RUTH MORRIS does not believe in aiming low. For her first collection the young Edinburgh designer wanted to produce a range of clothes which would suit anyone from size eight to 20, age 18 to 60, be comfortable, made from the best quality fabric preferably of Scottish origin – and appeal both to professional women and students or casual dressers.
Amazingly, she seems to have pulled it off . . . single handedly. Everything from the design, pattern-making, cutting, stitching and finishing is carried out in her one-woman-band operation in a studio in Leith’s Coburg Street. For company Ruth has a goldfish.
Just starting out in business, Ruth can’t afford to waste cloth, so she buys no more than ten metres at a time and everything is made to order.
Administration, bookkeeping, marketing, buying, postal delivery and all the other vital jobs are tackled in-between.
“I can work an eight-hour day or a 14-hour day” Ruth says. “I get withdrawal symptoms if I haven’t made something for a few days because the clothes are what gives me the real buzz – but I’m building up a routine where there’s a pattern for the week, with everything allowed for.
“I’m trying to discipline myself to take most weekends off, because people need that time out to stay fresh, but right now I hate going away in case I miss something or lose some business because I’ve taken a day out.”
Ruth, who is 29, admits to being “driven”. The business has been something she has longed for since her first year at the Scottish College of Textiles in Galashiels.
She graduated as top student and went on to work in the clothing industry, learning every facet of the business.
“I felt I was ready, but I wanted to make sure I could survive financially, so I started working freelance a year ago and only worked part-time so I could do all the groundwork and research I needed before going it alone.”
In January this year Roobedo was born. My friends call me Roo, so it sort of tripped off the tongue. “I had a great deal of support from Lothian and Edinburgh Enterprise Ltd, who helped me do my business plan and taught me how to develop and think ahead about where the business is going.
“In February I was selected to join the Young Scottish Designers Showcase in Glasgow. “I was in a workshop and artist studio space subsidised building until recently, but this is my first self financed space, in shared studios in Leith.
The Hebrides is Ruth’s other love – she holidayed there every summer as a child and its influence is evident in her debut collection, a mixture of urban chic, classic and cutting edge. Ruth’s trademark baggy trews are extremely flattering to most shapes and ages.
“I’m big myself, always have been, so I think one of the most important things about clothes is that people can feel they look good and don’t have to worry about tugging things down or tucking things in,” she says.
Ruth’s mandarin top looks stunning with the trews or with her long vent skirt, and her tops are much more than mere T-shirts, having facings and real design structure. But the real joy is in choosing the fabric from Ruth’s swatch samples. From fully-lined fine Harris tweed to denim, wool jersey to canvas, microfleece to wool mix, all the options are laid out in the order book.
Ruth’s models are her friends Lindsay and Wendy, who are both a size 14. I think it’s important to see what the clothes really look like. Anything looks good on a Kate Moss, but what really matters is how it works on a `normal woman with curves,” says Ruth. ‘Actually, I haven’t seen most of the collection on someone who is model-sized . . . it might be quite interesting.”
For £5 extra, Ruth will make the clothes to measure, “although I imagine I won’t be able to go on doing that if the business grows as I hope it will.” Winter’s collection will link with this spring’s and so on so customers can build up a wardrobe season by season. And though she is operating on mail order at the moment, her aim is to sell to a retail outlet. “At that point I’d have to build up by using outworkers at first, and then a factory which can do small runs,” she says. “It’s all a big learning curve, but I love it.”
its just a roo’s