While many of us were perfecting the art of banana bread and day drinking in the first lockdown, Gemma Moulton was starting her company, The East London Cloth. Even though we all want to put distance between us and those queasy-making days, it is relatively recent, which makes Gemma's progression even more impressive. Since her start, she has become a go-to with all things fabric related. Her exquisite eye and concentration on long-lasting design have gathered a legion of fans and which Tat is firmly one. When visiting her excellent new digs in East London (where else?) I could only gaze in wonder at how this exciting company was pushing forward. Gemma is now one of four people who work in their studio come shop, which is filled with ravishing designs and textures. The shop itself seems like the perfect home for such an aesthetically pleasing company. But you would be wrong to think it just fell in her lap. Most of the work was done by Gemma and her husband Ben, and although I can't imagine doing this with children and a company in toe, you can envisage that the only way to end up with such a pretty vessel is that it had to be a labour of love. Now the dust has settled from their opening in September, I felt so pleased to get to visit and speak to Gemma about what made her make the leap from online to bricks and mortar.
What made you want to open a shop?
It was a combination of want and necessity. Towards the end of last year, we realised that we needed a bigger studio. When I came across a space with street access, a friend suggested making it customer-facing. That seed became firmly planted, and I began romanticising over the idea and all of the paraphernalia that came along with ‘playing shop’. Although we lost that particular studio, I realised that a shop it must be and nothing else would suffice.
How long did it take you to find this space?
It was a long, long haul. Nearly a year from first looking to actually moving in! There were some unscrupulous landlords involved and lots of disappointment. As much as I absolutely hate the phrase, it was all meant to be, as we found a wonderful space on a wonderful street with wonderful landlords.
Best and Worst thing about being a shopkeeper?
Best thing is being able to turn ideas into saleable products in as long as it takes to make it, stick it up and put it in the shop.
The worst, probably keeping everything tidy, the workroom is very much a part of the space, so it can be tricky to find a balance between the beautiful and the practical.
Apart from East London Cloth, what else would you suggest see/visit in the area?
Vyner street is sort of tucked away and has tons of secret gems. If you like food and art, 4cose is a must. The Victory for authentic east end pints and of course, the great galleries. I would then wonder down to Spitalfields via the independent shops of Columbia Road; Stoned and Plastered (not what you think!) is my most recent find.