Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Story Behind Our Collections - Mini McGhee

When we started our search for pieces for our baby trousseau we began a search for perhaps the most important of all pieces; the baby blanket. We had an idea that the blanket must have a design that would quench our thirst for a design conscious piece that upheld the heritage feel of a blanket that would be kept, treasured and handed down from one baby to the next just as granny would have intended. It became our 'holy grail', a romance in our minds that we could find a 'made in Scotland' blanket that would preserve the sentiment of heirloom quality ,  lovingly handmade with luxurious delicate wool. We had given up the search not able to find such a piece until one day the blankets found us.

Visiting a studio to select pieces from one of our clothing designers there they were; a beautiful pile of the softest sumptuous delicate wool, in warm tones and contemporary colours. When hearing more about the designer and the creative process I knew they were perfect. Immediately wanting to wrap up my own children in them and cuddle them tight. I knew we had to contact their creator and ask that we could share them through Sisters Guild.

Nicola McGhee is the mother of the Mini McGhee collection with a biography that reads like a fairytale . Beginning when she graduated from Glasgow school of Art in 1995 having achieved the schools most prestigious award the Newbury Medal she was then awarded with a place at Central St. Martins College of Art and Design where she pursued a Masters in Fashion Knit. Nicola took her first job in London working for a design consultancy with occasional trips to New York, Paris and Florence. It wasn't long before New York fashion houses were requesting her to join them. Nicola moved to New York in 2000 and worked for 'Express' (a sisters company to Victoria Secret) moving on to work as a senior designer for Kenneth Cole before being offered the role of Senior Sweater Designer for GAP. But Nicola had always felt her heart was in Scotland and after the arrival of her daughter, Nicola returned home with her architect husband in 2007.

With an eye for colour an inherent flair for design and a knowledge of the industry it seems only natural that Nicola was destined to create. Nicola had noticed a missing piece in the market when searching herself for a baby blanket to give as a gift to a friend. A seed was sown and unable to find work locally with mills and manufacturers closing Nicola set off on her own venture creating her own job. Dusting down her knitting and sewing machines Nicola's passion for textiles was reawakened and Mini McGhee was launched in winter 2009.

McGhee brings us an exquisite collection of finely knitted luxurious pieces for the nursery and home that we can trust to keep our babies warm. The soft hand woven wool is perfect against delicate skin and their colours are gentle and calm, creating a sleepy aura for mother and child.
The wool is locally sourced in Scotland where each blanket is handmade, employing local people as much as possible. The natural handmade process behind each piece adheres itself to the innocence of new life, making it more instinctive; born to cradle our delicate newborns with its unique charm and feel.

To truly appreciate the collection it is important to understand the underlying values that the high quality craftsmanship is built upon.  Nicola reignites an industry lost by the more recent trend for mass produced products and turns her attention to the use of vintage fabrics, traditional knitting, crotchet and embroidery techniques. 'Made in Scotland' is very important to Nicola awakening traditions and revitalising skills of those around her. Not accepting the decline of local industries Nicola sources the energy and skills locally with each piece created either by hand or by local craftsmen. The feeling of keeping  it all  'home-grown' and made in Scotland is as Nicola says "a key factor in the business and I will never walk away from that."

The high quality craftsmanship of the collection echoes a time when the giving and receiving of a baby blanket was a tradition handed down from one generation to the next. Inspired by these traditional family values the resulting spirit of the collection not only breathes a unique and pure tone but also blesses it with a genuine feeling of timelessness and sincerity.

Mini McGhee is kindly supported by the Scottish Arts Council and Scotland UnLtd.
We would like to add our own support and respect too and above this, gratitude for bringing authentic hand crafted, sustainable pieces to the market all the time supporting local business. Whilst our hat goes of to you Nicola McGhee we'll keep warm underneath your beautiful blankets.

The Mini McGhee collection takes a simple traditional piece, crafts it with beautiful contempory colour and creates a classic heirloom piece for this new blossoming generation. You can find our selection of Mini McGhee in our Baby Trousseau and look out for our Autumn collection where you'll find Mini McGhee beyond the nursery and unfolding around the home.

To find out more about Nicola McGhee and her story behind the collection take a look at our interview here.

This is part of our series of blog posts about the Story Behind our Collections - why we've chosen the designers that are in the boutique and how those designers came to be.

To see a bit more of what Sisters Guild is all about take a look at the A-Z of Sisters Guild here.

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