Portrait image: @plasticimage. All other photographs (c) Marcella Echavarria.
Business expert Marcella Echavarria is teaching a brand-building workshop for us, with Selvedge’s founder, Polly Leonard. Crafting Your Brand, a five day virtual course, is for textile entrepreneurs, teaching skills to help you develop your marketing. Here, Marcella tells us where her love of textiles comes from. It’s a passion that has shaped her 25+ year career in journalism and consultancy. She founded SURevolution in 2005, one of the first global brands to link the world of luxury with the handmade. And in 2010 she started her consulting firm focused on branding and creative communication. Now, Marcella has distilled her experience into a series of online courses to mentor those starting out. The next Crafting Your Brand runs 9 - 13 November.
Where does your love of textiles come from?
I was born in Colombia and grew up in a family that valued the handmade in all its forms: food was grown in the countryside farm, cooked at home using traditional tools such as gigantic hand hammered copper bowls and wooden spoons. My mother made all of our clothes including polka dot bikinis and Halloween costumes. Sustainability, recycling and entrepreneurship were all terms I learned when I went to Brown University in the nineties. They were all fancy terms to what had been my natural upbringing. After Brown I went back to Colombia and tried to write about all of the accumulated nostalgia to find that nobody was really interested. Eventually I found interest in international publications such as Elle Decoration, who started publishing my work and my “weird interests”. I became more and more interested in natural fibres and stories told with threads.
What is one of the most rewarding projects that you have worked on?
In 2010 on a trip to the south of China, I discovered and fell in love with mud silk, a textile carrying 2,500 years of tradition, involved with every nuance in climate and nature. The process behind mud silk, uses the juice of dioscorea tuberosum, a unique indigenous medicinal plant, which is rich in tannins and makes the fabric stronger to be later coated with mud from the Pearl River. Physically the fabric gets two sides: a glossy black face and a matte orange-brown reverse. Noir Handmade was born to honor this experience and this ancestral textile.
What's the most useful tip that you could give to a textile entrepreneur just starting out?
Understand your WHY! The reason why you do what you do and why you would not do anything else. Visualize branding as the material expression of your strategy.For more information and to book your place: Crafting Your Brand Intensive, Virtual Course with Marcella Echavarria & Polly Leonard