Eileen Willett

Eileen's career has remained firmly rooted in the creative industries throughout her working life. Born in Vancouver to Japanese parents, she trained in Paris and started work as a fashion illustrator in San Francisco. Fast-forward via Japan, she settled in London, where she joined the then fledgling Nicole Farhi Menswear brand and helped grow it to be one of the premium men's brands of the 90's.

After a career break to have her three children, she launched her own womenswear accessory brand into the new luxury designer/maker space of the 2000's, growing her bespoke customer list into the high hundreds. She launched Cucumber Clothing with her Co-founder Nancy Zeffman in 2017. The company set out 'to make luxury comfortable', using ultra-soft technical fabrics made in beautiful leisurewear designs. Cucumber's modern take on multifunctional, sustainable, high-performance wardrobe staples for the busy woman resonated immediately with the fashion press. Cucumber has been seen everywhere from the Sunday Times Style to Vogue Italia.

Eileen has always been motivated by a strong desire to give back. An immigrant herself, with an immigrant family background, her personal family history demonstrated with clarity the importance of the qualities of tenacity and perseverance but most especially those of kindness and compassion. Cucumber was always created to be a community as well as a brand and has integrated support for female-facing charities and social enterprises from launch. More recently Eileen has been personally involved in upcycling offcuts from Cucumber production in a mask-making initiative along with Upwork to provide masks for keyworkers and their families.

Sustainability is at the heart of production and all manufacturing, grading, sampling and warehousing takes place within a five-mile radius of the founders' London homes. All packaging is made from recycled materials and is recyclable including the English 100% vegetable starch 'plastic bags'.

Shortlisted for the 2020 Asian Woman of Achievement Awards, Eileen is also a speaker on female entrepreneurship and sustainability in fashion.

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Published: 16 July 2020