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Cardigan Bay's Textile Design Revolution

It seems an unlikely place to come across a design revolution, but if you venture into the valleys of the Pembrokeshire coast in west Wales you will find a thriving creative community. Inspired by their industrial heritage and spurred by the economic downturn, small businesses and enterprises in the Cardigan Bay area are working hard to keep their local skills and manufacturing traditions alive.

“At some point you realize that we are going to have to start making stuff again,” explains Cardigan Bay-based David Hieatt, founder of Hiut Denim—a brand name that merges his surname with the word utility. It’s a sentiment that’s echoed across the many of the creative businesses in the area. “The recession has made us realize that to buy less but better is something we have to get back to,” says Hieatt. “It’s an ethos that society started out with many years ago and the recession has helped us to rediscover it.” Provenance is certainly a buzzword in retail at the moment, and products made in Cardigan Bay have it by the bucket load.

Amanda Griffiths, of local woolen mill Melin Tregwynt, attributes the area’s surge in creativity to the quality of life that it offers and the inspiration the landscape provides. “It’s always been a creative area full of crafts people—we joke that it’s Wales’ answer to California.”

This combination of history, natural resources, craft, passion, and ideas creates ideal growing conditions for new and old manufacturing businesses. Dwell tracks down three of the area’s entrepreneurs to find out how they are turning to the triumphs of the past to find success in the present.

Pembrokeshire’s history is rich in arts and crafts traditions, from the woolen mills and potteries to the manufacture of glass, wood, slate, metalwork, and textile products. Inspired by her Welsh heritage, Denise Lewis set up Blodwen, an online store that serves as a platform for Welsh design in Cardigan Bay. “I grew up with an extended family of craftspeople, we were farmers, my grandfather was a woodcutter, my aunts and uncles were potters and weavers my mother worked at the local textile mill. There was true craft and true quality.” says Lewis.

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