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Guest Book: Freya Hollingbery of sustainable towel brand TAWUL

Updated: Jun 2

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the founder of a brand I've admired and coveted for the last few years: Freya Hollingbery, whose organic, sustainable towel brand TAWUL strives to empower women in cotton agriculture while creating products that are beautiful and functional.

A woman with dark, mid-length hair sits on a stool with her legs crossed and arms loosely folded, smiling in a relaxed way at the camera. She's in her studio, largely made of wood, and has a lamp with a pleated shade and a mustard-coloured towel on the work bench behind her.
Freya, founder of sustainable towel brand TAWUL

So, without further ado, we're delighted to welcome her to the Bam Guest Book.

Freya, can you give us an overview of your brand, what it offers and why it came into being?

Tawul Living is a home textiles brand, which came to life when I couldn’t find any sustainable or organic towels from a UK company that were designed by an artist. I was working in Interior Design at the time and always dreamt of creating a product of my own, something that was suitable for anyone, no matter what age or gender they are. I love the idea of elevating something we use everyday without thinking and making it something exciting and special to add to your daily routine. That’s why our slogan is ‘savouring the small moments.’ It’s about cherishing the quieter times of our lives and appreciating your rituals or calm moments with loved ones communally bathing or near water.

Can you tell us a little about your products?

In terms of what we offer, we have a collection of towels made with 100% GOTS and Oeko-tex cotton. I have hand drawn the designs in a vintage matchbox style and taken inspiration from endangered species in the UK, having been heavily influenced by my upbringing on an organic farm in Somerset. More recently, we do a series of vintage pieces each month that I’ve thoughtfully curated to complement our towels.

We are just about to launch a very exciting new collaboration with a London-based Argentinian designer and have created handmade outdoor towelling cushions with our dead stock towels to reduce waste. They feel so heavenly!

Three cut-outs of towels. The first is mustard with a cream leaf outline design. The second is green with a cream outline of a moth. The third is cream with a green border.
The Bee Towel, the Moth Towel and the Classic Ecru and Green Towel from the TAWUL collection

A close-up shot of a large cushion on a wooden work bench, in towelling material with green and cream checks.
The TAWUL x El Dorado cushion, launching this summer

What's your favourite thing about your work and what do you find difficult/what challenges do you face?

My favourite thing about my work is having the opportunity to design and create pieces to last forever and that no day is the same. I love drawing, so so much. Being able to use pieces I’ve drawn and designed is so special. One day I will be organising a shoot, following up or enjoying some PR, meeting up with other founders or just being in my studio with my studio partners.

I think I find working solo the most challenging, as you are your greatest cheerleader and sometimes it can be lonely when you’re having a day that hasn’t gone to plan. The magic of living in a place like London though is that there are endless opportunities to cross paths with new people who are doing fascinating things with their time and I love the energy of being here.

Do you have any advice for people considering starting a sustainable luxury business, or any words of encouragement for moments when things seem difficult?

Words of encouragement to start - give it a try! It’s so much easier regretting something you haven’t done than something you have done. You are your best asset and there is always something you can bring to your work that is unique to you. Try and work out your margins early on and think of inventive ways of getting new customers that don’t revolve around spending money on ads. When things seem difficult, communication with people you trust and writing your thoughts down on paper can help come up solutions and avenues.

Your personal wish list: up to three brands or pieces you'd love to get your hands on and why? 

An endless list! But I actually do have a dream list that I keep eternally pinned on my notes, it seems to grow with each season and year and I so enjoy referencing it.

  • A few fashion pieces I will mention: I would love to have a Nicholas Daley suit. I have been a long admirer of his brand and community and could order so many pieces from there.

  • Danielle Frankal dresses literally transform me to moments in time and I would love to try one.

  • In terms of homewares, lighting is my biggest obsession, I hold lighting in such high regard as I think it can completely transform and elevate a room. One of my favourite designers is Naomi Paul. The handmade crochet coupled with their elegance and timelessness are outstanding.

A wooden studio with warm lighting and a sustainable luxury towel in mustard and cream lies on the work bench
Freya's minimalist but cosy studio in East London

Can you tell us some things that keep you inspired, in work and in life?

Architecture and nature’s earthy palette have always inspired me. When I don’t feel inspired I sit down, listen to music and draw. This adds to the creative pot and can recharge my inspiration. Other founders doing well I similarly find super inspiring, as it helps prove things are possible.

In life, I absolutely love walking around London, I have never been a  biker and I love being able to walk around without maps and chatting away or passing through different areas. Another thing I do is sing and write music as a way of tapping into my soul. I used to sing a lot and it’s something I think I’ll do forever as a creative outlet.

Two images beside one another. The left shows Freya sitting on her workbench holding up one of her towel designs, obscuring her fro view. The right one shows Freya at her workbench sketching designs for her towels.

What does La Dolce Vita mean to you?

I think that phrase is laced with so much positivity and it takes me into a state of happiness. I think 'la dolce vita' is about appreciation, living life to the fullest and savouring everyday as you never know what may come tomorrow. This sounds obvious but, oh my, sometimes 'tomorrow' can surprise you…

Tell us a song you just can't help dancing to.

Underworld, Two Months Off - I heard it on the radio about a year ago while working and I hadn’t heard it for so long. I had to get up and dance in my studio, it’s a banger. It takes about three minutes to start feeling euphoric. There was so much positive reception for the song on the radio’s live chat that the DJ played it twice - I thought that was iconic!

A woman with short dark hair sits on a cream sofa, looking over her shoulder towards the window with a smile on her face. She wears a black tank top and loose-fit trousers, and drapes her arm over a large cushion in green and white check pattern.
Freya in her East London studio

You can shop TAWUL's full collection on their website, including newly-released towelling cushions in collaboration with El Dorado, or follow them at @tawulliving.


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