Meet the material girl

Meet the material girl
Jules Haines, of eco fabric business Haines Collection

Tell us how you got into interior design . . .

I lived in Singapore for a few years and met a fellow British ex-pat who was a textile designer. I’ve always wanted to work in interiors so when I heard that she was starting a new textile brand, called Korla, I just had to be involved. I helped to set up the London office, and worked there for five years before moving to Tunbridge Wells in 2017.

And how did you come to set up your own fabric brand Haines Collection?

It was thanks to a chance meeting in a pop-up shop on Camden Road! The owner of a soft furnishings business there was selling leftovers of high-end fabric off very cheaply. I heard him say what a hassle it was, but that he couldn’t see it going to waste. It made me think that there should be someone who could offer to resell it for him, at a decent price. I knew others who had the same issue with waste off-cuts too, so I emailed the Camden Road supplier, arranged a meeting and he became my first supplier – and still is!

So how does the business work?

It acts as a broker between makers who want to sell small volumes of fabric but don’t have the time, and buyers who are looking for something unique but don’t have a big budget. This model enables Haines Collection to pass on big discounts to consumers through fabrics which are left-over from large scale building projects, off-cuts, end-of-rolls, or slightly misprinted. Often this fabric would be thrown away, adding to the growing amount of landfill caused by the interiors industry. Now we can offer beautiful fabrics to everyone, and help people to buy more ethically.

Which major brands do you work with and how have you developed these relationships?

I’m talking with at the moment to see how we can possibly work together with their leftover fabrics. I love working directly with designers too and I currently sell on behalf of Swaffer, Madeaux, Inchyra and Korla. The plan is to build more relationships – so ask me again in a year and I hope to have a long list of household names!

What do the majority of your customers use the limited edition fabrics for?

Mostly for curtains and blinds, both of which are a big expense in your home. So working with my lower-priced fabrics can be a very attractive proposition for them.

What do you enjoy most about running your own business?

So much! It’s the most amazing feeling to be in control of your own destiny. You don’t have to wait to be recognised for your talents, you know that you can do it and you believe in you! I’ve never worked this hard before but the job satisfaction is off the scale – I absolutely love it. This is my dream job and where I’m meant to be. It doesn’t feel like work, in fact it makes me feel deeply fulfilled.

What are the challenges involved in working for yourself?

I work from home – although one day I hope to get a studio – so juggling being a mum to Edward (five) and Jemima (three) and working is tricky, as is knowing that I have to work flat out to really get Haines Collection off the ground. I don’t feel guilty about this, though, as I know this is the right thing for all of us, but I do hate the feeling that my kids and husband will see less of me this year than they might have if I had a usual nine-to-five job.

And how about the key benefits?

Feeling complete, like I have found what I’ve been looking for, is a key one. And that I’m helping make a difference by reducing waste, fulfilling a need in the industry and educating people about how much waste is in the world of interiors. Flexibility is an important benefit too, because I can work on it when the kids are asleep in the evening – which means I can spend afternoons playing with them!

You also make cushions, run lampshade-making courses etc. Tell us about why you decided to make as well as market

It all feeds into what I’m trying to achieve, which is to use leftovers and ultimately reduce what ends up in landfill. I want people to start thinking about the fabrics they throw away, so only needing 40cm for a lampshade is such a brilliant way to use your scraps. Cushions came naturally, as I’m given a lot of random shaped pieces so they were the obvious next step. I’m just about to move into creating wallpaper this month, which is exciting!

Sustainability is a big part of your business. do you think more people are thinking about this when investing in products?

Definitely, it’s an exciting time for ‘conscience businesses’ and I really believe this is the future. Sustainability and looking at the way we live is finally at the forefront of our minds. It’s now being taught in schools and universities, so for the generation coming up it will be second nature to them. It’s not always easy to go for the eco-friendly option as some are more expensive, whereas I’m the opposite – I’m actually the cheaper and earth-friendly option! But as the industry grows, more people will join the arena, and competition and innovation will help drive prices down, allowing us all to live in a more sustainable way.

How do you plan to encourage more people make strong, conscious decisions when buying?

I like to inform people without them feeling like I’m bombarding them, so it’s striking the balance and not feeling like I’m alienating anyone. Luckily it’s something that people are becoming more aware of so it will grow organically. I’m all about the small changes to make a difference. Start with changing all your lightbulbs to LED, or Sellotape to brown paper tape. If you think too big it can be overwhelming.

The inside story

What key elements make a stylish home?

Have a few key statement items that reflect you and your personality. They may be an investment but something that you treasure for a long time and so sets the mood in the home. I’m all about mixing in charity shop finds with a stylish statement sofa or a big piece of art that will bring everything in that room to that level of style.

What current trends are you loving and why?

The use of bold colours, as I’m a big fan of colour. Hopefully the white and grey home trends are behind us!

How important has social media been for you in driving footfall to your business?

It’s everything, I have grown my business 100 per cent via Instagram. At the moment 93 per cent of my sales are directly from Instagram, and certainly nearly all of my relationship-building starts from it. I just love it as a social media platform thanks to the community and the support. It almost worries me that I have all my eggs in that basket, but you always put the most into what you love, right?

Do you collaborate with any local influencers/stylists/bloggers?

I love a collaboration, mostly because I love building relationships and the way we can help each other out. I’ve worked with Influencer Laura at The Indigo House (Instagram the_indigo_house) and Blogger Flik (from sass_spice_andallthingsnice). I met both of them at monthly interiors meetings run by Caroline from the networking group Twelve Local (@twelve_local). These are for anyone and everyone who likes interiors. We support each other, chat and drink lots of coffee!

Why I love Tunbridge Wells – Jules Haines

Where’s your favourite place to shop?

In charity shops! I have the YMCA and British Heart Foundation furniture shops at the end of my road so that’s always my first stop when looking for larger items. I go to Hospice in the Weald on Camden Road for clothes for myself and the family.

And to eat out?

I love the new Central Market in Royal Victoria Place; it has a great buzz and fantastic food.

And for coffee or cocktails?

It’s always definitely coffee, and I always head to The Black Dog as their coffee is amazing.

Finally, where’s the best place to go locally in order to get away from it all?

Kingdom in Penshurst – it’s my happy place. It feels so peaceful, earthy and has a great vibe. And they have great food and coffee!


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