Spotlight On:

Hunted & Stuffed

We are always looking for unique craft businesses to take part in our Crafter in the Spotlight and this month, CraftCover got the chance to speak to Hunted & Stuffed.

If you haven’t heard of them, they specialise “in sourcing exquisite vintage and antique Japanese kimono silks and brocades and giving them a second life by inventively transforming them into stunning limited-edition pillows, throws and other creations.” They often describe their style as “Homeware with History”, and their products have become extremely popular with customers around the world.

The company was set up by Ellie Laycock, who “is an award-winning entrepreneur, author, artist and photographer with a passion for upcycling, interior design and discovering the hidden stories behind vintage textiles and the skilled hands that made them.”

There is no doubt that Ellie is passionate about upcycling. She originally trained in Fine Art, specifically sculpture, and has always enjoyed making thing by hand, using a wide range of tools and materials to make her ideas come to life.

“Upcycling appeals to me because I love the challenge of looking at an item that has come to the end of its life and reimagining a new use for it, then making that idea a reality. It combines creativity, resourcefulness, engineering and problem-solving skills plus the ability to produce something beautiful at the end of the process.”

On the Hunted & Stuffed website, you can find lots of vibrant and interesting products, from silk kimono cushions to vintage aprons. We asked Ellie where she gets inspiration for her range and she told us “As Paul Smith says…’You can find inspiration in everything and if you can’t, look again!’ The ideas come from the textiles themselves. They usually tell me what they want to become.”

Interestingly, some of the fabric that Ellie uses dates back as early as the 1920’s and we were keen to find out why she chooses to use these. Ellie told us that the very first thing she upcycled was a scrap of obi fabric. For those who aren’t familiar, obi are the belts that tie round Japanese kimono. She decided to turn it into a set of dining chair cushions.

“I was attracted to the pattern and texture of the fabric and it was the start of my journey into researching the history of weaving in Japan and understanding the rich history of symbolism in the motifs used. It’s been an incredible journey of discovery and I have even discovered that a history of weaving runs in my family too, back 5 generations to the 17th Century!”

“Really, it’s about celebrating the skilled hands that made the fabrics in the first place, and finding a way to let their work live on by giving it a second life which can be appreciated by new generations.”

As well as focussing on her business, she also has lots of other interests and hobbies. Before she started her family, Ellie worked as a photographer and still does this for her own business. “It’s another way to tell stories, which seems to be at the root of all I do.”

She also told us that “being a mother certainly takes up a huge amount of time! I enjoy the arts, music and play bass guitar for fun, I’m quite involved with local causes and as you might expect, I am always rummaging around antique fairs and markets looking for inspiration!”

After learning all about the business, we spoke to Ellie about her plans for Hunted & Stuffed. “We are just about to launch a new line of luxury throws which are upcycled from uchikake wedding gowns and are absolutely stunning, so looking forward to seeing what our customers think of them!”

Finally, we asked Ellie what advice would she give to other crafters when it comes to insurance. She told us that she “would always go with a specialist insurer because they know and understand exactly what your business needs are and can provide the exact cover that you will require.

“As a handmade business, you are probably used to wearing many hats and having to cover a wide skills base, so partnering with an insurance company that understands you means one less thing to worry about!”