Beyond Her is a true cottage industry, specializing in artisan textiles for home and body that we produce in a small studio in La Grange, Texas.
I draw the mostly nature-inspired images in pen and ink; then we screen print onto natural fabrics using eco-friendly, water-based inks.
From the beginning, our signature product was dish towels, generally dyed and printed with images with a modern, yet organic aesthetic.
From the start I looked high and low for 100% cotton towels, the kind that are absorbent and get softer with each use. The kind that gets a little wear-hole after years of use.
I found the towels that met all the criteria (nice size, loop on back, dyeable fabric), but they were made in India. Still, we kept the same supplier for six years and created and sold literally thousands of towels.
The towels became one of the few products between us and legit Made in America status – which was something we wanted..
(The whole sourcing issue is made more complicated by the way cotton is raised, harvested, and milled. Here's the whole story.
Even though we were satisfied with our product, every so often I would check online to see if any US textile mills were offering a suitable 100% cotton fabric. This year, 2017, something actually turned up on the search!
The source wasn’t actually a mill, but a manufacturer of home decor fabrics offering cotton bolts completely made in USA. After a few phone calls, sample orders, and a trip to the plant in Sherman, Mississippi, we determined we could in fact use this fabric for high quality tea towels – if we could find someone to do the sewing.
A search on etsy turned up several sewing studios / artisans, one of which made towels of her own. We bought a dozen, started the conversation, and two months laters, she started work on several bolts of multi-colored fabric, using a custom twill tape hook announcing “Life is Too Short for Ugly Dish Towels,” the Beyond Her manifesto.
Then Harvey happened. I had been thinking of incorporating words, or affirmations, into my designs anyway. But that storm rocked my world, and even though we were facing production in a compressed time frame and headed into an uncertain holiday season, I couldn’t fathom creating just another pretty dish towel. So I picked four words that mean a lot to me – hope, strength, courage, wisdom – and came up with complimentary images.
I’m so happy with the outcome. The towels themselves are so straight and even; they were a dream to print on. I also made the designs as large as our equipment could handle for a bolder effect.
So far sales have been brisk. I love watching people ponder the images and the text, trying to decide what means the most to them or the person they’re headed to.
The best news of all is that, even with the freight back and forth, the Made in America towels are cost competitive to the imported version.
The value of persistence – in fact, that’s our next towel!
Shop our new towels here!
Her Point of View
Designer Paule Hewlett takes on design, culture and modern life.
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"Life is too short for ugly dish towels. Really, ugly anything."