Small Business Friday with Rowenna Mason
With International Women's Day just behind us I am really excited to share another creative female entrepreneur with you for #SmallBusinessFriday: Rowenna Mason. Rowenna is a textile designer based at Cockpit Arts studios in London. Her woven fabrics combine vibrant seasonal colours with soft geometric patterns – ideal for light and cosy interiors.
Rowenna takes an almost painterly approach to design, with the loom as her canvas and the yarns as her palette. Pops of fresh and playful colours filter through all her pieces. From wintery greys to summer pinks, each new design reflects the shades of pastel town houses, painted beach huts and English country gardens.
Her weaving pushes what is technically possible to innovate limitless new patterns, overlapping simple lines and shapes to create intricate 3D effects. Every piece is designed and sampled on Rowenna’s hand-loom in her London studio, using 100% pure new wool. The final product is skilfully woven in a traditional Welsh mill, then hand finished back in the studio.
Rowenna trained in textile design at Nottingham Trent University, followed by a postgraduate degree at Chelsea College of Arts. She has received numerous awards for her weaving, recognising her commitment to sustainability and British craft.
She also maintains one of the most beautiful Instagram feeds we have come across - a true inspiration board that interiors enthusiasts and designers can peruse for inspiration! Rowenna has kindly accepted my request for an interview so scroll down to find out more about her inspiration and favourite colour combinations!
Rowenna, thank you for joining me on Seasonsincolour! So tell me, what first attracted you to weaving?
I studied textile design at University in Nottingham, which was where I learnt to weave and really took to designing and creating fabric on the loom. I love the logical nature of weaving, the way I can bend the rules to be creative and innovative. There is something very magical about transforming a load of yarn into a completely unique piece of cloth.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Inspiration comes from all over! Often it's an eclectic mix of sources, influencing different aspects of the final cloth. From architectural angles, to a Sonia Delauney painting, a sunset sky or a garden full of flowers.
I'm coming to appreciate the changing seasons with the varying light, evolving landscape and the feeling those small seasonal moments bring. I'd like my homewares to be part of people's lives in their own different seasons - true heirloom pieces.
Who/ what influences your colourful designs and what does colour mean to you?
Colour is my biggest passion. There is always a new combination to discover, I love how different shades and tones play off each other and come alive. Within weaving, because I am always mixing warp and weft, unexpected things can happen on the loom.
It's a little like working with a paint palette! Painters like Turner or Sonia Delauney influence how I work with colour. I love how they use it to really play with light and make their colours glow.
Do you have any favourite colour combinations?
Having grown up on the south coast, blue has always been my favourite colour. As well as nearly all of my clothes being blue (to match my eyes!), I think it reflects my calm and quiet nature. Any combination tends to be one that really makes a blue or aqua colour come alive.
I love the blush pinks which are everywhere at the moment. In my own home and designs, blue and pink is a favourite combination. They just really pop against each other, as well as the white and grey of my rental flat.
Do you use Pinterest for mood boards or do you have a more traditional approach for those?
I take a lot of photos on my camera, it's such an instant way of capturing ideas. I often use mood boards, on Pinterest initially, to come up with ideas for a palette, shapes and styles. Pinterest is so instant, I can really get a feel for something visually within a few clicks!
With key images it can help to print them off and stick them on a board. When I have time, drawing in my sketchbook can really move ideas along from initial images to the final fabric, it allows me the space to think and experiment.
What is the most exciting project you have ever worked on?
Last year I worked really hard on developing my brand, as well as creating some designs for manufacturing in Wales. This felt like a big and scary task, but I loved overcoming the technical challenges and creating a collection I am proud of, with a website that really showed it off.
When you design your textiles, do you have a particular client in mind?
Mostly I have a focus on using colours that I absolutely love. Often I have in mind existing customers, and any positive feedback or favourite designs. I also design products which I would genuinely love in my own home.
I follow lots of interiors bloggers, so I often try and have different pieces that I would really see in their homes – as they are often so forward thinking with interiors, as well as being current and real at the same time.
What does your typical day look like?
My week is split into two, for three days I work in a secondary school as an art and textiles technician. This involves helping in lessons, keeping the department running smoothly and preparing displays. The rest of my week I work on my business at home or in the studio.
This can be so varied, from emailing, to sending orders, updating social media and planning exciting new projects. In my downtime, I love cooking, running and faffing at home!
What is the most difficult part of being a female entrepreneur?
I personally love structure and routine. I think sometimes I find the uncertainty of running a business quite challenging, from irregular finances to deciding on the direction to take my brand and overcoming hurdles along the way. I also think a massive barrier for me is confidence in myself and my skills, sometimes I just need to believe in myself and get on with it!
What is your own interiors style?
My home is quite eclectic, with influences from scandi, mid-century and boho interiors. I love having a calm home, but with interesting objects, textures and colours. I am renting so I seem to have collected lots of different items that I love over the years. Being a textile designer, I have lots of cushions and throws in beautiful colours, which makes my home nice and cosy.
Interiors trends for 2018 - what has caught your eye?
I am really enjoying the ‘new neutrals’ at the moment. A move away from just grey and white, soft pastel hues of warm plaster, lilac, pinks and mints.
Visit Rowenna's online store and pick one of her colourful designs. And don't forget to follow her on Instagram (so much inspiration) as well as on Pinterest and Twitter! All photography by the Designer/ Maker's favourite photographer: Yesen Venema.