Interview with Michelle Riddle for Virtual Bunch
Michelle Riddle is the creative force behind the coastal-inspired clothing brand Guernsey girl, which caters to adults. Her brand offers exclusive and vibrant designs, all inspired by her beautiful island home.

Although not born in Guernsey, Michelle was educated here and has spent most of her life on the island. Guernsey is her home in every sense, and she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

In our conversation with Michelle, we delved into the process behind her unique clothing creations, discussed the materials she uses, and explored the challenges she has faced while running her creative business.

What inspired you to start Guernsey Girl and focus on luxury coastal nature clothing for adults?

It’s all happened by accident really. I taught myself to sew at the end of the first lock down and started sea swimming in September 2020. I needed a wrap, then a rash vest and then needed a mat as it was getting colder. When fellow swimmers saw my creations they asked me if I could make some for them too and it’s grown organically since then.

Your designs are described as ‘unique hand-drawn originals.’ Could you provide insight into your creative process and share where you draw inspiration for your designs?

Having only returned to drawing after a 30 year break in February 2023, I’m now obsessed with designing, it’s how I relax. They can be inspired by a thought, a feeling, a colour, a swim with my friends or simply observing my beautiful island home. My design style has been described as vibrant and distinct and easy to identify as mine, that’s good right?

Can you guide us through the process of creating a piece of clothing, from the initial idea to completion? Do you primarily develop all the designs yourself, or do you also take inspiration or requests from your customers?

Every item of clothing I have designed so far has started with a thought of…oooh I could do with something like this, like that or does this/that, so I have a bit of a play around and only after I have trialled a new product, do I release it. Although I possibly have my head in the clouds in a creative sense, I am also very practical and each item is made to be durable as well as beautiful. Feedback is exceptionally important to me and I appreciate every suggestion and idea made by my fabulous customers and friends.

Guernsey is known for its strong sense of community. How do you engage with the local community in Guernsey, and how does this influence your brand’s identity?

As an obsessed sea swimmer I love being part of the fabulous GSAS group. You couldn’t wish to meet a more welcoming and accepting group. I swim all year round and the vast majority of my products stem from the need to keep warm as the sea can be jolly cold.

Puffins by Michelle Riddle

Puffins by Michelle Riddle

What does your typical working day look like?

My typical working day consists of my regular full time job in finance, then I zoom off for a gorgeous brain resetting swim. In the evening during the week I am normally drawing or catching up on admin. At the weekend I am cutting out and sewing up orders. At times I definitely burn the candle at both ends but I do try hard to get a good balance of work and play.

Can you share some insights into the materials you use for your clothing and why they’re chosen?

I am a textures person and my choice of fabric base is made to suit the product ensuring that is a joy to wear, comfortable and durable. I am exceptionally fussy about the quality of my fabric bases, and will not skimp on quality.

I use a broad range of fabric bases, cotton lycra for lihou leggings and the distinct design panels in my waterside wraps, allowing for additional stretch. A buttery soft athletic fabric for my rousse athletic leggings and my warmer rocquaine rash vests which stretches but also supports.

Swim fabric for bordeaux bottoms and my regular rash vests as it is perfect for the job and dries in a flash. One of my most popular fabric bases is the most delectable and luxurious squish. I use it predominately for my clifftop cowls, lihou leggings as well as sox of the antarctic. It’s soft and warm and has a nice amount of stretch for comfort and oh so strokable….. There are many other bases I use depending on the product and I am always sampling new bases.

What are some of the significant challenges you’ve encountered as the owner of your own creative business?

I don’t think I ever appreciated the time, commitment, energy, sustained enthusiasm and money it would take for Guernsey girl to become what it is. There are, of course, the obvious challenges such as the quick and easy market of cheap online offerings, AI being used on design your own products and social media restricting your reach. However, the originality of my designs and the care and attention I take making my items speaks for themselves.

If I were to purchase just one product from your boutique, which would you recommend and why?

I would recommend a clifftop cowl. It’s exceptionally versatile, dressy up or dressy down and feels like a luxurious handmade hug.

How has living in Guernsey influenced your lifestyle or perspective on life?

Every day, even on the dreary drizzly, blowing a gale days, it’s still beautiful.

If someone were visiting Guernsey for the first time, what advice would you give them to make the most of their experience?

Go for a swim at as many locations as possible and take advantage of our fabulous independently run beach kiosks with homemade goodies freshly made daily. Visit our local shops, which are full of beautiful items handmade in Guernsey.

If you’re looking to add a lovely piece of clothing from Michelle to your wardrobe, feel free to reach out to her on Instagram @guernseygirl2020 or on Facebook @Guernsey Girl.