Wildflower talks to Felicity Marshall, Founder of Daughters of Gaea, an ethical and sustainable homeware brand that celebrates high-end design while championing female artisans
Daughters of Gaea is a new breed of independent interior brands, which works to ensure that the company leaves as little or no carbon footprint as is possible, but also protects traditional handcraft techniques while helping female workers in developing countries. Founder, Felicity Marshall is determined to stick to her ethical values, ones that are polar-opposite to fast-paced consumerism. For her launch collection she collaborated with Thanangini Studios, Bangalore’s oldest female-led artisan group. The India Collection is inspired by traditional prints and hand block printed onto 100% silk and cotton. Stunning reversible quilts feature a selection of floral motifs, and her cushions range from whimsical nature-inspired creations to bold, block-coloured pieces edged with on-trend ruffles.
Felicity says, ‘The idea for Daughters of Gaea came while furnishing a house a few years ago. I loved the creativity that the project gave me. When I was looking for pieces to buy, I wanted them to be both ethically made and environmentally friendly. It was only then that I began to realise how difficult it was to find items that uphold these values, so I started to think about how to create my own brand, blending the two ideas together. I discovered that I could make most impact by working with female artisans in developing countries in an ethical way, creating high-end design, sustainable, homeware. I think furnishing our homes with beautiful items is easy but finding pieces that have nothing to hide is much harder. Transparent ethical values are unusual in high-end design, and I had scarcely seen it done properly in the luxury homeware space, so this business model inspired me.
I love discovering new designs, but so much of what you see out there feels like the same recycled ideas. Something truly high-end should have the wow factor of thoughtfulness and individuality. I believe that high-end homeware should be timeless, impeccably designed and made to last. I relished the challenge of trying to design pieces that fit this ethos. I have always been interested in art, fashion, and interior design. I think the most wonderful aspects of life revolve around art forms and I became passionate about wanting to channel my style and creativity into something of my own.
The name of my business was inspired by Greek mythology, where the ancient goddess Gaea (or Gaia) is the personification of the Earth. We are celebrating craft traditions from all around the world by working with generations-old handcraft techniques that are also typically slower and kinder to the planet, using less electricity and water. ‘Daughters’ refers to the fact that we champion female workers and female-led artisan businesses.
My designs are directly inspired by the natural world. I love to be out in the wilderness, hiking in mountains, wild swimming, walking in gardens. If you take a snapshot of the landscape at any one point, you get a beautiful and unusual colour palette with clashing colours infused together to make a striking canvas. This was the inspiration for my first collection. I wanted to create a sense of the rich landscapes you see in nature, taking inspiration from the sky, sea, land, animals, plants, and trees. But also, a sense of place of origin – for example, the India Collection gives a sense of wild, untamed landscapes, and pays homage to traditional Indian florals.
I love that I get to learn about new handcraft techniques that if we did not keep alive, might end up dying out to factories and fast consumerism. Our first collection was created with block printing by hand with wooden blocks. It is incredibly difficult to print evenly onto materials and it added another layer for me on just how skilled our artisans are. I love digging into these techniques and breaking the norms – my aim is to put a contemporary spin on every collection and showcase these handcraft traditions in a way never seen before.
To read the full interview with Felicity, see Issue 12 of Wildflower.