Sitting Down with Cat Turner
If you are looking for the perfect holiday wardrobe, look no further!
Cat Turner's stunning dresses answer all your needs, and more! The brand is all about bringing you those easy holiday capsule wardrobe pieces - that timeless, classic, chic style - perfectly suited to the contemporary women.
The fabric is one of the softest, most luxurious you could ever feel. This results in comfortable and versatile summer dresses that make you look effortlessly stylish, and that will both look and feel wonderful in the heat.
We sat down with the lovely Cat Turner to find out more about her stunning collecting, ask her how the idea came to life and what we can expect from the brand in the future.
1) What inspired you to launch the Cat Turner brand?
A mixture of things really – together with it being the right time and the right idea!
I come from a multi-cultural background (half French, half English, with a childhood spent in Barcelona) and my chic French mother always instilled in me the importance of breathable natural fabrics, good tailoring and classic colours.
A few years ago I was working with a company in Singapore, travelling backwards and forwards from London and realised that there were limited clothing options for women who travelled to hot countries off season, apart from beach wear or expensive resort wear. Nothing really of a casual chic style, made in breathable fabrics, that could work across holidays, trips to see family abroad or work stints.
It was also during this time that there was increased talk about bad practises within the fashion industry, in terms of how people are treated and negative effects to the environment.
All of this kind of came together and the idea of an all year round summer chic brand, ethically made in London and with a focus on sustainability, was born.
2) Were you worried about taking the plunge and setting-up your own business? What were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome?
Maybe a little worried, but at the same time really excited! I have over 20 years’ experience working on other brands and had always dreamt of creating my own.
The biggest challenge was learning about the technicalities of dressmaking and then finding the right partners and suppliers to help me execute what I had in mind. Even though I had previously worked on a couple of fashion brands, creating your own from scratch is in a completely different league!
I am a bit of a perfectionist and so needed to find production partners who shared my quality and ethical standards, whilst being happy to work with a start up.
I work with two ethical facilities and my patterns, samples and most of my production is managed by a wonderful woman called Tanya, a London College of Fashion graduate who has been running a high-end studio in London for nearly 20 years.
My fabrics are sourced from European firms with extensive experience in fabric production or supply.
I have each dress professionally fitted several times on a fit model to tweak each design until I’m happy with how it drapes on the body.
The proof is in the pudding though and I can see it from the feedback of anyone who comes into contact with the brand – they always remark on how beautiful the fabrics and cut are.
3) Take us through the sustainability and ethical side of your brand. What makes you different?
Each Cat Turner summer dress is proudly made in one of two ethical facilities in London. We use premium fabrics and make high-end, timeless and versatile styles designed to last. Our silhouettes are flattering and benefit from elastic, drawstring or self tie belts that adapt to fluctuations in size. We offer a customisation service and make garments in small quantities to prevent overstocking.
In terms of fabrics, we use environmentally friendly fabrics such as Tencel, Linen and end of roll cotton fabrics with many of the fabrics benefiting from the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification (this positively relates to the dyes and finishes used on the fabrics).
Last but not least, I am mindful of the marketing materials and packaging I use. I made a point of adapting the original business card design to work on an uncoated card, and our swing tag to work on an unlaminated card, to make them both recyclable. The cardboard boxes, tissue paper and branded stationery I use to carefully package each order are all recyclable.
4) What are the next steps for the Cat Turner brand?
Well we have just been featured in Red Magazine for June 2020 and that felt amazing… and so a few more journalists shining some light onto our ethically made British brand would be rather nice!
One of our best customers lives in Singapore and so it’s really important that we start driving awareness and availability of the brand to women who live in other countries, especially those countries who are lucky enough to enjoy frequent hot weather.
I can’t wait to add more styles to this collection of summer dresses to further add to its versatility.
And last, but by no means least, I continuously like to explore ways in which I we can become a kinder and more sustainable brand and have always wanted to add a charitable element. I just need the conditions to be right.
5) Who would you say are your biggest inspirations? People or businesses you look up to?
Dame Anita Roddick is definitely on my list. I grew up with her building The Body Shop…possibly the first and biggest brand with a conscience and a strong ethical message to have gone global. She was a trailblazer. She was a female entrepreneur. I love how she built an incredibly desirable and much loved brand whilst standing for such a powerful message of no animal testing. She was also a very active human rights activist and environmental campaigner.
Richard Branson was a force of nature for a while and made us believe that anything was possible.
More recently Malala and her father for their out of this world bravery and Greta for managing to get her voice heard and helping to move the needle with regards to the environment.
6) We are strong believers that inspiration and imagination comes from reading. And with imagination comes openness and acceptance. Any favourite book to recommend?
It’s hard to choose a favourite, but 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen Covey had quite an effect on me. To anyone who hasn’t read it, it might sound like a really dry, corporate and boring read, but it’s actually about adapting your mindset to be effective in all areas of your life .Two of the key learnings; “Think Win Win” and “Seek First To Understand And Then To Be Understood” teach us to have a collaborative and empathetic mindset. Some of the lessons he gives and the examples he uses I found really powerful. He mentions Viktor E.Frankl, who found reasons to live whilst being imprisoned in concentration camps, as an example of how we all have the freedom to choose how we respond to things. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.”
I have since read it in other pieces about happiness and mindfulness, that how we choose to react or experience things, has a big part to play in how happy we are. Life is by no means black and white or straightforward but, given that I think most people would ultimately prefer to live in the happiness camp, I think some truths and learnings are definitely worth keeping in mind.
7) One last question…What will our customers find in Cat Turner?
Whether you're looking for chic sundresses for everyday wear, a work from home outfit or a kaftan dress for a day at the beach, our boutique dresses can be dressed up or down for lots of different occasions.
We have a beautiful collection of cotton summer dresses - from the yellow polka dot dress featured in Red Magazine, to cotton kaftans that evoke French Riviera chic to a cotton strapless dress with a very elegant black and white print.
But, at the end of the day, I’m passionate about women not just looking great, but feeling great in their Cat Turner dress. Aside from using the right fabrics, perfect for summer, customers can feel good knowing that they are buying ethically made dresses, made in London by highly skilled teams with good working conditions.