Arra Textiles: Handwoven With Love and Zero Waste

From the rugged mountains to shimmering lochs, Scotland has plenty to offer for one who seeks a balanced life. Drawing inspiration from nature, the Scottish zero-waste brand Arra produces long-lasting handwoven textiles. Their bespoke products are timeless and easy-to-wear. We spoke to Lucy MacDonald, textile designer at Arra Textiles, about how her design inspiration aligns with slow design principles.

Words: Johanna Raudsepp

Arra Textiles Merino Wool Throws.

Arra Textiles Merino Wool Throws.

How did you end up in the world of textile design?

My art teacher at school suggested I look at studying textiles after I created a dress made from recycled materials. I studied textile design at university in Scotland and Finland, specialising in weave. 

What is your favourite part about designing textiles?

I enjoy seeing a design evolve from being an idea in my head to a finished product and seeing and hearing people's reactions to receiving a piece as a gift or when they first see the work.

What is it about slow living and design that you love and why?

I like a piece to have a story behind it or meaning. I like to think that a blanket will be passed down through a family and become a part of a family's history. 

Ripple Cowl Scarf.

Besides being sustainable in your creative approach, do you follow such principles in your daily life? 

I try to buy clothes that will last and are made ethically and I use locally grown and/or home grown produce.

"I like to think that a blanket will be passed down through a family and become a part of a family's history." 

Wave Throws.

Ripple Cowl Scarf.

What has been the greatest thing you have learned along the way?

Patience! Starting a business is a slow but rewarding process! Also, people enjoy meeting the person behind the brand and like to have a story to go with a product.

You draw a lot of inspiration from the sea. How do you go about designing a new textile or print for Arra?

I take lots of photos and I make collages. I use the collages mainly for colour inspiration. I like to let the patterns develop by changing small parts of the design at a time.

 If you had to describe Arra Textiles with a piece of music, this would be...

It's hard to choose just one piece of music to describe Arra Textiles, as I like to think that each collection has a different feel and mood to it. If I had to choose a genre of music then it would definitely be a symphony. Separate design influences of light, sea and the natural world are woven together like an orchestral score where colour hues, weave structures and carefully chosen yarns combine to create a harmony within the final piece. 

Arra Textiles Ebb Throw.

Arra Textiles Ebb Throw.

You can purchase Arra Textiles here.


SkinYoga: 100% Natural Empowering Beauty from India

Drawing from ancient knowledge of purifying the body, mind, and soul, there’s a new 100% natural way of adapting to ancient rituals. Luxury skincare made user-friendly - and all you need to do is just add water! Indian award-winning skincare brand SkinYoga focuses on empowering women by educating them about the worth of natural beauty and traditions. Founded by a sister-trio, this beauty brand stems from a unifying love of nature and heritage. Radhika Choudhary, one of the co-founders of SkinYoga, spoke to us about their skincare range and its sustainable future. 

Words: Johanna Raudsepp

SkinYoga Post-Workout Neem Purifier.

SkinYoga Post-Workout Neem Purifier.

What inspired you to create SkinYoga?

We grew up in a farm in India, where we used to grow our own vegetables, nurtured cows for dairy, and lived a very organic lifestyle. Then we moved to different parts of the world to study. We always got complimented for our skin and hair and at that made us realize it was the very simple and pure regime we had been following since our childhood. After seeing misleading claims from beauty brands that you only need 3% natural ingredients to call yourself a natural skincare brand, we were determined to develop and formulate a 100% natural and clean luxury skincare line that showed results in just one use. The idea was to create a product for the modern working women, so they could enjoy the best of ancient science and modern technology, yet without having to spend hours on different steps. 

How does SkinYoga follow principles of sustainable beauty?

We are 100% natural skincare brand and all our ingredients are plant-derived, pure, and unprocessed. Few brands in the world can say they are 100% natural.

There are many dimensions to being sustainable. We have kept all our products in a powdered state to keep them highly active and potent. When you’re ready to use it, you only need to add water to activate it. The stabilizing method helps us keep the ingredients highly active without any preservatives. We focus on the smallest details, from packaging to internal operations, making sure they follow an eco-friendly process. Our team is very actively involved in the community and participates in socially responsible programs. We frequently conduct educational seminars and exhibitions highlighting the importance of sustainable beauty.

"We have concluded that a beauty regime doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated and involve 20 different beauty steps."

SkinYoga Corporate Gift Set.

SkinYoga Corporate Gift Set.

Who is your beauty inspiration?

Hundreds and thousands of strong independent working women across the globe, who have and are living balanced and healthy life with lots of style, not because they have to, but because they choose to do so. They are incredibly inspiring, and thanks to our profession, we are blessed to be working with many of such women today, our mother being one of them. We would also like to add that 100% of our workforce are women today.

What is your go-to beauty routine like?

It’s quite simple: cleansing, moisturizing and good sun block in addition to at least 6 hours sleep and loads and loads of water. We at SkinYoga are always looking to further simplify beauty routines. We have concluded that a beauty regime doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated and involve 20 different beauty steps.

"Our philosophy is “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your body”." 

SkinYoga Oats and Roses Face Wash.

SkinYoga Oats and Roses Face Wash.

What inspires you when creating new SkinYoga products?

One miracle bottle. That’s our brief behind every product. If you look at our current range we have an ideal capsule skincare range, adaptable to every age and all climate conditions. Coming back to the idea that you don’t need 10 products to take care of your skin.

Quality has become a signature to our brand. Our team works extremely hard to create products,which are clean and effective. Our philosophy is “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your body”. 60% of what you put on your body is directly absorbed into your blood stream. Hence, it’s important to stay away from chemicals. 

How do you see the future of natural, sustainable beauty? Where is it directed? 

The future of the beauty industry is heading towards natural and sustainable brands. With the growing consumers’ awareness and demand, the natural skincare category is one of the fastest growing in skincare globally. But there is a huge gap in the market still and more brands are coming to that realization. 

Global demand for natural skincare products is expected to reach $13.2 billion by 2018. Thus, we will see more mainstream brands come up with natural skincare ranges in the future.

SkinYoga Green Tea Face Mask.

SkinYoga Green Tea Face Mask.

What are your hopes and dreams for 2017?

Our dream and mission is to get every vanity bag chemical free. We love to empower women. We want every woman to feel confident and strong in their own skin without having to apply any makeup.

2017 is an important year for SkinYoga - we are coming out with 3 new products, including our first hair care product.

Want to shop or find out more?
UK readers can buy the products here:

Skinyoga Sandalwood Saffron Face Mask.

Skinyoga Sandalwood Saffron Face Mask.


Beej x Raag Workshop: Homage To India's Traditional Textile Skills Heritage

As a brand that proudly celebrates the heritage of Raag workshop with its tradition dating back to 1975, Beej draws upon a modern, moveable take on India's traditional textile skills. Whilst placing the highest importance on sourcing locally from different parts of the country, the uniqueness of Beej lies in making their clothes entirely in-house. The nature of Raag's repertoire of garments enhance a subtle self-confidence and ease of movement. We say 'yes' to wearing traditional feminine enigma paired with flawless fluency. 

Ikat Overlay Coat by Beej, 2016. 

Ikat Overlay Coat by Beej, 2016. 


Beej started with the idea of bringing Raag, started by Asha Sarabhai in 1975 and available in other parts of the world but not yet at home, to India. We are keen to complement the Raag line of clothes with other objects that share its ethos and so created Beej as an umbrella brand under which these products can be sold. We want to celebrate India’s rich heritage, stand for uncompromising quality and a delightful customer experience, and adhere to the highest ethical standards. The Beej and Raag logos, created by Ivan Chermayeff, emphasise the relationship between the two and the fact that we think of ourselves very much as a contemporary brand.

What are the sustainable solutions you have incorporated into the making of your garments?

All Raag clothes are made entirely with handloom fabrics, the production of which keeps alive rich traditions, provides employment opportunities to artisans and is far less resource intensive than mill made fabrics. The environmental impact of our production processes is negligible as our clothes are made by hand.

Our clothes are designed to be durable and make allowances for the wearer to gain or lose a few pounds. Construction techniques and finishing details such as the elimination of seams when possible, addition of gussets for ease of movement and the avoidance of zippers ensure that our clothes last well and give pleasure over the years. We further facilitate their use over time by offering free alterations and repairs for life. Customers who would like to recycle or repurpose an old garment, by making a stole out of a beloved old coat for example, are encouraged to send them to us.

"Overproduction, rampant consumerism and wastefulness, especially in the case of fast fashion, further compounds the adverse global impact that the fashion industry can have."

Where do you see the importance of ethical fashion stand today? Why are we only now starting to open our eyes to the downside of the fashion industry?

The way clothes are produced can often be extremely destructive to the environment and exploitative of the people who make them. Overproduction, rampant consumerism and wastefulness, especially in the case of fast fashion, further compounds the adverse global impact that the fashion industry can have.

An increased awareness about these issues has made people more conscious of the choices they make. The building collapse at a garment factory in Bangladesh, which tragically killed over a thousand workers in 2013, was a watershed moment and resulted in global outrage. It brought to the fore concerns that had been harbored for a long time and which could no longer be ignored.

In light of these realities, and given the huge increase in the number of brands that have launched in the Indian fashion industry in the recent past, an ethical and humane approach to fashion is especially relevant.

Wrap Top by Beej, 2016. 

Wrap Top by Beej, 2016. 

What were the main social concerns that led you to inventing a sustainable brand? 

We started out with the goal of making simple, durable, quality products, in an ethical manner, that we hope would bring pleasure to their users. We were keen to dispel the notion that good business practices make bad business sense by running a humane and efficient setup.

In the Indian fashion industry, it is common practice for many aspects of production to be outsourced. In such a situation, especially so in a developing country, it is very hard to ensure that the people making your products are working in a wholesome environment and are being treated fairly. We were adamant about wanting to make all our products entirely in-house. It enables us to guarantee that those involved in the making of our clothes get a fair wage and work healthy hours in an environment in which they are treated with dignity and respect. Having direct control over all production processes also enables us to maintain high quality standards. Very few companies, and none amongst our peers that we are aware of, make their own products entirely in-house.

"We were keen to dispel the notion that good business practices make bad business sense by running a humane and efficient setup."

What does the pairing India x Sustainable Fashion tell us today and possibly in the future? Where does its heritage stretch back in time? 

We’ve always thought of tradition as a continuous strand, incorporated in the contemporary – that’s what keeps it alive. India has a long tradition of minimizing waste. Recycling has always been an imaginative and inventive art and is very prevalent. Old saris, for example, are turned into quilts when they can no longer be worn. The sari itself, being an unstitched garment, essentially a piece of cloth that is given its dimensionality by the wearer, is an inspired heritage. It can be worn in many different ways, limited only by the imagination of the wearer, and places emphasis on her instead of on a brand. We feel fortunate to be part of this heritage.

Your pieces look modern and comfortable, and not traditional at all! Who is the customer Beej is aimed at? 

We hope Beej would appeal to those who have an understanding of detail and the feel of what they wear. Our audience is discerning women (age 25 and above) with a simple, understated aesthetic and a personal sense of style that isn’t dictated by trends. We envision our customers to have a wide range of interests, be global in outlook and have an appreciation and affection for India’s rich cultural heritage.

"The sari itself, being an unstitched garment, essentially a piece of cloth that is given its dimensionality by the wearer, is an inspired heritage."

What's the best opportunity that creating Beej has led you to? What has been the surprise element?

Appliqué cardigan by Beej, 2016. 

Appliqué cardigan by Beej, 2016. 

It has been a tremendous privilege for us to get to work with Asha Sarabhai and to get the opportunity to bring Raag to customers in India. Being a small, and young, company we can be nimble and we want to make the most of this by transforming ourselves with each collection. Our first collection takes inspiration from the Russian artist Kazimir Malevich to reinterpret Raag classics and we have exciting plans for future collections. Each collection, while rooted in the values, sensibilities, and the design language of Raag, will hopefully seem fresh and vital. Exploring a different theme for each collection has been great fun and an intellectually and creatively stimulating experience.