We want to support businesses with a purpose. Why? Because we know the struggles of launching a business that breaks boundaries first-hand. TINCTURE's mission has always been to trigger change and shed light on false narratives. We want to use our platform as a voice for spirited entrepreneurs to share their ideas and passion that pave the way for the future of our community and planet. Join us, and uncover the stories of like-minded individuals.
A company we hold close to our hearts is Cloth Collective, which creates beautiful naturally hand-dyed, climate-positive cloth. Read how their inspirational founder, Charlotte Lawson Johnston, started her ground-breaking journey of shaking up the largely synthesised interiors world and all her plans for the future.
We love Cloth’s fabric so much that we asked Charlotte to dye a piece of fabric for us to use as the backdrop for some of our most recent product shoots. Charlotte used dye harnessed from curly dock leaf seeds and she has shared some of the images of the process with us below. Keep your eyes peeled to see more of these on our social feed.
What inspired you to start CLOTH Collective?
I read a book called Fibershed by Rebecca Burgess. It is about the disconnect between textiles and our understanding of their impact upon our environment, labour and human health. It is fashion-focused but I felt when reading it that the same disconnect needed to be mended in the interior’s world. At Cloth, we are creating hand-dyed fabrics which are not only healthy (we use 100% natural dyes) but we are also endeavouring to use fabrics that are only woven with yarn made from sustainable fibres. Finally, our British collective of growers, spinners, weavers, and dyers was born out of necessity, in order to scale Cloth and take on larger orders and it has proven to be an effective way of supporting British craftspeople.
Can you tell us a little more about the history of dyes and the different techniques and whether natural dyes last?
Until 1856, humans were entirely reliant on natural dyes to colour our textiles until an English chemist called William Henry Perkin accidentally created the first synthetic purple dye. The process used for natural dyeing entirely depends upon the material being dyed. For example, some textiles need to be treated before the colour is applied and others don’t. Some natural dyes are more colour and lightfast than others but they are no less reliable than a synthetic dye (these can fade too!).
Do you have a favourite material and dye you like to work with?
Cutch has an incredibly sweet yet earthy aroma which I love! It is a reddish-brown dye that comes from the heartwood of the cutch tree and it is very popular with natural dyers as it is not only inexpensive but also light-fast and wash-fast. With any lightweight linen, even colour distribution is easy to achieve and is also easy to handle during the dying process. To be honest, as long as it’s a fabric grown woven with sustainably grown fibres - such as linen, hemp or rain watered cotton - then we are happy!
What are your business' core values?
To be positively impactful both on the environment, our community and our wellbeing; to inspire, to be honest, to be sustainable and finally to create textiles that are of superior quality. Cloth’s long-term goal is to see more fibre for textiles grown here in England again. It’s time to reignite our once flourishing textiles industry!
What challenges have you faced since starting Cloth, if any?
There is a real hippy and cottage-y stigma attached to natural dyeing so I suppose one of the challenges has been to elevate this craft and present it to the consumer as being beautiful and chic!
Did you receive any good advice before starting your entrepreneurial journey and do you have any advice for anyone thinking of starting their own business?
To believe in myself. Try to see competition in your market place as a positive AND embrace them! We can all learn so much from each other. I make a real effort to get to know the sustainable textiles community rather than feeling intimidated by them.
What future plans do you have for Cloth?
We are currently working on a fabric range with Edward Bulmer to complement their natural, plastic-free paint range. Our values are completely aligned so it really is the dream partnership! In Spring of 2021, we also planted our pilot crop of Cloth flax and we are about to process it for the fibre. The yarn will be woven by Maria Sigma (https://www.mariasigma.com/) into a piece of British linen!
Do you have a favourite designer or a brand you admire?
Gabriela Hearst is setting the sustainable bar in the fashion industry. She uses deadstock fabrics in her collections, favours linen over cotton and she has eliminated plastic packaging and now uses bio-based alternatives which are fully compostable within six months. Her sustainable values even extend to her physical stores which are built without synthetics or chemicals, using natural, non-treated reclaimed oak and favours linen over cotton in her collections. She also happens to be Uruguayan, a place where I spend much of my year so maybe I’m a little biased!!
How do you switch off and relax to recharge your batteries?
I’m obsessed with Pilates and find that it’s hugely restorative on my body. I do live classes with STOTT trained Chloe Hodgson and also subscribe to her online sessions which are incredible.
Do you use Tincture products? If yes, do you have a favourite?
ABSOLUTELY! We are obsessed and it is the only brand I buy to clean my house! The Bathroom TINCTURE makes my bathroom smell like a spa; it must be the natural oils. I also love the Daily Floor TINCTURE; it is so gentle on our natural unvarnished wooden kitchen floor and we love the scent it leaves behind.
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