I also know that there are those who comply with the standards on paper but not in their hearts, and I have found that this shows if you visit, listen, talk and see, so we always encourage everyone working with us to come and see and expect to reciprocate. Inevitably, we have to make some compromises to get things to happen sometimes, so we try always to think carefully about that before we do it and be willing to explain it. Unless we can be trustworthy, we cannot expect trust from our customers. We also have to own up to making mistakes and find acceptable ways of dealing with them.
We have a pride in our provenance:
- at my farm
- at The Natural Fibre Company where we guarantee that each customer gets their own fibre back when processed, into the product they have ordered
- at Blacker Yarns where we buy fibre from people we know and trust, in long-term partnerships, and selecting quality by hand to make yarns totally under our control under one roof or sometimes with trusted sub-contractors
Within the mill, we have a system which starts at the entrance door, recording what comes in, from whom and from where. We then keep track of it through every stage of the journey to final product – each batch going through the mill has its own individual “passport” – in this case a clipboard with the production sheet for the order, recording each process as it happens. WE have been working on updating the system so that we can be even more exact, with the exact component sources of supply for each batch of Blacker Yarns identified as well as just the breed and a list of the suppliers from whom we buy. So we know! We know because it matters to our customers and it matters to us.
The final bit, about fit for purpose, good design and durability is partly down to the wonderful attributes of wool and other protein fibres, which can do much of this anyway. Then we add expertise in selecting the fibre most suited for the yarn and end product required, and of we try to add as much timeless classic essence as we can in terms of colours and pattern designs.
I expect to be able to wear my clothes for decades, not just weeks! And to love and care for them and, given this, I am also willing to spend quite a lot on getting that quality.
Most known and closest of all, I also have some very special clothes and a few pieces of jewellery, along with my fountain pen (which I generally use to sign copies of my book) and some pictures and furniture, which link me to my mother, father and brother, and other family members because they once owned them or gave me them, and so I can and do sometimes choose to take them with me when I need their support. Many of these are old … and I care for them to make sure they will last. The emotional importance of provenance is very powerful and links us back to the known, familiar, local, comfortable and valued essence of our lives."