Link – the magazine about the Scottish Borders third sector – published a special feature about ReTweed in their May 2016 edition:

The Scottish Borders has been at the heart of the textile industry in the UK for hundreds of years, but has gone into decline in recent times. Now, an initiative in Berwickshire is planning to maintain the area’s historical legacy and train women in traditional textile skills, to try to help them move into learning, volunteering and employment.

Social enterprise ReTweed is encouraging women to think about a future in the creative sector. It kicks off this month with a 10-week course in Eyemouth to teach basic skills in craft, design and technology.

When the course ends, the plan is to sell the finished products on ReTweed’s e-commerce web site, at St Abbs Craft Fair and through local retailers.

The idea for ReTweed came from Hazel Smith (right), who grew up in the Borders and went on to work in community enterprise projects from Edinburgh to Senegal and Skye for 30 years. Her proposal to set up the new social enterprise has attracted support from a range of funders, including the Big Lottery and The Women’s Fund for Scotland, as well as backing from Business Gateway and others.

“When I was growing up, a lot of people were still employed in mills and other creative industry,” said Hazel. “But this kind of manufacturing has declined and I saw an opportunity to train women in these traditional skills.

“I put a three-year business plan together and this first 10-week course is a pilot project. We want to eventually set up a small micro factory with a manufacturing team we have trained up, and encourage the women to set up their own enterprises,” said Hazel.

Jacqueline Thompson, whose creations have been worn by Elton John, Paul Weller and former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, will be leading the training. A post-graduate of the London College of Fashion, Jacqueline ran her own stall at London’s Camden Market in the ‘80s where her designs attracted the attention of the rock stars.

“We’ll start by looking at fabric and finding what their inspiration is, then work on basic cushion covers,” said Jacqueline, “Once you’ve ignited someone’s inspiration it’s an easy thing for them to go home and work on their ideas,” she added.

While starting from humble beginnings, the longerterm aim is that ReTweed will resurrect interesting fashion, furnishing and crafts activity.

“I want to grow it as a non profit business with a manufacturing team, our own premises, a workshop and a shop front where we can sell our own products,” said Hazel.

Click here to download magazine (PDF format)

 

This blog post was written by Hazel Smith – ReTweed Founding Director