Jules Haines can only be described as an Eco Hero, bringing creative environmental issues front and centre with her environmental textiles business, The Haines Collection , which is saving thousands of metres of fabric from landfill, to her simple 'one change at a time' Instagram Sustainable Saturdays ideas.
After discovering our Needcraft lampshade and creative kits and cleverly pairing them with her beautiful and quality textile industry fabric remnants, we couldn't let another day pass without finding out more about her, her business and her eco values.
Where does your passion for environmental issues in the interiors sector come from?
Simply put I just hate waste, in all areas of life. I worked for a textile designer for 5 years and I saw first hand the waste in the industry. People just throw away the old to make room for the new - much like how it was in fashion. It's just something that isn't at the forefront of peoples minds at the moment, so part of what I want to do is change that.
What inspired you to set up the Haines Collection?
I’ve experienced the frustrations of having leftover designs as a brand, and not having a beautiful platform to represent them. A lot of mill shops want to buy your old stock for a tiny fraction of the price, whereas you know it’s worth much more than that - so I work on behalf of the designers and manufacturers to sell their stock.
The idea finally solidified after a chance meeting in a pop-up shop in Tunbridge Wells. A soft furnishings business owner was selling a wide range of high-end fabric very cheap. They were all his leftovers, and I heard him say what a hassle doing a shop once a year was, but he couldn’t see this going to waste. It made me think that there should be someone who could offer that resale service. I knew printers and designers who have waste, all a bi-product of what they do and something they don’t have time to deal with. So I emailed him after we met in the shop, had a meeting and he was my first suppler, and still is a supplier!
The Haines Collection has been up and running for a couple of years now. How is the business growing?
It grew slowly at first which is what I wanted. It was a side project along with a part-time job and looking after my 1 and 3-year-old. I wanted a year of feeling my way, finding my feet and to really to test the market. After a year I knew it had legs, I exhibited at Decorex in September 2019 and by January of this year it was time to take on as a full time job.
What are the main issues facing the interiors industry in terms of waste?
At the moment it’s the lack of awareness and action. No one is putting a spotlight on the industry and I really feel like we are where fashion was a few years ago when Burberry were burning their handbags to protect their brand and avoid and influx of lower priced products. I know that textiles are sent to landfill for this exact same reason, to protect a designers brand. According to the European Federation of Furniture Manufacturers (UEA) statistics, 80% to 90% of the EU furniture waste is incinerated or sent to landfill, with ~10% recycled. Reuse activity in the sector is considered low*. This is waste needs to be exposed and addressed.
How easy do you find it to weave your eco values into work and home life?
It's a constant learning process and something I've only consciously been working on in the past few years. I've always avoided waste and shopped in charity shops, I love the old and it actually pains me to buy anything new. But recently, on Earth Day, I pledged to change one thing every week that will have a positive impact on the environment. So every Saturday I upload a Sustainable Saturday video of that change I've made that week - it can be moving to recycled loo paper or making my own face wipes. It's all about the small changes, so it's not overwhelming and hopefully encouraging people to do the same. The more I think about what I'm consuming the easier it is to find a more sustainable alternative.
Can you share a couple of your best eco ‘making’ tips for our blog readers?
My main aim to make sure I'm using something more than once. I hate single-use anything so I try and avoid it or if possible re-use it...my kids craft box is pretty big! My best tip would be to save all your textile and wallpaper scraps, even the small pieces. Fabric strips are good to tie around the napkins on your dinner table to make it look pretty, wallpaper scraps make lovely present tags. I've got a good tutorial on how to use leftover fabric and wallpaper to cover a matchbox, these can decorate your house and are lovely presents with a candle.
You have a beautiful home and have been featured in a number of interiors magazines. How would you describe your own style?
I would say I have a contemporary heritage style with the regular use of bold colours and eye catching designs. I see my home as a reflection of my personality, so only put in it what I love.
It’s clear you have an eye for detail. Do you follow trends or do you just go with your instinct?
I'm sure subconsciously I'm influenced by what I see on Instagram but I definitely just follow my gut. I know what I like and what I don't, so I generally make decisions quickly. I mostly like unique things that I think no one else has, which is why I like to make or upcycle.
Could you let us take a peek at your home?
Yep! It's a Victorian Terrace semi-detached in the centre of Tunbridge Wells. We moved here from London nearly 3 years ago.
When did you start making lampshades?
I made my first lampshade when I was in my early 20s and I took a week off work and did a soft lampshade making course in a college in London. I loved it but it was labour intensive. When I moved to Singapore in 2012 I thought about starting a lampshade making business then but struggled to get hold of the materials that I needed. Then a few years ago a friend told me about a drum lampshade she had made with one of your kits and I thought 'oh yes, I need to get back into that!'
What’s your favourite part of the lampshade making process?
It has to be that it doesn't take very long and it's so satisfying! At the end you have made something totally bespoke, works for the space you intended, and you have saved some more fabric from landfill. It's a huge cost saver too, bespoke lampshades are expensive and I never need to buy another one again.
We noticed you’ve recently started running lampshade making workshops. What’s the best bit about running workshops?
I just love running the lampshade making workshops, they are so much fun and really I love chatting to people who love crafting and textiles as much as I do! I do it in a huge kitchen in a location house in Sissinghurst so we are surrounded by beauty, it's someone's home so it's very chilled, and it is just a really fun relaxing morning. The best bit has to be at the end when everyone walks away so proud of what they have made!
Any tips for new lampshade makers?
Don't be afraid of it, they are so easy. The instructions and support from Needcraft is brilliant - you really can't go wrong. My top tip would be to have some very sharp scissors to cut the fabric, and I use an old store card to push the fabric around the rings in the end...a thick rounded corner makes it easier!!
You’ve been trying out some of our other Needcraft Creative kits on your Instagram stories? How do they fit in with your eco ethos?
The Needcraft products vary in size and style they perfectly fit my 'no waste' ethos. From one metre of fabric, you could easily get a couple of lampshades, a clock and a waste paper bin. I have so many fabric remnants I constantly dip into there to see what needs using up. The Needcraft items are high quality, so as well as upcycling fabric you will love and use your item over and over again.
How do you achieve work / life balance?
I work in the mornings until lunch, collect the kids after lunch and finish working when they are in bed. It's hard juggling being a mum to Edward (5) and Jemima (3) - I know I have to work flat out for this year to really get it off the ground, so the balance isn't quite there yet. I don’t feel guilty though, I know this is the right thing for all of us, but I do hate the feeling that my kids and husband will be seeing less of me this year that they might have if I had a usual 9-5 job. I will enforce as better balance when the business is more established and hopefully I can hire someone to work with me.
When are you at your most productive?
Definitely in the morning, but not too early! I think 8am - 12.30pm would be my peak.
And your favourite sustenance when you’re working?
Coffee, I live for coffee. Luckily now my husband is working from home I get the best coffee, we have a bean to cup machine and he is the perfect barista!
Where would you like to be in 10 years time?
For the business - well in ten years time I'd like to be working with all the top players in the industry reselling their waste/leftover fabrics, wallpaper, cushions, curtains, furniture, china - anything I'd love to be able to take it all.
I have dreams of a warehouse that people can come and browse it all and artisan makers there too to patch up your ripped table cloth items or re-upholster your chair. In general, I'd like everyone to have a deep understanding of the importance of not throwing nothing away and reusing anything and everything. I'd like customers to value quality over quantity. What I would love is for everyone to be doing their best to live a more sustainable life.
What have you learned that’s been invaluable to your business and ethos?
Play to your strengths and follow your passion. Work with people you trust, be kind and thoughtful. Listen as much as you can, but ultimately follow your instinct.
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