We're not sure where we'd be without our designer Mark! He's the one that brings our prints, shirts and more to life, and his eclectic taste in music has not only heavily influenced one of our playlists, but two. Mark's Braintree days are always different - sketching ideas, reviewing the collection with Rachel or out looking for inspiration. I grabbed him on the hoof for a 10 minute chat. Here's what he had to say... The Braintree Team - Designer Mark Hi Mark, can you tell our readers what it was that attracted you to becoming a designer? How did you get into it? I have always had an interest in art, style and fashion but never realised I could take that career path until I started working in an accounts office when I left school. I didn’t have much to do there and it was only when I found myself doodling fashion sketches in every spare moment that I knew I had to pursue a career in fashion, but I had little idea how. So I got down to the library (the internet didn't exist then!) and found out where the nearest course was, put together a very basic portfolio of my doodles and applied – thankfully I was interviewed and accepted and my path in fashion began.   Where do you find inspiration for our collections? It can literally come from anywhere. It is so refreshing to work for a brand that doesn’t aspire to produce catwalk knock-offs or versions of competitor products. We fundamentally look to artists and nature for much of our colour and print development, with silhouettes reflecting a general sense of what is contemporary and modern – but still feminine and wearable.   In a snapshot, take us through how your initial inspiration eventually becomes our Thoughtful Clothing. The initial idea for AW16 was to bring a sense of folklore to the Braintree range, but to make it ultimately wearable and effortless, not contrived or literal. As a team we worked to getting our dress shapes looking flattering. Simple in their construction, they still had a sense of modernity when put into the very colourful and fun folklore prints. The Braintree Team - Designer Mark What’s your favourite Braintree Autumn/Winter piece and why? Definitely the Tasmania Throw. It's a great casual throw on piece – with a beautiful jacquard pattern that you won’t find anywhere else.   What would your alternative career be? It'd involve history in some shape or form - most likely a theatrical costume designer. Historical costume and accuracy in TV and film brings out the geek in me!   What was the last book you read and the last item you bought? The last book I read was ‘the Time Travellers Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger and the last item was a Pain au Chocolat for breakfast this morning. Yum.   Just for fun, tell us something random about yourself… I trained to be a ballroom dancer in my teens. The Braintree Team - Designer Mark When you’re not in the office, what could we find you doing? Having a dog (a whippet called Biscuit) means much of what I do revolves around her. Luckily, I love long walks in the countryside and our local park. Other than that, I do take the time to make the most of living in London, exhibitions at one of many museums or art galleries or just a stroll around that amazing treasure house: The V&A. I love to cook (and eat!) so baking will probably happen as well.   What do you do towards leading a more thoughtful life - and do you have any tips for our readers? I always think the best life philosophy is not to do anything to anyone else that you would not want done to you. To be thoughtful does not involve big life changing decisions. It's the little things - never drop litter, recycle, buy good quality classic shoes that will last you a lifetime. Don’t be a slave to fashion - work out your own style, what flatters you best and what you feel comfortable in. At the same time, it never hurts to be daring and try something new every now and again. I also think that life is short and nothing is more special or more important than today - enjoying the moment, whether that’s savouring a good cup of tea or looking up at the sky. - Mark.   Thanks for sharing, Mark. Look out for more ‘meet the Braintree team’ posts coming soon – Tweet us if there’s something you’d like us to ask. The Braintre Clare x

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