FINDRA is founded on 4 key principles; these are the 4 Pillars of the brand. Each of them is woven into everything we do. These pillars are PLACE, DESIGN, ENVIRONMENT and WELLBEING.
A sense of place is important to FINDRA; Scotland is the backdrop to the FINDRA story and the inspiration behind my designs. I love Scotland, the landscape the ruggedness the remoteness the weather – yip, even the weather. It would be nice to have more sunshine but in many ways the changeable weather seems to add to the atmosphere and drama of this beautiful country.
Innerleithen is home not only to the FINDRA but also to me. Having studied and built a career in the Scottish Fashion and Textile Industry for over 25 years I was familiar with Innerleithen, and knew it as a historical textile town way before I moved there with my young family. Originally from North Lanarkshire, the decision to move to the town in 2007 was influenced by my love of the outdoors, a desire to bring my 3 sons up in a more rural location and my work at that time as a Lecturer in Fashion & Textiles at Heriot Watt in the same department I had once been a student back in the 90’s
In 2007 there was still some activity around textile manufacturing in Innerleithen, but it was nothing like the levels this little town had seen in its heyday when there was at one point five significant wool mills in the town. Which was pretty incredible given the population of around 2000 people. The Textile industry would have been the main source of income for the people of Innerleithen and a major contributor to the economy of the Scottish Borders.
Of these manufacturers, Caerlee Mills remained, originally the world famous ‘Ballantyne Cashmere’ in 2007 the mill had a reduced workforce of 33 after its owners JJ & HB Cashmere went into administration in 2010, a management buyout kept things going for a further 3 years, but it sadly and finally closed its doors in April 2013. I can see the mill from my home with its large chimneystack; it’s an important and significant symbol of the town’s history and a constant reminder of the past and the heritage of this place.
The Textile industry is an important part of the history of the Scottish Borders and Scotland, the demise of the industry has hit the area hard over the decades and it has taken time to recover and discover new industries and opportunities.
Having lived in Innerleithen for over 13 years it’s been clear for some time that things were changing. The sleepy little village that felt like it had lost its sense of purpose due to the decimation of the Scottish textile Industry was starting to change and evolve.
The arrival of the No 1 Café was really an important turning point. For many years mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiast had been coming to the town to enjoy the amazing trails of the surrounding hills, but there had never really been a focal point were bikers, runners or walkers could gather for a coffee and cake or bite of lunch. No 1 provided that, Craig and Emma created a space that was welcoming, easy and cool to hang out in. And the food and coffee is pretty amazing!
When we moved in to what is now called the FINDRA Design Hub in 2017, we too breathed new life into the High Street. The Design Hub is a multi functional space. At the front of the building we have our retail space where we showcase our products and brand. This is an open plan space where visitors and customers can see into the design studio, which also transforms into an event space where we hold talks. At the back of the building we have our stock room and fulfil all of our online orders from there, which is our main sales channel.
It didn’t take long for the FINDRA Design Hub to become its own little destination store and a vibrant part of the High Street, seeing many visitor’s from the Borders and much further a field come and visit us, who then go on to become loyal, regular customers.
Since our move there we have seen an increase in footfall and revenue year on year, with many people saying they had driven through Innerleithen many times but now wanted to stop and explore shops like FINDRA, then go to No 1 Café for a coffee. Fast forward to 2020 and the change is palpable. More cafes have opened as well as other independent shops all of which make a positive contribution to the success and creation of a bustling vibrant High Street.
Despite a difficult few months the town is still busy, at the weekends the streets are filled with mountain bikers, walkers and many tourists and visitors coming to enjoy the scenery and of course an ice cream from Caldwell’s. As a clothing brand based in an area with a world renowned reputation in textiles I feel proud that FINDRA continues to build on that reputation, designing high quality clothing connecting to the heritage of the towns textile past and its future as a world class destination town for outdoor enthusiasts.
Inspired by the traditional manufacturing techniques and the surrounding landscape with its rich colours and textures I feed these into my design work producing contemporary stylish functional outdoor clothing that can be enjoyed by many who love the outdoors.
I love the work of Joan Eardley, her work depicting the children of the tenements in Glasgow are so full of life and character, but I especially love her paintings of Scotland landscapes.
‘A sense of place’ is one of my favourite, the composition use of colour and their proportions really inspire me.
Klein was a Serbian textile designer and painter. Based in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders, Klein supplied textiles to haute couture designers in the 1960s and 1970s, and later sold his own clothing collections.
Klein drew inspiration from nature and the changing landscape surrounding him for his textiles and paintings. His signature fabrics include colourful exotic tweeds, incorporating mohair and ribbons, as well as velvet and jersey fabrics.
His daughter beautifully describes the man and his inspiration in a short BBC sounds series called the ‘See through house’ by Shelly Klein.
FAVOURITE PIECE OF MUSIC
One of my favourite songs is Wild Mountain Thyme and this version is by the Silencers who originate from Coatbridge, where I grew up. A nice way to complete the ‘sense of place’ journey.
Silencers – Wild Mountain Thyme