interview :: MAiK

Katie | January 24, 2017

MAiK founder, Cat Thorogood, used to run a brand that produced men’s street wear – the factories were in China, the production runs were huge and the experience made her want to do things differently. She gave it all up and decided to put her experience to good use, establishing MAiK in June 2016. Today she oversees every part of the process from sourcing ethical fabric and timber to using a social enterprise that supports unemployed women in East London for the production of her woven products and the UK’s original eco-printing company for her paper products. Cat Thorogood is a girl after our own heart who has earned that surname, so we just had to find out more…

What is the most important thing to know about you?

I love dogs! I can’t have a serious conversation if there are dogs in the room.

interview :: MAiK

Tell me about a really good day and a really bad day in the life of Cat Thorogood.

A good day is when MAiK is featured in the press. Opening up a magazine or clicking a link online and seeing a MAiK product on the page is the most amazing feeling. I do a little happy dance round the studio.

A bad day is a day when things aren’t going to plan and it is out of our control, ie a product has been delayed and we can’t do anything about it, we just have to sit, wait and think of the best way possible to rectify it.

Where do ideas come from?

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.

interview :: MAiK

Talk me through your design and making process.

I design two collections a year and my studio is covered in mood boards with colours and inspiration. I work on patterns all the time and shortlist my favourites for the next collection. This process can last months and I have to step away from the designs for a few days so that I can look at them with fresh eyes.

I have a wish list on the studio wall of products that I want to make and the first step is finding ethical manufacturers that source sustainable products. This is one of the hardest parts for me as it is difficult to find manufactures that tick all the boxes. I like to having a good relationship with the makers that I work with so it is important to spend time finding the right one.

What's your favourite part of the process?

When the samples arrive. It is amazing to see something that you have been working on for so long in real life. Opening the box is always a little nerve-racking in case it hasn’t turned out as you imagined it.

interview :: MAiK

What's the biggest challenge you have overcome to get where you are today?

I am not from a design or fashion background but when I decided to start MAiK I threw myself in at the deep end and haven’t looked back. Originally I found it intimidating being around educated designers but I am constantly learning and developing myself to make sure that I have the best knowledge and skills possible.

What are you most proud of?

Starting a brand where all the products are sustainably sourced and ethically produced. It’s been a long, hard journey but I have had a fantastic group of people around me that have helped me along the way.

interview :: MAiK

What advice would you give to a new designer just starting out?

Don’t be afraid to ask a question no matter how silly you think it is and don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. It is so important to surround yourself with supportive people, whether they are working with you or are your friends, these people will help you take your business to the next level.

What defines good design?

For me, it has to be pleasing to look at! That’s why we focus on fresh, clean geometric patterns.

interview :: MAiK

And finally, what's you favourite colour?

Black! It’s classic and it goes with (almost) everything. I try to wear more colourful clothing but always slip back to black.

interview :: MAiK

Further Reading for the Especially Geeky ::

Founding Editor – Katie Treggiden

Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.

Follow Katie on Twitter or Instagram.

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