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In Their Own Words: Kemp Gadegaard

For the second of our In Their Own Words series and in the spirit of #MeetTheMaker month we are delighted to give you an insight into the wonderful world of Berlin based Kemp Gadegaard - run by Eilis Kemp and Maya Gadegaard. Now in their second season at G&S, our customers have already fallen for the brands digitally printed silks and organic cotton separates. Their spring summer collection looks sure to will follow that success.. over to Maya and Eilis.

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How did you come to set up Kemp Gadegaard?

We have been friends for a very long time and had always spoken about working together and doing something creative that we were proud of.

Coming from different educational backgrounds, at some point we realised that our experiences and qualifications could be complementary. Maya studied development studies and economics, and worked for a variety of organisations, both in international development as well as the arts industry. Eilis studied Textile design and worked for a number of international fashion houses, in London and in New Zealand.

Our mixed backgrounds in fashion, design, international relations and contemporary art came together to what KG is today. A vibrant mix of references and aesthetics.

For both of us, the ultimate goal was to create a business where we were empowering women working in the textile tradition, while also providing an alternative to the fast fashion system with built in obsolescence and lack of quality, which is currently so pervasive. 

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What is a typical working day in the life of Kemp Gadegaard?

We wake up, go to yoga or for a run, have breakfast and then sit down by the computer. Depending on the time of year, we will have more or less administrative tasks on hand. We typically spend the first hour going over general benchmarks together, and then separate and work on different elements. 

One day a week is set aside for creative brainstorming, where we work on future collections or discuss marketing and events. 

What are the highs and the lows of running an ethical brand?

Due to our ethical and sustainable standards, purchasing fabrics is very expensive. We would say that one of the main challenges is making the business economically sustainable, as in, making enough money to be able to produce the collections, as our material costs are very high compared to "normal" fashion labels. 

The highs, on the other hand, are when we receive positive feedback from our customers and the stores we work with. 

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Where do you see Kemp Gadegaard in 10 years time? 

We would like to expand our product range, and collaborate with artisans in different parts of Europe and north Africa!

Kemp Gadegaard is still very young - what are the challenges of setting up a small business and any advice for others?

The challenges of running a small business are many. On the one hand, understanding the complexity of the studio being a business that needs to make a profit, while not wanting to participate in a nonsensical consumerist cycle. That is, how to gain traction and customers who believe in our products, while not just trying to sell as much as possible, but by inviting the customer to purchase our quality products. 

On the second hand, not having enough time in the daily frenzy to get to everything that needs doing!

Our advice to others wanting to start a sustainable fashion project would be to secure enough initial funding for the project to be able to survive for 3 years with no income. The fashion industry is very difficult to penetrate, and takes time and a lot of energy! 

What inspires you?

We are very inspired by contemporary art, literature and music. We visit exhibitions weekly, read a lot and enjoy live music. This often sparks the initial concepts for our collections. 

What do you do to switch off? 

Make a nice meal, go for long walks in the forest or by the sea.  

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Top reads? 

Just finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, what an absolutely fantastic and timely read! 

Favourite holiday destination?

A cabin in the woods with no technology, no phones.  

What is your most treasured piece of clothing? 

My mothers old wool rollerneck jumpers and a silk kimono from China - Maya.

I have a lot of my grandmother's very old Burberry coats and other items that still look brand new! The quality is amazing and it's very inspiring for me that a garment made well can last so many years - Eilis.

Hopes and aspirations for 2018?

We would like to reach the end of the year and feel that we have developed two solid and beautiful collections, and that our customers continue supporting us as they have done so far!! 

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