VIOLET & Wren are known for luxury loungewear, beautifully crafted in 100 per cent silk-satin and adorned with striking botanical prints. The label came to life in 2015, when after a decade of carving out careers in womenswear, print design and pattern cutting, friends Helen Pollington and Louise Barnard decided to combine their skills and love of florals to create Violet & Wren. Creative director Helen tells us more…

Where did you meet?

We met in Newcastle in 2000 when we started our degrees in Fashion Marketing at Northumbria University. The girls on our course were all really close and we spent a lot of time together. Then Louise and I shared a room in London while we were on work placement and we’ve been best friends pretty much ever since. We connected immediately and now we work well together as a team as we bring different skills and points of view to the brand while being able to be totally honest with each other!

What made you decide to go in business together?

We had always talked about launching a line together, although we presumed it would be ready-to-wear. The initial idea for loungewear came when Helen was designing bridalwear for a UK boutique. She created a Magnolia print for a bespoke wedding dress and we felt it would make a beautiful kimono for the bridal boudoir on the morning of the wedding. I created a sample and we haven’t looked back!

Where did the name Violet & Wren come from?

We wanted a name which would reflect the core values of our brand – British design, botanical prints, luxury loungewear. Through our exploration of flowers and their meanings, we discovered that the violet is the flower of modesty – we don’t design ‘sexy’ pieces, we aim for a more relaxed appeal – and the wren is a small British bird, renowned for nest-building, reflecting the home element of loungewear.

Tell us about the design process

Louise designs all the prints in-house, using a combination of hand-drawing and photographic elements. They are then digitally rendered and edited to create the final design. She has a natural affinity with botanical prints, capturing their fluidity and essence in such a beautiful and distinct way. There has always been a strong love affair between fashion and flowers – floral prints always feature on the catwalk and can be interpreted in so many ways. We wanted to establish a niche and found that the floral element would give us an instant identity .

Our core collection is printed on 100 per cent silk-satin, which gives the prints a luxurious depth and clarity of colour. Our pieces are all made in China. We have a fabulous team we work with out there.

How did you come to meet your partner and were you specifically looking for a Sunderland lad?

I met Neil through Louise and her husband Chris – Neil and Chris also studied together in Northumbria as well. When Louise and I were living and working in Birmingham, Chris had pretty much moved in with us and invited his friends down for the weekend, Neil being one of them, and the rest is history. I’ve always had a soft spot for the North-East accent, and Neil’s ridiculously deep Mackem tones grabbed my attention straight away!

Is it good to see your designs being sold in the North-East?

We were absolutely thrilled when Fenwick offered us the Newcastle pop-up, off the back of our success in London Bond Street store. There is a huge sense of achievement seeing the collection in the store we visited as students, and it really does cement how far we’ve come. Our families love the fact that they can see our pieces in one of Newcastle’s most prestigious stores.

We head up to the region two or three times a year, both to visit family and for holidays.We love an afternoon in Tynemouth or to escape up to the Northumbrian coast. It’s so peaceful and beautiful up there and everyone is so friendly. We also love to meet up with some of our old university friends in Newcastle.

Although we live down South now, we have roots in the region. Louise was born in Wallsend and lived there as a child and I was born in Stockton-on-Tees and lived in Yarm until I was seven. We have lots of connections and still love it up here.