Tell us how World Secrets came into being? How did you find your niche and develop your brand?
I went to Art College straight out of school but then had a change of mind and went on to the Royal Agricultural College, eventually qualifying as a Chartered Surveyor. I was travelling a lot and knew that I didn’t want to be a surveyor forever (much to my Dad’s frustration!). I am a complete magpie for fabrics and colour and I used to bring all sort of things back from travelling. Most things ended up being an impractical design and would break; the leather in particular was mostly of poor quality. So I thought ‘why not use the fabrics but make something that can be worn every day, is fashionable and of good quality?’
I started with belts made in Morocco but I did not find the team there that easy to work with and the quality wasn’t as good as I would have liked. Eventually I found two really great family businesses in Turkey who I work with still to this day.
The shoe side of the business is definitely our niche. It is difficult to find comfortable shoes that are pretty but different. All of our kilim shoes are one of a kind and our Ikat shoes are limited edition. So you won’t turn up to a party wearing the same as everyone else!
Now tell us about your gorgeous logo – is that your cheeky little dog?
Yes it is! But it’s based on Slinky not Patch. I saved up to buy Slink when I was 15 by working in a saddlery shop and as a waitress….and I think my Dad ended up having to buy one of his back legs to help me out! Slink was always by my side so he seemed the natural logo however Patchy is the pooch everyone recognises from my photos. He likes to think he’s a bit of a celebrity at the shows and demands payment of Rainbow Drops in exchange to have his photo taken for Instagram!
Where does the inspiration for your designs come from and how do you go about creating new products?
Designs can develop from the smallest thing. Last year I saw a yellow coat that I fell in love with, so searched for the perfect leather to be worn with it. One of the new sneaker designs for Spring was developed from that and a silk that I had been saving to use on something special.
At the moment I am enjoying using the 90’s for inspiration, it’s bringing back a lot of childhood memories so the designs are quite fun and playful! The Mighty Morphin trainers are a reflection of that…I was made about the Power Rangers!
Mostly I try to stick to classical, timeless shapes but put a twist on them with the colour and pattern. That way they suit everyone.
With a new model, I will draw the shape and design that is then sent to our workshop in Turkey. The guys there will produce multiple samples until we get it right. Meanwhile we will have decided on the colour of the leather, the silk/kilim, the trim and the laces. It’s a lot of work if it all goes wrong but for all the ones that don’t work out, the one that does it always worth it!
What’s your personal favourite World Secrets product? Mine is easily the pink She Who Dares Sneakers.
I also love the She Who Dares Sneakers as they are so versatile. I have so many plans for them!
But I think that my personal favourite is the Sweetie Clutch Bag. They were the first product that we made that I was really proud of. I love that every little bag carries to much history with it – they are made from rare antique rugs. I also love that they are leather and suede lined, to coordinate with a colour within the kilim. Named because they look good enough to eat!
What is in the pipeline for the new few months? We have just seen your new winter boots and LOVE them!
Thank you! A new product always keeps me awake at night because although I love it, you never really know how they will go down until they launch. The Winter Boots have definitely been a big focus this summer and I’m so happy that we persevered with them.
New designs have been a bit more of a challenge this year – as has everything! We had so many new designs ready to bring out this winter but Covid has inevitably slowed up production hugely, so we’ve had to run with just a few.
But to give you a sneak peak – we have new laptop bags, we are bringing belts back into production, the Kilim Mules are back in a new refined shapes, the Off Piste Boots are new and there are the new shapes for the Bronco Boots which I am still working on. Oh and the Velvet Crush Limited Edition Sneakers! We had some new shoes inspired by clown collars that I was hoping to get out by Christmas but actually I think they will work better for Spring, so that is something that I am really looking forward to launching.
We also have a bit of a twist on the She Who Dares Sneakers for Spring 21, which is really fun and I think you will love Cheskie!
It has been rather an impossible year for fairs but you did organise a fantastic virtual charity event towards the beginning of the year. Was that a success and will you be doing many more virtual fairs over Christmas?
The Charity Virtual Raffle definitely seemed to snowball out of my control, it was an admin nightmare! But we raised over £15,500 for the NHS so was absolutely worth it. All of the other brands, such as yourself, were so supportive and everyone wanted to get involved, so it was great to get some teamwork going. I have really missed seeing my “show family” this year, I didn’t realise how much I relied on the adrenaline you get from doing the events to keep me motivated when I’m working in the office.
We are doing an appointment only Christmas shopping event (fingers crossed) in December, with plenty of cake, prosecco and music. Hopefully it will raise some festive cheer amongst out local customers. And we are taking part in “Virtually Wrapped” which is a new online fair that looks fantastic.
What advice would you pass on to any aspiring designers/entrepreneurs?
Keep going and don’t compare yourself with anyone else. Don’t believe everything that you see on Instagram. It doesn’t happen instant, it has taken 7 years to get to where we are with Work Secrets and we still have a very long way to go!
‘It’s a marathon not a sprint’ as my old boss would say!
And finally – what is your favourite CHESKIE product?
I have always loved the silver/copper parrot jugs. I’m saving! I saw them at a Christmas fair a couple of years ago and have bee in love ever since. They are so beautiful and unusual.