We’ve long been fans of floral embroiderer & designer Cressida Jamieson. Celebrated for her botanical inspired embroidery and personalised lettering, Cressida has the incredible ability to turn something special into something to truly treasure.
Stepping into her East London home, we photographed her amidst her vibrant paintings, whimsical floral arrangements and curated stacks of books and sat down to chat about her creative and professional journey, the inspiration behind her work and most importantly - all things florals!
Flowers by @starflowerlondon
You’ve been a fashion publicist, florist and now designer, but embroidery really seems to be the perfect amalgamation of your different skills and careers you’ve had along the way. How did it come about?
I’d always wanted to work in fashion, so after I finished my degree in French and Italian, I spent 6 months doing work experience at various magazines, newspapers and brands. I ended up at Topshop, where I stayed for 8 years working as part of the publicity team. I adored it, but I longed to do something more creative. I felt I was surrounded by amazingly creative people working in the fashion industry, but I was very much assisting, and I wanted to be making.
Having grown up with a mother who was a keen gardener with a love of flowers, I felt the same and wondered if working as a florist might be something I’d enjoy and could make a career out of. So again I went back to the drawing board and spent weekends and days off assisting florists in London, and immediately fell in love with the job.
So I left Topshop and worked as the assistant to the most incredible florist Flora Starkey, who trained me and really showed me how to work creatively. Throughout both jobs, and while at school and university, I’d always been sewing - making clothes, adorning beads on fabric, cross stitches, anything.
Whilst working as a florist, and when I had forgotten to buy my by best friend a birthday present, I embroidered a t-shirt to give to her, which I then posted on Instagram, and it really was the moment that my new career started. I carried on making them for friends and family, then people started contacting me on Instagram, then brands started getting in touch to work on projects. It got to the point where I couldn’t do embroidery and floristry, and my embroidery felt like it could be the start of something exciting that I couldn’t not pursue, so I took a bit of a leap of faith and chose it, knowing I could always go back to floristry, or at least that flowers would always be a part of my life.
What is it about flowers that drew you in and made you want to work with them in the first place?
My mother is a very keen gardener, so we’d spend all spring and summer in the garden, or visiting parks which had beautiful blooms. I met Vic from Scarlet and Violet when I was working at Topshop and also when she did my wedding flowers, and I saw the job she did and thought how wonderful it could be.
A lot of your embroidery features lovely, dainty flowers - what is your favourite English wildflower?
I adore wild flowers, little bells such as bluebells, foxgloves, lily of the valley, wild poppies, a simple bunch of cow parsley. Scent is just as important to me, so roses are my ultimate favourite - the old English kind in faded pastels. Totally covered in thorns but the most heavenly petals.
When you took your first steps with embroidery, what did you work on initially? Once you opened your commissions who were the first people you worked with?
It started as embroideries on very basic pieces - I love staple wardrobe dressing, white tee, grey sweatshirt etc, and I liked that the embroideries were small and almost incidental. So it began with white t-shirts, sweatshirts and socks, then people started sending their own items for me to embroider onto and it really made me realise that you can embroider onto almost anything. I rarely say no to an item when I get asked, and I’m always up for a challenge of a new fabric! I worked with friends to start, then friends of friends, a lot of the fashion industry who I was friends with from my PR days, then brands started getting in touch.
You’ve worked on so many exciting projects, what have you discovered through the process of collaboration?
I love the process of collaboration - of having an initial idea, but really not knowing where it will end up is the exciting part, it’s a real journey if you’re both up for letting it evolve freely. As I work by myself, when I do collaborate on projects, I find it also helps my own work as the projects make me think more, and explore, and meet new people, see new work and new ways of working.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Absolutely anything, everything! I take photos or screenshots of anything that sparks a bit of interest in me, and it’s very random. Graffiti, children’s books, anything with a botanical element - seed packets, reference books, printed fabrics, vintage greetings cards, films, scribbles, songs, old family photos.
Who has been your biggest influence?
I have a few friends who left fashion around the same time as me to do something different, and seeing their energy and passion to create something they love has undoubtably been a huge influence on me and willed me to do the same. Flora Starkey has been a huge influence on me also - she has the most incredible eye for colour and is so instinctive in the way she works. She completely follows her heart when she’s designing and that is something I’ve really tried to take with me into embroidery.
Did you have any mentors when starting out?
I’ve felt really supported throughout my career changes by friends and family, and by new friends I’ve made in flowers and sewing. But there is also such a lovely wider community of creatives who I have come to know well in the last few years, who I can rely on for advice, or share a moan or a laugh with.
What’s your go-to wardrobe staple?
In the autumn/winter - a good straight-leg high-waist pair of jeans, a cashmere crew neck, Breton or sweatshirt, spring/summer - simple throw-on dresses with black leather sandals. Always mid-sized gold hoops and always liquid eyeliner.
What’s one piece of fashion advice you ever received that’s really stuck with you?
Blue and black don’t go - it does and I wear it pretty much every day!! I’ve never seen dressing as functional, I see it as something that can completely enhance your mood and something to be enjoyed.
We’ve had the pleasure of working with you on a number of different projects, from personalising homeware linens and sleepwear, so what is your favourite YOLKE piece from this season? And how do you envision putting your personal touch to it?
I love the hydrangea print tablecloth - I’ve going to embroider each of my family’s names onto it, hidden amongst the flowers and leaves.
Follow Cressida Jamieson on Instagram to stay up to date on her latest projects
Add a personal touch to your favourite pyjamas or napkins perfect for place settings.