Isabel’s Last Day

As I started this internship opportunity, which was a first of its kind for both Carole and I, I felt the understandable and familiar concoction of excitement and nervousness. I didn’t know, really, what I was getting into (something pertaining to fashion and retail, I supposed); but what I truly didn’t know  was that it would be one of the most enjoyable, informative, and useful internship experiences I have had.

Each week I would meet with Carole in one of two places: her shop, Waller & Wood, idyllically situated in Abbey Green; or, her studio, a bus ride and (also idyllic) walk away. I often felt that same jittery concoction when I set out, for, though I could be doing anything, I always knew I could look forward to it.

In my internship with Carole, I’ve sat in on many of her classes, listening to them exchange stories and gossip, whilst I completed various tasks, from photographing pottery and reorganizing her mother’s old inspirational scrapbooks to washing and ironing fabric — even screen-printing some of Waller&Wood’s first canvas bags. When I wasn’t in the studio, I was in the shop, taking test photographs of her new collection, working on the online store, or helping make new earrings. Much of my internship was spent working on launching her new Venice collection: I helped on-set during the photo-shoot for the forthcoming leaflet; I helped them re-decorate the store in preparation for the collection launch party; and I helped at the party itself, interacting with guests and customers. We went into London, where I helped set-up for a week-long trade show in Canary Wharf, and discussed the pros and cons of Carole participating in a fashion show in Cannes. But what I got out of the internship is arguably greater than anything I contributed.

In interning at Waller&Wood, I learned the challenges in and factors of running a small business, information crucial to an aspiring business-owner like myself. Through my conversations with Carole and my time in the shop, I learned how crucial setting and environment is in all retail situations, from product launches to trade shows; as I worked on developing a list of contacts for Carole’s glass works, I learned how important it is to always actively seek inspiration for future projects, and to always be thinking who would buy them; in working on the leaflet, I learned how crucial it is to create an image that is balanced in its timelessness and its appeal to current audiences.

I learned that one must be aware of the style of the brand, the ideal customer and the actual customer, and how to develop the two. In spending time at the store as well as in the studio, I gained an understanding of Bath’s openness to independent shops and met local characters. I met a woman whose jewellery is sold in Waller&Wood as she came to pick up some pieces for alteration, and as she and Carole talked I learned how important it is to revisit and revise one’s work, and to remain open to alteration. As I watched Carole’s students work, I saw their appreciation of the beauty in the accidental and the struggle of trying to recreate that which was once perceived as imperfect but later seen as the opposite. Helping out during the Venice collection photo-shoot, I saw the value in having different team members (from stylists to make-up artists and the photographer himself), for they could provide perspectives that would strengthen the resulting images. After a long day in the studio, Waller’s students would drive me back to Bath, and it proved a good opportunity to learn more about Bath culture and life, and a chance to talk to its characters.

After this internship, I feel better prepared to face the challenges associated with operating in the retail world, either as a buyer, seller, or store-owner. I feel as though I understand the complexities associated with each and the struggle of affording to do what you want; however, I do not feel dissuaded by this knowledge — if anything, I feel more excited than ever.

Isabel Hoag Lord

Georgetown College
Georgetown University Class of 2019

Tales of an intern

For the last two weeks I have had the pleasure of interning with Carole Waller.

It has been very hectic at times, and I have experienced things that no multi-million company could have offered me.

I am Faye Patterson – and I am currently studying my final year for a foundation degree in Fashion and Textiles at Bath Spa University, and I will be applying to a Textiles BA for my 3rd year of design. As my course is a mixed degree we’re constantly moving on to a new area of study, so I have not had as much opportunity to work with textiles. I would still like to pursue a career in it as I find it more exciting than the fashion elements of my course, which is why an internship with a textile designer has been incredibly helpful. Like Carole, I am an artist at heart and so her work on fabrics fascinated me.

 

devore printing

 

Baking the devore to burn out

During the first week I was taught new, invaluable skills. These included work with steam-set dyes, and learning how an abundance of materials can have dye transferred onto them (including Carole’s own beautifully coloured buttons). Being such a newcomer to textiles still, I didn’t realise how much work was needed to produce just a few metres of fabric. As an example, I was taught how to use a technique called Devoré, where mixed fibre fabric is treated so that a design is eaten away to reveal semi-transparent areas. There are several stages to completing this, making it both expensive and labour intensive. I also tried a few new finishing processes such as fringing, a simple skill but one that is useful to learn.

Carole had just received a new set of coats (part of her Winter Collection that was due to be finished that week) as she was working with a women’s association in Gujarat who use the traditional technique of Kantha stitch to quilt fabrics. She wanted to try their work out with a completely different coat shape  – so I was tasked with copying a master pattern in order to send them the new design for manufacture. I also altered one of her shirt patterns to make it more suitable for winter. Internships rarely involve pattern cutting as it can be a difficult task so this was an amazing opportunity.

kantha stitch clothing constructed with offcuts of painted silk

A photoshoot for her Winter collection at  the new hotel, No.15  Great Pulteney, involved working with professionals from various backgrounds, and liaising with hotel staff to ensure we got as much photographed as possible in the little time we had. This also gave us the chance to discuss which photographs would be selected for her press release.

photoshoot with Chris Daw

The most mundane of tasks are vital to the success of Carole’s collection:  I leafletted, washed tables, ironed metres of silk, I ran errands, I worked on pricing new products, designing wrapping paper, and I mopped the floor. Working with someone who runs their own business allowed me to see the completion of the big picture.

Working at her shop, One Two Five Gallery, gave me the chance to discuss garments individually with customers and understand why certain shapes or colours worked well on certain people. It is hard to envision how a garment will look without first considering who the customer is, something that I struggled with as a designer. Carole’s clothes come to life on people because she has developed an affinity to do this, so watching her work on commissioned and stock pieces has been incredibly useful.

in the gallery

Working as any sort of designer incredibly hectic, especially since Carole had so many deadlines whilst I was interning. Just two weeks of working with her has given me skills that will be useful for a lifetime, and I now have a newfound appreciation for textiles

 

Faye Patterson August 26th 2017