Throughout 2021 we are celebrating inspiring women with Maxted's Inspiring Women campaign featuring someone new each month that inspires us. As a woman-owned and women-run business (including working mums) we want to show our support and celebrate some incredible women who inspire us with their entrepreneurship, ambition, spirit, activism, tenacity or encouragement of others.
For our second month of the campaign we're turning the focus behind the clothes that make Maxted. Maxted wouldn't be the incredible brand that it is without the immensely talented team of knitwear technical designers and production specialists who create our collections. Grace (pictured middle with Katherine and Nancy) is the manager of the talent behind our knitwear.
When Caroline launched Maxted she knew Grace from her previous experience designing when they met in Beijing many years ago. They have worked together consistently since then and have created a great relationship as well as stunning collections of knitwear.
Grace is a Maxted Inspiring Woman because of her incredible talent and her drive that has helped her work her way from the bottom of the industry to a management role.
Grace took the time to answer some questions for us so we could learn more about her and what inspires her.
Q: How did you get so specialised in the production of knitwear?
Grace: I studied textile & apparel after graduation from university; it's been a long journey into the textile industry (since 2008). I don't know if I can claim to be 'specialized' yet but I'm learning new techniques every day as well as staying on top of the new spinning and knitting technology.
I credit a lot of my success and growth to my managers; Penny & Gary, 1st generation college graduates of a textile major. They have been teaching me a lot about knitwear from how to make a piece of knitwear through to how to yarn raw material into a garment. Together we have worked at many workshops, yarn mills and knitwear factories. From that knowledge and experience we learned how to mange the sampling procedure and bulk production. It’s vital for us to make a proper development plan when we cooperate with a brand product developer and designer.
Q: What's your favourite type of kitting?
Grace: Can I choose all of them?! To be honest it's hard to choose which is my favourite. Each knit meets different functions and requirements. I prefer to match the knit to the designer's inspiration. Personally, I love wearing knitwear almost daily and it's so comfy and soft.
Q: Do you remember the first time you met Caroline?
Grace: The first time we met was in 2014, in Beijing. Caroline visited the company I worked for. I remember Caroline was wearing a navy/white crew neck dress, she had golden hair and big charming eyes with a warm smile on her face. Before that we had been in touch via email about work on a knitwear project for a year. Caroline is great to work with, she's really professional, thoughtful and talented in knitwear design. I still remember a product name that we worked together on, called Felicity and that's a great word to describe our relationship; felicitous.
Q: What is the title of your role?
Grace: My 1st role back in 2008 was Assistant Merchandiser. I then moved onto Merchandiser and Senior Merchandiser. As of 2021 I am now a General Manager thanks for the support from my managers, colleagues and partners.
Q: What's the most important part of your job?
Grace: Management and financial management are a large part of the role but I also spend a lot of time focussed on research with the Merchandiser and QA team. We analyze new yarn and fabrics swatches, develop new products for brands and study new technology trends.
Q: What do you love about your job?
Grace: To me work is a part of life; love life, love your work. Work in the textile industry is about creating something beautiful for fashion lovers. I'm so lucky to work with designers like Caroline and create incredible collections of knitwear in the textile industry.
Q: Which are your favourite pieces to create for Maxted?
Grace: I can tell you sincerely that all the pieces we have created for Maxted are made with love. I love knitwear so much that it's hard to choose just one style that I love producing. Every piece is so unique and we love seeing the designs from Caroline - we devote so much time to careful consideration of the most suitable yarn to use to make Caroline's designs perfect. Maxted deserves the best, so make sure to check out Maxted AW21.
Q: Why do your value working with Maxted/Caroline?
Grace: Caroline's professional fashion training and long experience working in the British fashion industry gives her artwork a traditional British elegance. I love working with talented customers like Caroline and her drive to work ethically and sustainably alongside her colours and designs is important to me and our team. Caroline is also a kind friend.
Q: Are there any women that inspire you?
Grace: I'm inspired by so many people in my life. 2020 was such a tough year, female doctors and nurses have really impressed me; they inspire trust and remind me that we cannot change the past but we can create a better future, and they have. None of us are perfect but we can do our best and work together.
A note from Grace:
"I want to take this opportunity to say hello and thank every Maxted customer. Caroline has given me the chance to share some of my experience with you all and how we met. I hope all of you like the AW21 Maxted collection that we worked so hard on and stay happy and healthy through 2021."