Hi, I'm Melanie - the founder, maker and designer on the good ship Harris and Hall.
After experiencing childbirth twice in two years, I discovered I was now actually quite fearless and decided to start my dream textiles business.
Armed with some existing sewing skills, a photoshop manual and a phone, I called around suppliers, designed and made a range and set about running my own business. It was busy and loads of hard work but rewarding. Until it wasn't.
The first inkling something was wrong was a meeting with a buyer at a trade fair.
"Is your range ethical?"
"Well I source my fabric in England, I make the products myself, all my packaging is printed locally..."
"But it's made of cotton! Is it even organic?"
It wasn't. The lady admired the designs and then moved on. I seethed a bit. How could anyone think my small business wasn't ethical enough?
But the thought stuck with me and so that night I googled cotton production. I was shocked. 10,000 litres of water needed to make a kg of cotton? 16% of all insecticides in the world are used in its production. Areas being left with highly degraded soil because of toxic fertiliser use. The buyer had a point.
So I swapped to unbleached GOTS organic cotton. 71% less water usage, farmers not exposed to harmful chemicals, job's done right?
Well, not quite. Once my eyes had been opened and as I thought more about the ethics of being a maker and putting products into the world, the more I decided I had to run my business in a different way.
And it seemed many of you felt the same way, the Blue Planet effect has opened the door to so many conversations about how we are treating the environment and a desire to do things really differently.
So now Harris and Hall sells cushion covers made from luxurious silky feel recycled polyester and organic cotton, all our thread is made from recycled bottles, all cotton is organic, our mailing bags are recyclable, we have a range of reusable products designed to divert waste from landfill or the oceans, our waste is donated to charity and non recyclables put into eco bricks. Our packaging is recyclable and we always try to support local suppliers.
As a company, we absolutely still stand for making beautiful modern homewares and accessories. Ethical and sustainable living in 2019 shouldn't and doesn't have to mean less stylish living.
And I 100% believe in my dream business again.
If you want to get in touch, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or have a look at our social media: instagram.com/harris.and.hall and facebook.com/harrisandhall