Hi everyone, I thought I should introduce myself.
I am Odette Insoll, owner and creator of Nouvelle Habit.
It’s silly how having to put my words on a screen can have such an effect on me. Anyone who has met me will know I am good at talking. So it’s not that I don’t have anything to say or I’m shy. I think it stems from the fact that I am dyslexic. So I, therefore, have always been marked down and felt that I couldn’t achieve much when it comes to writing, which has never really got in my way before, as I would just avoid it. But now it is stopping me. Stopping me from being able to connect, reach out, and get to know people. So this is me attempting to break the mental block and start enjoying writing.
So let me start at the why? Why did I start Nouvelle Habit?
Nouvelle Habit grew from a question. I was asked if I could make a waterproof riding skirt. I will say I was not a seamstress or someone who made his or her clothes. I was training to be an upholsterer so handy with a sewing machine and knew a fair bit about fabrics.
I set to it looking online for a pattern and tried a few and realised that they were more like skirts you could ride in, not skirts built for riding.
By this point, I started to get interested in the different styles, the history and, the evolution of the Riding Habit, as it used to be known. It was fascinating. I was hooked on the idea of bringing back this piece of riding equipment. The idea that I could make a product that could protect riders from the elements and environment such as branches, brambles, gorse etc. Plus the idea that they would be able to spend more time with their horses and be able to enjoy the wet, cold winter months seemed too good to be true. But it was what I was set on doing.
The more I got thinking about it, the more I figured that if I wanted a waterproof riding skirt, and my friend wanted one, then maybe others would like one too, and so I started thinking about this potentially becoming a business.
Next, the How? How did I go from the idea to the final product?
I had a vague idea of what I thought I wanted the skirt to look like. And as a rider myself, I knew what it needed to do when I was in the saddle but, I didn’t have the skills to make this happen. So I enrolled in a course to learn how to make patterns for clothing. During my course, I talked to my teacher about my riding habit/skirt, and she was intrigued and offered to do some 1:1 lessons so we could focus on my idea.
And so it began. The design evolved as I tested each one. The shape and look changed not because of a want for fashion but due to its performance. The whole time I was developing, I had a list of things it had to do.
If it didn’t meet the list, then it had to be changed. After much research, wax cotton stood out as the best candidate for the job. It has so many benefits – it is hardwearing, waterproof, a good weight, it doesn’t rustle like other waterproof fabrics, as it ages it becomes soft and supple and you can re-wax it over and over again ensuring it stays waterproof for years.
It took me almost 4yrs, 13 prototypes, and many hours in the saddle to get the design working.
I still make each skirt to order in my studio at my home. Every order makes me happy, knowing that I am helping riders stay warm and dry.
Over the many years working with horses, I have gained a good idea of what this skirt needs to be – durable, waterproof, warm, comfortable, and easy to use. In 2014, I was involved in a horse accident and was critically injured. It was in this period I decided to retrain and study traditional upholsterer, this was where my love for sewing and fabrics developed. In 2016 the seed of Nouvelle habit was planted and after 4yrs of learning and developing, in the spring of 2020 Nouvelle Habit was launched. I run my business from my home, cutting every pattern by hand and individually sewing each skirt. I use traditional bone buttons and 100% real leather buckles that are designed and handmade by myself. Each skirt has its own unique character; you can even have one made bespoke just for you! This is a modern twist on an old classic.