Today I found myself walking along Chaucer Street in order to find the studio of Callecia J Brown for her Designer sale, which has some of her old samples pieces for sale. Its somewhere in Nottingham I have never been before, so I was pleasantly surprised when there was a sign stating “Chaucer Court Workshops”.
I found myself walking up three flights of stairs, eventually coming to a door. If, like myself, you’re lucky enough, someone will be coming to open the door, but if not, Callecia herself has kindly left her number for you as the door is locked (I’m guessing for safety precautions). After weaving around a couple of corridors I finally arrived outside the studio of Callecia J Brown.
I was a little nervous at first, but as I opened the door any apprehensions were melted away as I was greeted by a huge smile and hello from Callecia herself she was very welcoming. Showing me her workshop which has been open now for 5 years and she describes as “always being a little messy”.
Talking to her, it became clear that she is very sure of what she is doing, and this is what she has always wanted to do, “My grandmother is a seamstress in Jamaica and I used to help her quite a lot, I think that’s where that comes from. It comes from the fact my grandmother makes clothes”. she carries on and tells me that, “I’ve always been involved in making clothes and then when I came to this country because in Jamaica it’s just a service that’s provided by someone that makes uniforms or maybe take up a trousers, but it wasn’t fashion but when I came to this country I realised I could have a job as a designer that’s how I got into it really.” She then talks very openly about working for herself, rather than a company “I would consider myself an artist as well as a fashion designer and if I were to work for someone say Topshop, I’d be restricted to what Topshop perception of design was and I have a very strong idea of what design should be. I think I would struggle working for a design company.”
As I look around it becomes clear that for someone with this talent and many different designs she must get her inspiration from somewhere and she’s quick to tell me “Films, books, I watch a lot of old films. My grandma who I lived with for a very long time she had lots of 1950’s and 1940’s films so that’s my inspiration, I love the 1940’s I love period dramas I like watching Downton Abbey or any other Dickens programmes.” She also tells me “I love sleeves there’s always like dramatic sleeves.”
The conversation turns to her views on boutique shopping over high street shopping, she tells me “If you go to a shop that’s for an independent person or designer the designer hasn’t had a lot of money for all those things, even though you’re buying it really expensive the designer has been paid a small amount for the clothes and people need to be more educated about these things it think yeah they definitely do.” I ask her if this should be considered over high street shopping “Oh definitely yeah you definitely need to support independent artist and independent businesses”
Callecia always tries to buy from independent businesses, and believes that everyone else should to, however she believes “People are lazy that’s the thing they don’t want to make the effort because I mean the big business are in town if you want to get something small and niche you have to go out of town you know you have to travel and people don’t really want to do that. I think some people say it’s the big businesses fault but we have a choice we can choose to not support big businesses”
Finally, I ask her if she enjoys what she does and where she sees herself in the future, she laughs and begins with “Yes and no there’s sometimes I just think what the hell am I doing? I could be working somewhere with a guaranteed wage at the end of the month. I do sometimes wonder if I’m wasting my time, but I do know if I was to go and work for someone I’d be bored, if I had to go and sit in an office, and be told what to do.”
Callecia has big plans for the future, and this is what she said when I asked about them; “ I think I would quite like to have my own boutique, I think I that’s the way forward for me to sell my stuff myself I like selling it myself.” After another look around her amazing designs even picking out a dress I was interested in. She waves me out with a big smile.
I have to say it is defiantly worth the walk out of town to visit her studio; all the designs are lovely and original and Callecia herself is warm and welcoming. She does her own designs as well as taking commissions from people specifically. Her sale is also on from the 1/11/2012 till the 15/11/2012, go check it out!
29, Chaucer Court Workshops,
Article by Charlotte Hodkin / 3rd November 2012
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