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Francli is the design company based in Cornwall, and established by Alison Goodman and Franki Baseley, a pair of creatives whose ethos brings people together to form an appreciation for craft, quality and adventure. There is a genuine care for what they make, and they are there every step of the way with production and interaction with the customer. The fact they have this drive and passion for providing people with functional, well made pieces, is what will see their company go far. A quote by Henry David Thoreau sums up what Francli is all about: “Pursue some path, however narrow or crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

Having studied in Cornwall and made it back to the City, the chaos and bustle of it wasn’t what they needed. So they came back to the south-west of the UK, where the pace of life, people and creative environment is what they thrive on. We caught up with Alison to learn more about the creative process, influences and how Francli hopes to develop.
How would you describe your process and type of designing to an audience who have never seen your work?
I think the best word to describe my type of process and design is resourceful. I try to use as much pre and post consumer waste materials as possible. This sourcing is quite variable, so the design details and construction can change product to product, I try to maintain a level of consistency but it’s also really fun to be resourceful and spontaneous. The materials available to me at the time massively direct the colours, shapes and sizes of design features, such as boat factory off-cuts, leather production scraps or army surplus. I aim to be clean and minimal but sometimes the used fabrics and functional features roughen up the overall look.
I always start with the purpose of the design, looking at the materials I can use and how they need to work for the user. The form seems to naturally take shape after thinking about those things and having a play with the construction. If I do get stuck aesthetically, my go-to reference is the Vintage Showroom archive books. The history of traditional military and work-wear clothing is so vast and interesting, I love the integrity of those pieces and the stories behind them.
What is it about designing functional and well-made pieces of fashion that you want people to learn about through your work? 
I hope that making pieces that work and last a long time will encourage people to love their stuff a bit more and keep hold of it for longer. I don’t know if I would really put them in a fashion category, I see the collections as utilitarian objects and try to make them as timeless as possible so they aren’t discarded at the end of a trend.
A lot of the fabrics I use have had some kind of previous life and can have marks such as sun bleach or writing. There’s a lot of stuff out there that suggests you always need to look new and pristine. I think signs of age and use add value and a much more interesting aesthetic. The worn-in look of Francli pieces welcomes more marks of use from the new owner, adding to the visual story.
What does working as part of a team mean for creative thinking and how do you guys work together when making the work?
Cornwall has a great community of skilled makers and creatives. If I have a problem, there’s always someone I can go to for advice whether it’s sewing, dyeing and construction or photography, marketing and even financial stuff! It’s great for my creative thinking to be surrounded by so many different, skilled people. There’s a strong culture of self-reliance in and around the farm that constantly inspires and challenges my practices. I work with a lot of different people daily, both studio assistance and post-production work.

What do you look for when sourcing material to make your garments and bags? 
The first and foremost quality is strength. Is it hardy enough? How will it wear? Will it last a long time? I use lots of waste materials but consistency of the supply means I have to bring in new fabrics too. Then I look to British made companies or organic and holistic manufacturing processes.
What has been a collaboration that has pushed your product and your way of thinking?
Most recently, I’ve taken on a shop in Falmouth with three other local makers. We each specialise in different practices but there’s a lot of crossover in our taste and interests. We’re treating the shop like a collaborative residency, working together on new designs and learning a bit about how each of us make. Already it’s challenged me to create designs that are completely plastic free – it’s been surprisingly hard! I’m really happy that I’m in a space with people that is taking me down that route.
How do you use social media as a way to connect to your audience?
My marketing experience and budget is pretty non-existent! So social media is a great way to share Francli stories and updates. I use all the usual platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. When I’m busy on the production side, I mostly rely on Instagram. I really like how visual, personal and instant it is.
My favourite thing about using social media is how quickly you can get feedback and connect with people. Through Instagram, I’ve found a great community of like-minded makers. These small exchanges, conversations and advice swaps are really exciting, and it’s funny to think I haven’t even met most of them! Even this week I was chatting to Katy from Dereks Backpacks about rivets and how she uses them, she was so open and helpful. I saw her work on Instagram and love what she does, but she’s based in Berlin now so I probably wouldn’t have met her otherwise.

“I see the collections as utilitarian objects and try to make them as timeless as possible so they aren’t discarded at the end of a trend.”
What designers would you say inspire you when you make your work and how does this reflect in your work? 
The designers that inspire me the most are the people that live and work nearby such as Felix McCormack, Sarah Johnson, Rich Blake from Yallah, Ellie Hughes, and Heather Scott. Their lifestyles and love for what they do get me excited about my own work and push me to keep improving. I keep them in mind when I’m designing new products. A more established brand that I love is Nigel Cabourn. His obsession with military and work-wear history and passion for fabric innovation and quality sets the bar really high. My most current inspiration is listening to Debbie Millman’s podcast Design Matters while I’m working in the studio. Her conversations with creative thinkers such as Ben Schott, Steven Heller, Caroline Paul and Su Mathews Hale are an amazing education in different design approaches and philosophies.
How do you see your way of working developing in the next couple of years, how do you think this will allow Francli to grow?
The farm where I’m based is currently under a lot of renovation, developing our studio, the Yallah Coffee roastery and workspaces for other creatives. It’ll be exciting to see how our little creative hub will develop. I want to slowly grow the business to have a small team that stocks a number of local and nationwide lifestyle stores. I may need to outsource some things to other British factories, but it's important to me to keep as much as I can in house. I hope to stay very close to the production myself because it’s the part I enjoy the most – making bespoke commissions and design consultancy.
Describe Francli in five words?
Outdoors, craft, function, collaboration, slow.

Megan Fatharly

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