My approach to design is heavily inspired by the colours and forms of the natural world. I try to run my business and produce my products in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. I produce close to home (in London), utilise natural fabrics and discarded materials, and create products with shapes and simple pattern cutting (leaving minimal wastage).
Handmade with longevity in mind.
Love me, keep me. I want my products to last for a long time and I want you to love them for a long time too. A lot of research, design, and development goes into making a beautiful, practical and durable product, and careful consideration goes into each piece every step of the way. I want you to fall in love with my pieces and keep them forever.
Designed, sourced and made locally.
The majority of my products are designed and made in London, UK, and my materials are sourced as locally as possible. My fabrics are sourced and printed in London and Worcestershire, however, these are woven elsewhere as there aren't any fabric manufacturers in London.
Considered choice of materials.
My accessories are made using natural materials such as silk, cotton and leather. Natural fibres are less harmful to our environment and should you ever choose to dispose of your product, it will be much easier to recycle or dispose of than man-made fabrics. I use carefully selected leather off-cuts and discontinued leather stock from the fashion industry to make my bags. Therefore, there might be slight variations in texture which adds to the uniqueness of each piece.
Careful printing process.
I either digitally print my fabrics or print by hand using natural dyes. Digital printing has less ink residual runoff and uses less water than many of traditional textile printing methods. This also allows me to print the exact amount of textiles I need, so there is no wasted ink or fabric. Natural dyes allow me to colour fabric using safe, renewable and biodegradable colours derived from plants, flowers and vegetables.
Considered product shapes.
I am a textile designer at heart, and I want the print to be the focus of each of my products. I create sleek products that amplify my print designs, using the optimum amount of materials with as little waste as possible.
My goal is to create products that you absolutely love and will keep forever.
You can read more about my approach to design in my interview with Crafty Fox below.
Shopping With Soul members and sustainability - Samantha Warren
I design printed accessories such as bags, pencil cases and hair accessories. I keep my product shapes simple, as I want the focus to be on my print designs. This approach poses a significant challenge to creating a sustainable product range as textile printing is traditionally a resource expensive process. To counteract this, I aim to be as resourceful as possible when it comes to sourcing and making the most of the materials used in my products. For example, the leather used to make my clutch bags is sourced from merchants that sell discontinued stock which would otherwise have been discarded. Another major project I am currently working on is a collection of silk bags that use 100% natural dyes which is a cleaner and more environmentally friendly process than other printing methods. It's a major challenge, but the makers and brands of today have a responsibility to find ways of making products that are as sustainable as possible.
Was sustainability a consideration for you when you first conceived and started your business, or was this something which evolved over time?
I think sustainability is a primary factor for most designers from my generation and younger. The impact that designers have and the responsibility we bare is something I learned early in my design education, so it's always been there. When working for large high street brands, I was exposed to the realities of large scale fashion and accessories production and I became acutely aware of the environmental impact. Much of the problems arise from the status quo of mass production, which will eventually change as a result of consumer demand and legislation, but until we reach that point, I will strive to make my products in as transparent and sustainable a way as possible.
How easy have you found it to implement environmental and sustainable elements to your business? What have been your greatest challenges with this?
The biggest challenge is the manufacturing industry itself. There is no denying, the established way of producing printed textiles at scale needs to be improved. That's not to say that printed textiles are inherently harmful, they don't have to be. Finding ways to produce products in a sustainable way, that is affordable, that can meet demand, and that can support business is a huge challenge.
A really good example is my current work using natural dyes to create a new collection of bags. There are so many variables when naturally dyeing fabric and so many things need to be considered and controlled, such as duration of dyeing, the volume of water, the concentration of dye etc. I am currently doing this on a very small scale, figuring out the details as I go, and regularly finding new problems to solve in the process. But, bit by bit, an approach that works and is repeatable is revealing itself, which is exciting and can hopefully offer an alternative and sustainable option for my customers.
If you have any changes you would still like to make or further developments planned, what would make it easier for you to make your business more sustainable?
Finding a manufacturing partner to collaborate with on the challenges of sustainable printing would be amazing. I will continue with my natural dyeing and hope to find ways to make it repeatable and hopefully scalable. Also, I’d love someone to design a platform which would allow makers to access materials from sustainable sources or tap into excess materials from other companies.
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