’t quite remember how many days had passed when I realised I was that someone.
After graduating from Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design I had been working as a designer spanning across both the world of fashion and interiors (designing for Calvin Klein, Liberty of London, Crate and Barrell NY, Helen Green) and then for a hugely inspiring set designer. It was only after I took on a new role tutoring students that I found some time to work on my own design ideas.
Looking back, those experiences were inspirational to my decision to set up my own brand. And I suppose I felt a certain amount of rising restlessness, born out of a creative frustration/desire to create something out of already existing material, and creatively to carve my own path.
Can you run us through a day in the life of LPOL?
Our focus every day, is trying to strike the balance between admin and design and business development projects. Making sure to allow time for lunch and some fresh air in between. If we’re on top of current projects, one day (or half day) in the week is freed up for an inspiration trip to a new art/design/architecture exhibi
What does sustainability mean to you and why is it so important?
We prefer to speak about responsibility over sustainability. This is an important distinction for us, making it more grounded to our decisions and actions. Sustainability has become a little abstracted and diluted through wider marketing, press and politics. And, as a consequence, emotionally distanced. Responsibility pulls it back to us, grounds it in the brand and is a lens through which we pass our design, manufactur
What is the best thing about working in the sustainable fashion industry?
We are seeing some meaningful behaviour change happening. Customers are interrogating their purchase decisions. Challengin
What is the best thing about working with your spouse and any challenges that go with it?
We are very fortunate, in that John and I click creatively. However, sometimes the drawback to that is we often fall into similar work styles and patterns. Our comfort zones look and feel more fluid, spontaneous, organic. It’s in our creative nature. So, we each in turn have to actively bring the structure when needed, so we’re not drowning in emails by the end of each week.
You've moved from London out to the countryside like so many others in the past few years - how has the transition been - any learnings?
Our move felt like a natural step for us as we both grew up here, so we felt well prepped mentally for the shift in lifestyle. But we knew we were leaving a dynamic and cultural London life, and a home that we loved. You soon realise how many emotional ties you have to a building, and a home, when you prepare to leave it; it was the place we lived when we started our business venture, when we got married and when our son was born.
Any recent discoveries - food, culture, fashion, lifestyle - could be anything - that you'd like to share?
We’re in East Sussex, and we’re surrounded by amazing vineyards, farms, restaurants and wonderful period and contemporary architecture. So we’re definit
Water Lane, Hawkhurst
Hopes for the future - personal, as a brand and for humanity in general?
Personally, we are working on doing more practical projects – freeing up more time to draw, paint and build. We aspire to do more adventure-based travelling as a family, there’s a big old world out there waiting to be explored.
As a brand, we want to evolve our storytelling, increase our collection and grow the business internationally.
Humanity has the ability to leave a good legacy...
THANK YOU SO MUCH KATY FOR TALKING TO US