How Tracey Farrow from Tarvin became Cheshire’s cashmere queen
- Credit: Archant
When Tracey Farrow received a phone call from someone claiming to be in the wardrobe department of actress Nicole Kidman she naturally thought it was a hoax.
Admittedly, her high-end Cashmere and Cotton collection includes the kind of perfect to die-for pieces that an elegant Hollywood star might choose to wear, but in five years of trading Tracey had never had any similar request.
‘They asked, “Your cardigown (which is really a dressing gown), how long is it?” It told them that it came to mid-calf so it wasn’t long and they then asked if I could get one over to them by the next day,’ she says.
‘Nicole Kidman must have liked it because a couple of days later they came back and ordered three more and said it would be worn by Nichole in the film she was currently shooting.
‘She didn’t tell me what the film was, so I Googled it and discovered it was a film she was starring in with Colin Firth called Before I go to Sleep. It’s a huge privilege to think she will be wearing it in the film!’
As a consequence, Tracey will be launching a limited edition dressing gown for Christmas, as she believes the new movie could boost sales. Not only that, it’s such a beautiful piece she says that it would make the perfect gift “For the someone you love most”’.
Cashmere and Cotton is a labour of love too for Tracey who had a retail career as a buyer with the Sears company (now Arcadia) which took her all over the world, before coming to live in Cheshire over 12 years ago with husband Stuart.
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Whie bringing up her children Harriet, 17 and Thomas, 12, in the beautiful rural setting between Tarvin and Tarporley, she joined forces with a friend and formed a recruitment company, making a ‘very good living’ recruiting people for the clothing industry.
‘At that time all the supermarkets were getting into clothing, so we recruited a lot of the clothing buyers for supermarkets really and I could do it from home. it was very lucrative work because during that period retail was very buoyant, however after seven years I just felt I had another project within me.
‘Both my parents died of cancer not very far apart from each other.’ Her mum Glenys died first aged 69 and then Colyn aged 73.
‘I just felt that life was too short not to be doing what I wanted to be doing. I wanted to go back to production and I felt that cashmere would be ideal. New techniques meant it had become much easier to care for and it had become more affordable, so I though that’s what I’ll do. It was an idea written on the back of a fag packet - all dreamed up in a pub in Cheshire.’
She also had a wealth of contacts in the industry who not only helped her set up the company but also allowed her to sell it in a more creative way.
With five trusted staff, four of whom live locally she sells directly to her customers at country shows and events such as RHS Tatton. In September for example, she was at the Burgheley Horse Trials and later in the year at the Spirit of Christmas.
‘We don’t supply any retail stores,’ she confesses. We either sell on our website or people come along to see us at events like Tatton and there they get a lovely experience. We have a really cohesive range with three to four accessories to go with each piece of knitwear.
‘I design the concept, choose the colours, dye the fabric and have it knitted so I can be sure of the quality. it is a premium product and we find that when women have bought one piece they come back for more and that is very satisfying.
‘Of course I’ve had a few ups and downs but when my parents died it made me evaluate myself. I thought “Is this what I want to be doing? Sitting at a desk, shuffling paper and travelling down to London every week?” I wanted to create something. That was the turning point and it has all turned out brilliantly.’
Cashmere and Cotton: www.cashmereandcotton.co.uk