Victoria Stapleton, Brora

WHEN I started Brora what was missing from the marketplace was beautiful, quality cashmere in fabulous bold colours. All the cashmere was very safe, in camel, navy, black or ivory. So I went to the best mill, the most high-end cashmere mill I could find that made for people like Chanel and I worked with them to develop pinks and reds, turquoise and greens. To this day, 26 years later, we are still renowned for doing these incredible colours.

What I have learned over the years is how adaptable cashmere is and how incredible it is when woven into different textures and when mixed with different weights; you can make very different designs. With textiles I’m still learning; it’s such a complex minefield. They all work differently on different products.

My father was an incredible entrepreneur but he also had an artistic side, and my mother was very creative and had a wonderful eye for colour. I wasn’t very good at working for anyone else. I’m better at working for myself.

I was brought up in a very female family [I have three sisters] and we had a very strong father who was an amazing businessman and he taught us a lot. We’re all very business-like about what we do. In a way, he pushed us into that, and I’ve never been fearful about being a woman in the fashion industry.

I never considered my sex to be an issue one way or the other and I don’t think anyone I worked with has. I found it a bonus being a woman in business. I never think of myself as anything but what I am: I’m a wife, a business woman, I’m a designer, I wear very many different hats and I just get on and I do what I do.

Now, I’m looking more and more into sustainable fabric. We are very aware of our carbon footprint. Linen is a prime example of sustainable fabric. We are very renowned for beautiful linen that we make in the summer months and linen is an incredibly sustainable product. It doesn’t use a lot of water and you use a lot of the fibre in what you make. There’s not a lot of waste and whatever waste there is, amazingly it is used for the inside of, say, tennis racket handles. I only know all this because I went last year on an incredible trip to see the linen being grown, being harvested, being processed and then it being dyed and woven. I think it is the most environmentally friendly fabric you can buy. I think 70 percent of our dresses in the summer collection will be made of linen.

I didn’t set out to create a fashion brand, but today Brora is not only a cashmere brand but a head-to-toe fashion brand. And I think in that area we still have more work to do. I like to design small collections. Every single piece is really thought-through with immaculate detail. We’re really into producing small collections of very special pieces that when you buy, you feel that you’re going to have them in your wardrobe for many years to come.