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Lise Tailor: Patterns, Collections & Pursuing Goals

by Polina K
lise tailor

At Good Fabric, we always love the chance to connect with like-minded sewists. From our community on Instagram to meeting all of you lovely lot when you pop into our Wimbledon based fabric studio, we can’t get enough of it. That’s why we knew we had to reach out to Lise Tailor – sewist, business owner, and designer – to see if we could sit down for a lovely chat about our mutual love of all things needle and thread.

lise tailor fabrics

Lise is a force in the sewing world and created the wonderful Lise Tailor brand, bringing high-quality, sustainable fabrics and sewing patterns designed by her small team to an eager market. With ethical values that really resonate with our own and a desire to revive traditional sewing techniques with a new, young audience, we knew we’d have a lot to talk about. We also think it’s very sweet that the brand name Lise Tailor was conjured up as a homage to her English husband, using the very British name of Liz Taylor and making it her own. 

We talked to Lise about career changes, her beautiful books, and (of course) sustainability, as well as giving our sewists a behind-the-scenes of what’s next for the Lise Tailor brand. 

  1. We love that you’ve pivoted your professional career from marketing in the corporate world to pursuing your passion. We’re big believers in second careers and with many people going through similar changes, we wanted to talk more about the transition. Did you start your business while you were in full-time employment? How did you balance time management with learning new skills? 

Thank you very much for your enthusiasm, I absolutely agree that we do not live in linear professional pathways anymore. One can choose to change directions over time and go into a completely different field. 

I was a digital marketing executive and, at some point, I didn’t feel aligned with the direction the company was taking and decided it was time to leave. I knew straight away that I wanted to become an entrepreneur in the DIY world that I was so passionate about. I literally had to learn a completely new job: not only finding the suppliers, negotiating prices, testing the quality of the products, but also how to run a company financially. I needed to understand accounting, taxes and a ton of other «not-so-fun» topics. I didn’t take any classes, I went one step at a time, made a ton of mistakes, fixed them and learned along the way.

  1. In hindsight, now that you have gone through this journey, would you have done anything differently? Is there any advice that you would give yourself back in 2018?

I should have probably taken formal training. Especially around all of the financial aspects that were very difficult for me to get a grasp of. 

As a woman, I also suffered for an extremely long time with imposter syndrome. At first, coming from a high-level job in marketing, I was embarrassed to say that I was creating my own company – even though I was so proud of it at the same time. I would definitely tell myself to have more faith in my capacities, trust the process and advocate for my own choices with pride. 

lise tailor

  1. Teamwork makes the dream work, right? The support system that allows us to create, dream and take risks is often invisible to the public. What does your support system look like and how did it help you take this huge leap of faith to pursue your passion? 

I definitely have to thank my husband here. He was my biggest advocate and still is. He supported my decision to leave my very comfortable position in marketing, fight against a company that was treating me unfairly and pursue my own path. He spent hours listening to me reel off my doubts and second-guess every single one of my decisions. I was by myself for 2 years, working from my lounge, so he was the only one I could talk to. And boy did he listen!

He also took all the original pictures for my blog at the start (lisetailor.com started in 2016 as a blog) and later on for my first collections. 

I can say in full confidence that I wouldn’t be here without him.  

 

  1. We love seeing your inspiration for each collection – the samples you make, the photoshoot –  and it’s clear that it all takes an incredible amount of work and effort. How long in advance do you start creating a collection before it reaches the stores? What does this process look like?

We like to work about a year in advance to lower our stress and keep the production risk to a minimum. I work alongside another Lise on the creative side and, apart from sharing the same first name, we also tend to have the same character. We get stressed out easily and being ahead of the game helps us keep things in check. 

Right now, all our collections are finalised up to fall 2024: fabrics, sewing patterns, new colours yarn… We’re almost finished with winter and are about to move onto spring-summer 2025. 

lise tailor

  1. Your brand is known for lots of bright floral prints, exclusive mohair wools, and dyed-to-match buttons. What I think a lot of readers don’t know, though, is your partnership with ESAT and how you help to provide employment for people with disabilities. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you got involved with this and the work ESAT does?

I work with an ESAT (which stands for “Establishment and Work Assistance Service ») located a few kilometres outside of Lyon. These are government-funded places where people with disabilities (either mentally or physically) can be trained to eventually integrate into a workplace. 

Initially, I was working from home. I was receiving the rolls of fabrics there and would fold them on bolts myself. As the company grew, it was becoming very time-consuming but also damaging to my health. I am quite petite and spending sometimes up to 7 hours folding fabrics was not the best for me. 

I looked for an ESAT who could take over some of the logistic tasks for me. I was very lucky with the one I found as we have created a real partnership, they act as a logistic centre for me: they receive and store all our productions, they fold the fabrics, they count the buttons and package them by 30 for our wholesalers. They also prepare and dispatch the wholesale orders. They come by our workshop once a week to deliver the stock we need for our website.

It’s a really beneficial partnership as it meets the quality I look for in my company, providing a great service at a low cost while giving people with disabilities new opportunities for independence.

  1. We had a sneak peek at your Spring Collection 2024 and we are obsessed not only with your prints but also with your lovely choice of model, Rosa! We’ve met Rosa at different events in London and are always chatting away on Instagram. How did your collaboration come about? 

I am so happy you love our Spring Collection! I think that we can already say that we’re releasing a new book this Spring, following the success of Cosy at Home which was released in the Autumn of 2022.

For our regular collections, we model our fabric and patterns ourselves. But for the books, we prefer to have someone who personifies the vibes of the fabrics. We did a call for models on Instagram and Rosa @lupariasewing replied. We were already in touch as I absolutely love her Instagram and she has sewn our fabrics on several occasions. I didn’t hesitate when she reached out to us to offer her the position.

Rosa in Lise Tailor grenadine print jumpsuit

I thought at first that it might be quite tricky to make it work as I’d rented a house in the south of France for 2 weeks last summer for my family holiday. We wanted to have the photo shoot there as it was the perfect scenery for the book. Luckily, though, the dates worked and Rosa could come over with my partner in crime Lise. We had such a lovely time together – it absolutely did not feel like working. Rosa is the loveliest person and even my two boys had so much fun with her between photoshoots. 

I am immensely grateful to Rosa, she was the perfect choice for this book.

  1. Let’s talk about your sewing patterns, as we see this side of your business expand with each collection. What is your most popular sewing pattern? 

Our sewing patterns are one of the aspects of Lise Tailor that I love working on the most. We have so much fun thinking of complete outfits, and sewing patterns are often the first item we define for a collection. We’re extremely happy to see a huge growth in our sewing pattern sales and take pride in the fact that our designs are so well-loved by seamstresses. 

Lately, the Pimpante shirt has had a huge success, and we’ve seen so many beautiful makes of it on Instagram. 

lise tailor pimante shirt sewing pattern

We are also delighted to offer knitting patterns now to mix and match sewing and knitting in our handmade outfits.

  1. Just like yourself, our love for crafts doesn’t stop at sewing. Personally, I love crocheting dolls for my daughter, but we’ve read that your first love is actually knitting. Out of curiosity, why did you start the brand as a fabric business first and then introduce knit later and not the other way around?

That’s a very good question. I come from a marketing background and it’s definitely shaped the way I run my business. When I left my former company, I had 2 years of unemployment which allowed me to take my time and not jump at any decisions. I did a market analysis and came to the conclusion that there were not many indie brands of fabrics. I also knew first-hand that there was a lack of floral prints around as I was ordering them myself from Rifle Paper Co (a brand I admire and look up to). They would cost me an absolute fortune but I couldn’t find anything to my taste in France. So I thought… why not me?

  1. We love talking about sustainability so we can’t not ask you about your commitments. The proximity aspect within your supply chain is amazing, so let’s shout about it! Can you give an insight into your supply chain? 

Sustainability is indeed an extremely important topic to me, too. Most of our products are made in France. Our viscose, cotton and gabardine fabrics are printed and dyed only 30 km outside of Lyon. The buttons are all made in the north of France. Our sewing patterns are printed near Montpellier. I love the idea of being a part of the French economy, so I try to keep the supply chain as close to us as possible – as long as it also meets some ethical standards, too.

Our yarn, for example, comes from South Africa where it is spun, dyed and put into balls as I couldn’t find a supplier in France which will certify cruelty-free wool. Being a vegetarian myself, animal cruelty is something I won’t accept. The sheep are in any case raised in South Africa so the wool has to come from there anyway. 

lise tailor wool yarns

  1. We love a good sewing book. Do you think we’ll be able to get our hands on your Cosy at Home sewing book in English in the near future?

I don’t think I have mentioned that my husband is British and we only speak in English at home. So this is a topic very close to my heart. I would absolutely love to be able to offer our books in English. As we self-publish them, however, I would need to print (and sell) a lot of them to make it profitable. I am currently thinking of some options like a leaflet with page-by-page translation which we could offer to our foreign wholesalers. 

cosy at home sewing book by lise tailor

  1. Last but not least, what does the future hold for Lise Tailor the brand? Can we please combine your two loves and create wool fabrics?

One of the topics I am focusing my attention on is to internationalise the brand more. We have a big awareness in France but we still have many opportunities abroad. I am extremely thankful to our foreign wholesalers, such as yourself, who put faith in us even without being known by their customers. 

The sewing and knitting patterns are also a hot topic of focus. I would love to have more children’s patterns in our catalogue for example.  

I have never thought of wool fabrics but that’s something to think about.

 

 

We wanted to say a big thank you to Lise Tailor for taking the time out of her busy – and rather exciting – schedule to talk to us. It was thrilling to hear how her career has evolved from working on her own in the living room to becoming a brand with international connections, Instagram models, and a flourishing collection of sewing goods. For anyone in our Good Fabric community thinking of embarking on a career shift to follow their passion, we hope this gives you the inspiration you need to get started.

If you’re interested in getting your hands on some of the sustainable fabric on offer at Lise Tailor, take a peek at the range on our website. By working directly with Lise, we’ve made it easier than ever for British sewists to get their hands on gorgeous French fabrics. 

For more inspiration and plenty of sewing tips, be sure to follow us on Instagram @good_fabric_store and of course Lise Tailor on @lisetailor. 

 

by Polina K

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