Weft Textiles’ Samia Fisher on being naturally inspired.

A quest to find ethically-sourced fabrics led designer Samia Fisher to start her own slow textiles business.

When Weft Textiles’ Samia Fisher was working as an interior designer, sourcing fabrics for her clients often left her feeling uneasy. “It was quite hard to source materials where you knew how and where they’d been made and whether they’d been made ethically,” she says.

Yet it wasn’t until she learnt about natural plant-based dyes on a trip to Jamaica that the seeds for Weft Textiles were sewn.

“I had this vision of creating the perfect products where everything is hand dyed, organically certifed and made in Australia.”

She started out by applying native botanical dyes to ax linen, hand-spun and woven organic cotton and 100 percent silks for a range of homewares – bed linen, tea towels, throws and cushions – using a soft yet sophisticated palette. Then she added fashion – specifically, loungewear – and in late 2016, opened a retail store in the Adelaide CBD.

It didn’t quite go as expected. Being in the shop was often isolating, and working a second job in hospitality added to the stress. The intensive process of having her products hand-dyed (each piece has to be cut prior to dying) and made meant their price-point was above what the market was willing to pay, and using botanical dyes meant she couldn’t work on larger commercial products as they don’t comply with the strict standards required.

So she tweaked her business model, shifting to eco-certified dyes, moved into a new retail and creative space in mid-2017 with three friends – a shoemaker, a hemp clothing designer and a plant stylist – and got her mojo back.

Stepping into the shop, it’s easy to see why. The milky white walls, muted tones of the products and potted plants give it a cocoon-like feel. “It’s super supportive, and it’s a nice space, which is important if you’re creative,” she says. “Working by myself, I learnt how isolating it becomes and in turn your creativity can get stunted, because you don’t have anyone to bounce things off.”

Now, she and her friends are on hand to support each other if they hit a creative block. But if something’s still not working, Samia says she’s learnt to back off. “I won’t force it. I’ll just let it go, relax a little bit and come back to it later. More often than not it passes.”

As well as selling directly to customers, Samia works with architects and interior designers on high-end residential projects to supply fabric for bedding, curtains and upholstery.

Her leap into fashion wasn’t as obvious a next step as it now seems – she studied interior design at RMIT, so hadn’t had any experience in designing fashion. She started the line to create products that her peers could a ord. The first piece is still her most popular – a kimono-inspired short robe.

“That was the first time I’d ever done something like that. I did all the specs and hand drew it. When it came back and had actually worked, that was really exciting.”

The range also includes sleepwear – pyjama pants, a slip, sleep shorts – and she has plans to add underwear. Yet sourcing something as simple as elastic or a clasp that meets her ethical standards adds slows down product development.

“There’s a lot of time and thought – a lot of intention – behind every product and trying to create something that has longevity and quality and is aesthetically pleasing is a huge process. That’s what you’re buying – that care and attention.”

“There’s a lot of time and thought – a lot of intention – behind every product and trying to create something that has longevity and quality and is aesthetically pleasing is a huge process.”
“There’s a lot of time and thought – a lot of intention – behind every product and trying to create something that has longevity and quality and is aesthetically pleasing is a huge process.”

As well as selling directly to customers, Samia works with architects and interior designers on high-end residential projects to supply fabric for bedding, curtains and upholstery.

Her leap into fashion wasn’t as obvious a next step as it now seems – she studied interior design at RMIT, so hadn’t had any experience in designing fashion. She started the line to create products that her peers could afford. The first piece is still her most popular – a kimono-inspired short robe.

“That was the first time I’d ever done something like that. I did all the specs and hand drew it. When it came back and had actually worked, that was really exciting.”

The range also includes sleepwear – pyjama pants, a slip, sleep shorts – and she has plans to add underwear. Yet sourcing something as simple as elastic or a clasp that meets her ethical standards adds slows down product development.

“There’s a lot of time and thought – a lot of intention – behind every product and trying to create something that has longevity and quality and is aesthetically pleasing is a huge process. That’s what you’re buying – that care and attention.”