Name: Louise Checkley
Company Name: Garment Technologist at Mountain Warehouse
Company Description: Budget Retailer of Outdoor Clothing & Equipment
The WI Walks:
How did you get started in this line of work?
It was whilst working as a bra fitter at Selfridges that I became interested in the fit and form of clothes and how to make them fit for purpose. I worked there before starting my degree in Clothing Design and Technology at Manchester Metropolitan University
How did you become more established?
My friends and family always make a joke of me moving from company to company so often. There was a time when you stayed at one company for 10 or more years but if you really want to move up the ladder you’ve got to seize every opportunity and try new challenges. I’m now in charge of the QC (quality control) department at Mountain Warehouse, I’ll have been in the industry 7 years this summer.
What is the best part of your job?
Developing new product for the seasons ahead. I love the very early stages of development from the design sketch, creating the spec to the 1st proto arriving. It’s so exciting see your flat 2D spec come to life in 3D form.
Where do you find inspiration? Do you keep notebooks, scrap books, pinterest boards etc.?
The WI always inspires me. The WI members are a pretty inspiring bunch of people! I get inspired by my friends as well. I do have Pinterest boards but I do tend to use them as more of a shopping list or a list of things I would like to have 🙂
Have you come across any stumbling blocks or limitations within your work?
At the moment, work is pretty challenging as I am building up a department from scratch so there’s a lot of work to do. I’m learning all sorts of new things about myself and the limitations of the industry. What I do find frustrating is the lack of knowledge and respect for actually making things. We as a nation don’t have the skills and the knowledge of how to make clothes anymore but we expect the suppliers in overseas factories to know how to make garments to our high standard. We get frustrated when they don’t but then cannot explain how to as we don’t actually know.
What do you do to try and overcome these?
I work hard to ensure my knowledge of manufacturing is shared with the buyers and my team of technologists so that we don’t waste the manufactures time and get it right first time. I would like to go into schools and work with local factories here in the UK to set up a clothing production education scheme.
Where would you like to see your work heading? Have you got any new directions coming up?
I would eventually like to go freelance and launch my own consultancy as I can see the need for garment techs permanently based in companies becoming redundant in future years.
What hobbies do you have? Do you ever find that they feed into or influence your work?
Hiking, I run the online notice board The WI Walks. It’s a place where all WI walking groups can post their walks for other WI members to see and join. I recently walked the whole length of the Thames Path in 8 days, it was a total of 184miles approx 23 miles a day. I have more long distance walks in the pipeline!
You can follow us on twitter: @thewiwalks and find us on facebook: the womens institute walks. We also have a website but this is currently under construction, we’ll update fb and twitter once we are up and walking 😉
I’m on the committee at my WI, N1WI, I really enjoy planning our meetings for the months ahead.
I wouldn’t say they influence my work even though I work in the outdoor clothing industry. I have a very busy job if I didn’t do anything to take my mind off work I think my head would explode!
Do you have three main pieces of advice that you would want to give someone who my wish to follow in your footsteps?
Work in a factory for a summer; get to know how the garments are manufactured. You’ll learn so much more in a factory than you will in a classroom or an office.
This year is the centenary of the formation of the WI; they are celebrating inspiring women. Who are the women who have inspired you over the course of your life?
Hilary Clinton, for just generally being an all-time awesome woman! She’s on course to be the most powerful person in the world at the age of 67!
Beatrix Potter, she preserved land in the Lake District for farming which otherwise would have been taken over by property developers.
My two grandmas, they became even more awesome, independent & fearless women after my granddads died.
My friend Jennie, she’s a runner and has just completed her first ultra-marathon (60+ miles)! She’s always got time for a run and always up for trying anything once.
For more information about The Women’s Institute and find a group local to you, why not take a look at their website: