Dash and Miller for British Textile Week
Juliet Bailey and Franki Brewer founded the Dash and Miller studio in 2009, initially opening their portfolio of experimental and innovative hand weaving techniques to select manufacturers in the Italian textiles industry. The outstanding translation of these designs from hand woven concept to industrial production caused a ripple effect which soon saw the studio reaching out to a varied and vast range of clients, attaining global recognition as one of the best fabric design studios for woven fabric and textile trends.
The duo, through hand weaving, struck upon a unique recipe for design which provides usable and exciting ideas, relevant for designers in couture fashion houses, sportswear brands, high street fashion and homewear brands, interior contract and residential fabric suppliers, automotive and aviation design, as well as working with some of the most well respected mills and fabric producers across the UK, USA and Italy.
The Dash + Miller lockdown Experience by Juliet Bailey:
“Like many textile design studios, we saw a very sudden drop off of business as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold and the fashion and textile markets and suppliers of the world ground to a halt. Our main markets have always been North America (NYC), Italy and Japan, and we have always travelled to meet our clients and do business so very suddenly around 60% of our revenue streams were cut off. Fortunately, over the past months we have had several fabric development projects to keep us going through the lock-down, although the government furlough scheme and other Covid-related support has been very gratefully utilised.
We had already decided to work from home a week or two before lock-down happened, so we had a good amount of time to set up our new systems and ways of working remotely. As we are a small team and we are often away travelling all over the world we are used to working and communicating remotely. Luckily we have good systems in place such as WhatsApp, Skype and Zoom, and we already knew how important communication is for a team all working from different locations.
As a small business we can be relatively flexible and reactive to different situations, but as a director my main challenge at the moment is to try and strategically plan how to approach the upcoming season and year when the future in general is so uncertain. It has been essential that we face the future together as a team, so we have weekly strategy and planning meetings to bring everyone’s ideas and input to the table. It’s also been essential to chat to other studio owners and designers to share our experiences and ideas, so in some ways it’s bought the industry together in solidarity.
We’re starting to see positive signs that our clients are starting to look for design input again, and alongside our normal revenue streams we are also looking for opportunities to expand into new markets and offer new services to our existing clients. We have been working hard over the past months to set up a digital platform to show clients our designs, an idea we had more than 6 years ago, but we were never sure about as our designs and fabrics are so tactile. Since launching the platform this month we are having very positive and promising results and feedback.
I’m an optimist at heart (although I try to be a realist), and part of me believes that this difficult time for us all can be a catalyst for positive change. For example, travelling to see our clients has always been a part of our practice and although we have sought to find ways to offset the environmental impact of these activities, it seemed unimaginable that we could continue to conduct business without travelling every month. Yet here we are meeting clients from all over the world via Zoom and showing our collection digitally and with positive initial results. It seems that finding new ways to work may end up being very advantageous as we are now able to meet with clients at the times that work for them rather than the short window of time we used to see them during a sales trip – we are more available than we have ever been. However, I do believe that if we want to see the positive change in the industry that we all hope might happen, as businesses and business leaders we need to be the driving force behind this change and lead by example.
We are now working back in the studio albeit with lots of precautions in place, and it’s become clearer than ever to me that the strength of a business is down to its employees. Above all, during this time of isolation and uncertainty, it has been the commitment, flexibility and teamwork of our designers that has made all the difference to the survival and future of the business. Thanks team!”
Juliet Bailey, Director, Dash + Miller: “Running Dash and Miller Ltd for the past 11 years with my business partner Franki Brewer has been an incredible journey. We started with 2 looms and now together with our team of designers we supply fabric, design, trend and consultancy services to fashion and interior companies across the world. The craft of hand-weaving runs through the core of everything we do and is both our passion and our USP”.
Emma Loughton, Studio Manager, Dash + Miller: “For me, weaving feels like the ultimate form of creativity. The challenge of pushing the constraints of machinery and the limitations of yarn and structure make for constant problem solving. To weave is to constantly learn which is so engaging”.
UKFT’s British Textile Week is a digital showcase of the craftsmanship, imagination and innovation of the UK textile industry.