Jules Haines of @haines_collection
Jules Haines of @haines_collection
The Beauty of Reupholstering To Limit Waste with Haines
As we think more and more about how sustainability can play a role within our homes, the idea of reducing waste has always been a big factor to us here at REV. With our co-founder Cora Hilts renovating a farmhouse in Maine, she was thrilled to find Jules Haines of Haines, which upcycles fabrics that would otherwise go to landfill into beautiful upholstery options from upcycling furniture, curtains and pillows. Learn more about Jules’ mission to bring new life to beautiful fabrics whilst minimising waste from decor below!
“Working for a textile designer I saw first-hand the waste in the industry – whether it was remnants from curtain making or rejected fabrics from the printing process. I’d come home with bags full of scraps, to avoid them ending up in the bin. People are used to throwing away the old to make room for the new, which is something that needs to change. Generally it isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds, so part of what we want to do at Haines is inspire change.”
– Jules Haines
First of all Jules, can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?
I’m a Mum of two – Edward is eight and Jemima is five and we live with my husband Ollie and black labrador puppy Penny in Kent, England. We moved from London 5 years ago, and love living here a bit further out of the bustle of the city. After studying Business at university I worked in Marketing for the charity Cancer Research UK for five years. I then moved to Singapore for a couple of years, and discovered a new textile design house run by a British designer who was looking for help on the marketing front. I worked with Jane at Korla for five years and learnt about growing a business from scratch, and the ins and outs of the interiors industry.
I’ve always been crafty and thrifty, I loved upcycling. I spent a lot of my childhood digging in my Grandmother’s fabric remnant drawers and reimagining them on her old Singer sewing machine.
And now to Haines – how did you come about starting the company and what was the real inspiration behind it?
Working for a textile designer, I saw first hand the waste in the industry – whether it was remnants from curtain making or rejected fabrics from the printing process. I’d come home with bags full of scraps, to avoid them ending up in the bin. People are used to throwing away the old to make room for the new, which is something that needs to change. Generally it isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds, so part of what we want to do at Haines is to inspire change.
The idea for the business came after a chance meeting at a local pop-up shop. A soft furnishings business owner was selling a wide range of high-end fabrics cheaply. They were all his leftovers, and I overheard him say what a hassle doing a shop once a year was, but he couldn’t see this going to waste. It made me think that there should be someone who could offer that luxury resale service to solve this problem, and reduce what ends up in landfill.
Designers and printers cannot avoid this surplus, all a bi-product of what they do, and something they don’t have time to deal with – it’s a real problem. So I emailed the guy in the pop-up shop after we met, we had a meeting and he was my first supplier, and still is a supplier!
In 2020 I officially launched Haines Collection – a resale platform for leftover or unwanted luxury products from the interiors industry as well as an online home for eco-conscious designers. Our mission is to reduce waste and our impact in the interior design world.
Now I look back and can see how I have combined my previous experience in a charity and for a textile designer, and developed a cause-driven business in the interiors industry.
“I grew up in a traditional english home so I’ve always be surrounded by family heirlooms that have been passed down from generation to generation. This is only possible if you look after and value your possessions. So repair and reupholstering is part of my mindset, its the only way. I hate waste, of any kind, and love the rich history a piece can carry when it has been loved for generations.”
– Jules Haines
Can you let us know a bit about the issues of textile waste…how big of an issue is this?
We’re using the earth’s resources faster than nature can replenish it. We need to look to see what is already available before we take more raw materials. We need to reduce our waste and what ends up in landfills.
Sadly there is very little research about textile waste in the interiors industry, which indicates there is little awareness of how bad it is. The UK Homeware market is valued at £13.8 billion in the UK alone, which highlights the scale of consumption we are dealing with as an industry. Soft furnishings produce a dangerously high volume of waste that is not being addressed. The consequence of this is devastating for our planet. According to a situation report by WRAP in 2019, in the UK approximately 900,000 tonnes of textile waste ends up in landfill (or is incinerated) every year. Homeware textiles account for 42% of it. Considering that this is almost half, I’m pushing for more research to be done in this area. We now know so much about fashion textile waste, pollution and recycling – we should be just as informed about home textiles.
And how do you think the issues of textile waste and furniture waste converge?
I think it’s all part of the same problem, design waste is huge. I feel like the problem is so colossal, one isn’t worse than the other as they are so interlinked. It all comes out of the interior design industry so should be tackled with the same urgency.
I read recently that ‘Nearly half of London has thrown away good quality furniture that could have been reused or upcycled’. In fact I spent yesterday morning, after school drop off, pulling two lovely antique chairs out of a dumpster to be reupholstered. It’s laziness, there are so many thrift stores, and resell platforms now, there is no excuse. I do have hope though, the younger generation are being taught about sustainability and preserving the environment in schools so will have these values ingrained in them, which have been lost or ignored for decades by older generations.
How do you think we can use textiles to achieve more circularity within the home?
I think it’s about thinking twice before you throw anything away. Consider how it can be reused, upcycled or donated. My children’s old cot sheets have been cut up and are now used as cleaning rags around the house, the cot mattress has a new cover and we use it as a dog bed. Sun damaged curtains can be made into cushions (with the good parts)… it just takes a little imagination and effort. There are so many alternatives to the bin, it really should be the very last resort. Don’t do it for you, do it for the generations to come, they need this planet to be in good shape when they pass it on.
How do you look at reducing waste within Haines as a business?
I try and look at every single element, and ask myself, ‘how can I do better?’. Even if it’s asking the team to not fill the kettle up to the top and only boil the amount of water they actually need for a cup of tea (to reduce energy consumption), it is all important because it keeps the overall concern top of mind. Quick fixes, such as recycling cardboard, buying recycled paper, or using paper tape on packages. It’s continual development – we change one thing, and then move onto the next. It all really adds up and makes a difference.
Where did your own love of repair and reupholstering come from?
I grew up in a traditional English home so I’ve always been surrounded by family heirlooms that have been passed down from generation to generation. This is only possible if you look after and value your possessions. So repair and reupholstering is part of my mindset, it’s the only way I know. I hate waste – of any kind – and love the rich history that a piece can carry when it has been loved for generations.
What are your top tips for anyone looking to possibly salvage an old piece with new fabrics?
For all furniture, make sure to sit on it before you buy! It needs to have a solid frame to be worth upcycling. Keep an eye out for any cracks that might cause you issues later. If you can – pick it up, if it’s heavy it’s likely to be good quality and well made. Speak to the person selling it – what can they tell you about its past and previous life – this will give you an idea of if it’s worth salvaging or worth the price you are paying. Don’t be afraid to barter, I’m rubbish at it but force myself to at least ask the question and then it’s less of a big deal and you may save a few dollars in the process! Retailers are used to questions like that, so don’t feel like you are being cheeky. When it comes to choosing fabrics – choose something that will be hardwearing (a high Martindale/rub count) and again ask the supplier for advice. (We are regularly sent photographs from customers and we particularly love the after pictures too!) Once you have made your piece look after it, avoid keeping it in direct sunlight, and when marks or tears appear – address them as soon as they happen.
And where else in the home can you upcycle fabrics to create new pieces?
If you are shopping with Haines’ upcycled rescued fabrics, then all our fabrics are suitable for all soft furnishings and most are suitable for upholstery. Curtains, blinds, cushions, lampshades and upholstery are the most popular pieces to create with upcycled fabrics.
If you already have some fabric that needs an upcycle, think about creating something that you need – a laundry bag, a new cushion, cloth wrapping bags (instead of wrapping paper), table cloths, the list is endless.
Finally, what does a truly sustainable home look like to you?
A truly sustainable home is when you have really tried your best. I think it’s important for all of us to do what we can; it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of plastic you see looking around, or the possible changes you can make and give up because it all seems too much. Do what you can, take your own bags to the grocery store, buy second hand first, or give shampoo bars a try. Give it a try, one change at a time, and I guarantee in a few months your home, and life, will slowly become more and more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Sharing ideas, learning from what other people have done and together we can make a huge difference.