We’re always advertising the fact that our Popsy prints are completely unique. And lots of our customers ask us how we go about creating them, so we’ve decided to shed some light on our design process.
If we can imagine it, we can print it on fabric
We’re still amazed that we can create pretty much any print we want. The only thing that limits us is our own imagination. And we’ve became well known for our completely original prints – in fact, Cherish says it’s one of her favourite things to work on.
But it’s not just the team at head office who get to decide on our new print designs. We like to get our customers involved too, and let them have a say in what goes into their wardrobes – it’s really interesting to see their ideas. And we really can create just about anything – if we wanted to, we could ask for a hedgehog riding a bicycle, wearing a hat and waving a flag saying ‘#popsypretty’!
(Thank you Emma Springthorpe for this picture, it is amazing!!)
Cherish draws inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. She could be walking through autumn leaves and thinking about how beautiful the colour combinations are. Or she can be at a park and spot a squirrel, or her girls can say something that triggers an idea. Even something as apparently random as one of the girls mentioning the space topic they’re learning about at school, can set off a great design idea. She doesn’t have any previous design experience, but says she’s really got to know Popsy customers over the past few years, which has given her valuable insights into which designs will work, and which ones won’t.
Time for a meeting!
Once we’ve pulled together some ideas, we have a brainstorming meeting. Everyone has a say, including Greg – in fact, it was his idea to produce a candy-cane Christmas dress (Gok Wan eat your heart out!). Some ideas are really pretty crazy – we did wonder whether we might have overstepped the mark with our crayon print, but once we saw it made up into a finished garment, we could see that it actually works! But that isn’t always the case. There have been times when we’ve looked at each other, shared a good laugh and slipped the fabric into a drawer, never to be spoken of again.
Once we’ve worked on an idea, we get together with a team of print designers, and they use Computer Aided Design, or CAD, to get our print onto a computer screen. Then we can play around with the colours and the sizing, adding bits and taking bits out. This process takes quite a long time, and Cherish frequently drives us all mad with her constant cries of ‘Could we just try….?’. But we want to get our prints absolutely perfect, so this part of the process can’t be rushed.
(Darlene Deer CAD Before We Re-coloured it)
When everyone is happy with the CAD, it’s printed out onto paper and we have another meeting. The colours on the screen, and on paper, can be very different from how they appear on fabric, and that used to make it so hard to determine how the designs would look on the finished garment. But now we work with a huge colour sheet, which features hundreds of colours, each with their own code. This lets us see the exact colours that will be used on our design.
(Our Wall Colour Sheet)
Seeing the design printed on fabric
The next stage is to see our design on a sample piece of fabric. This lets us see what the print looks like, and then we use it to make a sample garment to see whether it works. Even after three years, we still find it really magical to open up our sample fabric parcels. Suddenly that idea you thought of while lying in bad late one night is there is real fabric, and you’re holding it in your hand – it’s surreal but totally rewarding! Sometimes we still want to rejig bits of the design, even after we’ve received the sample. We might want to rescale it, and of course, Cherish is usually saying ‘But could we just try….?’ So we keep on playing with it until it’s as perfect as we can get it. And then we put in a fabric order so that we can produce more garments.
(Fabric Before We Make A Sample Garment)
Having such a high degree of control over our prints lets our customers pick and choose from a range of designs that help them to express their personality. Some of our dresses are designed and named to honour people who are special to us, or to our customers. Our Quinn dress, for example, was designed and named after the daughter of one of our customers, with the aim of promoting communication, as demonstrated by the swallows on the telephone lines. And our Jemma equation dress was named after a special customer who works as a maths teacher.
We know how much our customers love our fun and quirky prints. They are all completely unique, and you won’t find them anywhere else. We absolutely love that we’re able to offer this to our customers, and they seem to love getting involved in the process too!