Independent lingerie brand Emma Harris is relocating to a larger atelier as it prepares for growth.
The Derbyshire-based label is moving from its premises in Heanor to a new location at Rutland Mill in Illeskton.
With the extra space, the brand plans to employ more machinists, including graduates, and eventually open a sewing school for the public.
“We are planning to either employ and retrain local skilled machinists, or take on school or college leavers through an apprenticeship scheme,” said founder Claire Emma Harris.
“It’s very difficult for graduates to gain employment: they don’t meet the criteria to become an apprentice, and the current living wage means they have to hit the ground running to simply cover their costs,” she added.
“I completely agree with the living wage, but with so many graduates struggling to find work, I don’t understand why a ‘training wage’ isn’t considered by our government. It would certainly make graduates more appealing to potential employers.”
It takes around three months for trainees to get to grips with the skills that Emma Harris requires to make garments featuring French seams, pin hems, delicate topstitching and hand-cut lace appliqués.
“Once they have the basics and are hitting target times, I can expand their skills into a more focused area. Finding skills is very difficult: even a highly skilled lingerie machinist would need to learn our specific manufacturing methods,” said Harris.
“I don’t think it’s a job you can simply walk into. Moreover, I need more than just a skilled machinist: I need a machinist who can sew to a high standard, at a good level of speed and has a knowledge of garment make up. It comes with time and patience.”
Founded in 2008, Emma Harris is dedicated to reintroducing artisan sewing skills to the luxury lingerie market and producing ‘lingerie to cherish’ from high end fabrics, trims and components (notably silk and Nottingham lace).