Speaker profile | the co-founders keeping you looking and feeling cool
We’re really looking forward to June – and not just for the promise of hot summer days in the sun. We’re delighted to have Eileen Willett and Nancy Zeffman join us for dinner to talk about their journey and lessons learned with Cucumber Clothing, innovative luxe nightwear and leisurewear fashion brand for women. Read on to find out more…
Use just ONE sentence to describe your business!
Cucumber Clothing is a sustainable, fabric-led nightwear and clothing brand using cutting edge luxury technical fabrics married to beautiful designs.
What were you doing before launching Cucumber?
Eileen: Most recently, I started up and ran my own designer/maker business selling woman’s bags and accessories that I created from the first sketch to the final sale. I loved it and some of what I learned has been very useful for Cucumber. I’ve always worked in fashion, starting as a fashion illustrator and after moving to the UK, I helped start up Nicole Farhi Menswear.
Nancy: I started my career in advertising, working at Saatchi & Saatchi. I then took time out to bring up my three children, whilst working part-time for various charitable organisations, such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. So many of my original skills in marketing and advertising, and problem-solving at the CAB have helped me along my Cucumber journey.
Where did you two meet? How did you start?
It’s nostalgic (and possibly slightly alarming!), to think that we met almost 20 years ago at the school gates. Two of our sons became firm friends and remain so to this day. We’ve never looked back.
What’s your biggest hindsight moment?
We decided we desperately needed to move to a fulfilment company. Having to pick, pack and send out multiple orders a day was eating into our time and Nancy’s house was overrun with production garments. On the recommendation of a friend, and at vast expense, we began one of the most frustrating and expensive journeys in Cucumber’s life. We were in and out within a month! 20/20 hindsight.
What will the next year bring?
We are most excited by our newest fabric which has a cooling component made of volcanic ash and ticks a lot of our sustainability boxes. Cucumber will be the first female-led brand to use it (already used by some of the biggest brands in the world) and we think it will be a game changer for us.
Can you give us one piece of advice for someone starting out in your sector?
Do your research! It’s a crowded market out there and you want to start from a position of strength. The more unique and perfectly formed your offering, the more compelling it will be to the consumer (and investor).
You’ve been to a dinner or two as TableCrowd diners. Tell us about your experiences?
Eileen: I hope it won’t sound sycophantic to say, but we each really loved the different talks we have been to. The whole concept of making networking work properly by allowing small groups of people to truly interact, not just toss business cards at each other, was a revelation!
The intimacy of being able to converse and question with the headline speaker over a nice meal was also key. We left our TableCrowd dinners feeling like we had learned new things and made some good connections.
We’re really excited about welcoming you as speakers in June! Can you give our community an idea of the topics you’ll cover?
We’ll be talking about zeroing in on the element in your business that makes YOU stand out – the hook that editors and bloggers will want to write about – and distilling it into something that trips off the tongue. We’ll also be going over the importance of working all your connections, staying curious, being furiously organised and the importance of being kind. And having fun along the way. If you don’t love what you’re doing, no one else will…
What’s your favourite London restaurants?
Eileen: Aargh – a crazy difficult question in London where brilliant restaurant flourish. At the moment I’m loving Perilla in Stoke Newington, creative and delicious food in a neighbourhood restaurant. The tasting menu is a must!
Nancy: As someone who loves to eat out, this is the hardest question for me to answer! Being another north Londoner, I can echo Eileen’s praise for Perilla. I am going to go with a more central restaurant though – The Portland, in Great Portland Street. A short menu, but everything on it is always super delicious.
Eileen: Snap! The Portland was my other choice!
Eager to find out more? Why not meet them at the dinner table: