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Brand owner and creative director Jenny Cook fell in love with the feminist iconography of the witch at age 7 when Buffy the Vampire Slayer first aired on UK TV. This became irreversibly fused with a passion for making at age 10 when her mums best friend Beany hosted a sewing day in advance of her school disco. Beany told her that when making your own clothes you can make anything you want and transform yourself into whoever you want to be. Naturally Jenny chose to channel her ultimate role model Buffy. Together they picked out some white cotton fabric and made a long summer dress to imitate Buffy’s highschool dance outfit. To finish off the look her dad whittled her a stake and she went off to the dance with the confidence of a badass feminist vampire hunter!
On reflection Jenny says “I am at my very core a product of my environment, and proud of it. I was raised in an artistic home that put creativity, self-expression and openness above all else. What I learned as a shy awkward weirdo-kid through strutting into that disco rocking my white dress and toting my offensive weapon was that if you embrace your particular brand of weirdness rather than trying to fit in you will come into your own. You will find power and freedom through simply being yourself. If I achieve anything through Cosmic Drifters I want to give others that same sense of empowerment, not because they’re on trend or fit in but because they’ve found their niche and are owning it.”
In 2011 Jenny met Sarah Mitchell, one of her close friends and co-designers at a house party. Sarah was sitting in the far corner of the living room, perched on the arm of a dishevelled sofa while sewing tiny flowers onto espadrille sandals. The pair fell into a deep conversation about their love for quirky prints and upcycling clothing. Upon graduating from uni in 2013 their overactive imaginations and zeal for storytelling guided them to start exploring narrative themes together through the mediums of print and garment design and photography. In 2014 they tried their hand at selling their creations online and Cosmic Drifters was born!
For several years the brand existed as a part time venture run by Jenny with help from Sarah and other friends, initially from a two metre square unit in a dilapidated warehouse and later out of her spare room (aka the cupboard under the stairs) but in December 2018 she decided to take a risk and launch a crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter with the aim of growing her business. Jenny’s Kickstarter was a huge success and exceeded her target income by 150%!
This brings us to the latest exciting chapter in the Cosmic Drifters story!
Jenny put the money crowdfunded by Kickstarter to good use and on March 1st 2019 she moved her business into a gorgeous new HQ in a thriving building in the heart of Leeds. Her unit is large enough for Jenny, Sarah and Jens talented younger brother Robbie to design the brands’ prints and garments in-house in a creatively stimulating environment.
There is also space to increase the brand’s production capacity. Jenny used some of the Kickstarter funding to purchase two industrial sewing machines and uses these to produce a share of the brand’s orders herself, but she hopes to purchase another two machines and create two full time seamstress jobs in the near future.
Upon moving into her new premises Jenny also met ‘DJ’s’, a team of hardworking dressmakers who work in a unit down the hall. DJs consists of three seamstresses -Mairi, Deborah and Kathryn and a pattern cutter called Gary. They took on part of Jennys Kickstarter campaign production and will continue to work closely with Cosmic drifters on production as the business moves forward. Gary, who has been working in the garment production industry for around 50 years also mentored Jenny in her pattern grading (the area of garment design that she was the least confident about) and guided her as she fully developed the fit and finish of her Kickstarter pieces.
This year Jenny also began working with a brand new textiles printer. Cosmic Drifters’ fabric supplier is now based in Leicester and as the largest UK-based fashion textiles printer they have enabled Jenny to stick to her pledge to keep Cosmic Drifter’s production ethical and UK based.
Despite all of the progress made in 2019 Jenny feels that the Cosmic Drifters journey is just beginning and looks forward to establishing cosmicdrifters.com as a known alternative fashion retailer, upping production capacity and inviting more weird and wonderful creatives into her coven! We hope you will continue to follow our journey!