Here is a wee snippet of my story, where the roots of our much loved family business ‘Meadwells’ all began. I was born in a mining village, Blackburn in West Lothian where I lived until the age of 11. My dad changed jobs which took us to live in a little village, Garelochead, on the West Coast of Scotland. I learned to sew out of desperation to leave school and have my parents to thank for my sewing skills. They gave me an ultimatum – “you’re not leaving school until you get a job” and me being me I landed on my feet and got into an apprenticeship in soft furnishing. Secretly, I think my mum was delighted as there had always been a sewing machine in the background of our family home. My mum was passionate about dressmaking and made all of my clothes I wore as a child! From then on my passion for sewing grew. I married my husband Kevin in 1982 and went on to have 2 children. We decided to become a foster family, which has led us to where we are now; 7 children (all grown up), 2 grandchildren, and counting!
I have always loved working with Harris Tweed from my soft furnishing days. However, it wasn’t until our son Elliot and his girlfriend bought me a card with Harris Tweed on it, I was inspired to buy a small piece of Tweed myself. I took this piece of Tweed and went to work in the sewing room again. It was all so natural, and I began to make a bag and card for our daughter Victoria who was travelling in Australia, it was my way of sending a little piece of love from Scotland. It was so well received, I started experimenting with different bag styles and using different combinations of Tweed. Before I knew it, we had a stall at Sloan Market in Glasgow and we were selling our bags and cards.
The popularity of the bags got me thinking ‘there is so much more I could do with Tweed’. Customers would ask me ‘do you do this as an iPad cover?’ or would say ‘This would be great as a phone cover!’ I always find the best place for inspiration is when talking to customers, this has helped us along the way and is one of the reasons why we have so many great products.
Each Harris Tweed bag I make is individually handmade using reclaimed leather from quality second hand leather jackets and feel the Harris Tweed and leather both compliment one another, which is really great as each bag tells its own story (plus you won’t see anyone else with the same bag). The leather and Tweed combination idea came from an old leather coat about to be binned and it has evolved from there. I’m always hunting for good quality second hand leather jackets, so if you you see any, let me know! I also find it is often a dilemma choosing which Tweeds to order from Harris as I just love them all.
Our business is a family run business; we work from our coach house in the village of Rhu. Both Kevin and I have taken the plunge and given up our careers to pursue our passion. Our daughter Victoria is about to embark on a course in Fashion and Design and will hopefully be joining us in the world of Harris Tweed, reconstructing clothes using Tweed.
I love to tell our story and hear about more people falling in love with Harris tweed, in the same way that we did. We hope you love our tweeds as much as we do.
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