An interview with Sarah Hardaker
1. How did you become a fabric designer?
I have always been a crafter! Right from being really small, I was fascinated by my nan’s button box, and her old singer treadle sewing machine – she was a tailoress. This led me to study embroidery at Manchester - an unusual choice for a degree, but totally the right thing for me!
When I graduated I met Antony Little – the owner of Osborne and Little at the New Designers show in London, they were sponsoring a print award. We got chatting and he offered me a job! It was an amazing opportunity, which culminated in designing the popular Lamorna collection (the feathers and eggs one!).I don’t think I was ever a great fit at Osborne and Little – I am really good at pattern and colour but back in those days you needed to be the best of the best at drawing to work in such a prestigious company! Also, I think that I probably didn’t reach my full potential till I went to Harlequin in 2001.
It was a serendipitous sequence of events that took me to Harlequin via a brief stint of consultancy for Next! I loved working with the then very small team at Harlequin; it felt like we were really at the start of something special!
2. What made you leave the corporate world and start sarahhardaker.co.uk?
Having children made me feel it was time to move on and do something on my own, that I could fit around children, and yet design without compromise! Working for large organisations is fabulous and you meet some amazing people on the way, however sometimes there has to be compromise for designs/basecloths etc to fit the mould /price/margin etc.
My most successful collections for other companies have been the ones which came from the heart and evolved naturally, so I thought I would have a crack at doing it myself…..in a very small way! I wasn’t really expecting that everybody else would really like to too!!! I thought that if I sold a few metres of fabric and some cushions I would be happy!
3. Where do you find your inspiration?
I am a total magpie, and a hoarder of bits and pieces. For example I have all of my nan’s old headscarves, and boxes of old buttons and fabrics. I was lucky enough to travel a lot as a child and a teenager so was always and still am really inspired by that. I went to India in my early 20s and that inspirational trip led to the creation of the new Indienne collection 20 years on, so sometimes I hang on to things for a while till the jumbled ideas in my head/ sketchbook form themselves into some sort of order. My husband laughs at me as he says I must dream in colour and pattern! I always have more ideas than time to create them!
4. What do you do when you are not running your business?
Well, we have a vintage campervan, so we like to go away in that whenever the weather permits. I try and take a month off in the summer to be with my family and my good friend Jo takes the helm here for a month – I come back to find everything all organized and wonderful.
I find having that time off recharges my batteries and leaves me feeling inspired and refreshed and also puts things back in to perspective! I also love cooking so I do plenty of that when I am not working. I think if I ever have a career change it will be to own a B&B ….with lovely décor of course!