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Raw Talent Podcast S4, Episode 9 with Katrina Armitage of Fashion Desk UK

Katrina has a wealth of knowledge in fashion manufacturing as founder of British manufacturer Maxella at which she was at the helm for 26 years supplying soft wovens, jersey and occasionwear to premium high street brands including Phase Eight, Wallis and the designer brands at Debenhams. In 2018, together with her business partner, they made the decision to close the business in response to the trading instability being felt by many of their long-standing customers as consumer buying habits shifted both online and in pursuit of new fashion brands.


After a year out for the first time in a long time, Katrina began consulting and has been lending her sourcing and manufacturing expertise to emerging and established fashion brands leading to the formation of Fashion Desk UK through which she works on short and longer-term projects encompassing fabric sourcing, product development and predominantly UK based production.


Katrina's four decades of experience spans large-scale high street retailers, department stores and small owner-led contemporary and luxury brands including Safiyaa and Plumo bringing to life Plumo Studio, collaborating closely with the founder they launched with just 3 styles which have steadily grown to 26 styles with a strong Scandi signature. Katrina has worked her magic across fabric sourcing, development and production of both clothing and accessories produced in the UK with short manufacturing lead times whilst dipping into the vast array of beautiful deadstock fabrics waiting to be discovered.


To help ambitious fashion brands to become more credible, sustainable and visible Katrina explains why it is so important to have a solid business plan, initial investment and a strong USP and brand message, otherwise all your hard work, great ideas and marketing will fall short. She explains that if you are not visible you will be overlooked, people won’t find you as the market is too busy and someone else will get there before you.


Fashion has been going through a gigantic revolution in the last decade with evolution in technology, raw materials, sustainability and circularity. Bringing together her knowledge in sourcing and manufacturing on behalf of premium and contemporary womenswear brands Katrina tells us about the advantages of producing here in London. Factories are understanding what they need to do to make slightly larger dockets and slightly cheaper production by investing in technology and having well set up production lines. She says that the 20-year-old model isn’t going to hack it. Fashion Enter is a brilliant example of successful UK manufacturing that showcases the success of investing in technology and machinery. Katrina feels strongly that the fashion industry needs to support factories so that they can get investment. Jenny Holloway (CEO of Fashion Enter) is training machinists in Leicester and London. Katrina says we need more Jenny’s.


I ask how it feels going from running an established successful medium-sized business to becoming a sole trader? Katrina explains that she has a big dog and does her thinking wandering around the park with him in the mornings. She thinks of it like this, at one point she was a premier footballer and now she wants to manage clubs. She has an eye for a winning fabric and understands the importance of consideration for the end-user and how they will react.


Longevity and sustained success are the distinguishing features of Katrina's career. Learning from the very lows and the very highs through adaptability. Katrina loves the energy and knowledge of the new blood rising through the industry. She has experienced the pendulum of change swinging through the recession of the early 90’s to the global financial crash in 2008 and the impact of the Covid19 pandemic in 2020 and understands how and when to let go.


On the Fashion Desk UK agenda for 2022 Katrina is on a mission to partner with new UK factories and work with 3-4 clients on an ongoing basis.






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