Interview with Katie Mitchell of By-Me Katie
Meet Katie Mitchell, founder of By-Me Katie. We spoke to her about inspirations to become a maker, her practices on sustainability and some advice for any aspiring makers or anyone interested in beginning their maker journey.
What inspired you to start your brand, By-Me Katie?
I have always loved designing and making, inspired by my mum. She was always making something. She made our clothes and amazing costumes when we were young and then later, she set up her own soft furnishing business and opened a shop in our local town making curtains and matching accessories. I followed in her footsteps and went on to study a BA in Textile Design at The Nottingham Trent University, specialising in weaving.
After Uni, I had a break from making, and I spent 10 years working as a visual merchandiser for several high street interior and fashion brands. Still a creative job, but I couldn’t really focus on making. After having my own family, I returned to my textile roots and started creating again and discovered macrame.
How does your practice centre on sustainability?
All of my macrame products are made from 100% recycled cotton thread, made from surplus cotton saved from landfill and production waste.
No water or toxic chemicals are used in the process of production, including dyes. The plethora of lovely colours are made by shredding the cotton and then mixing it in specific proportions in order to receive the desired shade. The fibres are then spun into thread. This means there are often slight variations of colour which adds to the charm.
The cord has also been awarded the OEKO-TEX Certificate Standard 100 in First Class. This means the cords are tested at every production level and do not contain any substances that are harmful to our health. They may be safely used in products for toddlers and people with allergies.
It doesn’t end there - all of my packaging is plastic free, biodegradable & where possible 100% recycled. I also sometimes reuse packaging from my own deliveries to minimise waste.
What is some advice you have for aspiring makers?
Start simple - perfect the basics. In macrame I learned one knot to start with. You can make something that looks really impressive using just one type of knot, on repeat. I think this is important when learning a new craft.
Join a local craft group - I joined a craft group when I started out and it’s so great to have that support network where you can share patterns and get help and advice.
Practice - the tricky bit is getting it just right and this can only be mastered by practicing.
Use social media for inspiration - I use Pinterest and Instagram in particular for patterns and ideas all the time.
Attend a workshop in person or online - nothing beats learning tips and tricks directly from an expert.
What is your favourite project that you have worked on to date?
It’s hard to choose just one! But sticking to my macrame projects - it has to be my Spring Window for Meet Bernard*. This project married my two passions - macrame and window styling. It was a dreamy, romantic scheme in cream cord. I made plant hangers, dream catchers and spiral knot tendrils and it came together so well with the plants and the clothing range they had for Spring/Summer.
*Meet Bernard is a high fashion boutique in Greenwich (they have now moved location to East Dulwich in 2021).
What’s in the works for your creative practice?
I have launched a new macrame bag range this year. This is very uncharted ground and a challenging project for me as my work has always been home-ware focused. I am hoping to launch a bag workshop in conjunction with this too. I’m very excited!