Herdwick Limited launched at Woolfest in June 2013.
The range had been produced using fabric discovered in the storeroom of a gentleman's outfitters: Find number 1.
Mandy's original purpose for the tweed was to make window seat covers, but the quality of the cloth and the sublety of the shades led to a further idea....
Her aim was to create a quality product that was contemporary in design but rooted in the heritage of Cumbria-essential to this was a local manufacturer which led to Find Number 2: Chapman bags in Carlisle.
Mandy had worked closely with Giles the designer, and everybody who visited her home at Castle Cottage was asked their opinion on the bags. Tweaks to styles and details were made and production began.
The products created a great reaction which gave a confidence boost for the fledgling business at this first opportunity to gauge public response.
Enthusiasm for the bags. Encouragement, offers of help and advice from spinners and weavers. Camaraderie from the stallholders.
On Day 2 of the show along came Find Number 3: Will Benson, a young farmer from Townhead, Grasmere; who promised that he would help when we were ready buy Herdwick fleece.
For the business to continue we would need to reproduce the worsted Herdwick Tweed, something that was not available to buy.
A learning process began and the values of Herdwick Limited evolved.
From the ouset Mandy wanted to definitively know the provenance of the wool. She went to visit Will and he took time to explain some of the difficulties for the farmer. She needed the flock to be divided at shearing time into colour groups and offered to pay extra for this work. The fleeces could then be spun to produce yarn of differing undyed shades from which a natural coloured tweed could be woven.
Mandy decided that as Herdwicks were a vital part of Beatrix Potter's legacy to the National Trust she would buy from their tenant farmers.
In "Back To The Land" with Kate Humble the final scene, shot in October 2016, is Mandy sharing with Kate that the second weaving had failed!
The issue was with the strength of the yarn. After several months of research, yarn testing and trials a new batch of yarn was commissioned in January 2017 using the last of 2016's fleeces.
This was delivered in late April and Marion: Find Number 4, an experienced handweaver from Penrith, trialled weaving the yarn over May Bank Holiday Weekend 2017. The results seemed positive and the small batch of yarn was set on the loom at Farfield Mill in Sedburgh.
On May 14th Head Weaver David, harnessed his 60 years of experience, started the weave and it worked! Herdwick Limited had fabric for 2017.
The challenge being could we do it again .........