After seven years co-managing and designing for Sydney-based label “I Peck your Pun”, I decided to take a five-year hiatus from the fashion industry to develop a career in massage therapy and to live overseas. However, my creative passion enticed me back to start a new project ,“Buffet & Hutch”, a new homewares label.
During my time away from the fashion industry I found a creative outlet in redesigning my apartment, (more often than was strictly necessary!), and I came to realise my passion for homewares and interiors. It was while in the middle of one of these redesigns that I rediscovered some African wax print fabric left over from the previous fashion enterprise, and I started making duvets for friends and family.
Having always admired ethnic arts and crafts from cultures around the world, I wanted to incorporate these elements into the label. My travels had also opened my eyes to employment conditions in some of the societies that supply our own with consumer goods, and I realized that I could be in a position to have a positive effect on that situation.
If I were able to combine that with an aesthetic which appeals to sophisticated consumers, then I would have a very potent proposition.
So Buffet & Hutch was born; a homewares label that merges a contemporary design approach with time-honored techniques, such as the West African wax printing, traditional block printing from India and Ikat weaving and embroidery techniques from Mexico. Underpinning the enterprise is a firm belief that actively supporting its artisanal suppliers in a fair trade environment is not only morally correct, but makes good business sense.
The philosophy behind this enterprise is to create a low-impact production system based on the careful use of local resources, hand-crafting of the products and long-term partnerships to benefit both the artisan and the consumer. Although still at the beginning stages of the label I have already identified several women’s sewing groups and other artisans that I would like to work with in Tanzania – Africa, Mexico and West Bengal-India.
As challenging as it is to start a new business, I am constantly encouraged and inspired by organizations, like New York City Fair Trade Coalition and department stores, like Nordstrom, which encourage consumer awareness for fair trade products.
I have no doubts there will be challenges in establishing Buffet & Hutch, not least in working out the logistics of payment, delivery and working out production issues remotely. But I believe that with patience, planning and honest communication any obstacle can be overcome. As Paul Kelly sang, “From little things, big things grow…”