Alicia Hall is the brilliant mastermind behind Botanical Threads. She designs, hand dyes and creates chemical free products for the home. On top of that, she teaches us how we can easily plant-dye fabrics ourselves. In Alicia's interview she opens up about herself and her business.
Tell us a little bit about you and how you got to where you are today?
The path that lead to me starting Botanical Threads is a bit of a winding one. When I was younger I wanted to be a fashion designer and spent my teenage years raiding charity shops to find pieces of clothing to customer. When I was old enough I moved to London to study Fashion Design at the London College of Fashion and spent time developing my skills. After I graduated I took on various freelance sewing jobs, along with selling products that I had made before accidentally falling in love with gardening after buying my first home. I wanted to learn as much about horticulture as I could and so started working for the National Trust as a gardener, which is when I discovered that you could make dyes from plants. All of a sudden I had discovered a way to bring my two passions - fabrics and plants - together and I was instantly hooked.
What is the idea behind Botanical Threads and why is it different to other businesses?
Botanical Threads started because I wanted to show people that plant dyed eco-friendly products don’t have to be made from hemp and come in various shades of brown. I wanted to make really beautiful products that reflected the wonderful plants that they were dyed with. Because each batch of dye can vary slightly in colour and all of the products are hand made by myself, it really does make each item unique. As my business has developed I have become passionate about making botanical dyeing accessible and easy to everyone, and have focusses on simplifying and sharing my processes with others. At the end of last year I wrote a guide to dyeing with avocado which I give away for free, and this has stemmed so many interesting conversations with first time dyers and the teaching side of the business is something that I really want to develop in the coming months.
Where do you find inspiration?
I am really lucky to live in a beautiful little town in the middle of the Wiltshire countryside and so I get my inspiration from walks in the countryside and the plants that I discover on my way.
Where do you make your designs and what does you creating process look like?
I have recently moved house and so for the time being my workspace is a tiny 1m x 1m square desk in the corner of the lounge, but even though it's small, I have a lovely view out across my garden and to the hills beyond. We have plans to renovate our garage and turn it into a dye studio for me soon. I tend to have lots of products on the go at different stages, so you can often find me surrounded by piles of fabrics all in different stages of construction.
Which one of your designs is your personal favourite?
My favourite design is my Rainbow Patchwork Cushion. A lovely customer sent me a message on Instagram to ask if I would make her a special order and I came up with the Patchwork Cushion. I loved it so much that I decided to offer them for sale ever since.
Where do people find your pieces?
All of my products are available on my website botanicalthreads.co.uk and I am currently pursuing some wholesale options so you might be able to find me in real-life shops soon too.
Do you have any tips for makers or creatives?
If you want to start your own business doing something creative then just go for it. Just remember that businesses evolve and what you start up doing might not necessarily be what you end up doing a few years down the line. When I first started out after university I began by selling greetings cards and art pieces that I had made, shortly followed by bags and then even made-to-measure corsets. I never thought then that I would end up dyeing the fabrics that I would use.
What's next for Botanical Threads?
In the next few months I really want to focus on the teaching side of my business. I have another ebook that I am currently writing and I'm also planning out an online course in dyeing with plants that I hope to launch before hosting face to face classes in my home studio.
Where can people follow you?
People can find me on Instagram @botanical_threads where I do a monthly Q&A session to answer any questions on plant dyeing, as well as posting behind the scenes photos daily.
How would you describe your perfect heiter moment?
Oh this is easy! Pottering around in my garden on a sunny day, barefoot with a cup of mint tea in my hand, deadheading the flowers.
Today is your lucky day! Alicia is giving all heiter readers 20% off her fabulous designs. To redeem the offer simply enter the voucher code HEITER20 at the checkout on https://www.botanicalthreads.co.uk/
Images: Botanical Threads