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Bristol at work: Studio Bodhi

Introducing the sustainable woven textile designers at Studio Bodhi, who have Bristol’s colourful street culture pinned prominently to their moodboard

Weaving more and more environmentally friendly products and services into our everyday lives is something all of us should be aiming to do; and a good place to start is in the home. Recently we were chuffed to stumble across one eco-conscious, fashion and soft furnishings start-up hoping to help us to do just that, founded by Rebecca Smith and Natasha Moss. The local textile duo, who’ve placed respect for the environment firmly at the heart of their ethos, kindly filled us in…Rebecca and Natasha set up their studio in late 2016 after securing funding from Bristol’s New Enterprise Allowance

So, tell us a little more about the Bodhi outfit…

We create trend-focused designs made using eco-friendly materials – locally sourced, certified as sustainable, recycled. Our style is influenced a lot by Bristol’s colourful street culture; we like to rework classic structures into bold and playful designs.

What’s your main selling point?

Sustainability. We aim to integrate this into everything we do as well as producing on-trend, innovative design ideas. We believe in building strong relationships with our suppliers which provides us with a transparent supply chain of the materials we use.

Where did your love of fashion and textiles come from?

We both were naturally drawn to textiles throughout education. This lead us to joining the same textiles course at Brighton where we met while learning the craft of weave.

Tell us about your creative process and production techniques…

It usually starts with our yarn – finding new, sustainable yarn that we can work with is an exciting part. We then research up-coming and past trends to inspire us. We like to focus on finishing techniques after the fabric is woven to create more interesting textures such as cut-floats, brushed mohair and felting.

What about your materials?

One of our like-minded suppliers is local wool producer Fernhill Farm. It’s a holistic eco-farm located in the Mendip grasslands, powered by renewable and natural resources. They produce fleece, rovings and spun yarns all in the native colours of the sheep, which creates a surprisingly diverse colour palette with full traceability back to the farm. They are a very valuable contact; we often visit to collect the yarn and meet the sheep! Wool is natural, renewable and biodegradable so we love working with it. Instead of using conventional silk for our warps we choose peace silk which is a non-violent, ethical form of silk; it allows the silk worm to emerge from its cocoon and complete its life cycle. We are also working with linen and merino yarns which are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard – this certification looks at the entire supply chain of the yarn to promise sustainability. Some of our most exciting yarn comes from upcycling materials such as off-cut selvedges from mills which would otherwise be waste.

So you’re working on both interiors and fashion pieces?

Yes, we create a collection focused for interiors, which we found to be popular while we were at Première Vision Paris last September. At the moment we are working on our SS19 fashion and interiors collections using linen warps, fine silks and soft wools. We are also working with some fancy new yarns to create metallic looks, bold tropical patterns and pastel hues which complement the current spring/summer trends.

What do you like about being a creative business in Bristol?

We take a lot of inspiration from this city, from its street art and youth culture to its strong music and art scene. Bristol is very diverse which brings a fair amount of individuality for us to be inspired by. Another unique aspect is the contrast of being in a bustling city while being surrounded by countryside, giving us direct access to local suppliers. Bristol is a hub for creative makers and with its textiles community growing, it’s a very exciting place to be based.

When did you start the business?

November 2016, after graduating from the University of Brighton in the summer – we were well prepared as our degree included business studies and some time out in industry. We also acquired funding from the New Enterprise Allowance scheme in Bristol which was a huge help. Bristol has a great creative community which has really helped us as we have had lots of support and advice from local artists and textile businesses.

How long does it take to complete a piece?

It can take anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days, depending on the technicalities of the design. We are working with traditional table looms which means every piece is hand rendered and every design aspect is completed to the highest quality.

Do you see a sustainable future for the textile industry on the whole?

We do as there is a much bigger incentive for companies to be sustainable these days. This is also driven by consumers wanting a more sustainable lifestyle and buying eco-friendly clothing. We have noticed an increase in sustainable suppliers, and encouragement from renowned textiles tradeshows which suggests this will be a growing market.