Introducing, BFTA Member – Brooke Maria
How did you start out as a furrier?
Studying Fashion at Plymouth College of Art is where it all started and while preparing for my final collection I knew I wanted to use real fur and so I set out to find out as much as possible about this beautiful material. Knowing absolutely nothing about fur apart from I adored it, I contacted the BFTA who put me in touch with a lovely man and now a great friend, Chris Courtenay Williams who kindly invited me to his work room for what I describe as a fur bootcamp, initially a jam packed couple of days where Chris showed me the very basics of working with Fur. I left Chris’s very excited and completely inspired, which helped to keep me motivated through the long hours of hand sewing and weaving the fur pieces for my final collection and that was it, I had caught the fur bug! Its been quite the journey since then always learning, researching and experimenting and actually I’m just getting started.
What do you love most about working with fur?
Everything! Textures,colours and fine fabrics have always been my thing and so fur fits very nicely into this, real fur is like nothing else. It is just so versatile with what you can create with it and how you can manipulate it which makes it so interesting to work with, there really are no rules. My clients faces when they see their newly created piece I have remodelled for the first time, the lovely messages they send me, the history connected to their fur piece and all the lovely people I have met through working with fur is all super special.
By no means am I a magician but I’m a problem solver, an over thinker, a creator, a stickler to fine detail and love nothing more than a challenge.
What do you see as the challenges?
Being in the South West is fairly isolating as I am one of a kind down here in Plymouth and a long way from the cosmopolitan city of London, trends fashion and modern ways of thinking take time to reach the South West.To help combat this challenge it is important for me to get out and about at fairs around Devon and Cornwall to make my presence known and to distribute the modern reality of the fur trade, I find it is important that potential customers see fur sold locally so they feel they can wear fur it in the South West like in London, because there are lots of people who love real fur down here they just need the confidence to wear and enjoy it as they please.
But going to fairs is very costly and time consuming manning my stand for a day (s) and creating stock and as other Furriers have also mentioned, working independently and on my own I do everything myself from maintaining the website I built to designing and remodelling for my clients. I have so many new designs up my sleeve and itching to make but my clients have to come first as they keep the roof over my head and make designing new products possible, so its a question of balance, balancing my time so all needs are met that is the real challenge.
What does Sustainability mean to you?
To me and my business sustainability is key to the production of furs and the associated designs I create for my customers, responsible sourcing of furs is paramount its about using what is naturally available and maintaining it so that there is an ecological balance between its production with regards to the environment and quality of life. I use a variety of furs from responsible sourced farmed fur, fur plates and other furs which are bi-products which are otherwise considered as waste and so are saved from the landfill, its important to me that I can offer this aspect of traceability to my customers and of course appropriate and correct labelling goes hand in hand.
Anything to add?
I’m super excited for this winter and to getting some new designs out there.