Q&A with Natasha Tillie from Gone Rural

Q&A with Natasha Tillie from Gone Rural

Natasha first introduced the Gone Rural collection to Britain back in 2007. It’s been quite a journey to the present day, but British homes are still being filled with the sweet smell of the lutindiz grass, direct from the mountains and fields of Eswatini.  Natasha talks about her journey to Gone Rural, and what she hopes to see in the future.

 

Hi Natasha, for anyone that might not know, what is it you guys do, and how do you operate?

Gone Rural creatively collaborates with 780 rural Eswatini women weavers, to create soulful homeware, and to ignite change on a community level.

 

Why did you decide to form and launch Gone Rural UK?

The third year of my B.A (Hons) for textiles course at Brighton university was spent in Eswatini, assisting Gone Rural with their product development.  

I found an immense amount of joy working with the women out there, and a deep respect for their talents. I wanted to honour their skills, and represent their work here in the UK.

In 2007 Gone Rural UK was established.  It's a pleasure to know that all our customers receive not only a beautiful gift, but that the transaction offers property to our wonderful artisans.


What does it mean to you to be working alongside Generous APE?

We're really excited and looking forward to representing our collection alongside other companies who have equally strong ethical values.


 
Why do so many people not consider the environment/sustainability when shopping?

I think they do, however, finding sustainable companies, which are transparent in their supply chain hasn't always been the easiest to find. Through the power of social media, this is changing dramatically, which is great to see. 

Often sustainable and ethical products are a little more expensive so its earning the trust of the customer to invest this extra amount in the knowledge that their purchase will last longer, have less impact on the environment, and benefit the craftsmen making the product. 

 

What is your biggest achievement to date?

Launching the "Takhi", our artisan lead collection.  Takhi means, "designing" or "making on your own" in Swati.  The idea was first born during my visit to Eswatini in March 2019.  A talented group of artisans had been undergoing design and teacher training through the Gone Rural Weaving Academy, and I wanted to celebrate the design skills that had been nurtured during this period, by commissioning the artisans' first project.

This collection was inspired by the four elements; earth, water, fire and air - which were interpreted into contemporary designs and new techniques by the artisans, and woven by hand in Eswatini. It was a great joy to introduce this unique body of work and to witness the artisans that were involved, grow in confidence.


What are you most passionate about?

Our women are at the heart of Gone Rural, therefore empowering them through creative collaborations.


What do you hope to achieve over the next 12 months?

I hope to initiate another artisan design lead collection, similar to the Takhi one, and to provide more opportunities to our artisans. 

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