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Industry Secrets Unlocked with Kate Knight-The Cashmere Designer

Industry secrets unlocked. A Q&A with industry insiders. Unlocking the secrets so you don't have to. By fashion design consultant Andree Girard-Kemp aka Deedee, THOC fashion design studio. featuring knitwear designer Kate Knight

I am often told that the fashion/clothing industry is too exclusive and information is hard to come by. That’s why I’m so excited to bring you my new blog series ‘Industry Secrets Unlocked’! I will be speaking with industry insiders to showcase their profession or brand and let you in on what it takes to make it in the fashion/clothing business, the different paths into the industry and the skills needed to succeed. I want to make this space as inclusive as possible and change the narrative. I also want to show you that there are many careers within the industry and even if you don’t have have a fashion background, you can still make it because there are always lovely, friendly people who will help you along the way.

I’m delighted to welcome my first guest, Kate Knight-The Cashmere designer!

Kate Knight is a knitwear designer who specialises in recycled and sustainable cashmere and cashmere blends.  Currently, she lives just outside of Bordeaux, France after living and working in New York City, London and the Swiss Alps. Kate has designed knitwear for brands such as Nordstrom, The White Company, Lands’ End, Barney’s and Whistles.  She has taught every age group from 7-year-olds to PhD students and industry professionals and loves to build connections with factories, yarn agents, brands, fellow freelancers and designers.   Today, Kate is passionate about design and building communities as well as educating people on knitwear design.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a knitwear designer and I specialise in recycled and sustainable cashmere and cashmere blends. I work with small to medium-size brands to take them from initial concept through to production so that they can decrease sampling costs, increase their sustainability profile and streamline the development process.

Why did you decide to set up your business?

I thought that I had left my design career behind me when I moved away from London, but the pandemic made me realise that there was an opportunity to design remotely from rural France.

What drew you to this field?

I’ve always loved colour and texture and studying textiles at the University of Leeds was a natural progression for me.  Once I figured out how to stop the knitting from falling off the machine at Uni, I was hooked (forgive the pun!)!  I love the challenge of combining aesthetics and the technical side of knitting, alongside the commercial pressures of bringing a successful product to market.

What has been the biggest challenge either when setting up your business/since setting up your business/working in your industry?

One thing I have had to overcome is a shyness of ‘putting myself out there’ either on social media or by pitching and asking for work.  It is not my natural comfort zone and a year ago, I was teaching PSHE lessons on the evils of social media.  But I have also learned that it is one of the best ways to connect with potential clients and like-minded people in the industry.  And I have to say, I’ve had a great time meeting and connecting with people without the negativity!

What motivates you?

The challenge of each project … problem-solving… So far each project has made me think, can I do this or what is the best way to do this?  And then there’s the magic of seeing something you have designed in a shop or a website for sale … that never gets old!

Who do you admire within your industry or as a business role model?

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How do you deal with stress and big challenges?

Yoga every morning keeps me feeling good and centred.  I’m now at the point where if I don’t do it, I feel like the tin man!  Other than that, talking to my husband helps me to move through problems and figure out what’s next.

What is the hardest and easiest part of your job?

Hardest- managing pricing, chasing invoices and learning to stand my ground with project creep (the scope of the project getting more than the original proposal).  Also managing my time and not checking emails too late at night!

Easiest- doing something that I love and meeting other like-minded people.

What skills have you found vital to your job?

Communication, communication, communication. A scary amount of my time is spent on emails … making sure that they are well-written and convey information clearly. 

How do you manage your time?

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What are your goals for your brand?

I would like to grow The Cashmere Designer into the go-to, small design agency for everything related to cashmere knitwear.  I am also interested in knitwear education and community building. 

What does success look like to you?

Being able to work on a variety of projects that interest me and have a steady supply of clients (!!!).

How does your culture/background influence/benefit your work?

I’m half- American and married to an American and find that the majority of my clients are American.  After living and working in NYC for 4 years, I enjoy being able to work with Americans and live (and eat and drink!) in France.

What would your advice be to those wanting to start their own brand/have a career in your industry?

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What’s your proudest achievement in your career so far?

At this stage, I’m proud of being in business again and having clients.  I’m also really proud that I’ve had the chance to talk to some old industry connections from 10- 15 years ago.

What do you think I’d be most surprised to find out about you?

I’m not sure it’s that surprising, but for someone that works in fashion, I don’t spend that much money or time buying clothes.  Most days I find myself sitting at a computer in old yoga pants hoping to fit in a hike later that day!

What would be your personal tagline?

“Wrapping the World in Cashmere”

Unlock a fashion/ clothing industry secret for me

Fashion has a reputation for being a tough, bitchy industry and I have had my fair share of late nights, horrible bosses and feeling not- good- enough. However, if you look in the right places and give off the right energy, then it is full of lovely people.

And socks, socks are hard!

Thank you so much, Kate, for being my first wonderful guest and being so open and honest with your replies! If you have any questions or comments for Kate or myself, please leave them below and we’ll get back to you.

You can find Kate here:

My new book ‘How to Develop Your Clothing Line’-Design, Development, Production is now available on Amazon Kindle at an amazing starting price. Buy it here: