“Every time you buy something from a small business a real actual person does a happy dance”

Twill Dress in Gilt
with Signature Coat in Damson

“Every time you buy something from a small business a real actual person does a happy dance” – this quote is circulating amongst us entrepreneurs on social media at the moment and we can’t help but smile and relate. It is so true! Even after years each sale makes you happy, is a validation that your passion is worthwhile and spurs you on. Each real actual person who chooses, in our case, to wear our clothes and support our enterprise is celebrated whether its only for a minute as the order confirmation pings through on email or if we’ve spent an hour with them on the phone or in the showroom meticulously piecing together the perfect capsule wardrobe.

Boston Dress in Aqua/Pigeon Blue
Last week we had an urgent email from a customer on the move in NYC.
She had just seen a friend wearing one of our Winter Dresses in Manhattan and was determined to wear one at a celebration in the Surrey countryside in England that weekend. The event was on Saturday - it was Thursday- she was flying to London that night so its safe to say it was fairly last minute! She was urgently messaging us whilst at an appointment with her eye doctor.
We needed to piece together the perfect outfit and get it near to her end destination ASAP! 

Short Drape Jacket in Cranberry

A couple of phone calls later in between the myriad of appointments she was squeezing in, it was sorted. She had noticed the different textures of the top and skirt of the dress and only two dress styles currently fit that description having fine smooth knit Organic Cotton tops with sumptuous textured felted Baby Alpaca skirts -The Boston Dress and Twill Dress.
All options had been covered and a Cranberry Twill Dress with matching Short Drape Jacket were packaged up and ready to go. We took her payment while she was sitting in a Manhattan taxi rushing to the airport and were thoroughly entertained and excited following our new real actual customer’s crazy NY day and making sure she had the perfect outfit for that weekends celebration!

31st January and 8th February 2017 at our studio in Barnes, London 11am till 3pm

Ten years ago I started this journey, really not knowing what I was embarking on and how it would evolve. I didn't even realise there was a fashion designer lurking within, eager to emerge and start creating. So I called my little fledgling company PINGUSH as a tribute to the loves of my life, both of whom I had nursed and lost to old age in the year before this exciting new adventure began.

Two years ago the time was right to rebrand to CARINA HILDEBRANDT - more in keeping with the stylish contemporary collection it has become. A new website was built but committing to a new label took a little longer! 

As most of you know we don't do "SALES" and the first piece of clothing I ever designed -The Signature Coat- is still our Best Seller! BUT we are inviting you to come for a rummage in Barnes next week! Any current collection treasures (and there are many!) with a PINGUSH label will be yours at 25% off. Once they are gone they are gone so we hope you'll make the most of this special opportunity! There will also be a tempting sample rail with even more steals and of course lots of wonderful new designs that are not yet online (not discounted).
As is our tradition in winter we will have hot apple cider on the boil.
Look forward to seeing you and all friends are welcome!

My first WHY...

I have been thinking about why I do what I do recently. What was the driving force that lead me to create CARINA HILDEBRANDT ? What fuels my fire within to get it out into the world?

Finding your “WHY” is a buzz topic amongst entrepreneurs. If you are one of the 25 million people who have viewed Simon Sinek's brilliant TED talk, you will understand why it has become important to work this one out !
It’s not that easy I'm finding. There are so many things I love about running my company  - but to delve deep, whittle down and to commit to just one main reason. That really is a challenge. My business is a part of me, one of my reasons for being, so... JUST ONE?!?  You can imagine it's a question that could keep you up at night...

Your WHY is different from the inborn instinct to be an entrepreneur, the motivation that is also necessary to build a lifestyle brand and business like mine. The determination that keeps us working around the clock, taking the risks that need to be taken and “feeling the fear and doing it anyway" stems from a different place. What I am talking about is defining your passion, the spirit that underlies the belief you have that your product makes a difference in the world. The love you feel for what you have created and the swell of joy that you experience from the incredible highs that occur day to day. For me some of those are the pleasure of seeing my pieces on a customer, witnessing their joy from wearing it, the relationships that develop with the women (and now men!) who wear my clothes time and time again and also the satisfaction from the process of creation in itself. 

The true test of the strength of your WHY is whether it gets you through the scary times when you feel like you don’t actually know which is the next road you should take and whether the choices you are making are the right ones for your business and the people whose livelihoods you are supporting. If you can remind yourself of those moments that make you come alive and if those thoughts can lift you from the weight that envelops you from time to time then you know that you are on to a winner.
I’m still working on my ultimate WHY (this could be due to a fear of commitment) but my FIRST WHY I know for sure.  I love to wrap people up, to keep them warm, cozy and safe from the cold winds of life. It’s a running joke that when I part with friends after a night out I can't help making sure they are warm enough for their journey home, and will often insist they take one of my layers as I invariably have extra with me that I can spare! I become a bit like a mother hen and occasionally will get a rolled eye or two…but I don't care. It's my thing... 

There are many ways to look after people, to comfort them and protect them, but sometimes events happen to those you love and all you can do is be there for them, unable to fix the problem even though you are desperate to. So I find great comfort in wrapping them in butter soft baby alpaca knits. It’s my virtual hug when I’m not physically by their side and a reminder that I’m there if they need me undoubtedly thinking of them. It’s one of the many wonderful by products to having my own knitwear studio and workshop and one of the most emotionally fulfilling.

So that's my first WHY and certainly in the running for the ultimate WHY. We’ll see if it wins top billing…. I will keep you posted!


Spring Has Sprung

I can't pretend that I am in agreement with the rest of the world about the joy that spring has sprung so early. Quite simply, I'M NOT READY. I haven't had enough hibernation time, enough cosy weekends indoors with grey overcast skies, rain pelting down on my dormer windows when I breathe deeply, full of joy as I can legitimately justify (to myself) staying in. And as for the lack of snow this year don't get me started! I wish someone could tell me who to complain to. I feel positively cheated!
Let's get gardening! 
I know that most of you have had enough of winter, but I spend Autumn on the road with many of my weekends meeting customers at shows around the world. I love it. Being face to face with the amazing women who buy my clothes is one of my favourite things and drives me to grow my company and make sure we reach out across the world. Losing so many of my weekends and working 7 days a week for much of the year however definitely gives me a twinge of sadness as my favourite season comes to a close…

At least I don't have one challenge that so many women have at this time of year - Complete closet confusion! As temperatures change almost overnight from freezing to warm how to dress is a veritable nightmare for many. There is nothing worse than leaving the house dressed for cold weather only to feel hot and bothered a couple of hours later as the winter sun blazes in through windows, combines with the heat blasting from our radiators and creates an oven.

Our Baby Alpaca knits breathe and transcend the seasons, so that you never feel too hot or cold. I'm down to one Mauve Long Belted Jacket over my Damson Twill Dress this week, rather than the two I wear layered up when our office (whose walls are not insulated) is feeling the chill, and that is just perfect. Maybe as I get used to the lesser layers, I'll start to warm to the idea of Spring and indeed get excited about getting back into my Pale Lilacs and Sages. Just need to figure out where to get that tan...