There are many movers and shakers in Manchester, people in the public eye contributing to our great city. There are even more people behind the scenes doing some extremely worthy work, including this woman who is in the process of setting up her own specialist clothing range.
Natalie Balmain grew up in the West Midlands but was drawn to Manchester ten years ago for a boy. The boy didn’t last, but Manchester did.
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was just 20, she had to inject herself with insulin after eating and drinking, so going to bars and restaurants always presented a problem
Seeing a gap in the market, Natalie has designed her own specialist range of clothes with conveniently placed zips and panels for anyone who has to wear a medical device or administer injections.
Behold, Type 1 Clothing. Her first twelve piece collection of tops, skirts, trousers and jumpsuits, which has attracted the attention of the BBC and Grazia, will be launched next month, with 5% of profits to be donated to Diabetes Research.
What got you started in your field of work?
Fashion has always been important to me. Growing up I would always customise my clothes, getting into trouble cutting them up. I had a bit of a side career in fashion – modelling and styling – then when I was diagnosed, it really got me thinking how I could make something good out of a bad situation.
Who have been the biggest influences on your work?
I take inspiration from everything, I have a pretty eclectic style which I think shows in the collection. My style is definitely influenced by Chanel meets Grace Jones. I love them both.
What is your proudest achievement so far?
Photographing the debut collection. It was the first time I had seen any of my clothes on anyone other than myself. I cried.
What does your typical day involve?
Because we are such a small operation – there’s only two of us at the minute – my day varies. Anything from designing, to sourcing fabrics, to doing the accounts and getting the website ready for the launch. All this on top of working four days a week at Salford Royal.
How do you relax on your days off?
I don’t get many, but when I do I’m like an information sponge and like to keep learning. For example, a couple of weeks back I went to the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
What is the best advice you have been given or can give?
My uncle used to say to me when I was little ‘as long as you’re not hurting anyone, do whatever you want.’ You don’t have to conform, or follow a set path. Find something you love and do it.
If things hadn’t worked out, what else could you have seen yourself doing?
I’d make a good President of the United States. They’ll let anyone do it now, and I’m sure I’d make a better job of it.
Tell us one thing about yourself people might be surprised to hear.
I play the saxophone. Just for me though. All my family are musicians and in the music industry, but the rebel in me didn’t want to follow their path.
Red or Blue?
My family are all Red, but after this week maybe purple?
Name your three favourite places in Manchester.
The Northern Quarter, when you walk around you can really see the history of fashion here, the manufacturing and wholesale buildings. I love a good floral cocktail at Dusk Til Pawn. Plus I’m an outdoors person and like walking, so Worsley Woods, they are just beautiful.
If you could change one thing about Manchester, what would it be?
And finally, what do you love most about Manchester?
The people and sense of community. We are unique and would do anything for anyone. This week says it all.