Interview with Beate Kubitz, Co-founder - Makepiece

on 15/1/10

Beate Kubbitz - Makepiece Beate Kubitz is a partner & co-founder of the company Makepiece that is a designer label with a difference.

Creating their collections in an ecologically responsible way as possible, Makepiece take natural yarns that are raised sustainably, these are then spun locally and knitted in the community and using the minimum amount of chemicals. At the heart of the company is human rights, environmental sustainability, to use fewer chemicals, produce a small carbon footprint and no landfill from their products.

Beate's background before she started the company is that she initially worked as a Volunteer and later Outreach Assistant, for the UK section of Amnesty International. She then completed a BA (Hons) in Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, before carrying on her career with Amnesty International Secretariat as a Campaigns Organiser. She then took a position as the Communications Manager, Swale Housing Association and went on to become Head of Training and Communications, Mental Health Media.

We are pleased to say that Beate took a few minutes away from the sheep to answer our questions about her business and ideas.

Profile Information:

What are the main duties of your role?

Farmer and Business Manager. On the one hand I am running the business side of things - our planning, strategies and finances and developing our marketing strategies - exhibitions, shows and our online presence and on the other I keep our flock of naturally coloured Shetland sheep, from which we make our own yarn for some of our garments.

I work with Nicola, my business partner and designer, to channel her creativity and talent for innovative designs into a collection which is marketable.  We're both very keen on making clothes which are wearable as well as stunning.

What are the best aspects about your current role?

My most creative job is to work on the colours for each season.  I am out in the landscape with the sheep for a part of every day and this tends to inspire my palette.  I'm always amazed that this non-trend driven approach has created popular colourways.

Are there any areas that are particularly difficult or challenging?

Running the business side is challenging, the cashflow always a rollercoaster and predicting the future impossible.

When employing a graduate what are the attributes you look for?

Competence and intelligence!  The ability not just to have good ideas but to carry them through. None of which is any good without a sense of humour

Do you have any words of wisdom that you would like to pass on?

Concentrate on something you do really well – push it as far as it will go and then a bit further.  You’ll gain confidence and lots of other opportunities and skills will spring from it.  Don’t forget to pursue them!

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Understand history.  Stick to your convictions.  At some point the rest of the world will see it your way.

What do you feel are the most important trends / changes happening in the industry that you feel students should be aware of?

The credit crunch will have unpredictable outcomes - and the effects go on for longer than we expect.  The industry is in flux - it's been on an almost one-way street towards manufacturing in the Far East for decades but there are signs of a sea change in companies both big and small.  There is an increased emphasis on individual style rather than fashion in larger and larger sectors of the market. But demand falls during a recession.  This doesn't mean there won't be opportunities - it just means that they may not be the same as those you expected when you started out on your degree.

Autumn Winter 09 Collection Makepiece
Autumn Winter Collection 09-10 by Makepiece

Quickfire Q&A:

When were you happiest?
Last time I saw the sheep - the hills are just uplifting

What is your highest qualification?
The MA that Cambridge gives you for just surviving three years post graduation - a bit odd, but kind of it!

What would your superpower be?
To need less sleep!

3 words that describe yourself?
Optimistic, curious, dedicated

What is your biggest hope for the future?
That we learn to appreciate quality over quantity - when we do that we use fewer resources much more effectively and generally add to the sum of human happiness.

What are you wearing today?
Vintage leather mini-dress (hides all the layers we need to keep out the cold) and a Makepiece shrug out of our own wool

Your favourite book
Possession by AS Byatt (as the moment)

Your favourite artist
David Hockney

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