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Naomi Cornelius-Reid

Naomi Cornelius-ReidFounder of NV London Calcutta

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How did you get started as a designer?

Prior to launching NV London Calcutta I spent 4 years as the Design Consultancy Manager at Bill Amberg, learning the A-Z of not only designing products but also all the other factors that go into producing a collection like costing, production and promotion. Designing is only the starting point of a range; it’s often being able to turn the drawings in to a commercially viable offering that is the tricky part! You need to learn to be flexible and accommodating, especially in the ethical fashion world.

What projects are you currently involved in?

We have just launched our Back To Black Collection for Christmas which includes our gorgeous silk scarf collaboration with the very talented paper cut artist Rob Ryan and long awaited Men’s Accessories Collection. Plus our specially commissioned Ayesha Make-up Purse for Cowshed’s new Living Collection has just hit the stores, so we’ve been busy bees!

What’s going to be your next big thing?

We have a fantastic new classic bag range in the pipe line for next year. We are adding a new cooperative into the mix , that our workshop in Calcutta partners with, and are making use of their polished buffalo horn which is just beautiful. We are also developing a Home Collection, some new silks and have a couple of exciting new collaborative projects planned, though we can’t say just yet who they are with - but we’ll keep you posted!

Who has inspired you the most during your career to date?

My mum. She is a constant inspiration and a huge support. I have always looked up to and admired her. She created a very successful business from her passion in life and did it all as a single mother. She is a testament to never giving up on your dreams.

What gets you up on a morning?

Multiple cups of coffee and a loud alarm!! Unfortunately, I am not a morning person.  I wish I was one of those people who find it easy to leap out of bed and spring into action but it’s simply not the case, I am a complete night owl and am rarely at my desk before 9am. Once I am up and running though it’s plain sailing. I absolutely love what I do and enjoy all the aspects of the business. The variety keeps me on my toes - there is certainly never a dull moment that’s for sure.

What advice would you give young designers struggling to get their first foot on the ladder?

Work experience is invaluable. Learn from those you admire. Be prepared to be flexible, be proactive, aim high and never give up. Never be afraid to ask questions. Never assume or keep quiet if you aren’t quite clear about something. If it’s difficult and off putting, that’s probably what you need to tackle and overcome in order to make it work!

What does the future hold for ethical fashion?

I think the future is bright. The increase in high quality, well designed ethical product which can compete with the high street is on the up and I look forward to seeing more ethical fashion, not only online but also on our high streets. John Lewis are trail blazing with their People Tree concessions and I’m sure it won’t be too long before others follow in their footsteps. There are also fantastic initiatives bringing the best of boutique ethical fashion to consumers. I am heavily involved with Ethical Just Got Fabulous the first ever, bi annual, pop-up ethical department store. It’s a unique shopping experience that combines a multitude of fashion focussed brands with live music and a host of other exciting add ons to give even the most jaded shopaholic a refreshing alterative to trawling the pavements! www.ethicaljustgotfabulous.com

What’s your favourite book?

That is a really tricky one to decide, I’m a complete book worm, so it’s almost impossible to narrow it down to just one! I read City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre recently, which was just brilliant. It’s a true story about the slums of Calcutta, so I was completely hooked from the off and it has to be up there with the all time best reads. I’d have to add A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry to the list too and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseni. Both are just incredibly powerful stories which had a real effect on me.

What’s your favourite film?

I don’t really watch so many films but I absolutely loved The Lives of Others. It’s an incredible story about East Germany, just before the fall of the Wall. I cried my eyes out and it was on my mind for days afterwards. On a lighter note, The Cohen Brother’s The Big Lebowski has to be mentioned. I could watch it again and again, it’s genius.

What’s your favourite piece of music/song?

I think my favourite song of all time is ‘So Good Today’ by a fairly little known singer called Ben Westbeech. It makes me happy no matter what my mood. Though I couldn’t listen to just one song forever, so if I had to choose just one artist it would have to be Nina Simone. Her voice is phenomenal and has a song for every state of mind!

What would be your perfect weekend?

A long one! Preferably with my very wonderful and long suffering boyfriend, somewhere that has no internet or phone reception.  Alternatively, a weekend away in the countryside with my friends or my family, cooking up a storm and going for long walks by the sea sounds like bliss.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you take with you?

A solar powered laptop, bikini and a bottle of red wine!

If you could meet anyone in the world (dead or alive) who would it be and what would you say to them? 

Ghandi. I’m not sure what I’d say, I’d just like to listen.

How would you describe yourself?

Determined, passionate and good with people.

How would your friends describe you?

Fun loving, enthusiastic, loyal and supportive.

How would you liked to be remembered?

As someone who gave it their all.


Click here to view Laura Queening, Founder of Aura Que in the spotlight.