“I had an amazing experience at the University of Brighton. From working in London for Ben Sherman to designing fabric in traditional British mills, to living in Paris for three months and designing fabric for Chanel, and working in a Woven design studio in London.”
I’ve always been interested in art and design from a young age. I found school difficult as I wasn’t very good at the academic subject and I attended a school which was very focused on these subjects. After school, I did an Art Foundation Course at UCA. This was the best option for me as I didn’t really know if I wanted to do photography, fine art or textiles. If you have the opportunity to do this year course before going to university, DO IT! I fell in love with textiles on this course, but it wasn’t until I went to the University of Brighton that I fell in love with weaving! I spent 4 years specialising in woven textiles including a placement year within the industry. I interned for a range of different-sized businesses whilst in university, well-known brands and independent businesses. I saw what was possible if you work hard and follow what you love from the smaller and independent businesses and thought it was definitely for me!
One of the things I love most about weaving is its versatility. Another thing that really excites me about weaving is the limitless creative possibilities it offers. Weaving is a combination of art and craft, and creativity is at the heart of the process. I believe that there is no limit to what can be achieved with weaving. From classic designs to modern and contemporary patterns, the possibilities are endless. I love the sense of accomplishment I feel when I create a handmade piece that is not only beautiful but also sustainable and long-lasting.
What was your experience of going to university?
I had an amazing experience at the University of Brighton. I chose this course because it offered a placement year, which I loved every minute of. From working in London for Ben Sherman to designing fabric in traditional British mills, to living in Paris for three months and designing fabric for Chanel, and working in a Woven design studio in London. I gained so much first-hand knowledge about the industry which helped me upset my own business. I still use those contacts I made in my own business today, as I work with British mills to upcycle their post-consumer waste.
Whilst studying in college I thought I might want to be self-employed or start my own business, so the fact that Brighton’s Textiles course offer business studies on the side of the degree which seemed like a good fit for me at the time. It truly has been super useful when starting my own business and working as a freelancer!
Tell us about your career path after university.
I left university and applied for some London design jobs (didn’t get them,) then decided I wanted to save and maybe go travelling… I thought well I’ll do my own thing, with the experiences and skills gained from my internship whilst on my university placement year. So while managing a juice bar in Tunbridge Wells part-time and living with my parents, I started doing my own design work on the side. I picked up some freelance roles for two interior design companies and started designing my own homeware products. After being at home for 2 years I decided to move back to Brighton, I missed the lifestyle and the seaside. I found a part-time fashion job in Brighton with Paul Harnden Shoemakers, a high-end fashion company based in the centre of Brighton. I wanted to continue my own design work on the side so I got a share studio space as my flat was too small for my loom. When covid hit I lost my fashion job and that’s when I started putting more time into Shiv Textiles. That’s when my sales started to peak loads. During this time, the University of Brighton got in contact as they need someone to cover sick leave within the Textiles & Fashion department, I jumped at the chance! Since May 2022 I have been working part-time at the University of Brighton as a permanent member of staff. It is a great balance between my own work and supporting younger designers to find their own design and creative paths.
What inspired you to use recycled materials?
Shiv Textiles was born in my bedroom after I finished university. As an intern for big-name brands in the textiles and fashion industry, I was shocked by the amount of perfectly good materials going to waste. And I knew there had to be a better way to design and create fabrics.
Shiv Textiles is an independent, Brighton-based studio closing the loop on the fast-fashion industry. We rescue deadstock yarn, zips, fabric, threads and buttons destined for landfill and handcraft them into fine homewares, lifestyle accessories and sustainable weaving kits for you to give a new life at home!
What do you most enjoy about teaching and working at the University of Brighton?
I love seeing students fall in love with textiles like I did, especially weaving.
Weaving is an art form that requires a lot of skill, patience and attention to detail. The process of hand-weaving is both meditative and laborious, a unique combination of science and creativity. Seeing students grasp and develop their own design skills with my knowledge is a great feeling of accomplishment on day-to-day bases. The process of helping students with their design decisions from selecting yarns, winding warps, setting up the looms, weaving and finishing techniques develops my own design ideas and sparks creativity.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud to be a female founder of a small sustainable textiles studio, the fact I get to be creative and do what I love. I’m lucky enough to have a job that allows me to collaborate with incredible, talented and inspiring people. Recently one of my woven cushions was featured in Vogue magazine and Etsy came to visit me in my studio to film their nationwide marketing/advertising video content. It’s been a slow and steady journey from designing in my bedroom in 2017, to my first shared studio space to my now larger workshop – but I wouldn’t of had it any other way, as I’ve learnt so much from so many different people.
Since the start of the year, I have managed to save 142kg of industrial textiles waste from going to landfill! That brings my total to 828kg saved since 2021 when I started to keep a record.
If you had a message for prospective students thinking of studying textiles, what would that be?
Rome wasn’t built in the day! Making and learning a skill takes time and effort, enjoy the processes and celebrate your successes! Don’t let people tell you otherwise, I’ve struggled with my confidence due to my dyslexia, and I’ve worked really hard to not let it hold be back and found something that works for my creative mind. (Don’t judge if you find the odd spelling mistake here and there).
Where do you sell your work – how can people find out more about you?
Mt studio by appointment only: Rodhus Creative Studio, BN2 4AA
My website: https://www.shivtextiles.co.uk/
My Blog: https://www.shivtextiles.co.uk/blog
Etsy: Shiv Textiles – https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ShivTextiles
Stockist: Mimmo Studio, Dowse, The Home of Sustainable Things, Artist Open Houses, HUTTS, Radical Giving, Rye Habour Nature Reserve – Sussex Wildlife Trust…