Tell us a bit about The Natural Dyeworks and how it all started?
I was a homewares buyer, living in London for 20 years, but slowly became disillusioned with retail & the fast paced nature of consumer products. I became increasingly concerned with the state of the environment & our disconnect with the natural world & the seasons. I began learning about the sustainable floristry movement and after having my daughter Poppy, I became fascinated with natural dyeing during snatched nap times. 2 years later, we moved out of London to Faversham in Kent... close to the sea, the marsh, the woods & fields...a year later I made the leap to work full time as a natural dyer, first making ribbons for florists, and now alongside that, I dye socks, hats and homewares alongside running workshops.
What inspires you work?
Her resilience, her abundance & her seasons.
The scents, textures & colours.
From seeds, to weeds, to trees, nothing inspires me more.
Tell us about Polly and how she came into your life?
Polly is our 10 year old Border Terrier. She started life as my father’s dog, but he soon became too poorly to look after her so we took her on from about 8 months. My father passed away not too long after, so my connection to Polly is ultra special. We had always wanted to re-home a rescue dog but were holding off at the time as we lived in a small East London flat. We moved to the Kent countryside a few years ago and since then, she’s been living her best life.
How does your Polly fit into your general working day?
I work from a garden studio, so after our morning walk we usually separate and she sleeps off the walk on my daughters bed. She’ll snooze in a sunny patch until she hears the fridge door open at lunchtime when she’ll have a carrot. After lunch she’ll wander outside to pester the birds then follow me up to the studio for the afternoon. She loves nothing more than to lounge on a pile of freshly laundered woollen socks or silk, but is supposed to sleep in her basket. She snores a lot now she’s older and she likes David Bowie on the speaker.
Whether it’s dyeing, washing, fabric cutting, admin, sewing or packaging, it all happens from the studio in the garden. Our garden is full of birds including sparrows, starlings, collared doves & blackbirds mostly with the odd sparrow hawk visit. Polly loves the commotion. I’m close to the kettle so a lot of tea is drunk, Pol slurps from the pond. At school pick up we’ll detour via the post office to deliver any orders for the day.
Tell us a bit about your favourite walk?
We have many. Coast, woods, fields, creek or marsh depending on our mood. Oare marsh is perhaps my favourite and the old Gunpowder Works woodland is Pols. Or Seasalter beach, as we like the enormity of the sea.
Our walks are a chance to set the tone for the day ahead and I treasure this time. I walk and gather my thoughts, Pol sniffs and lunges at anything that moves. A cricket will keep her occupied for hours. It’s also the time when I connect with nature and the seasons and forage for wild plants to dye with. The landscape is constantly changing... in winter there are alder cones by the hop fields in spring there are nettles along the creek, summer there is goldenrod along the field margins and in autumn there is bracken in the wood. It’s like a constantly changing natural map. There’s something so reassuring about nature and its cycle. It helps keep me grounded and Pol loves the smells.