“Sharing what I was doing made me rediscover my own passion for the job”, Emma Hague.
What is your job about?
The Bristol Textile Quarter is a Community Interest Company working to build a more resilient textile economy in Bristol by, providing affordable workspace and access to industrial textile equipment for Bristol’s textile community, providing space and opportunity for likeminded textile people to meet, connect and forge meaningful and productive collaborations and facilitating workshops focusing on practical and functional textile and garment construction as well as immersive learning Field to Fabric experiences offered in partnership with local fibre farmers to create a unique whole-system view of textile production from field to fabric.
What issues do you address?
- Resilience and sustainability of the textile industry – the textile industry is the second most polluting industry after food
- BTQ also endeavours to offer a solution to the textile creatives who too often either end up working from home and/or in isolation once they have finished academic training, or working other jobs entirely for lack of access to space and industrial equipment.
What moved you to take action?
I spent four years living and working in Peru, where I co-founded an NGO that works with women textile artisans to develop their product and business skills, connect them to market and achieve greater economic independence. Within that we set up a fashion “lab” that invited designers to work with the women, their skills, and locally available materials. It was a fantastic example of a short, transparent and vertically-integrated supply chain. On my return to the UK I connected with a local sheep farmer and as I learnt about the industry here I began to think how we could create something equally transparent here. Around the same time I discovered Fibershed, a concept born out of California that encourages local activists to designate a geographical area within which they source all of their raw materials, dyes and labour for manufacturing textiles and garments. I met with the Director and affiliated BTQ as the contact for the South West of England so that we can begin to map what resources we have to work with in the South West and hopefully begin to create some tangible items.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
- Finding the energy and drive to keep things moving forward, even when they seem to being sliding backward.
- The feeling that it’s hard to do something new in a country like England or a city like Bristol…there is so much interesting, innovative and ethical enterprise here that it can be quite intimidating..! On the other hand it can also be encouraging and welcoming and there’s always room for more good work.
What helped you keep going in hard times?
I’ve almost given up a number of times and have ended up setting myself short deadlines for achievable things to stop myself from feeling totally overwhelmed. It also always helped when I found myself talking to people about what I was doing; in answering their questions I rediscovered my own passion for it.
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
Peru was very inspiring, I also studied anthropology so have also had an interest in people and connections. My degree led me into human rights and fairtrade tangible products.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life? 7