Shabana Carlton is founder and designer at NQ London. She is often asked about what inspired her to start this unique brand of bags. Here we get a little snapshot of what goes on behind the brand at NQ London.
What is you background?
I was born in London and raised there and The U.S. I studied Applied Arts at Bath and then later in my career I graduated in Fashion and Design Management at London College of Fashion.
How did you come to start your own label?
I studied at LCF much later in my career During that time I worked for Roger Wade, the founder of Boxfresh streetwear, and more recently Boxpark the retail outlet making noises in Shoreditch, London. He encouraged me to set up on my own. It started with importing accessories but I was seeking the signature product to set me apart.
How would you describe your brand?
Sporty. Powerful. Modern. A leader rather than a follower. Style without sacrificing animal life. 100% against animal cruelty. Practical as every bag can be machine washed!
Tell us about your manufacturing process…where are your pieces made?
I make all the initial designs in my Cheshire studio. I used to make them in calico first, but since neoprene behaves so differently to conventional fabric, I now make all the prototypes from neoprene. It can be a difficult process to get clean lines yet practical features into the designs. They are then tested and used to see how durable they are. Once I am happy, I will pass over a sample to the factory here in The U.K.
What was the inspiration behind your latest designs?
My customers. I am constantly asking them what they look for. “Lexi” was inspired by them and how they use a small backpack. All my bags are influenced by the nature of the fabric. I work with it, rather than fight with it. If that makes sense!
How would you describe your customer base?
Fashion forward that demand style, but not at any cost. The majority are animal lovers and vegan in search of a leather alternative. Individuals. They vary hugely in age, yet all are young at heart. Most are sporty. That varies from walking and hiking to adventure sports such as wakeboarding and skiing.
Is there anyone you would love to see using your bags?
Lucy Campbell the U.K. number one women’s surfer.
What is the ethos behind the brand at NQ London?
I am passionate that no animal should die in the quest to have a great looking practical bag. The brand also supports British manufacturing which remains very much at the forefront of the brand.
What is your favourite bag and why?
Lexi, the new small back pack. Small enough that it has that “cute” appeal, yet it will hold all the essentials.
Is there another designer whose work you particularly admire?
Victoria Beckham. I like the simple clean lines of her brand visually.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
“If you do not believe in yourself then no one else will.”
What has been your greatest achievement as a designer?
Overcoming the challenges that come with working with neoprene. At times it has been testing to make the bag I can visualise. Then to see my customers using my bags and loving them makes me very proud.
Where do you sell at if people want to see, feel and try your bags?
The whole collection is online nqlondon.com and on May 20 and 21 we will be selling at Simply Cheshire that showcases Cheshire’s talented independent designers, makers and producers. NQ London are now based in Cheshire. We will also be a regular at Knutsford Makers Market from 4 June 2017 and then every first Sunday in the month. Here I plan to sell off any samples so is a great opportunity to pick up a one of a kind design.
Any exciting plans for the future?
Exploring the man bag…