My wife Ann and I began Organic Textile Company around 2005 though we have been selling fabric for over thirty years.
Now my daughter Nancy runs the company and I stroll in occasionlly, order and help design fabrics, misspell words on the website and eat biscuits. Nearly all our fabrics are made directly for us and to our specification . Nancy makes sure the warehouse runs like a sausage rolls royce.We employ six people.
We use GOTS certified mills in India and Turkey. Our bamboo (closed loop) comes from China. Our main partner is Genesh in Kerala.
Around fifteen years ago we became aware of the damage we do to people in third world countries who grow cotton and have to rely on pesticides. Thousands die each year. They live miserable lives, tied to poverty, bound to a system that supports agro chemical suppliers. Most of these farmers have 4 or 5 acres. By allowing them to farm organically, they and their families can live a more prosperous and healthy life that allows crop rotation and non-reliance on pesticide and fertiliser sellers.
Organic means that the cotton is grown without the use of harmful pesticides, using pheromone traps, crop rotation, hand picking of bugs and natural repellents.
This allows farmers to grow food and keep animals instead of being reliant on costly chemicals and fertilizers. They receive more for their crop and the input costs are lower and the fabrics will be pesticide free.
We have a small charity called 'Loom.' This is not a registered charity. We send small amounts of money to help with scholarships, health issues or improvements to buidings for the weavers We also pay a little over the odds for the fabric to allow Genesh to reimburse the weavers at a higher rate than would be normal for weavers.
We distribute some of the profits to staff and we support local initiatives and interest free loans to local businesses.
As well as hard work we also have a lot of fun at the Organic Textile Company (okay - not every minute of every day) We do it to rub the itch. To ease that creative spot you can never quite scratch even with a loofa, to provide employment and a more personal satisfying way of trading.
The Speakeasy Story
The story began in 2011 when I found a 1920s text book in an old book shop. It was £150 but worth every penny- I'd love to reproduce all of the wonderful designs that were inside. There were lots of small cuttings of fabrics from that time. The book was by E.Knecht and JB Fothergill.
So after selecting four designs , we constructed a fabric which has an organic cotton slub warp - the slub is not very obvious, but it just adds to the character of the fabric. The weft is bamboo, and that just softens the fabric a touch and gives it a very slight give.
After lots of trials and tribulations it was woven and hand printed in Kerela.
There are three designs the most popular is sails and we have reprinted sails. It washes well, shrinks a little lengthways and the darker shades loose a little dye. Its screen printed so it won't be perfect but thats part of the character of handprinting.