THE INTERVIEW : MAiK
BY ALICE WILBY
Driven by a desire to effect change and have a positive impact, designer Cat Thorogood founded socially conscious brand, MAiK. A colourful explosion of gorgeous, graphic Homeware, MAiK not only looks good, but does good too.
Cat chats to Alice, about The True Cost, Spanish tiles and her former life on the slopes in France.
What was the ‘eureka’ moment that inspired you to start your label?
I used to run a brand that produced men’s street wear. We worked with factories in China that insisted on big runs and we had no control over sourcing the materials. Eventually a combination of learning more about the negative impact of the fashion industry and watching the movie, The True Cost, pushed me to give it all up. I’ve always had a love of Homeware so I decided to use what I had learnt to start something good. To create MAiK we spent months sourcing makers that supported their local community, UK based printers and organic fabrics and finally launched our first collection in June 2016.
MAiK is dedicated to makers who support their local community, what are your favourite community stories?
Our textile maker is a women’s social enterprise called Fabric Works. Based in East London, they offer a bespoke production service to brands like mine, while at the same time providing a training programme that gives opportunities to local unemployed women. As well as the training courses they also offer a welcoming space where the women can gain advice and support as well as have fun. They provide so much more than just employment for these women, it’s an incredibly inspiring place that I am proud to support.
Your signature is colourful graphic prints, where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere! I am always looking at the patterns and colours that surround me in everyday life. Our SS16 collection was very much inspired by Spanish tiled floors after a trip to Barcelona.
What has been the most rewarding part of creating a sustainable brand?
I feel that we are making a positive contribution towards the industry, we only use responsibly sourced materials and work with makers that we know and trust.
On a personal level, I feel overwhelmed with pride when my friends who only buy from ethical brands place an order, which I know is not out of loyalty to me but respect for the brands values.
What has been the most challenging?
There have been quite a few challenges but I think the toughest was finding manufacturers that ticked all of the boxes. Originally we wanted to base our production solely in the UK but we found that often we had to choose between ethical production or ethically sourced fabrics and we wanted both.
Sourcing trusted manufacturers is a tough and ongoing process especially when you start looking at countries where you do not speak the language. We have been lucky to find some wonderful makers that are a pleasure to work with.
If you weren’t a designer what would you like to be and why?
I worked in ski resorts in the French Alps before moving back to London to work in fashion. If I weren’t running MAiK, I would be back living in France trying to fit a job around skiing and hiking.
When you're not working, what's your guilty pleasure?
Indie music! When no one is around I put on old Indie albums and dance around pretending to be 22 again!
What's next for MAiK?
We have some exciting new products in the pipeline for our SS17 collection so watch this space.
Shop the MAiK collection here!