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Can I Laugh On Your Shoulder?

Dec 29, 2021

My guests this week are Nancy Zeffman and Eileen Willett, co-founders of Cucumber Clothing. Their brand offers luxury, cooling, sustainable clothing and nightwear for women.

After meeting at school gates 20 years ago, they became friends and started Cucumber four years ago. They wanted create clothes for busy women who wanted luxurious, everyday clothes without having to wear sky-high heels and uncomfortable garments.

Their simple, multifunctional designs slip perfectly into every woman’s wardrobe, and the ultra-modern performance fabrics mean the clothes move with you, not against you and always feel beautifully soft against the skin.

4:41 – Nancy 101

  • Nancy is from London and started her career in advertising. She took some time off to be a mom and do some charity work before starting Cucumber.
  • She also mentors small businesses and gives talks about female entrepreneurship.

5:57 – Eileen 101

  • Eileen is Japanese-Canadian and was born in Vancouver. She moved to England for several decades and started a family.
  • She loves mentoring women and helping them with mid-life pivoting.
  • Eileen and Nancy also love to exercise.

9:32 – How Cucumber started

  • They wore workout gear a lot and wanted to replicate the comfortable feeling in something that you could wear all day.
  • Their company is all about sustainable, comfortable fabrics.
  • Making anything leaves a carbon footprint, but they try to do it in the lightest way possible, in a way they feel proud of.

12:09 – Fabric-led fashion

  • It’s a fabric-led fashion brand.
  • You can wear Cucumber clothes to bed, to work, to the club, anywhere.

17:20 – Customer feedback

  • They launched with six nightwear clothes, and they branched out after customer feedback.
  • Some people said the clothing was great for breastfeeding moms.

19:00 – Researching fabrics

  • You can work with agents who work with mills that make fabrics or you can approach mills directly to get samples of their fabrics.
  • Their fabric feels like cotton and is lightweight but doesn’t absorb sweat.

24:47 – Preloved section

  • Some pieces are pRELOVD returns and are clearly labeled as such. Others are end of line, new or unused/never made production samples.

33:52 – How to get started

  • If you want to start a business, just start. At some point, you just have to go for it.
  • Having a co-founder is a fantastic thing, because it allows you some flexibility.

38:07 – Get to know Nancy and Eileen

  • Nancy’s favorite thing about being a Londoner? She loves being a city girl
  • Eileen’s most versatile clothing piece? Her Cucumber strappy top


We wanted a business we could feel proud of. – Nancy

Making anything leaves a carbon footprint, but it’s trying to do it in the lightest way possible, in a way that we feel proud of. – Nancy

Our clothes look really lovely, and you can dress them up, you can dress them down. You can wear them to bed. You can wear them out clubbing, if you want to. – Eileen

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Co-founder at Cucumber Clothing, Nancy is a born and bred Londoner. She began her career in advertising, working at Saatchi and Saatchi on some major blue-chip clients and FMCG brands. Following this she worked for several years in the charitable sector before co-founding Cucumber Clothing, a fabric led fashion brand. Chosen as one of small business Britain’s #ialso2020 celebrating top female entrepreneurial talent, Nancy is also a speaker on female entrepreneurship and slow fashion. She also mentors start-up businesses and co-hosts round table events on a variety of female facing subjects.

Born in Vancouver to Japanese parents, Eileen trained in fashion in Paris and San Francisco before settling in London to work at Nicole Farhi where she was instrumental in growing the menswear brand. She founded and ran her successful bespoke accessories brand before launching Cucumber Clothing with her Co-founder Nancy Zeffman in 2017 making ‘luxurious clothing for everyday’, using ultra-soft technical fabrics. Shortlisted for the 2020 Asian Woman of Achievement Awards, Eileen is a speaker on female entrepreneurship/slow fashion and co-hosts i:Entrepreneur’s weekly Wednesday Lives series of interviews featuring entrepreneurs from a diverse background.

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