Meet the Maker: Ashculme Textiles

Step into the world of Ashculme Textiles, where the bond between a mother and daughter fuels their love of sustainable and ethical fashion made from alpaca wool. This duo weave creativity, love, and respect for nature into each handmade piece they make. From cosy cowls and scarves to elegant ponchos and wraps, their collection fuses vibrant colours and rich textures together. Ashculme Textiles prides itself on its paddock-to-product process, where they tread lightly on the earth around them and keep their operations ethically sound. Their passion for sustainable fashion and the luxuriously soft touch of alpaca wool is sure to leave a positive impact on both the fashion industry and the planet.

How Fiona started her handmade textiles business

Fiona started Ashculme Textiles in 2016 after many years working in childcare. At the time, she wanted to bring some animals into her paddock and was eager to get back into doing something creative. She decided on alpacas that had high-quality fleece and started making her textiles. Initially, she thought she’d do the whole process herself, but she soon realised she’d need to outsource the yarn spinning so she could focus on doing what she did best – high-quality weaving. After speaking with customers, she started dyeing the yarn and slowly worked out which colours suited her and her customers best. Fiona says her business name comes from her husband, Cliff – he grew up in a small farming community in Devon, UK called Ashculme, which is named after the Culme River that runs through the town.

Her handmade textiles range

Fiona skillfully crafts a range of handmade garments, including capes, cowls, wraps, ponchos, scarves, and blankets. Currently, she enjoys exploring diverse yarn-dyeing techniques, seeking to achieve unique aesthetics. As part of this, she’s diving into the science behind natural dyeing and unravelling the truth behind myths that suggest cabbage or beetroot can create permanent results when used to dye yarn. She says it’s a fascinating subject that she’s still learning about. Fiona finds herself increasingly drawn to produce clothing, so she can often be found weaving fabric lengths to create exciting new styles.

Photo of Fiona from Ashculme Textiles hanging up one of her items on a coat hanger
A woman standing in a field wearing a blue and brown Ashculme Textiles scarf

What she loves most about her handmade textiles business

Fiona finds incredible joy in pursuing her craft and relishes the autonomy it brings. As she describes, “Being able to spend my days following my passion, in control of my days, my workload, and my workspace – it doesn’t get much better than that”. She loves every aspect of her business, from waiting to receive yarn from the mill, to the friendly interactions with customers at the market. Yet, her true passion lies in the uninterrupted moments spent in her studio, where she brings to life the ideas that have been swirling around in her head. Fiona takes pride in running a sustainable and environmentally-friendly business. Her products aren’t just Australian Made – they’re certified as Australian products, which means nothing has come from overseas. Reflecting on her creative drive, Fiona says, “I honestly don’t know. I’ve always got ideas in my head and am always planning or designing something”. Over the years, she’s evolved her business into a sleeker operation by developing specific clothing lines and styles. While she does veer away from these occasionally, she’s more aware of it now instead of haphazardly creating like she did when she first started.

How her handmade business succeeds

Fiona values the wisdom that comes from her customers and says their insights are invaluable. She shares, “Spending time chatting to them and hearing their thoughts is so valuable. They’re the reason I get to spend my days doing exactly what I love”. When it comes to new business owners starting their own ventures, Fiona urges them to trust their imagination and creativity. She emphasises how important it is to start with your own ideas and then work out the logistics to make them a reality. Fiona encourages newcomers to “be inspired by others, but don’t follow their ideas. Their ideas are unique to them, and your ideas will be amazing and unique to you when you trust in yourself”. 

What she loves about coming to Handmade Canberra

When asked what she loves most about the Handmade Market, Fiona says the market experience is like a big family. She’d heard this previously, but it was only after being at the market for the first time that she realised it was true. Fiona loves how professional, committed, generous, progressive, and innovative the market is, citing the Low Sensory Shopping Hour initiative as an example of all these qualities. While at the market, she enjoys connecting with like-minded individuals and listening to customers’ stories.

To stay connected with Ashculme Textiles, check out their website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Ashculme Textiles Ponchos
Ashculme Textiles Scarf
Ashculme Textiles Wraps