We’ve long been fans of Haines’s award-winning work in the interiors industry and are thrilled to have collaborated with them for our latest slipper chair design ‘The Hendal’. But for those of you who may not have heard of them before, we caught up with founder Jules Haines to discuss the who, the why and the how of everything you need to know about one of the most innovative sustainable brands out there.
In a nutshell, could you explain what Haines is?
I launched Haines back in 2020 to offer a unique online resale platform for designer textile brands with surplus, misprinted or dead-stock fabrics which might otherwise be destined for landfill. A staggering 400,000 tonnes of homeware textile waste is generated each year and so I wanted to create a business that would enable interior brands to make small but positive changes to help reduce the negative impact that they have on the planet.
We work with established design houses such as Pierre Frey, Porta Romana, Fermoie, Romo, and Christopher Farr to name a few, as well as smaller independent studios to take these surplus fabrics off their hands. Our platform allows us to then sell these to interior designers and customers at a reduced cost. We also collaborate with fashion brands such as Daydress and Levis to repurpose surplus textiles into soft furnishings for the home and also clothing. To date we’ve saved over 27,000m of fabric from heading to landfill, which I’m extremely proud of!
Most recently we also launched Haines Curates - an idea that brings together a collective of eco-conscious designers and invites customers to shop new homeware products in a more sustainable and ethical way. This now has 17 different textile designers, all of whom place environmental impact and waste reduction at the core of their business and who you can feel confident buying new fabrics from knowing that they really are doing their bit for the environment. We’re really thrilled to be offering all of these eco-conscious fabrics as the first option for our new design - 'The Hendal' - with Lorfords Contemporary.
How did your original idea for Haines come about?
The idea started after a chance meeting in a pop-up shop in Tunbridge Wells. A soft furnishings business owner was selling a wide range of high-end fabric leftovers from projects. When chatting to him he explained what the hassle and cost of doing a shop once a year was, but he couldn’t see these beautiful textiles going to waste. It made me think that there should be someone who could offer that resale service.
Having worked in the industry, I’ve experienced the frustrations of having leftover designs as a textile brand, and not having a beautiful platform to represent them. I knew printers and designers who have waste, all a bi-product of what they do and something they can’t avoid.
I did some industry research and spoke to old contacts about my idea, they loved it and felt there was a real need for it as I did. So I then pitched my idea to the business owner in the pop-up shop, and he was my first supplier - and still is!
What is your background in? What did you do before starting Haines?
I’m a mum of 2 - Edward is 8 and Jemima is 6 and we live in Tunbridge Wells. We moved from London 6 years ago, and love living here. After a business degree I worked for a charity for 5 years, moved to Singapore where I started working for a brand new textile design house. There I learnt everything I needed to know about growing a business. I worked for Korla for 5 years in sales and marketing where I onboarded retailers such as Liberty and John Lewis - and I loved it all. Here is where I learnt first-hand about the huge amount of waste in the industry.
From an environmental point of view, what is your motivation? Where did your passion come from for wanting to reduce waste?
It’s something that I’ve always appreciated, avoiding waste, I’m known for not being able to throw anything away! I’ve shopped in charity shops for decades and have always been into arts and crafts so the challenge of upcycling is in my nature. I really respect and appreciate the art of a textiles designer, part of the reason I want to save it from landfill. I think the automatic need for no waste came first, and then the understanding of the benefits to the environment has come in the past decade, when I’ve learnt about the damage we have done to the world. This has enhanced my passion to be kind to the earth.
What would happen to the textile waste if you weren’t using it?
We can’t say exactly. We would like to think that all waste textiles are rehomed or reused in some way, but we know that this isn’t the reality. We have spoken to suppliers who, before they heard about us, had to hire a skip to throw waste textiles away or some brands destroy their textiles on site.
What challenges have you encountered along the way?
Well, aside from starting the business as my side hustle as I had a 4 day a week job and two small kids…it’s the understanding from the industry of what we are doing. At first a small number of design houses didn’t understand our mission and felt that we were just there to under-cut their product price. But we don’t interrupt their primary sales channel, we only have their products second hand, and it’s a small volume and most likely won’t be on our website for long. It actually benefits many of them as they are getting brand exposure. Christopher Farr was the first brand to understand our ethos and support us, now we proudly work with many design houses such Fermoie, Linwood and Sanderson Group helping them to reduce their textile waste.
Do you think we still have a long way to go in tackling waste in the interiors industry?
Oh yes, absolutely but the good news is that mind sets are certainly changing. The interiors industry is an industry steeped in tradition, so a lot of the ways we are used to working and thinking need updating. I think reducing waste wasn’t on people's radars until recently, and it’s hard to change a habit of a lifetime but until someone points out that things can be done better, you just keep working the way that has worked for you for decades. We are the first marketplace to allow the industry to resell their waste in a beautiful way, so there weren’t many options before that. Our aim is to be easier than putting it in the bin.
What’s next for Haines?
2023 has been a really exciting year for us with collaborations with Daydress and That Rebel House, a new collective of Haines Curates designers and obviously our debut furnishing collection with Lorfords Contemporary. For 2024 we’re looking at launching into the US, hopefully working on a new pop-up space in London and - fingers crossed - hopefully designing some more furniture! Watch this space…