Yes it's probably a bit weird that a shop selling cushions is writing a feature on another shop selling cushions, but I'm going to post this anyway. You need to know about Hitch & Hop - a homewares brand based in Surrey, UK - that is creating gorgeous and unique cushions out of old leather sofas destined for landfill and tweed jackets in need of a new purpose.
And you know what, if it's a brand that is, like us, looking to change the world through cushions, then I'm happy to share its story. So read on to find out more about Hitch & Hop's take on reducing textile waste and creating eclectic style at home.
What made you decide to start Hitch & Hop?
Hitch & Hop was born from a real hate for waste. I had a leather sofa that I really didn’t want to send to landfill. I couldn’t find anywhere online that recycled sofas and it seemed the only destiny for this couch was to end up at the local dump.
This sparked my curiosity and drove me to find an alternate use for my sofa, which developed into the first Hitch & Hop product. By pairing something old with something new, the half leather half Harris Tweed cushion was formed, and we haven’t looked back!
"This is very much the start of an exciting journey in which I hope to develop other products to use the whole sofa and save usables from landfill."
Who is the face behind the brand and can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Luke, and I am the driving passion behind Hitch & Hop. I’ve always had an innovative streak and hate the thought of any waste. As a youngster, I was often found rooting through skips, not being able to believe the usable stuff people threw out. I fully intend to build a house out of materials destined for the dump.
I’m very much a one man band but do call upon friends for help with different aspects of the process (it’s really tricky to lift a couch on your own). I really appreciate the help from everyone around me whether it’s lifting sofas, borrowing a garage for storage or help with stitching, and I really couldn’t do it alone. To help show my appreciation, each colour combination is named after a helper/supporter/friend of Hitch & Hop (I think its appreciated).
"As the product offering grows, I’d love to offer genuine work to those people who find commercial employment tricky."
There is an amazing lady who helps me out with some of the stitching; she’s has had a run of rubbish luck. She’s a really talented seamstress so she’d be first on-board!
Where does the name "Hitch & Hop" come from?
Hitch & Hop is a carriage driving term to describe the action of when one horse of a pair pulling a carriage, momentarily breaks its trotting stride, to then trot in synchronisation with the other horse creating a harmonised pair, in a ‘hitch and hop’ movement.
In echo of this equestrian slang, we take two quality materials - up-cycled leather and Harris Tweed - and ‘Hitch & Hop’ them together to create a harmonised product.
"Our main purpose is to divert usable materials from landfill, to create something purchasable which ends up being a talking point for the recipient."
Talk us through the making process – what inspires your designs and what is involved in production?
The process was very time consuming originally when I used to make the cushions individually. Now that I have batched the production, it has saved me a lot of time that I can then allocate to thinking about new products and the admin side of a business.
The main material is the leather from unwanted sofas. This leather is stripped, cleaned and graded. Some of the leather is too tough for cushions and is destined for other upcycled purposes. The leather is then cut into panels. We source used tweed, mostly jackets, and some new tweed from independent weavers on the Isle of Harris.
I feel strongly about the Harris Tweed product, being produced in small batches, its sustainable, helps the island community and has a real quality that you don’t see in some other materials.
The tweed, new or upcycled, is also cut into panels and the labels sewn on. The Hitch & Hop label itself is again created from an upcycled sofa and is laser engraved. The Harris Tweed Label is provided when you purchase new tweed from the weaver. The panels are then joined and inverted, cushion inner inserted, and hand sewn to finish.
We don’t use zips on our cushions for a few reasons. It would use more material, and add to cost, and because of the nature of the materials used, there’s no reason for needing to remove the cushion inner – you can’t wash the leather and tweed in a washing machine like cotton.
Which collections are your bestsellers?
This is a tricky one because of the nature of the way our materials are sourced, there are usually only small batches available. The Jacket cushions with pockets still attached are probably the most popular and get the biggest smiles at craft fairs - there are a couple of TV presenters and famous upcyclers that have them in their homes.
What is one key thing we can do to be more mindful about the interiors products we buy and showcase in our homes?
My advice would be to buy from independent businesses and makers. Cushions aren’t something that you frequently renew like other consumables, so you can afford to pay a little more for quality and uniqueness.
"Buying from a big business means that there lots of other homes with the same cushion – be a little different!"
Have you made any changes to your own lifestyle recently that help you to be a more ethical/slow living consumer?
The main change I have made is that my living room is now a stock / show room for cushions and prototype products. I’ve always been conscious about recycling and buying to support independent makers and I’m pleased that there’s more light illuminating the businesses that are making an effort to make a positive difference which isn’t just for their own gain.
How would you describe your own sense of interior style?
I genuinely love the Hitch & Hop product. I’ve had feedback that the cushions can be quite masculine, so I guess that would be my interior style. I’ve recently purchased some curtain tiebacks made from scavenged antlers from Scotland. It’s something subtle that people notice and they like to talk about. It’s great to be able to tell the story about where they are from and how purchasing them, your money goes toward the conservation to the habitat where the deer live in Scotland.
"I love having items that are a talking point and have a story behind them."
What is your favourite item at home and why?
This may sound a bit bizarre – but bear with me! I have knitted a bath mat from old t-shirts cut into yarn. It took ages and gave me RSI in my wrist but is the most comfy bath mat you’ve ever put your feet on. Plus, because it’s made from t-shirt yarn, you can chuck it in the washing machine and it dries really quickly.
What gets you out of bed in the morning when it’s rainy outside or business is slow?
It can be really disheartening when business is slow. You just have to remember the real-time feedback from your consumers. One of the first craft shows I went to, I invited everyone to come and have a feel of the cushions and although I didn’t make many sales, the feedback was great, people loved the product and loved the ethos of the business and what Hitch &Hop were trying to achieve.
What are your top tips for creating eclectic style at home?
I’m a classic thinker of “if you like it then get it” process. You will soon get to the point where all the stuff you like starts to go together because it’s all stuff that you like.
"Pick something with a story and something that nobody else has."
It's great to see another brand using cushions as a vehicle for change. Whether its keeping textiles from landfill or providing employment to marginalised groups, cushions are an excellent starting-point for making the world a better place, don't you think!?
You can find Hitch & Hop online here and in a range of stockists.