This week we have a titan of the interiors industry, Cath Kidston. She has turned her name into a household brand known across the globe. I believe she is also the first Tete a Tat candidate to have been on Desert Island Disks, so I am already a little star-struck.
When you hear about Cath Kidston's early life, you wouldn't have marked her for global success. Well, that is if you equate academic success with life success. She didn't start her formal education until she was eight. Before this, she was taught by a governess at home; the move to a more serious school came after her father saw her textbook, where she had been dutifully copying down everything that her governess was writing - but from right to left. The governess had not spotted this. So the move was made to the 'rubbish' and 'uninspiring' boarding schools of the seventies. That being said, she had a year at Heathfield, which was the incarnation of St Trinians, where one year, the whole school got a day off because one of the girls got into university. University was not on Cath's agenda *' I couldn't understand why people went to college or university -I thought if it's the same as school, more exams, more boredom. Instead, I could have more fun and go and work in a shop, rearrange the window, and play with the till'. In between shop work, she walked dogs, did people's ironing, and worked in the science museum. She knew she was interested in colour, homeware and textiles; those were things she wanted to concentrate on, so what better job to start than an interior designer and what a better place to start than with the interior designer Nicky Haslam. She did anything from walking his Pekingese to taking curtain measurements - the first week she got there, she had to take a letter to Diana Cooper and measured Eva Gardner's curtains. After a few years with Nicky, she decided to open a shop with a friend. She ran a vintage curtain business with a friend on the King's Road for five years, in 1993, Cath Kidston sold up to launch her very own venture. "I wanted to do more than just windows," she says. She invested £15,000 from her previous shop and opened her shop in Holland Park, a 'posh junk shop'. She scoured boot sales and auctions and created a shop to give people her age a new source of homeware, a place between the smart brown traditional furniture and the new kids on the block like Habitat. With this shop, she had the germ of the idea for creating her pieces and with that comes the homeware brand we all know. Cath Kidston prints have been featured on tents, mobile phones, and even carrier bags, and that tiny shop has grown into a global lifestyle brand. In 2010, she sold the majority stake in the business, and in 2015 she left entirely. This gave Cath all the time in the world to 'travel and seek inspiration; the thing she had dreamt of doing all her busy working life. It didn't take long to realise that she loved doing all these things to seek inspiration for new ideas.' So in 2017, she founded 'Joy of Print', 'The studio was born off the back of this to bring talented young designers together to make a new print house with its own very personal handwriting'.
Without further ado, we will get to the meat of the thing and read the marvellous Cath's answers to this week's Tete a Tat!
Where would you land if you could be a fly on the wall?
I’m really nervous about eavesdropping- It goes back to childhood and being told off for spying on my parents. I guess it would be interesting to know the actual truth from Boris.
What is your favourite day of the week?
A sunny day!
Do you believe in ghosts?
I’d love to but I just can’t!
Top Destination in the UK?
The Wye Valley
What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?
Moonrise Kingdom - the wonderful Wes Anderson
Favourite Tube Stop/ Line?
Holland Park and the central line - my local
What would your autobiography be called?
Waiting to be found out.
Scented leaf geraniums - an obsession.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A waitress. My Dad was a member of a man’s club called Whites and the only women allowed in were waitresses so I thought this would be the ultimate job!
What was your favourite school subject?
Art and English
Any good advice? Who gave it to you?
It's better to try and fail than not try and regret it.
A song that can always make your foot tap?
The Rolling Stones- Melody