Laura Orchant - the silk scarf designer from Hale

PUBLISHED: 14:34 03 August 2016 | UPDATED: 14:34 03 August 2016

Winter Sun, from AW16

Winter Sun, from AW16

Sara Porter

Laura Orchant, from Hale, launched her eponymous designer scarf business four years ago, while still a student.

Laura at The Saatchi GalleryLaura at The Saatchi Gallery

studied Fashion Design at Ravensbourne College in London, but quickly realised that all the sewing and making-up wasn’t my thing,’ Laura tells me. ‘I love drawing and really found my forte in textile design. I decided that I wanted to put all my designs in a square of fabric, to make scarves, which seems a simple idea – but it turns out it’s not!’

While on a visit home to see her boyfriend, Laura bumped into Rebecca Lewis, her now business partner. Rebecca had just sold her business and was completing a renovation and interior update of her home, so was, in Laura’s words, ‘in a very creative frame of mind.’ Loving Laura’s ideas and designs, and having the business experience and contacts to take them to the next level, she and Laura were able to devise a business plan even before Laura had graduated, which she did with honours and awards for her final show.

‘My first step was to design a collection and then have some samples made. Next, I had to find retailers to stock them; I attended some trade shows, but I also made direct approaches to retailers. My scarves are carried by Fenwick in London, at all Hoopers branches, at Willow in Hale and Knutsford and at similar retailers and boutiques around the country.

‘I’d just thought – “I know, I’ll be a designer and sit and draw all day.” But it’s not like that; I sell, I travel, I meet buyers and customers – I’m busy and out and about all the time and have to plan so far ahead! I’m currently working on my AW17 designs. My AW16 designs will all be in store from this month, and my SS17 designs are all complete and will be available from December. The boutique owners and buyers are very helpful with information about the trending colours for each season, but there are so many colours in my scarves, thousands of colours, I challenge you to find something in your wardrobe they won’t match!’

Laura finds her inspiration in the natural world.

‘I find things when walking or often in my own back garden. I collect leaves or flowers, or take photos then come home and spend hours drawing them – I love to work in pencil. I then scan my completed drawing and start to digitally manipulate the image until I’m happy; this sometimes happens in hours and sometimes it takes months.’

This year Laura has had two new and exciting professional developments, following hard on the heels of her wedding, in April.

‘I’m very excited to be launching a range of kimonos, available this month! I also developed a scarf collection for the Saatchi Gallery Rolling Stones retrospective. It’s so exciting to be involved with such an iconic, global name. So now I’m stocked at the Saatchi Gallery in London, and the exhibition moves to New York next.’

Laura’s designs have been picked up by a few boutiques there too, so it’s been a good year for this talented, hardworking young woman – and having seen the designs for AW16, I’d say she’s going to go up and up from here on in.

lauraorchant.com

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