Meet the young textile designer in Shipley looking make a mark on the industry

Quality textile production in Yorkshire is still thriving albeit under the radar, according to a young designer looking to make her mark in the industry.

Rebecca Ough set up Shipley-based Salt Weave Studio just before the pandemic hit Britain two years ago. Prior to that she had worked as a designer for AW Hainsworth in Leeds.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Ms Ough said: “There’s so much textile industry happening in Yorkshire. It might be under the radar for a lot of people but a lot of world leading mills are still here and producing the best fabric in the world.”

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Images of deserted mill buildings have led to people believing that textile is struggling. But while quantity may not be the same as before “the quality is just so up there”, says Ms Ough.

Rebecca Ough set up Shipley-based Salt Weave Studio just before the pandemic.

Her business moved into Wharf Street Studios, a building which was being used as a gym until last year and has now been converted into workshop spaces for small businesses, in October.

The building is home to other like-minded creative businesses such as jewellery makers, an upholsterer, florist, photographer and furniture maker.

Ms Ough said: “I set up my business originally from my spare room at home. I quickly outgrew that. It’s difficult to store rolls of fabric at home.

“I also found that it was difficult working in isolation. When this opportunity came up to move into Wharf Street Studios, it was just a great chance to be around other creative people.

Setting up a business in the middle of a pandemic has been a challenge for the 28-year-old entrepreneur.

“Although I am working by myself, it doesn’t feel like I’m working by myself because there are people all around me.”

The move to Wharf Street Studios also presents the potential to collaborate with the other businesses based in the building.

Previously, the building was used to store bales of wool. Ms Ough said: “I love having my cutting table where they would hoist bales of wool up for storage.”

Ms Ough uses hand weaving to design fabrics on a small scale. She then works with local manufacturers to produce fabric.

Her business moved into Wharf Street Studios in October.

The textile designer has a collection of throws, blankets and scarves that she sells through her website.

“I’m hoping to expand that range this year with more designs and more colours,” she says. “I have also been working recently with a fabric supplier, designing upholstery fabrics.”

Setting up a business in the middle of a pandemic has been a challenge for the 28-year-old entrepreneur.

“I’m yet to see the true potential of my business,” Ms Ough says. “I’m hoping this year is the year that I can expand, venture out into the world a bit more and approach more buyers.”

Ms Ough is hoping to expand her product range this year.

The pandemic has made it difficult for her to go out and meet potential buyers. She’s hoping to get out to more exhibitions this year and network more.

Ms Ough added: “I’m hoping to expand my product range. Now that I’ve got a space to design and work in, it really opens up a lot more opportunities to me.”

In recent years, there has been a push towards buying from local businesses by consumers. It’s a trend that is benefitting the textile industry.

Ms Ough said: “I aim to get all of my fabrics made in Yorkshire. I manufacture all of my fabrics in Yorkshire. I try and source all of my yarns from Bradford.

“They are woven in Bradford and they are finished in Huddersfield.”

Going forward, the young entrepreneur hopes to expand her range and also produce fabric herself.

She said: “I hope to have a substantial range of home interior products to sell.”

Hands-on work

Rebecca Ough has always liked working with her hands and making things. She did an art foundation course at Bradford College, where she discovered knitting.

Ms Ough then went on to study at Manchester Metropolitan University and came across weaving.

She said: “Weaving was never really on my radar when I was younger but interestingly I’ve found out that my great grandparents were all in the weaving industry.

"It’s nice being located in Bradford because there’s so much textile heritage around here and you are bound to come into contact with someone who has experience in it.”

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