Images goes down to the canal to talk to Lisa Grainger of LDK Print & Embroidery about taking her business on the water

As water laps against the side of her narrowboat and swans glide past, Lisa Grainger is embroidering a hat. She loved canal life so much that she took her business, LDK Print & Embroidery, onto the family’s boat, making it quite possibly Britain’s only garment decoration business on water.

Dating back to 1995, the company now operates not only from land-based premises on an industrial estate in Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire, but also, between spring and autumn each year, along the canals of England, selling clothing and taking orders at the regular weekend Floating Markets.

Step on board the narrowboat – named Caitlin Jayne – and you find a fully equipped print and embroidery studio ingeniously spread out alongside where Lisa and her husband, Dave, live and sleep.

Customers view LDK’s printed and embroidered garments on the Caitlin Jayne in Cassiobury Park

Customers view LDK’s printed and embroidered garments on the Caitlin Jayne in Cassiobury Park

Embroidery on LDK’s customised Barudan single-head

Embroidery on LDK’s customised Barudan single-head

The boat is 21 metres (69 feet) long and includes a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and living area but, with some creative thinking, they have managed to squeeze in a 15-needle single-head Barudan embroidery machine, a Sawgrass sublimation machine, a Roland GX-24 vinyl cutter, an Oki laser printer, a heat press and an HP inkjet printer – plus popular stock items and collapsible stands and a canopy for displaying their products on the towpath.

The biggest piece of kit is the Barudan which needs five people to get it on board. “It’s a logistical challenge getting it on and off, but we’ve found a way to do it,” Lisa says. “Once it’s on at Easter, it stays on until after the last market.”

Having all the equipment on the boat allows Lisa to carry on fulfilling orders while they are cruising the canals. “It’s a way to advertise our business and I get a lot of orders off it from traders and other people. If I have the stock, I’ll do it there and then.”

….Read the full profile of LDK Print & Embroidery in our July 2024 issue here

www.ldkprint-embroidery.com