Friday, 24 March 2017

Behind the LABEL

Susan Gaston - White Dove & Wonder

How did White Dove & Wonder come about?
My family business was the shoe trade in Northampton and having spent my childhood and adolescence in and out of some of the country's most iconic shoe factories and subsequently working in the business I had a love for all things shoe related. After raising my family I was looking to start a small business and serendipitously bumped into an old friend in the trade. I asked him if he had any old shoe lasts as I would like to buy a few. The next day he delivered a thousand and so we decided to reclaim and remake them in order to preserve an important symbol of our country's industrial heritage

Where do you find or look for inspiration?
My husband was a professional photographer, so has a wonderful eye and very creative view of things. Additionally we are inspired by nature and indeed the lasts themselves, the patina, the individual nicks and imperfections that tell of a long history.

How would you describe your style?
My personal style is quite plain, I love texture, rich but muted colours and beautiful craftsmanship. I believe in paying for quality and then seeing the piece become ever more beautiful as it ages, the antithesis of the current disposable culture! It fills me with joy to see a young man wearing a beautifully aged pair of Trickers brogues inherited from his grandfather. I embrace the quirky and that I guess shows in our last designs.

To what do you attribute your success?
I think my passion for the shoe lasts and their preservation which is probably something my father Bud instilled in me, but also the fact that Jimmy (my husband) and I have totally opposite skill sets. He is artistic, creative and practical and I am more business minded. It enables us to do most things between us thus lowering overheads and ensuring that we keep control of the business and its creative direction.

Do you have any pets?
Yes we most certainly do, 6 dogs, 5 cats and 2 doves! Pearl our smallest Jack Russell is the face of the White Dove and Wonder. Utter madness in London, but we both love animals and Jimmy always say he doesn't play golf!

Do you have a signature food dish?
Yes, anything cake or pudding related. I make a mean sticky toffee pudding and again Jimmy and I have the opposite cooking skills, he does savory, I do sweet.

Name 3 items that you always carry with you?
My iphone, a mac 'Angel' lipstick and a tan mulberry purse bought in New York 11 years ago, which is aging to perfection.

Reading a book or listening to music?
I'm currently reading Lionel Blue's Best of Blue and Disclaimer by Renee Knight simultaneously. Listening to Bruno Mars XX1Vk Magic and Laura Izibor Let The Truth Be Told.

What's next for White Dove & Wonder?
We are hoping to successfully introduce White Dove and Wonder to Scotland and the north of England this year and collaborate with great brands like Powder Grey.

White Dove and Wonder Ltd.,

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Behind The Label...

Stephen Kenn - Stephen Kenn Studio

Your first brand was Iron Army, a jean brand. What lessons do you feel you have learnt from that experience? 
Iron Army was a beautiful time in my life. I was 20 years old and was hanging out with my best friend every day. We were driven and read books about business and had conversations constantly about what makes good design and how to build a brand that fostered authentic community. I feel like we were touching on things far beyond our years. That brand lead us down to LA where I still live today. My greatest take away from that project was that I am not the brand I built. I have an identity outside of what I do. This is still a very core foundation that I reference often.


More recently you have moved into making furniture. How would you describe the look and feel of what you make?
I hope the design and approach feels authentic to people. The designs are incredibly intuitive for me. All the lines and dimensions are fairly basic and serve to be first and foremost functional. The materials we use aim to tell a story that is rooted in history paired with a quality and craftsmanship that allows these pieces to wear well into the future.

Name 5 items you can't live without?
Motorcycle (Triumph Bonneville), backpack (black leather from our Encounter Collection), Our work truck (it was recently stolen and we just got it back!), journal (I write my thoughts out every morning), my phone (it's become a pretty useful tool for creativity and business)

What has been your favourite out of your designs or collaborations?
That's mean to make me pick just one, ha ha, but most recently I have been loving the vintage Boro armchairs that we are making in partnership with Hong Kong-based Growth Ring & Supply.

If you could say you designed any item or furniture, which one would it be and why?
One of my favorite designers is Poul Kjaerholm and I have always loved his PK-25 chair. It's made with a single bent piece of steel and a single woven rope. The simplicity is mind-blowing to me.

Do have a signature dish when entertaining?
People more often ask me to makes cocktails when I'm entertaining. I enjoy my place behind our home bar.

Reading a book or listening to music?
Reading H3 leadership by Brad Lomenick, Listening to múm

What's next for Stephen Kenn?
We have just released our third collection and we are calling it The Bowline Collection. It's inspired by the materials used in sailing and we have a lots of fun projects that we are working on by using that as the foundation. Outdoor furniture is also always niggling at the back of my mind. Also, note that on we'll be posting a lot more journal entries that will share design philosophy and the back story behind a lot of our designs his year.

                                                            Thanks for the questions!