Performance Through Design
Ingrid Heskett founded madebyi in 2005 with a unique vision. She didn't want to see her role as someone whose function was limited to just making a dress. Ingrid had a bigger vision, rooted in a refreshing point of view on the role that an outfit plays in skating. “A skaters outfit is about so much more than just looking good” says Ingrid. “Of course the dress needs to look stunning, but skating is also about executing technical maneuvers at speed, under extreme pressure, so garments need to be designed to handle the physical and technical demands of the sport, as well as the artistic. Done well, this can help enhance the skater’s performance with elegance and grace, whilst under physical pressure. Skaters’ performances are also about realizing a vision, trying to express an idea, so the outfit must serve this vision, it must help to make it come alive, to live and breathe on the ice.” Hence Ingrid sees her role as being a partner for the skating team, part of the group of people trying to create a great performance not just as someone who is making a dress.
Confidence through Understanding
Ingrid’s unique view on the role of the outfit begets a unique design process at madebyi. It starts first of all with a ‘getting to know you’ session with the skater and if at all possible, their coach too. “If I don’t understand the person who I’m designing for, what motivates them, how they skate, what their strengths are etc. and if I don’t understand the vision that their trying to bring life with their performance, then I can’t design effectively” says Ingrid. “The most important thing to start with is to get to know my customers, who they are as people and as skaters, then talking about the music, about the routine and the important elements within it.” A particularly intriguing aspect of these sessions is Ingrid’s insistence that the skater brings examples of clothing or design features that they like; things that make them feel comfortable. “My outfits have to have a feel-good factor. When the skater steps out on the ice, it’s crucial that they have confidence, that they really feel the part and hence an outfit can give you a real mental boost when you get it right” she continues, “By talking to the skater about what clothing gives them these feelings, I can help to design this into the outfit.”
Quality through Experience
Ingrid’s formal training in Clothing Technology (She graduated from the London College of Fashion with Distinction) and 20 years subsequent experience, gives her the solid backbone to ensure that madebyi dresses wear as well as they look. However she’s also been determined to make sure that this takes account of the specific functional demands skating places on a garment. “I need to understand the moves a skater makes in their routine so that I can design the outfit to work with their routine, to fit the moves that need to be made” she says. “Also it is crucial that the outfit looks good whilst in motion, that it sparkles and performs as well up close as it does from a distance as the skater moves around the ice, which is a very different design challenge from designing everyday fashion garments.” This attention to detail is also manifested in the materials that Ingrid sources and uses – “Quality is what madebyi is all about – everything needs to be well thought through and of a high-standard, in the design, conception and then the creation of the outfit. I like to use quality materials throughout, because I believe that it’s only if you use the best from start to finish, that you will look the best!”
Success through Passion
Passion is another word that sums up madebyi. A passion for the customer, a passion for quality and great design, all matched by a passion for skating and skaters. Ingrid has even learned to skate herself in order to truly understand her customer’s needs. “I needed to experience skating from a skater’s point of view, out there in the middle of the ice and it’s so much more difficult than it looks!” This passion is one of the reasons for her success with customers, as she says “I think it’s really important that the customer feels cared for. There is something incredibly reassuring in the fact that the clothing you are wearing is made by someone who cares about you and what you are trying to achieve. It’s something intangible that you can’t put your finger on, but is so very important just the same.” It seems that Ingrid’s passion for madebyi is being reciprocated by her customers. One interesting aspect of her story is that every madebyi customer so far has come back for more - a great statistic for any business to achieve.