Clare Surplice is co-founder of Cape Cove, a Henley-based brand with a vision to slow fashion down and make it a force for good. She explains how her team's mix of talent, experience, grit and wisdom have propelled the brand beyond the local community.
Clare in her Cape Cove coat
Tell us a little about your work and your background
Cape Cove was founded in early 2022 by Suzannah Hatch, Jo Bennett and myself. We launched with our range of Luxury Changing Coats and Capes for wild swimmers and water lovers which have quickly been adopted for sports touch lines and nature walks alike.
Cape Cove now creates everything from beanies, swimwear to beautiful unique embroideries and our Italian knitwear.
Having loved art and textiles from a child, I went on to study both with Business at Leeds Uni. Fashion led me to a career in Buying; Buying led to working in teams of wonderfully creative people. That inspired this next chapter where all three of us share a dream to change fashion, slowing it down and turning what we do into a more harmonious force for good.
What made you decide to launch Cape Cove?
Suzannah, Jo & myself felt we had a calling to set up a community-led brand founded on a deep belief to raise yourself and raise others. Cape Cove was born in answer to this calling. We have a mixed pot of talent, experience, grit and the wisdom that the years worked in industry have taught us. Since we made the leap in 2022 , so many people have supported us on this journey.
We have a dream where people and things are much more connected and collaborative than they are today. Where the whole ecosystem of the fashion industry is more honest to consumers, respectful to suppliers and in greater harmony with the natural world. By embracing a much slower form of fashion, we're protecting our planet. We want to connect as a community, gather and grow, shop and swap more soulfully. In this way we hope that Cape Cove can act as a force for good.
"A community-led brand founded on a deep belief to raise yourself and raise others."
The Cape Cove founders
Where do you find inspiration?
Always in nature and people; this world is so magical if we slow down and take a moment to connect. If you look closely at our embroideries, you will find subtle symbols and meanings all inspired by what's around us in the everyday.
Describe your typical working day
We love that no two days are the same. This week for example, we support Ice Bath & Breath Workshops; we set up our stand at Stylist Live event in London; we fly to Italy to meet our wonderful artisan knitters; then onto Scotland for a fashion-inspired event with the most incredible natural landscape in the Scottish Highlands as a backdrop. There are also plenty of uncreative days where the serious admin has to get done.
What has been the biggest highlight and challenge to date?
We find joy in simple pleasures, like reflections on the water when the sun comes out. We are lifted daily by our community, what they buy, the messages they send us. Collaborating with artists, suppliers, charities and other luxury brands that share our values. Spotting Cape Cove around and about is the best feeling. The biggest highlight is meeting people who nudge you forward and taking a moment to connect with the subtle signs that tell you "you're on the right path"
The biggest challenge is having the time to look after each other. To make the time to keep on track with the things we set out to do. A wise person once said to us, "Small steps Quickly".
Best nugget of wisdom to share with your fellow Creative Ducks?
Surround yourself with great people, they won't just inspire you but they will support you. The joy and the hard times are better shared.
Where can we find out more?
We have a favourite quote from Peme Chodron; she says "Fly high....you are the sky, everything else is just the weather". As well as being a call to adventure, it reminds us that our hearts are vast and we have the space to hold it all. Come. Jump in with us:
Find a curated selection of the collection in selected John Lewis stores and Johnlewis.com