Sometimes – with a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work – dream careers become reality. Margot Bawden is living that reality by helming Heart Ethical, a boutique textiles, wallpaper and homewares business based in the stunning Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. We were lucky enough to sit down with Margot in the lead up to Decor + Design to talk about the inspirations behind her latest range.
Margot, can you tell us a little bit about Heart Ethical and what products you currently offer to the interior design market?
Heart Ethical’s ethical and eco ethos textiles are 100% natural and are mostly linen, hemp or organic cotton. Wallpaper is eco-friendly and oeko-tex certified. Working from my rural home, I’m inspired by what is around me, with my collections often telling a story.
Observing the daily beauty from my bedroom window inspires this latest eco-ethical collection of wallpaper, printed linen and homewares, Room With A View. It tells the story of my family’s first year in moving from the city to a rural environment.
In those first blissful months in the height of summer, I’d by lying in bed in the morning with the curtains wide open watching my daughters Grace and Isla turn the cherry and silk trees into their natural playground. Grace would be out there in her pyjamas, hanging all manner of creations on these beautiful trees…we named the area Grace’s workshop.
It is also the first time Heart Ethical has printed out of India. The design Blossoms, which is be available by the metre, in cushions and in tea towels, has been woven, printed and sewed through a certified Fair Trade organisation.
Products offered include fabric by the metre, wallpaper, cushions, tea towels. Soon to come – table cloths and napkins.
Heart Ethical is a boutique fabric and wallpaper design concept.
Can you tell us about the journey to launching the company? Is it something that you have always wanted to do or was there an “aha” moment?
It was more on the “a-ha” side. I’d be craving to have a creative business, where my creativity was more than a hobby. I’d looked at lots of options while I was out of the workforce with babies. I used to just go and hang out in fabric shops because I loved the bolts of cloth – then I discovered a textile design course at AUT that fitted around small children. They talked about digital printing – and that was my light bulb moment.
What were the key steps in bringing the idea to life?
The first step was upskilling myself to be able to bring my ideas in my head to life on the computer! Then it was lots of research and learning about print processes and textiles before I could even consider launching. It took a good 2-3 years from initial idea to launch.
You have several popular ranges that are inspired by mid-century style and also by your grandmother’s garden! Do you go on ‘inspiration’ trips or is it something that generally happens organically?
Good spotting! I really love the idea of inspiration trips, but haven’t done one yet! What’s around me is a constant inspiration – I live rurally and it’s beautiful. Some days it’s the light changing, others it’s a frost and everything is white, other times it’s just a feeling that comes from being with my family. The current collection celebrates the seasons and that feeling of joy of watching my children in their happy play.
The 1950s influence is a design era I just feel really comfortable with. There’s something about the simplicity of that era that is appealing on several different levels.
It usually starts with a client picking a design from the website and having a play with the colourways on the Heart Ethical website. From here I often fine tune the colourways and then we’re ready to print.
The most popular designs are the ones that are more simple – for example, two or three coloured stripes and the dots have also been a hit.
All of your fabrics and paper are sourced sustainably. What kind of due diligence do you do to ensure that each step of the process is environmentally friendly?
I don’t think that any process is 100 percent failsafe, but I do my best to assure my clients, and myself that the products are what they say they are. I start with natural products and when something says organic I request certification.
Learning about the different certifications has been worth it. I always thought it was just fair trade certification that ensured social responsibility, but it turns out Oeko-Tex not only covers eco, but the social side too. These standards have been important in dealing with wallpapers.
I have used a Fair Trade organisation in India for my cushions and tea towels that have been wonderful to deal with and their kind of certification is very easy to understand.
Do you have any particular favourites in your current range?
I’m head over heals for Blossoms, and have some great ideas in the pipeline for some twists on this design for next season…
Finally, why did you decide to exhibit as part of Design Bazaar at the Décor + Design show in Melbourne?
I launched at DesignEx in Sydney two years ago and decided then my next Australia stop would be Melbourne. After a lot of asking around Australian interior designers and other stand holders, the one show that kept coming up in conversation was Décor + Design. I decided I had to find out more about it and here I am – about to exhibit in Melbourne for the first time. I’m so excited!
Don’t miss the opportunity to see Margot’s designs in person. Visit Margot at Heart Ethical’s stand at WS8 on WALL ST at Decor + Design 2016, 21-24 July in Melbourne. Register to visit now.