A Cumbria knitwear brand is this month celebrating its fifth year in business and is marking the occasion with an open studio celebration.
Oubas launched in 2012 with just four scarves in its product line. Since then, it has grown to include gloves, hats, headbands, ponchos, wraps, cardigans and jumpers. The brand has also secured a bigger workshop, been featured in Vogue and has taken on its first employee.
To officially toast five years in business, founder Kate Wilson is hosting an open studio celebration at the workshop in Halecat House, Witherslack, on Thursday 14th December, from 12pm to 7pm.
Kate said: “We are really proud to have created such a loyal customer base over the last five years, and we are delighted to welcome all customers, old and new, to come along and celebrate our anniversary with us at the studio on 14th December. This is a really special anniversary for us as we have marked so many exciting business developments over the last five years, with many more to come!”
Kate added: “I launched Oubas because I wanted to create a label that makes pieces people would love and value, and therefore want to hold on to for years. We are proud to be a Cumbrian brand and the ethos of Oubas ties in seamlessly with the Cumbria lifestyle. People visit the area for the peace and sanctuary of the valleys and fells, and the connections they feel with them. I feel that clothing can provide the same comfort, we know how we feel when we have a favourite item and we don’t want to lose it.
“There have been a number of milestones that we have celebrated over the last five years. It is amazing to look back and reflect on the journey I have been on with Oubas – from securing our very first stockist (Two by Two in Ulverston), knitting 1,000 pieces of knitwear in the first two years, moving into the workshop in 2015 (and then expanding into a larger space this year) and taking on our first employee. It is especially poignant looking back and remembering this began in a room at my parent’s house while I was working part-time trying to get it off the ground.”
She added: “Behind the scenes there is a lot of energy and passion. Anyone who has started a label from scratch knows how much drive is needed. You have to be determined and have a genuine love for what you do. That definitely makes the highs higher and the lows lower, however. I always want to improve on yesterday and that keeps things rolling. I really value what I do, I love designing and making clothing for people. Oubas is in an exciting period of growth now because I have learnt so much over the past few years and that is all coming to fruition. It has grown organically and gradually as I have grown with it.”
Explaining the background behind her company’s ethos and her passion for the Slow Fashion message, Kate said: “Slow Fashion is the same movement that happened a few years ago with food – people consider local produce and they question sources and quality a lot more than they did a decade ago.
“As a young designer, I became disillusioned with the faceless way that fashion was manufactured and the high levels of disposable fashion globally. It was focused on brand images and marketing, and not about the people behind the labels and the realities of clothing production.
“I was brought up to value what we had. My gran saved almost everything or found a different use for something. For example, when the elastic went on her tights she used to use it to keep her papers and notes together! She was resourceful and that was inspiring.
“The way in which clothing is produced and how tonnes of our clothing is disposed of each year highlights that things need to change. It has been exciting to watch an awareness begin to unfold, and to be a part of it.”
As for the next five years, Kate plans to grow Oubas further and spread the word about ethical fashion and British manufacturing. She said: “I would like to collaborate with other British brands and to work locally with students and inspire others with our energy and passion.”