We would like to wish bespoke embroidery company Hawthorne & Heaney a happy five year anniversary. To celebrate we sat down with founder Claire Barrett to talk about the origins of the company and some of her favourite projects.
What is the history of Hawthorne and Heaney?
It is reasonably short; we are five years old today. I had never really intended on starting a business, I just had a specialist skill that did not fit with a lot of big design brands so it was better for me to work for myself and do freelance small work. It then developed into a business quite slowly and organically from there.
The name of the business came from both my grandmothers’ maiden names. The ideas of the entire brand have drawn on all my experience in heritage and the techniques we use are still exactly the same as they always have been. When I started with goldwork and embroidery I learnt from people who have been doing it their all lives.
I worked for another company before and I specialised in gold work, focusing a great deal on goldwork military embroidery. Hawthorne and Heaney do every kind of embroidery; we work on a broad scale within a very small niche industry. We have specialists in each field so to ensure we can produce the best for our customers.
How would you describe the connection between embroidery and tailoring?
I think they have gone hand in hand since gold work was created. It may have started for ecclesiastical purposes but it very quickly moved onto military uniforms. Obviously goldwork isn’t used as much in military uniforms now because it can be seen as a little ostentatious and our military is much more subdued these days. The main thing I do with the tailors is monogramming, which is usually very small, delicate and personal and is also my favourite thing to do.
What are some of the things you have most enjoyed making for Anderson & Sheppard?
I can definitely say that I have most enjoyed making the embroidery I just finished for one of your smoking jackets. It is also the longest project I have ever worked on, taking nearly eight years to complete. Smoking jackets are a challenge because velvet is a difficult fabric but I have honestly relished the task. Embroidery can take such a long time because short of explaining every stitch to a customer it is difficult to tell people why they can’t do exactly what they have on their minds. I do enjoy working with people who know exactly what they want though; it creates a really close relationship between the embroiderer, cutter and customer. In this industry patience is something we all have to become familiar with so we are more then used to the long bespoke process.
Most of the other work that we create for Anderson & Sheppard is classy and understated; we haven’t done many big flashy projects, mostly a lot of antique look embroidery and tone and tone embroidery.
Looking at some of the things that have been done with embroidery of late would you agree that it is now considered to be a popular contemporary art form as well as traditional craft?
Yes absolutely, the majority of embroidery is done as an art form; a small amount of embroidery is actually applied to bespoke clothing. We have worked with a lot of artists to create things with them; we meet so many different people and get to explore so many possibilities. I feel very lucky to work in such a creative field and create so many interesting things, from the niche designs we do for tailoring companies like yourself, the projects we do with department stores like Harrods or the work we get the opportunity to do for various films. So many amazing things have been created in the five years that we have been operating and I excited to see what else comes our way in the future.
Military goldwork embroidery