I have found the perfect beach bag! I came across this brilliant company not so long ago and immediately asked whether I could do an interview for the blog as it’s the sort of thing that my fellow bloggers, followers and I love. Wight Sails, based in the Isle of Wight, make beach bags and other accessories from recycled sailcloth! Perfect for the beautiful sunny weather and our holidays, whoop whoop! I asked Peter Le Masurier and Marcia Young a couple of questions about Wight Sails and what the future holds for their company:
What motivated you to start Wight Sails?
We first developed the idea almost three years ago. I am a sailor and live on the Isle of Wight and was asked to dump a sail one day. I thought of the waste and damage to the environment. As an entreprenuer I wondered whether there was a way I could (a) rescue sails and help protect the environment and (b) make a business from it. My partner, Marcia, is a designer and together we sat down and had a good look at sailcloth. Sailmakers have been making bags for centuries, but no one was making quality products from used sailcloth.
Where do you source your sails from?
A vast range of places and people. We have sail collection stations on the Island at a number of yacht clubs where sailors can drop off their sails, but we receive sails from 70 year old windsurfers who have given up to people who find them in their sheds. We also offer a free postal collection service for anyone to send us their sails. We will pay postage or put that towards the cost of a product.
Why are sails such a good material to work with?
On the one hand they are strong, water repellent and last a very long time. On the other hand, we wouldn’t say they are ‘good’ material to work with. Because they are tough they are stubborn and there is a real skill in being able to turn sailcloth into products, ask any sailmaker.
What’s the process for transforming an old sail into a new item?
When an old sail comes through the door we decide what product line suits best. If soft, it goes in the cushion and seat pile, slightly stiffer and it goes in the windbreak pile and so forth. We then strip the sail of its metal parts (we use these as direction on other products) , we strip out any rope that is sewn in (this is also used for other products) and then we set about cutting out. Really dirty sails are washed and more often than not the only way to do it is by hand!
Do you have any best-sellers?
It is hard to pinpoint as it is all popular, but windbreaks, beach bags, wash bags, deck chairs, crew bags, doorstops (in retail) tend to be always popular.
You also offer to up-cycle customer’s personal sails – have you ever had any unusual requests?
Nothing out of the ordinary. Most people like their boat number to be shown or have their name attached to a product if made form their own sails.
What does the future hold?
We will soon announce a major relationship with a very well know brand we have been working with and we are very excited by this. We will also be announcing a limited range of products from the sail of a boat sailed by a very famous yachtswoman. We are also expanding, moving out from our small workshop into a bigger one and taking on some more people.
Well it definitely sounds like there are exciting times ahead! I think my favourite is the Beach bag which is £43 and the wash bags which are £30. They’re super light, quick drying, easy to clean, durable and saving the planet! You can buy Wight Sails products from their website www.wightsails.com they have a huge range of products including deck chairs, cushions, iPad covers and wine carriers. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
If you’re doing anything interesting with unusual materials please get in touch- I love finding out about anything quirky and innovating especially when it involves saving the planet!