Interview With Knitwear Designer Elizabeth An’Marie

Interview With Knitwear Designer Elizabeth An’Marie

I came across Shelby’s knitwear line on (where else) Instagram, and just had to share with you guys what she is doing. Having no formal education in fashion design, Shelby took on the welcomed challenge of designing her own knitwear line: Elizabeth An’Marie

I don’t know about you, but I think we need so. much. more. of this in the fashion world and I’m so happy I get to share her brand story with you today.

I have 2 goals in mind for 2019.

One is to not purchase any fast fashion.

Two is to use this blog as a platform to support emerging knitwear and fiber artists. Will you help me do that by sharing this post real quick?

Tell us about your brand: Elizabeth An’Marie!

Elizabeth An’Marie is a handmade knitwear brand. Based in London, UK. We pride ourself in designing and creating unique pieces. Fun, Funky, and pastel beauty knits. Each pieces we want to inspire fun, and personality through each looks. Maybe that’s why each pieces we design is given a female name. As names always carry meaning and personal to them. 

What does your design process look like? Do you sketch, make vision boards, or just start knitting?

I love to search for ideas on Pinterest. If I could marry Pinterest I would. I’m always browsing on it one way or another. I also sketch sometimes. Sketching helps me to see how certain colours would look like before I knit up any ideas. But most of the time I can picture an idea, maybe based on what I’ve seen before or just something I’ve designed on paper and then I  just knit.

Why did you decide to design your own handmade knitwear brand? (It’s honestly a dream of mine to do something like that one day!)

I never really decided, I just found a hobby and thought this would be a great business idea. I never studied textiles or fashion design. Nor did I study knitting. I studied graphic design and photography in collage. Never did I ever believe that one day I would be designing and knitting up my own creations. But now I’m grateful for this hobby I’ve found.

Tell us about the early days of Elizabeth An’Marie, what were they like?

Hard!! So hard! Because I never studied fashion design, textiles or even business studies. I had to figure out everything on my own. I never got the knowledge of what happens after, if I was a fashion student. I never got the intern experience in one of the big fashion houses. I literally was just a humble girl, who left university from her first year of studying Graphic Design, with no knowledge of knitting or business just trying her best to find her feet in this world of fashion. 

That’s Amazing! I think it’s so inspiring to hear that you don’t have to follow a set path to pursue a creative passion. What were the first steps you took? What advice would you go back and give yourself?

Thank you, and it’s true to see what I’m doing today with out the experience or degree of a level 4 fashion textiles designer. It’s pretty cool! 

My first steps was encourage by my mom. She told me about this business course which would last for a year, with a company called the Princes Trust. It’s sponsored by Prince Charles I believe. And it helps start ups like myself. Joining the course we never even need a business plan or even an idea, but course I when there knowing what I wanted to achieve at the end of that year. The princes trust helped me to build on the understanding of cash flow, and business tax, all the boring stuff. But it really was a first step to helping me understand how the business side of things really work. Not only did we receive our own personal mentors to help us build on our business plans and help us understand anything we needed help on, we would also have mini work shops everyday for a week. A lot of business minded people would come in and talk to us. My favourite talk was from a women who used to work in one of the biggest department stores in London. She came to teach us the best way of Pitching your ideas, so you can to get your products or idea into big stores. If I could go back and give myself any advice it would be, you really don’t need to get yourself into debt for studying a degree at university! And I would tell myself, to never stop being creative, because that creativity you have will be your blessing one day! 

When did you start to see that this was something you could actually make money doing?

When people started to tell me that my knits were actually good. I learnt the skill of knitting very quickly. Doing this interview with you today, it’s only been 4 years since I started teaching myself to knit. So knowing that I truly had a gift, a talent blessed by God, I knew that one day, that right time, this blessing and gift He has given me was a talent which was going to be used to support my wellbeing. 

Where do you think this confidence, and ability to trust your intuition came from?

Honestly God! Knowing He has already seen my future and is constantly fighting my battles. Even if those battles has not come my way yet, I know without him I would fail. And With Him everything will be ok. Today we see a lot of small start ups fail in the first year. But I’ve been blessed to still carry on. Till this day I’m still fighting. Some people loss their fight and driving to continue. When I was young I never dreamed that one day I was going to be my own fashion designer.

All I knew was that I liked to buy clothes which was already made in the shops. Never did I picture people one day wearing something I have made. This talent of knitting just one day fell onto my lap, when I wasn’t expecting it. I never asked to learn knitting, nor did I ever see myself knitting my own knit pieces. Like I’ve said before, all I loved to do was shop, already made clothing.

It’s amazing to see what has happened in my life, also in such a short amount of time. But honestly to me four years had felt like forever. Because I lived in the highs and the many many lows, but to know what I had God, friends and family on my side. I couldn’t lose! I’m a winner no matter how long it may take for the blessing to come. I’m a winner because I haven’t given up. I’m still fighting for what I know is a blessing from God. 

How did you begin to market and advertise your business?

Instagram and Pinterest. Till this day I still use these two mediums. I tried Facebook and Twitter. But I just couldn’t figure it out. So I stuck with Instagram. Now that Instagram has the Instagram shop it really goes help, because I love to take detail shots of my pieces. And now that I can tag each pieces it helps people realise that my feed isn’t just images of my pieces, but a shop. And a link to my shop. 

What were some snags, pitfalls, or things you learned from in the beginning?

I learnt a lot about myself. I learnt how to handle money. I used to be very bad with money. I loved buying anything and everything I liked if I had enough money in my account. So I had to teach myself to be a better handler of money, especially when starting a business from the ground up, you would need all the money you can get. I also learnt to be patient! Oh my gosh being patient was the hardest. Many times I had to keep telling myself not to give up. You would see other people doing the same or similar thing as you and they were doing great (from what I can see on Instagram). But I learnt to just be patient and know that my time is coming. 

I also feel like a lot of money when Into the business at a very early stage. Which I now look back and see that wasn’t a great idea. There were also many cryful (if that’s a word) nights. Worrying if what I was doing was a mistake or if it was just a waste of time. Before starting the business I was very depressed, I just lost my grandma from cancer and I was having my own personal issues at home. I was in a very dark place and the idea of giving up on life was so easy. But I believe God gave me this talent, this gift and it had truly saved me. Because I’m here today alive and enjoying life to the fullest. 

How has the brand grown since you’ve started?

Well someone was wearing one of my pieces at London Fashion Week AW19. This time last year I was knitting my new collection 7… but the brand has truly grown so much. Not just for the business but for myself. I’ve seen myself change for the better. At the beginning knitting was just a hobby. Something to help me get by through the days of not being at university. The brand has also grown in ways where I’m truly able to create and make designs I’ve always want to show to the world. My motto for the brand is to be your self no matter what anyone says. Be creative and colourful. At the beginning i was just buying cheap little wool from any fabric shop in London and now I’m able to buy more luxury wool from a company in America. My website is also something I’m very proud of and the lookbook pictures, which I also take myself. The brand had grown so much that I’m now office space hunting. And soon I know I’ll need to hire help. 

Lastly, do you have any knitting projects that you work on just for fun, to wind down? If you could only use 1 yarn for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Umm, when it comes to knitting pieces on a random day, it’s always for a collection I would like to bring out. But personal projects, I like to sew. I’ve been teaching myself to sew lately. A new talent I’m trying my best to master. I’ve been sewing for a year now. So I’m still new to the game. But it’s crazy how I’ve started with the more Advanced patterns like coats. Crazy I know, but I’m not Basic haha. I Need a Challenge!! Even if it drive myself crazy… And the one yarn I would use for the rest of my life, is 100% Merino yarn all the way. You could never take that away from me. Love that wool! 

I think it’s safe to predict that this designer is going places. It’s so inspiring what opportunities have opened up for creative people with the internet. It blows my mind to think that 20 years ago this interview wouldn’t be possible!

If you’re interested in seeing more of Elizabeth An’Marie’s work, you can view her website, and make sure to follow her on Instagram! You can also help me get the word out about her brand by clicking below to share this post! Margo Knits is all about supporting people in the fiber arts, and sharing this love of knititng & crochet with each other! Thanks for reading. -xo Margo

photo of knitwear sweater by Elizabeth An'Marie
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