Presenting our thrifty maker Naomi Huntsman (aka The Sewloist). When this lass isn’t sewing up a storm, she’s usually out thrifting for more fabrics, working at a Brisbane Rummage or running a craft workshop. Naomi is one of those people who gets things done. She has an idea, plans it, and then makes the magic happen! We have loved watching her ethical business grow over the last year or so, and we can’t wait to see the next vintage Ken Done print she whips up into a dress (seriously!).
Can you tell us a little bit about your sweet self? I’ve mainly grown up in and around Brisbane City. I’ve never really ventured far into the ‘burbs as all my friends, work and creative endeavours reside here. My focus this year has been my new clothing business, The Sewloist. I design and make Women’s Wear and Homewares in my West End studio, incorporating vintage and remnant fabrics into all of my designs. I also teach Rag Rug (up-cycling) workshops on a regular basis. I studied fashion and have always worked in fashion – usually at the higher end. I spent a couple years living in London and travelling Europe, where upon my return I joined the Suitcase Rummage team which I really enjoy being a part of. I also work part time at The Fabric Store in New Farm which is probably THE best job in the world for a fabric-obsessed person like me.
What do you like to do to keep your toes tapping and the neurons in your brain firing? i.e. What do you do in your spare time? I’m quite textiles and clothing obsessed! I’m a big believer in making personal connections to our garments so as to value them more and I love encouraging people’s self-expression through creativity. I wish to use The Sewloist as an avenue to connect with people, increase awareness and to provide an alternative to conventional fashion. That’s what inspires me and what I happily spend most of my time working towards. When I’m not Making or Designing I LOVE a good book. Whether it’s non-fiction (I’m constantly learning) or diving into Historical Fiction – in this hectic day and age, having the time to read really is a luxury to me!
Is your creative process rigid, fluid, sporadic? And how do you stay in the groove? My mind is always like Pop! Pop! Pop! There’s SO much I want to do and become involved in. It can be hard to focus with so many possibilities. But to be honest, sometimes I teeter smack bang in the middle of being over-whelmed AND under-whelmed at the same time. All I can do is be in the moment, refocus and keep going! It’s a long process from the initial design phase of a garment to seeing it actualised in a wearable (and flattering) form. I do love each part of the process, and I feel very fortunate to have the skills and the opportunity to design and make clothing for a creative living.
What are your hopes, dreams and fantasies? My big goal is to become more involved in the Maker Community and to launch The Sewloist online store this coming Spring! My ultimate dream and obsession is to get a Vintage Caravan, fit it out with my industrial sewing machines, solar panels and a sweet paint job before travelling around Australia. I’d like to essentially have a mobile studio and pop-up shop, visit far-reaching communities and teach people different aspects of textiles and clothing production. I’m sure it’ll also come in handy as a holiday caravan and emergency accommodation if the need ever arises. I’d like to be self-sufficient.
What do you like about working for Suitcase Rummage? The community. I love the diversity of those who sell with us as well as those who visit for a Rummage. It’s great to spend some face-to-face time with the people of Brisbane, those outside of my personal and professional network.
What tips can you share about being aware of your impacts on the world? I think the internet has proven to be a great tool for creating awareness, we can no longer bury our heads in the sand. Whether it’s about the environment, the clothing industry, meat factories… we are all now empowered with information and therefore have an obligation to be mindful of all that we do, how we spend our money and whether or not we use our collective voice to push for positive change. It can be overwhelming.. but by being more mindful we can create new habits which in turn make the world a better place. Choose one thing to focus on at a time. Grocery shopping is an easy and immediate place to start. Buying eggs? Research which farms are genuinely free-range. You only need to figure this out properly once, then you have a new buying habit so you don’t need to think about it on your next shop. Then focus on the next item you buy regularly and so on. We’re each going to be here for a very long time, so we should take a few moments to set ourselves up on the right trajectory. One quick tip – use paper mushroom bags instead of single use plastic bags when buying fruit and veg. I then fill these paper bags with my food scraps which go straight in the compost!
Which artists/thinkers/creatives are you obsessed with at the moment? Clare Press – Wardrobe Crisis author & podcaster. Clare is a massive advocate both within Australia and abroad for sustainability and ethics within the clothing industry. I’d recommend joining the conversation over on her Instagram account www.instagram.com/mrspress as well as listening to her new weekly podcast Wardrobe Crisis. I recently discovered Noisy Beak – this maker creates textile art dolls that ooze personality and cheek -bordering on dysfunctional! She adopts them out to families all over the world www.instagram.com/noisybeak Zoe Porter – an incredible Brisbane-based artist with really diverse mediums from beautifully dark watercolour paintings and collage, to collaborative performances and street art. Zoe Porter is top of my list for a collab. in the future! www.zoe-porter.com
What are your favourite things to do in your city? Spending time in my West End studio is #1 for me for sure! If I’m not in my studio or working away at some such thing I’ll usually be out n about in West End catching up with mates, listening to live music, and appreciating either a Sailor Jerry’s or some fancy Pale Ale. I love checking out markets also – always keen to see what creative endeavours local makers are getting up to!
I’ll be attending some designer markets throughout the year and plan to do some Pop-Up shops too!