Sally Mansfield, of Manners Wear and Kate Cutler, of BANG BANG NAILS, are big time best friends. In addition to their rock-solid friendship, they are also both entrepreneurial women with unfaltering passions for design and creation.
Having lived abroad for most part of a decade, Sally got back home to London, England and decided to take her brand Manners Wear to the next level. After a challenging time in her life, reuniting with her sewing machine and love of creating fashion pieces, Sally decided to dedicate herself to making the brand happen. Her clothing, which suits women of different shapes and sizes, can now be bought from the trendy Spitalfields Market in London and online. Kate is an accomplished businesswoman, having
worked with a variety of brands, celebrities and magazines including Topshop, Gigi Hadid, and W Magazine. She is known for her incredible technical skills in nail art and her innovative designs.
Yinsey Wang interviews the duo on Manners Wear’s latest collection as well as their attitude to life, business and friendship.
Tell us about this collection, what is it intended to represent and how did it come into being?
Sally: Wow! Long story. Let me think about where to start. I have been sewing nearly all my life (mainly just for fun). Having spent 5 years living in Bali, I decided that it was time to come home and take a leap of faith and do the two things that I love the most: being creative and being a Mum.
I have always struggled in finding any good quality clothes that fit women of all shapes and sizes. Having lived in Asia where everything is the dreaded ‘one size fits all’, I decided that this would be my starting point. So here I am, back home and making clothes that celebrate women of all shapes and sizes, as well as having enough time on the side to be a Mum too!
Tell us about this shoot – what was the planning process and how did you come up with the idea?
Sally: The shoot was pretty magical. In the last 6 months of my life, I have really felt and seen the power of women being together and have experienced sisterhood like never before. My oldest and closest friend Kate was key in making this photo shoot happen. She pulled together some of the most gorgeous and talented people she knew. The theme was very clear that it was crisp and urban. It all happened pretty organically really as everyone just seemed to be on the same page from the beginning!
Kate: For the planning process for this shoot, I took the lead as I have quite a bit of experience working on shoots. I knew what elements were needed to pull everything together and what the team needed to consist of. I knew Sally’s creative direction for the collection and having been friends for 15 years, I knew her style and taste and what she would want the hair, make up, nails and set to look like.
I went on Pinterest and made mood boards and then sent them over to Sally for her sign off . I also pulled together some great creatives from hair, and make up and model/blogger Torn and Polished to get on board this project to make it even better .
Manners Wear is about embracing beauty in all forms. Tell us why you think
it is important that clothing is wearable by women of all sizes?
Sally: I am a woman that falls into the plus-size part of fashion, and proudly so! I have found that generally, plus-size wear is so far from ‘normal’-sized fashion styles, so you basically either fall into high street fashion or are pushed into some slightly lesser area of the plus-size (as if you may be ashamed of all your juicy bits)! Often smaller sizes are made for a person without a lump or a bump!
Although you can be a size 6 or 16 and still have the odd dimple, high street material tends to be so very unforgiving. Hence, I wanted to build a range that works whether you are curvy or slim, or apple or pear, or long or short; it will smooth and shape your figure in a flattering way and give you a confidence you may have not got from your run-of-the-mill high street brand.
Sally and Kate – tell us about your friendship in terms of how you have both kept in touch all these years and encouraged each other to pursue your passions?
Sally: I have lived abroad for over half of my friendship with the glorious Kate Cutler. Kate has been one of the few friends that I have always been in touch with, no matter where I have been. We have helped each other through some of the hardest points of our lives and watched each other laugh, cry, struggle and blossom. When Kate decided to become self-employed as a nail artist, I felt inspired to do my own thing too. Watching her success grow so fast and her incredible drive, I guess I wanted to try and do my own thing too. Since the moment I landed back to the UK, Kate has encouraged me, helped me and made lots of things possible. With her friendship, I feel like I can do anything.
Kate: Sally and I met at college when we were 16 years old, we were part of a wider circle of friends who used to party a lot together! Over the years, we became closer and when Sally moved abroad to various exotic destinations, we kept in regular contact and I went to visit her a few times.
It has really been over the last 5 or so years that we have become extremely close. This has been largely due to each others’ support and help through some tough times. We found that we can be completely honest with each other but also have the best fun together. That is what makes our friendship so fully formed. She’s my number one partner in love, laughter and crime !
We want the best for each other and are always helping and encouraging the other to excel in life, whether it is her telling me to get rid of a boy who is no good for me or me putting her in touch with an influential blogger to expand her brand .
Sally, tell us about how you set up your brand.
Sally: I set up Manners Wear as a side project whilst in Bali, to keep my creative side going. Bali is truly inspiring with hundreds of fantastic sewers, jewellers, bag makers and so on. So, I set up Manners Wear and Midnight Musings (an accessories line) to sell in a few of the high end boutiques in Seminyak, Bali (famous for its fashion and design boutiques). Then, I made a rather rushed decision to come home: I packed my suitcase and shipped a few boxes of stock… and here we are!
Sally – family, friendships and business are aspects that are important to you, what advice would you give an emerging creative in attaining balance?
Sally: This is a big question and still something I am working on. As a single Mum and a woman with great drive to succeed and do better, there is a constant battle between which role I should be in and when. What I struggle with is separating Mum mode and work mode. I think this will be the key to my success, figuring out how to be either just being Mum or just working and not trying to do both simultaneously.
I have recently made a draft schedule which breaks days down into Mum/friend/work time. We’ll see how that goes! What I am very grateful for is that the time I spend at Spitalfields market has allowed me to develop strong and inspiring friendships. I think the key is to just know what you want. Write it down. Make it happen.
Sally, who is your rock and inspires you to keep moving?
Sally: My child is my absolute inspiration. However, I am lucky to say that I have a few inspiring people in my life. My two best friends, Kate Cutler and Mary have both been my rocks through the roller coaster that has been my life! (It’s all plain sailing from here though I promise!) Kate has been a huge inspiration for me business-wise as she has just worked and pushed forward and risen so high so fast! I’m so proud of her!
Kate, tell us about the nails on this shoot and why you wanted them to be
Kate: I did not want the nails on this shoot to take any focus away from the amazing prints and designs of the pieces. Thus, we decided to keep them very minimal and have each girl wearing a different block colour polish in the same shades of the collection. We went for white, red and green. We thought about using natural nude nails, but decided the brand was more playful than that! Hence, using colour seemed like a better choice.
Nails: Kate Cutler of BANG BANG NAILS (
https://www.facebook.com/bangbangnailslondon/) (IG: bangbangnails)
*Makeup: *Chantelle (IG: chan.p)