Eileen Willett (Cucumber Clothing) – Business Sight’s 10 Most Dynamic Leaders To Watch In 2021

Cucumber Clothing makes luxurious clothes for everyday. When we launched over three years ago, it was this mantra that was in the forefront of our minds.

My Co-founder, Nancy Zeffman, and I both love sport, whether basketball, pilates and running (Nancy) or hot yoga, wild swimming and boxing (me), and we began to puzzle over why the amazing properties of our gym kit could not be found in everyday wear. We soon realised the key was the fabric.  We began our search for the latest innovations in ultra modern fabric technology and after a year of intensive research we discovered a new world of technical fabrics with built-in anti-microbials, performance enhancing capabilities and a baby-soft hand feel. We were ready to forge a new type of clothing.

Our belief is that clothes should do more than just dress a body. Our clothes breathe, they cool, they stretch but don’t crease; they move with your body; they are easy to care for and are made locally, ethically, and sustainably. Our all-in-one style was created to fit seamlessly into every woman’s wardrobe – dress up, dress down, sleep, stretch, work, train, travel. Cucumber is effortless dressing that keeps you feeling fresh 24/7.

Launching any new brand is a leap of faith, and Cucumber was the same.  I would say that to launch a brand takes three main characteristics; determination – if you want to go for something, you have to give it your all and see it through; organization – there is always so much to do and not all of it can be done at once; which leads me onto prioritizing – and this means in a personal capacity too. You have to learn to prioritize yourself sometimes so that the business can be supported by two mentally and physically fit and happy co-founders.

Launching a brand (on a shoe-string budget) and setting up a website are one thing; driving traffic to it is quite another. We have had to really put ourselves out there and shout about our brand to anyone who will listen. In terms of support, we have been lucky to have attended some courses run by the London College of Fashion, that helped us hone our business plan and gave us the original confidence to launch. During Covid, we have been receiving excellent help from the London Growth Hub, that supports SME’s and in turn, the DIT (Department of International Trade). These are all amazing free support networks that have helped us navigate the ever-changing landscape of the business world.

It was important to us that sustainability and ethics were built into our brand from the start.  Key to this is our 5-mile radius.

We design, sample, grade, manufacture and warehouse all within a 5-mile radius in North London, meaning less waste and transport emissions – we believe in the power of local.

We use minimal packaging, all sourced in England including a 100% compostable and biodegradable vegetable starch storage bags, recycled and recyclable postal sacks and packing as well as swing tags made from recycled office waste.

All our trims and extras are sourced within England. We use Royal Mail to avoid putting more vehicles on the road and for their commitment to decreasing their carbon output.

Everything we make is easy care – machine or spot washable, hang dry and no iron – meaning less use of water and energy in a garment’s lifetime.

If our customers want a change, they are invited to send back any Cucumber piece for a future discount, in return we promise to recycle or repurpose each piece.

Our collections are made to perform and support fluid, modern lifestyles and we have made a commitment to designing seasonless styles that allowed for multifunctionality.  Cucumber creates timeless, long-lasting, quality pieces that work from seasons to season We are slow fashion all the way.

Pieces are made to work 24/7. A Shell Button PJ top looks glamorous in bed, then multi-tasks with jeans and boots for a daytime walk. A Ribbon Tie Jumpsuit stretches with you during pilates, then with a simple thrown over jacket and big earrings, switches over to work mode. Our Ruffle Dress looks just a fabulous on a poolside sun lounger as it does on the sofa with Netflix.

By creating pieces that can, with simple styling be made to fill so many roles, we are creating pieces that are ‘keepers’ the antithesis of buy today, trash tomorrow, fast fashion.

Looking to the future, we have been expanding into luxury spas around the UK and have also been involved in various pop-up events which have worked very well. Despite the uncertain situations due to covid-19 pandemic, we believe we can build on our existing wholesale customer base. We are also expanding overseas and are stocked in a sustainable concept store in both Amsterdam and Berlin, as well as a French on-line store.

We are hoping to grow in this area, whilst also constantly reviewing and upgrading our website to offer a fantastic shopping experience online.

We hope to be established as the premier fabric led fashion brand for women in the UK; with a firm foothold in countries where we have already started to make in-roads, namely the US, Australasia, South Africa and the Middle East.

For More Details: http://www.cucumberclothing.com/