For the series Good Folk on this blog I have sent interview questions to some really wonderful people who are either making things, running shops, or generally promoting sustainability. I think you will enjoy reading their answers as much as I have, and I hope they inspire us all with the knowledge that there are people doing good in the world!
This interview is with Maria from Rosita Studio. She makes absolutely beautiful hand embroidered linens. Here she talks about her passion, her process and her family traditions.
Tell me about yourself and the work that you do.
My name is Maria and I’m originally from l’Empordà in Catalonia (Spain) but I live in Wiltshire, UK since I moved from home in 2017. Although I miss the Spanish sunlight and some of my favourite food I’m absolutely in love with the English countryside!
I run Rosita Studio, where I make hand embroidered table and bed linens. I take inspiration from vintage linens and make colourful and contemporary embroidery with floral and monogramming designs.
When I’m not sewing, which is not very often, I’m outdoors with Poppy (my dog) and... not much more since the pandemic!
How or why did you get started?
I’ve been sewing since I was a little child because my mum is a passionate seamstress and textile lover who started teaching me when I was like 4 or 5. Her mum, my grandma, use to sew as well and I grew up surrounded by fabrics, sewing machines, threads... and spending loads of time at my mum’s sewing school.
At uni I studied Fashion Design and Pattern making which I really enjoy as well but home textiles have been always in my heart because they represent tradition, family and home to me. At my parents and grandparents there’s endless linens stitched by each generation of women of my family. I love the quality of the fabrics and the embroidery, we still use the bedsheets with my grandma’s monograms on it.
Although it’s part of a trend now,-no complaints because this means my products are relevant- I originally loved home linens like tablecloths, napkins, and bedsheets because it felt like something old that no one was interested on but me, something very unique to me.
I started Rosita Studio a year ago now, during lockdown 1. I ended up losing my day job because of the pandemic so I decided to carry on with the embroidery... and here I am!
What is your favourite thing about the work that you do?
My favourite thing is talking to people! When someone contacts me enquiring for a piece and they explain me who is it for, why they want to commission that and how they expect the receiver (or themselves) will feel when they have the final piece in their hands.
I love knowing people’s stories and use them to make very personalised pieces.
I get very excited with every single commission because it makes me feel great to be able to make people feel happy and special through my custom embroideries.
Have you got a particular cause or issue that you would like to raise awareness of?
I use my work to reclaim craftmanship. It’s almost an act of resistance to be a hand embroiderer in 2021 but I want to contribute to preserve trades and professions. It’s very hard to work in something like this, so slow and mindful, when the world goes at its maximum speed and people don’t understand the real time and cost of production. We’ve gone to far with mass production and it worries me that manual professions are slowly disappearing and everytime less and less people have the skills to make stuff with their hands!
I look at the past very often, to my ancestors -like my grandma Rosita- people who use to make more than buy because I’d like to be as self-sufficient as possible. I also feel inspired by how my ancestors lived a more austere life... we buy so many stupid things we don’t need! I much prefer to have less but better quality and my work is all about this too.
What is the most challenging thing about the work that you do?
Many things are challenging as running a small business requires loads of skills and I don’t have all of them... I feel fine with slowly learning how to do each thing but there’s two things that are a nightmare for me: time management and pricing! These two things don’t come natural to me and just even mention them makes me cringe. I have absolutely no boundaries with timing and it doesn’t help that I live in a studio flat, my bed and dining table are facing the studio, there’s no way to have a break!
About pricing... I know many makers struggle with this. Hand embroidery is really slow and because each of my product has an exclusive design I spend loads of time creating something unique and I don’t charge enough for that. I need to make some changes but money makes me feel so uncomfortable that I don’t know how to start!
What does a typical day look like for you?
On a typical I normally get up quite early, I don’t need an alarm because either Poppy or the day light wake me up. I normally jump out of bed and take Poppy downstairs to the garden straight away. My boyfriend’s bakery it’s also downstairs and he works at night so I always knock on his door to say good morning and grab some freshly baked breakfast!
Once I’m back up I normally do a short yoga routine, have a shower and post on Instagram while I eat breakfast. Then I take Poppy out for a walk to the fields.
When I’m back it’s time to start working, I always start doing emails and admin bits or material/design research. I also help my boyfriend with his business so there’s always many things to be done before I can touch a needle! At some point I’m finally ready to start drawing/designing/sewing/hand stitching... I spend the morning in my desk until I’m hungry and I stop for lunch.
After lunch I take a little break and at about 4 when my boyfriend goes to bed and I don’t have any distractions I do most of the work of the day. I really don’t recommend this and I’m working to change it but I normally work until I’m really tired and then I go straight to bed. As I said, really bad idea but... we all have our weaknesses...