GS Journal

Behind the Scenes with Genevieve

Welcome to the Genevieve Sweeney studio. We’ve been here for seven years now, located in the countryside on the border of Hertfordshire and Essex, and recently moved into our new studio – a unit in Grandey’s Place, a centre housing a wide range of craftspeople. You can read more about our local area in this recent blog post. To coincide with our move and with our recent studio shoot with Sam Binstead, we thought we’d chat to our founder, Genevieve to find out more about what goes on behind the scenes at GS HQ.

Tell us about Grandey’s Place and the position of your studio within it?

A couple of years ago I visited Grandey’s Place and was amazed by the incredible community, variety of craftsmanship and the creative force created together. I knew that I wanted to be a part of it as soon as a studio was available, to shine a light on heritage crafts and build a platform to teach apprentices in knitwear. I am tucked away at the back of the site, but the we have fantastic views the fields of the surrounding farm with horses taking residence in the nearest field.

What does a typical day in your studio look like?

As a small business owner my day is very varied.

I get into the studio about 8am after the nursery drop off, make a coffee and photograph content for social media; which could be what I am wearing, monogramming for a customer or discussing what I am working on that week. I find it important to get into a creative flow during that first hour of the day before sitting at my desk. At 9am my assistant, Amie arrives, who manages the studio and dispatch of orders. We usually have a catch-up in the morning to plan for the week.

My roles change throughout the week. I try to plan my week dividing up designing, marketing, PR and admin (from ordering yarn, to production, website updates and accounts). I try once a week to visit a factory either in Leicester, London or Derbyshire, working on production or developing new ideas and designs for future collections. I love being on the production floor, working with the artisans and often getting a masterclass on how the styles are made and technical details of the machines.
The trips to factories are long drives but I love the opportunity to catch up on podcasts and reflect on the work in progress.

Each day is full-on and only stops when it’s time for nursery pick-up at 6pm. I make dinner then try to do a little yoga after the kids have gone to bed.

What is the set-up in your studio?

The studio is quite open-planned. My friend built a stockroom/storage at the back of the space for me, which makes the rest of the studio feel clutter-free. My husband, metalframesltd made a beautiful metal sign for me, which hangs above.

We have a large packing area and yarn shelving. My heritage machines sit on one side of the studio – I have a Dubied knitting machine and two linkers a heavy gauge and fine gauge.

The other side of the room consists of the design table which is big enough to pattern-cut on, and behind me is my moodboard and yarn wall for monogramming. There are rails and shelving dotted all round the studio, showcasing the entire collection.

It is a very creative, tactile space, and is full of colour.

Can customers visit you in the studio? What would a typical customer visit look like?

Yes they can! It has been so wonderful to invite customers over to the studio, some locally and some from afar who are travelling past or have made a visit for the day.

Customers are welcomed with coffee and treats, and get a tour covering the machines, design process and I share my journey of making in the UK and running a small business. Every customer loves to hear about different aspects of the business, which is always a lot of fun to discuss. I then showcase the collection and often share sneak peaks of new styles I am working on for future collections. It’s always wonderful to hear feedback and see what people love, how garments look when they try them on, and what colours they are drawn to. There is never any expectation to shop. A visit is more focused on having the opportunity to meet the founder behind the brand and hear of our goals and values.

Over Christmas, I had an open weekend and this Summer we are having a Grandey’s Place open day on Sunday 30th June where all the craftspeople will be opening their doors and showcasing their work. There is also a monthly tour where you can visit the first Wednesday of the month.

I also offer an appointment service at the studio, email to book an appointment.

Is it just you in your studio? How do you find working alone?

It is Amie and I day to day, but when I have to be very focused on work, I sometimes work from home and enjoy the cats sitting with me – but I do find it distracting with everyday housework, it’s hard not to put a washing on or prep dinner when working from home.
I always love local customers popping in for a chat and coffee, or picking up an order on their way home. I also work with three freelancers and part-time staff members who work remotely and are a part of the GS team behind the scenes, helping with marketing, collaborations, and admin.

Is there a real community spirit that comes from working in close quarters with other creatives? How do you all interact on a daily basis?

There is a strong feeling that we are all in it together and fully understand each other’s challenges, troubles, and celebrations. It is utterly mind-blowing the work that is made here by the artisans and all have very different disciplines. I hope to collaborate with two creatives here to make something unique and unexpected. Keep your eyes peeled!

What are your future plans for the studio? How do you see the space evolving? 

This month I have my first intern for two weeks which I am very excited about. After this I am looking to take on an intern/apprentice who I can teach linking – a heritage technique that joins knitwear together, creating the seams. It is a dying art, and I would love to revive this in the UK. I have also just welcomed two new linkers and I am looking to buy a new knitting machine soon, so I am excited to see the space naturally evolve as machines and the GS team grows.

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