23rd March 2020

Our 2020 Cockpit Effect Impact Report features a series of case studies to illustrate the diversity of makers, their practices and business journeys at Cockpit Arts. Over the coming weeks we’ll share these with you.

Handsewn shoemakers Carréducker have transformed a craft from a bygone era into a thriving contemporary brand

After 15 years at Cockpit Arts, handsewn shoemakers Deborah Carré and James Ducker – together, Carréducker – have embarked on the next step in their journey, taking their centuries-old craft to an ever-expanding audience. When they arrived at the studios in 2004, their business was in its infancy and the duo hoped that a combination of affordable workspace and on-site support would temper the challenges of launching an artisanal business. But Cockpit’s influence has been far wider. “It has been instrumental in helping us shape the business and identify areas to concentrate on,” Carré says. “It gave us the space to grow organically at a pace that suited us and take well-informed risks.” As well as crucial access to funding – for example, a loan to fund a Kickstarter campaign – Cockpit has helped the duo hone in on their strengths. Today Carréducker has four clear strands to its business: bespoke shoemaking; limited-edition, ready-to-wear shoes; shoemaking and leathercraft supplies; and specialist courses.

The last of these has grown rapidly over the past decade, and Carréducker’s move last year to a larger premises is part of its ambition to establish ‘the foremost training facility for handsewn shoemaking in the world’, with a dedicated teaching space. This work, Carré says, also feeds their own creative output: “Our students are a constant source of inspiration and fresh-thinking.” It is this fresh-thinking – evident in the colours, detailing, sustainable leathers, strong silhouettes and melding of cross-disciplinary techniques in their shoes – that makes Carréducker distinctive. Armed with considerable talent and the wisdom of their Cockpit Arts mentors, Carré and Ducker have transformed a craft from a bygone era into a thriving brand fit for the modern world.

Cockpit Effect Impact Report 2020

Photos: Alun Callender