Why I do what I do:
There is such a huge amount of waste associated with the clothing industry, with some 350,000 tonnes of used clothing going to landfill every year in the UK alone. It is estimated that about 30% of the clothing in our wardrobes hasn’t been worn for over a year. I realised that this was true for me too, so I set about repurposing some of my surplus clothes and fabrics into clothes for my daughter. This then grew into making things for friends out of their old clothes and encouraged by the enthusiastic reactions from people about what I was doing, I packed in my office job, started sourcing fabrics from charity shops, jumble sales and from friends having clear-outs, and threw myself head-long into creating Stripey Squirrel.
People are becoming more and more interested in where the clothes they wear actually come from and what happens to them once they are done with them. My hope is that Stripey Squirrel can give some of those people the option to dress their children in clothes made a bit differently and in a sustainable & ethical way.
Where do I do it:
I work from my home in South London where I try desperately to contain all my fabrics, sewing machines and patterns in one room and stop them from spilling out and all over the house! I source most of my materials from charity shops so after rummaging around and picking out the most durable, interesting and comfortable fabrics, I give them a wash, then imagine & size up my next creation whilst always keeping an eye on patterns that are popular at the time – this winter I went all out on geometric prints which were a big hit!
As well as selling online, I also have a regular spot in the local Sunday farmers’ market.
What drives me on:
By extending the life of a piece of clothing and upcycling it into something new and unique, it helps reduce an item’s carbon, water and waste footprints -albeit by just a teeny tiny bit- but that sits well with me! I also feel hugely encouraged by the enthusiasm and interest I receive both from the people who buy from me online and those who come and visit me at my markets.
I feel so lucky that I get to work doing something that I find so fun and inspiring! I get huge pleasure from piecing lots of different materials together and creating bespoke little clothes, and never really being sure what’s going to transpire until I’ve finished!
What I’m working on:
I am working hard to expand my range of clothing at the moment and I’m constantly trying to work out how to get the most out of the fabrics I have. Although I like the clothes I make to be unisex as much as possible, I am working on creating some little dresses at the moment with some summery fabrics I’ve been hoarding! I’m looking forward to the spring and to getting set up at a few other markets and perhaps a festival too.
It’s a bit of a juggling act trying to keep up the pace between production and demand, whilst also having some energy left over for my 4 year old who is constantly on the go, and my 8 month old who has just mastered the art of crawling – usually in the direction of danger! No complaints though! Its been such an exciting time getting Stripey Squirrel off the ground. I love the flexibility and freedom it’s given me, and the opportunity to meet so many like-minded, interesting and inspiring people along the way!
Blue Patch is Britain’s sustainable marketplace. We’re on the look out for potential businesses to become members. If you would like to come on board please contact the team, we’d love to hear from you.