The name XV stripes really did come from that racing trip (see Chapter One). It had been ‘stripes’ originally.
After that trip, I became a self-employed consultant. This allowed me to start the funding pot for XV. I had no idea how or who to consult to create a fabric – let alone how to build a luxury bedding company.
That said; I’m a creative person so the first things I did were to create the XV logo, purchase domain names and set about trying to find an expert designer to work with me.
Mum always said, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Use the network.’ So that’s exactly what I did. After the day job, I reached out to retailer connections and ex-colleagues. I even considered doing fabric and design courses. Then one day after meeting an ex-supplier for lunch, they kindly put me in touch with Vicky.
Vicky is amazing. She’s a designer with a background in fine art and textile design. She has worked as a fashion and interiors designer in Belgium, Spain and New York. Vicky landed a job with Matthew Williamson’s fashion house and worked her way up to head designer.
She was in Wales and I was in Hampshire. We talked on the phone and agreed to meet half way in Cardiff for a coffee. Yes, we both drove over two hours for a meeting that probably lasted less than an hour.
Basic idea to sourcing supplier
One thing that’s certain, Vicky and I have no end of ideas. We often need to stop ourselves from going off in a multitude of directions. The best thing about Vicky is that she shared my passion for embracing creativity, style, quality and fun.
What happened next goes a bit like this...
We searched for textile producers, set critical standards for a fabric partner, dyed cotton yarns to create a luxury weave and looked at official sustainability ratings.
Vicky’s research took us to Spain and Portugal in search of fabric suppliers. We learnt that the main reason a colour fades is often because it has been printed to fabric. Dyeing the fibres before weaving the fabric creates a longer-lasting, more vibrant colour. We learnt that there are several different weaving methods, each producing a different finish. We also discovered that not all sustainable cotton is created equal.
Months later, we were on a plane to meet suppliers in Portugal. During this first trip, we learnt about textiles and discovered our love of Portuguese wine and custard tarts.
XV duvets to bedding range
On this trip, we found our production team: Helena and Patricia. They are on our wavelength, with their company residing in an area of great cotton weaving – they ticked all the right boxes. Whether it was their passion for the product and/or the quality or the sustainable fabrics we discussed, we knew we wanted to work with them. It was equally appropriate, as we became their first client in the UK.
At this initial meeting, Helena and Patricia shared their focus on using sustainable cottons and told us how they sourced ecological / natural yarn-based fabrics. They introduced us to REPREVE® yarns, bamboo and other natural fibres and showed us some amazing throws.
At this point, after numerous highly-caffeinated cups of coffee, we really started to shape a bedding range.