KuluPriorShopBristol

Get to Know... KULU

An interview with maker KULU as part of our 'Get to Know...' series.

Tell us a little about yourself and your business…

I am a textile artist and designer maker working from my studio in Somerset. I make hand woven cloth alongside hand drawn prints inspired by natural landscapes. I work with natural fibres and carefully consider the environmental impact of my practice.

 

Where are you based?

Shepton Mallet


Tell us a secret about you?

I love all things creative and alongside my studio practice I am constantly making new plans to learn something new, I am learning to play the cello and always thinking of new ideas and forcing myself to focus on the task at hand!


How do you make your work?

I am a hand weaver and I have a beautiful old loom which I use to create cloth. I also work with print techniques including  lino cut and screen printing. My work always starts from journeys which I record using photography and drawing. I have a million sketchbooks filled with painted landscapes, these initial ideas are then developed into textiles and prints.


Describe your studio…

My studio is part of Anglo Trading Estate in Shepton which is a beautiful and historic building that used to be a brewery. My studio has sash windows and wooden furniture and everything is old! I do love that my work encompasses skills from our heritage and I love old wooden things!


Tell us about your materials - where do you source them from and are they important to you?

I use only natural fibres that will biodegrade eventually because I don't want to add to the problem of plastic and the chemical process that is required to make synthetic yarn is harmful to nature. I source some yarns from Fairfield Yarns, a company that sells factory waste and end of line stock. I work with a fair trade textiles coop in India (https://avani-kumaon.org) where I source Sri silk and Indigo dyed silk. We have a flock of sheep on the land I live on and I am having the fleece processed into yarn so I will have fibre from our field soon.


Why is it important to you that your work is made as responsibly and sustainably as possible?

I live on a piece of land in Somerset, we have planted orchards, woodland, native hedgerow and we have chickens and sheep. We grow vegetables and I use natural dyes. My work is all about the human connection with landscape and I live close to nature. I believe that nature is what connects us to our environment and we must cherish and nourish the environment that sustains us. We must look after nature as we do each other. For this reason I choose processes and materials that consider nature and people.


How and why did you start your small business?

I completed my MA in 2019, and although I had been dancing with the idea of my business before, it was really after graduating that KULU came into full fruition. I wanted to create a studio practice that encompasses my ideas, vision and creative goals and I wanted the freedom of being my own boss. I basically wanted to be an artist and to run my own show and I had the skills and equipment to begin the dream.

 

Any fun facts about your business, or achievements you want to shout about?

I was selected for Texselect after my MA and exhibited at Premier Vision in Paris with ten other UK Textiles graduates. I was selected for the Crafts Council HotHouse business mentoring in 2020 and I made some great connections through the program. I have exhibited at Decorex and Make South West.


What do you love most about your small business and do you have a favourite piece of work?

I love being able to have creative freedom and to start new projects, working across a range of disciplines. I love turning Nina Simone up loud in my studio, being my own boss and I love drawing, painting and weaving.


What do you think are the benefits of people supporting independent business?

We must support artists and makers in society to enable people to succeed and keep creative skills alive. With so much being made cheaply and unethically it's so important to make better choices, to buy locally from independent shops that value communities, support makers and artists and enable people to sustain livelihoods creating beautiful, thoughtful products that add to the world instead of leaving a harmful footprint. By supporting local, independent shops we are creating a more sustainable future.


Tell us about your favourite purchase from a fellow maker. What is it and who made it?

I absolutely love my Lauren Halloway pencil case, I love the functional design, I see it everyday and it is beautiful. I also love all the Mahika Kala garments and would love to own them all!


What are your favourite things about PRIOR - both as a customer and a supplier?

PRIOR offer such a broad range of beautiful products from makers that consider the impact, the store is an inspiration for sustainability and I am proud to be a supplier. It is one of few stores that communicate well with makers, offers opportunities, pays for sales monthly and generally looks after people. I don't actually know how Beck fits so many hours into the day! I love that PRIOR is surrounded by shops that outsource, stubbornly proving it is possible to run a business ethically and sustainably, albeit less profitable!


Do you have a goal for where you’d love your business to be in the future?

I am developing some natural dye kits and my back strap loom kits to add wool from our own flock of sheep, and I am working on developing workshops to run from my studio and perhaps other venues in the future. Working with the wool from our own flock of sheep is the main goal for me this year.

 

View KULU's handmade collection at Prior Shop here.


(Interview date: 7th February 2024)
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