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Thurso designer takes inspiration from Caithness to power ahead with sales


By David G Scott

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A Thurso textile artist/designer used her lockdown time creatively to draw upon the Caithness landscape for her degree show and come up trumps with honours – and get international sales too.

Laura Davidson studied textile design at Duncan of Jordanston College of Art and Design – part of Dundee University – for four years and was forced to complete the last two crucial months of her degree at home in Caithness without the art school's facilities and materials which had been so crucial to her work.

"The only benefit was that all my designs are based on parts of Caithness so it was easier to work from home rather than Dundee," said Laura.

"Thankfully, it didn’t turn out all that bad and I managed to graduate with an upper second class honours degree. The biggest thing myself and all art and design students missed out on this year is our university degree show and the major New Designers event in London."

She said that the degree show would have been a great way of ending her time at university and as a celebration of her work – it also marks the "start of getting designs out there".

Laura outside Duncan of Jordanston College of Art and Design in Dundee.
Laura outside Duncan of Jordanston College of Art and Design in Dundee.

The New Designers show provides an opportunity for graduates to showcase their garments and designs to the public and major brands who could potentially employ them.

"Personally, these two events were the most important part of my uni experience and due to Covid-19 all graduates of 2020 have missed out on both these beneficial events that help us into the industry.

"I have always wanted to have my own line but thought after uni I would have some work experience with a fashion brand first. The demand for interns and design jobs massively declined over lockdown so I just took the leap and decided to start my own brand from home with my designs from my Caithness inspired graduate collection."

An example of Laura's textile design work that takes inspiration from the Caithness landscape.
An example of Laura's textile design work that takes inspiration from the Caithness landscape.

Laura was given a space at Lindsey Gallacher’s premises within Thurso's new creative hub called A-Nine, on Brabster Street, to get her started. Lindsey said she is happy to support new local talent and is expecting another delivery of Laura's work soon.

After that she felt confident enough to make a website to sell her Caithness inspired scarf tops, headscarves and scrunchies.

"As I went live, I posted a tweet asking people to share to help get the word out and the response was amazing – I managed to get 10,200 likes and 4200 retweets. Thanks to the huge support on that tweet I managed to sell out my first drop on my online store within two days and gained 2000 followers on my business page on Instagram."

This multi wear head scarf is one of many design inspired by the landscape of Caithness.
This multi wear head scarf is one of many design inspired by the landscape of Caithness.

Laura said she had always been told at university that she would never be able to have a clothing business in Caithness "as it’s too remote".

"I’d like to think this might change their mind. I’ve had sales from all over the UK, including London and even all the way from Canada."

A body scarf designed by Laura.
A body scarf designed by Laura.

Laura's designs are inspired by the rural surroundings of Caithness. Her degree show had five collections based on different locations in the county where she explored the coastal landmarks, local shop fronts and Caithness flagstone.

"My main goal has been to illustrate the rural and unique character of Caithness and translate this through digital print to stand out from the fast fashion lead high-street with one of a kind and original prints."

Laura's online degree show profile with more information on her Caithness designs can be found at www.dundee.ac.uk/degreeshow/2020/workondisplay/textiledesign/lauradavidson/

Her Instagram account is @lauramarniedesign and website is at lauramarnie.bigcartel.com

A-Nine is A one for creativity and coffee in Thurso



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