Edgy eco-friendly interiors? You have got to be kidding me! Surely any eco-friendly interiors have to be: a) taupe/beige/griege or any combination of those hues and b) completely un-noteworthy in and of themselves meaning you have to actually tell people how eco-friendly the thing is because there is no way they would otherwise proactively comment on it themselves?
Apparently not. Enter stage left a particularly funky, hot of the press, punch you in the face in the nicest possible way, interiors brand, The Cuzon Market.
When founder Eliza contacted me I wasn’t sure what to expect – she’d read a post on my former blog about ethical interiors often being (wrongly) seen as boring and wanted to change that through her take on digitally printed small accessories which use less ink and water, and therefore create less waste. That was all I needed to click through to her site and on arrival I was blown away by the bold prints and unusual designs featured on her cushions, pouches, tea towels and stationery.
I’m a huge fan of folk who choose to push boundaries and do things a little differently – even more so when they do it with an environmentally and/or socially responsible focus – so The Cuzon Market is now firmly on my list of brands to watch! You should add it to yours too.
Eliza Cumming with her adorable dog, Luca
I asked Eliza if she’d like to be interviewed for the blog, and happily she agreed, so here is the skinny on one of the UK’s coolest new kids on the block in the world of ethical interiors….
What made you decide to start the Cuzon Market?
The Cuzon Market initially originated from a business idea I developed in my final year of university for an entrepreneurship module. Once I’d completed it I had the realisation that I could actually have my own business if I wanted, it didn’t have to just be a pipedream. I saw it as a way to have more control over my life and not be so focused on climbing the career ladder but actually enjoying every day doing something that I genuinely love. Although I didn’t become brave enough to take the plunge for another 8 months after graduating.
I had a bit of a shove in the right direction after the company I was working for went into administration. I then worked with The Prince’s Trust – a UK based charity that helps young people starting their own business – to get myself off the ground.
I’ve always been passionate about interior design and homewares – particularly textiles and print. I feel that interior design has become so clinical and minimalist (don’t get me wrong there is a space for minimalism). I wanted to introduce a brand that was more focused on being over the top, full of pattern, and a safe haven for print lovers, a maximalist brand – as well as being backed by strong ethics.
Eliza's cushions have been featured in one of Sarah Akwisombe's designs. This is an epic achievement and demonstrates her kick-ass bold credentials!
Who is the face behind the brand?
Big question! I’m Eliza, 23 years old from Nottingham, UK. I lived in London for four years until 2016, studying Fashion Buying Management at the University of Westminster and I’ve worked in fashion for the last 6 years. Although I love fashion, I’ve always been more passionate about interior design and homewares as I felt it had more longevity. I have always been creative and my passion for print was initially sparked by William Morris and Josef Frank designs.
I am hugely passionate about women’s rights and have found that it’s so entwined within the production of textiles. I focused my studies of fashion around women’s rights within production due to it being a feminised industry – workers’ rights are essentially women’s rights. I found that the feminisation of the textiles industry is largely ignored by retailers and not acknowledged as a feminist issue. This is something that drives me to be more progressive with The Cuzon Market and be a brand that stands for something. I am always trying to be involved with feminist activities and every year my mum and I attend the Million Women Rise march in London.
I’m also big on food! I’m vegan and although I like to think I’m really healthy and ‘plant-based’ I probably spend more time obsessing over vegan junk food than anything else – my intentions are good though! I run with a Nottingham women’s running group to try and counteract my food obsession.
What is the Cuzon Market's main ethos and purpose?
The Cuzon Market stands as the alternative to minimalism, allowing people to reintroduce print into the home. I want to create items that are good quality and long lasting – not a throw away piece that won’t even last the season! The Cuzon Market aims to be a destination for print lovers – offering an eclectic range of home accessories that are not only functional but contemporary and stylish.
The Cuzon Market is also a brand with a conscience. Studying fashion for 4 years opened my eyes to the ethical issues surrounding the production of clothing and textiles. I chose to produce in the UK to try and step away from this and invest into UK based production – this way I can provide a more guilt free shopping experience. Despite avoiding falling into the trap of sourcing production overseas for the sake of low costs, I feel that The Cuzon Market has a long journey ahead of it. I don’t want to just avoid being unethical but be actively improving people’s lives and making a difference. Being such a small brand, I am currently a bit of a one woman show. Ideally in the future I’d love to absorb more processes in house – especially all the sewing and final product make-up – providing really secure and well paid work to a female workforce.
Talk us through the making process – what inspires your designs and the names of your collections and what is involved in production?
Every print is born from something else I see. I find inspiration from absolutely anywhere – art, architecture, fashion, graphics. Although I try and get out visiting new cities, attending exhibitions, I’m also very pro digital inspiration. I use Pinterest every day to discover new places and images that I wouldn’t be able to see in real life – why not?! I might just see a colour or a shape which will give me an idea for a print. I always try to mock up the idea by hand but I mostly end up spending hours on Photoshop developing it. Normally the end print looks nothing like my original idea – but this seems to work! I then send the file to a digital fabric printer based in the UK for it to be printed onto fabric. Digital printing is a more environmentally friendly printing method, using less ink, consuming less water and creating minimal waste. Items are then sewn into beautiful home accessories either by me or by the printer’s in-house sewing team. I’m currently working with a printer based in Lancashire, UK.
For my first collection, naming the prints was a bit of an afterthought and I was against the clock with it – it took me days to think of a name that best represented the inspirations and influences behind it. I’ve learned my lesson. With the second collection which I’m developing at the moment, I’m naming the prints as I go along. This is so much easier and the names have just come to me and fit perfectly. For one particular print, I had a name I was desperate to use and so worked to develop a print that was deserving of that name!
What is one key thing we can do to be more mindful about the interiors products we buy and showcase in our homes?
I think it’s important to know about the brand ethics and where you are putting your money. Traceability is so important – knowing what country and what conditions the products you buy are made in and choosing to invest in brands that are open about their production methods. I really want The Cuzon Market to get to a place where I can offer people ultimate traceability from the weaving of the fabric to the last touches.
Have you made any changes to your own lifestyle recently that help you to be a more ethical/slow living consumer?
Almost 2 years ago I became vegan after being vegetarian my entire life. This is something I am hugely passionate about and is fundamentally part of me. Going vegan is one of the easiest steps to living a more ethical and environmentally life – not to mention a healthier one! More recently I have begun boycotting brands that have unethical and non-environmentally friendly credentials – brands like Unilever for example.
Like I said previously, studying fashion has made me very aware of the ethics of the production of clothing, so as much as I can, I avoid shopping at high street stores and try to only purchase things that are high quality and are going to last a long time. I try not to buy into the latest trends because I don’t want to get to a point where I don’t want to wear something because it’s not fashionable anymore – what a waste!
What gets you out of bed in the morning when it’s rainy outside or business is slow?
My little rescue dog, Luca. I am obsessed with him. He looks like a little white arctic fox (I am around 90% sure he is a dog). I got him in January and before that he lived in Romania for almost 3 years on the streets, so I love spoiling him rotten to try and compensate. He is definitely a little monster and my life would be boring without him – all my stories involve some drama he got us into. We recently ended up wandering round an off road motocross course wondering where on earth we were – that might have been my fault though not his… Everyone following me on Instagram is tired of me incessantly posting photos of him, ‘look he’s sleeping!’…‘Look he’s awake!’ (Yes I am that person!)
How would you describe your own sense of interior style?
A clash of everything. I try not to be too uniform and box myself into one style – if I like something I want to have the freedom to get it rather than think ‘oh but will it go with this or this’. I also feel like if I try to go for a particular look I will end up not achieving it and being disappointed – although I love seeing everyone else’s perfectly executed homes! But really my interior style is an unintentional mash of all kinds of things I love! And I always gravitate towards really detailed, overly printed, eccentric looking items rather than anything too simple.
Well there you have it folks, all you need to know about The Cuzon Market. A wonderfully ethical and eco-friendly UK brand (worldwide shipping available too!). I'm sure you'll love them as much as I do!
I recently bought two of these gorgeous deep green velvet Aamo cushions to complement my blush pink bedding - they're fabulous and work amazingly well with my Bamako (white mudcloth) cushions that you can buy here.