Tamay and Hannah have a special partnership. Collaborating while miles apart between England and Vietnam, they specialise in traditional Red Dzao embroidery under the brand name of Tamay & Me. We're intrigued to see what they'll be bringing to the Selvedge Fair in Charleston this Saturday, and so we caught up with one half of the team in the run up to the event...
What made you start working with textiles?
I’m originally an anthropologist but have always loved textiles. In 2008 I went to Vietnam and was fascinated to know what it would feel like to work on a very detailed textile piece. When I met Tamay in the market in Sapa she said she could teach me how to make Red Dzao embroidery, and I jumped at the opportunity. I spent over 1,000 hours on a small piece and was forever connected to textiles and Red Dzao culture.
What is it about Red Dzao embroidery that captured your attention?
I learned so much through making that piece of embroidery. Most of all, patience! I realised that attention to detail is what makes something so perfect and dense. It was particularly poignant to see how important it is to undo mistakes and make it right in the embroidery. Sometimes I would make such little progress in a whole day, but when I finished the piece after one year I was delighted to have put in the effort and have it look just right. There were so many life lessons embedded in the piece, I will never be able to thank Tamay enough. That’s partly why we have set up Tamay & Me, we both know we can do it if we worked hard.
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by change and how ideas spread within communities. I love how the internet enables us to share ideas. Instagram is brilliant. It feels really positive that so many people are engaging in sustainable fashion. Slowly but surely people are becoming more aware of the dirty side of the fashion and textile production across the world.Who influences you?
Of course Tamay! I'm really inspired by some great brands that are producing really lovely clothing with transparent production. Older Brother in Portland, Oregon, Ottowin Footwear in Bristol, Hund Hund in Berlin. I always listen to the Conscious Chatter podcast which is all about sustainable fashion, Kestrel Jenkins is great.
What's your favourite part of the process?
I adore knowing everybody in our production line of the jackets. Tamay and I have brilliant days going to visit the makers and they are so appreciative of what we're doing. Before we came along many of these skills were considered to be dying out. It's so much cheaper to buy mass produced cotton and synthetic black dyes from China.
What’s the hardest part?
Having chicken feet in my bowl of rice at lunches with our producers. It is supposed to be sign of respect and gratitude but I never get get used to it! Also keeping my computer tidy, it’s not my strong point!
Where do you live and why?
I live in Bristol. It's a buzzing hub of activity with so many people engaged in small businesses doing brilliant things. I work in the Bristol Textile Quarter which is such a supportive, creative hub. I'm so grateful for the community we have there.
What’s your ideal Sunday?
I love breakfast in bed. My partner is French so we'll have croissant in bed together and get the crumbs everywhere. The countryside around Bristol is beautiful, we'd take Oumai, our dog, for a good walk and go for a roast that serves local, organic meat. Then come home, light the fire and have a bath. Perfect!
If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow where would you go
India. I love it there. I'd go on textile trawls through the country with lovely chai breaks and enjoy a good sunset. It’s been a while.
What’s your favourite colour?
Indigo - of course.
What are you reading at the moment?
Since my daughter was born I struggle to read books as I fall asleep after two pages. Salman Rushdie’s Fury is by my bed.
To find out more about the Selvedge Fair in Charleston this October 14th, and to avail of our two for one offer on all tickets, click here.