Relocating from London to Kent brought designers Cynthia Lawrence-John and Rae Jones together. Now, they run WerkHaus Margate, selling utilitarian womenswear. Words: Caroline Wheater

Photograph: Sterling Chandler

Before moving to Margate we had pretty much always been city dwellers. Five years ago, I began visiting friends in Margate and fell in love with the sea, skies and sense of space. Rae is from the Northwest and after art school in Glasgow she headed to London where she’s been for the last 20 years. She says she never got the appeal of living by the sea until she started a family and was looking for a new adventure and room to breathe. We both moved here separately three years ago, and we get it now – the magnificent Margate sunsets and the opportunity to swim in the sea every day are two of the major pulls.

We met at a yoga class and hit it off straight away. We are both in the design world and love vintage clothes, especially utilitarian women’s garments that are practical and durable as well as stylish. Two summers ago, we started a pop-up shop, WerkHaus Margate, on the High Street. Now we have a permanent shop stocking vintage and new womenswear, from dungarees and boiler suits to accessories such as Bernstock Speirs hats, Mudlark sandals and Buckitt bags. Rae designs her own leather bags and accessories, and we’re launching our women’s workwear label this autumn.

Come rain, shine or wind, in our leisure time we like being outdoors with our families – walking, cycling or swimming. There’s the promenade in Margate to potter along, and lots of coastal footpaths to follow. The Thanet coast is incredible for safe cycle rides – the Viking Coastal Trail from Margate to Reculver is a favourite. Rae swims all year round at the Thanet beaches, often going for a dip in Walpole Bay Tidal Pool at Cliftonville, a Grade II-listed four-acre pool built in 1937.

We’ve found Margate to be a wonderful place to live because there’s such potential for creativity. Not only is there a thriving arts community here, but plenty of local activities and community projects to get involved in, too. Being in Margate allows us the time and space to live, and not solely to work and commute.

WerkHaus Margate is at 30 High Street, Margate, Kent CT9 1DS (

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