I couldn’t really do a series of blogs about local businesses and not include Firespiral Slings! Many of you will know that this company got me back into photography by helping me buy the equipment I needed and also becoming my first commercial client. We’ve been working together on much of their product photography for over four years now and I still look forward to a new release as much as I did back then.
Firespiral Slings produce high quality baby carrying wraps made right here in Lancashire. Since they began they’ve also expanded their range to include blankets, bags, and scarves so you can carry on enjoying their designs even when your babywearing journey is over. They are a business with strong ethics, keeping everything as local as possible and sourcing their materials in the UK wherever they can. Some of the yarns they use are bought in Heywood, some dyed in Blackburn, all wraps are woven in Burnley, cut and hemmed in Preston, and often photographed in and around Blackburn with Darwen.
Jen and Tamsin started the business back in 2012 and I was lucky enough to be able to try out their first tester wraps with my eldest, their lambswool fractal wrap in particular left quite the impression on me and I’ve never quite forgotten how wonderfully comfortable it was! Their designs are inspired by science, nature, myth, and of course the beautiful landscapes surrounding them. You can see some of their designs below including the ever popular Starmap and the iconic Winter Hill.
I asked Jen & Tamsin to tell me more about how they began, how they feel about the progression of the business, and what where they see Firespiral going in the future. Here’s what they had to say:
“We met and became friends when our eldest children were just babies. Some time after our middle children were born, we were chatting over coffee about our shared love of woven wraps and how we felt there was a gap in the market for more ‘alternative’ designs. We both came from creative backgrounds, understood a bit about textiles and we lived in part of the country where the weaving tradition was still alive. We had an animated discussion about how great if would be to start a local business weaving our own wraps, then went home, still thinking about how we could improve on weaves, what our designs would look like… It wasn’t meant to be anything serious, but the idea had ignited something in both us that we couldn’t forget about, and within a week we were visiting mills and getting the ball rolling!”
“At first we had no expectations or real plans for the future- if we had then the whole project might have been too daunting. As a result, the business pretty much grew organically, and we think that helped it to develop into something with enough flexibility to fit around our family life, and to weather all the various storms that we’ve been through. Firespiral has grown with our children, and almost feels like part of the family. It feels like going back to a more ancient way of living, where there is no strict divide between ‘work’ and the rest of our lives, everything intertwines to function seamlessly.With that in mind, it is hard to fully comprehend how the business has grown, or imagine what the future holds, in much the same way that it is hard to get your head around how your children have grown up and changed over the years!”
“Things are certainly different from those early years when we had very small children and were still finding our feet. Through trial and error we’ve developed a pattern of manufacture and a range of products that work well for us. Our ethics and core values of local, ethical and minimum waste production have stayed the same since the very beginning, although we’ve become better at implementing those as we’ve become more established. We’re a family business at heart, and while we want to grow more robust and strong, I can’t imagine we’ll ever want to put profits before ethics, or grow larger to the point where we become less involved with the heart of the business. Firespiral has become our way of life.”