This weeks’ “Sunday Sit Down” is with the lovely Cat, the face and brains behind the beautiful, colourful brand “Maik Lifestyle”. I met Cat in 2018 when I had my first studio space just up the stairs from her! I had a lovely time chatting to her for this feature, and I know she’s definitely going to inspire you!
I grew up in rural Aberdeenshire and moved to London when I was 18 to study art at Camberwell College of Arts (University of the Arts London). I loved the buzz of the city and stayed there for the best part of 15 years before moving to Edinburgh in 2016. My brand is called MAiK (pronounced ‘make’), which is an old Scottish word meaning the equal, or peer of a person or object. We make socks, home wares and textiles. All the products are made ethically with materials that have been sourced responsibly.
I fell into this industry by accident! After leaving London College of Arts I worked in the events industry before heading out to France to work in ski resorts. While I was there, I got involved with a ski and snowboard street wear company where I learnt about running a small business and the fashion industry. I became increasingly aware of how unethical the fashion industry is and frustrated at the lack of care for the environment and people making the clothes; we worked with factories in China and were forced into big runs with no control where the materials came from or the workers environment. I also was craving the freedom to design and choose the creative direction. I decided to start a design-led brand that made high quality products responsibly. I launched the first MAiK collection in May 2016 after spending a year finding factories that supported their local communities and sourced the materials responsibly.
I suffer quite badly from imposter syndrome but I just keep designing, creating patterns and developing my style. You only see the prints I love but I have thousands of half finished designs! I think inspiration is all around us; I always look at the patterns and colours that surround me in everyday life. Spanish tiles inspired one of my early collections after a trip to Barcelona.
I wake at 7 am and aim to be at my desk by 9 am, I work through till 5 pm with a break for lunch – at lunchtime I either go to the gym or out for a walk. I spend the first 30 minutes of each day checking my emails; orders are often placed in the evening so it’s important to check to see if we have received any queries from customers. I plan my working week on Monday and I try to limit each day to three tasks. Working this way makes each day feel successful rather than trying to tackle a never-ending jobs list. My days are really varied depending on the time of year, if I am in the middle of the designing a collection, I probably spend half a day designing and the other half doing customer service or wholesale.
I really struggle to listen to the radio when I work, as I can’t concentrate when people are talking. My go-to ‘serious work’ music is Islands by Ludovico Einaudi but when I am designing or editing photos, I might watch something trashy at the same time. I wont name any shows, as it would be embarrassing.
I work a traditional working week (Monday to Friday) so my days off are at the weekend. I love to start the weekend by heading out to Flotterstone for a run in the Pentland Hills and then head home for brunch with my husband who will have been out cycling. We usually head out for an afternoon walk around Edinburgh via the Meadows and finish up at Sugar Daddy’s in Marchmont for cake.
The word ‘sustainable’ is thrown around a lot without people really understanding what it means – I have been guilty of this in the past – in the broad sense it means causing little or no damage to the environment but when you are talking about design/fashion it can mean anything from the textile fibres to design methods to fast fashion. We have seen a trend in the last two years where brands are using the word to ‘green wash’ their image without actually telling customers what makes their brand sustainable. If a brand is using it in their marketing, I want to know what part of their business is sustainable. It is such a complex subject. For example, which brand is more sustainable? The one that sells organic cotton t-shirts but they are made in sweatshop in China or one that sells t-shirts made from recycled plastic bottles but when you wash the t-shirts the micro plastics go straight back into our oceans? Lots of brands focus on being sustainable and forget about being ethical, both are equally important.
Surround yourself with successful and motivated people. Having people around you that you look up to, who you can bounce ideas off and support you, will help you achieve your goals. And, don’t be afraid to try and fail! I have made mistakes but I have learnt from them and each one has helped me progress.
I hope you loved my little sit down with Cat!
If you’d like to follow more of her journey, you can give Cat a wee follow on Instagram @MAIKLIFESTYLE and check out the rest of her gorgeous designs at WWW.MAIKLIFESTYLE,COM – If you’d like to apply to be interviewed for upcoming “Sit Down Sunday” features, or know an inspiring lady who deserved to be featured – please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org