5 MINUTES WITH SALLY AND JODIE OF ARMADILLO & CO
Founded in 2009, Armadillo is a brand driven by ethics as well as aesthetics. Their rugs are made with natural materials and sustainable processes, designed to counteract today’s throwaway culture and stand the test of time.
We are proud stockists of Armadillo both in our Totem Road store and online and we sat down with founders Jodie and Sally to find out more about the brand.
Can you share with us the story of how you first met?
Sally: Jodie and I met in 2007 and we instantly hit it off. At the time we had our own businesses but after much persistence, I convinced Jodie to trial rugs together because we both saw a gap in the market for classic, non-fussy rugs. In addition to this, we really wanted to foster the simple beauty and quality of a handmade product.
Jodie, with a background in costume and production design; and Sally a teacher and then an accountant, inspired you to create Armadillo?
Jodie: We really are so different, but it makes for a perfect partnership. I can count on one hand how many times we have ever disagreed! Lucky for us we have very different backgrounds and strengths – I am very much about the big picture whilst Sally is incredibly detail-oriented – but when it comes down to it, we share the same overarching vision, which makes for a very symbiotic and respectful working relationship.
Where do you find inspiration for upcoming collections?
Sally: Honestly, we’re inspired by everything and often our inspiration is unexpected, which we love. It can be as small as the knit of a jumper or as wide-ranging as travel experiences, like the vast landscapes of Africa. There’s never a lack of inspiration, if anything we have the opposite problem as we have a plethora of mood board imagery that we’re constantly curating and banking for the current and future ranges.
We launched the Earth and Latitude collections instore, which were inspired by aerial photography. What was it like designing those collection?
Jodie: We have always been inspired by texture, and pattern made from texture. Our six new styles were inspired by aerial photography of the natural environment, which is exactly that. From the silky arid plains to carved-out chasms to rural grasslands, aerial photography offers a perspective which you don’t see up close and the landscape turns into a whole other dimension.
Sally: We knew that we wanted to explore a character and saturation in hue that we’d never seen before, and that meant experimenting with fresh colours dyed over natural shades, new fibres and weaving techniques.
One of the highlights of this range was the introduction of premium-quality jute, and it took many months to research its unique qualities. In its original state, the fibre possesses variations in shading so once it is dyed and woven, we’re left with a lustrous texture that perfectly translates the landscape to the loom.
We're inspired by your continued and evolving commitment to sustainability , what is it that you love about Totem Road?
Sally: Jodie and I have poured our hearts into making Armadillo socially and environmentally responsible, so it’s wonderful to collaborate with another brand that shares this ethos. Totem Road’s furniture is not only timelessly beautiful, but it is also made sustainably. We too aspire not just to create a beautiful product but to give back to the community.
Jodie: We’re excited to have launched our new Earth and Latitude Collections at Totem Road. The store is in an enviable location and the airy, minimalistic space lends itself to showing our full sized rugs in perfectly-styled room settings so customers can experience them underfoot. When can we move in?
What is it like working with artisans whose intricate weaving traditions have been passed down through generations and has this influenced your design process?
Jodie: We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such talented artisans, many of whom we have known since the inception of our brand. We are constantly inspired by their work and the skill which they bring to each and every rug. We travel to India several times a year, and although we bring along our design plans, when we sit next to our weavers and observe them working so dextrously, it often sparks inspiration – many new weaves have been born this way! We call them happy accidents.
We love that your rugs tread lightly, what are some of the sustainability practices you have in place for your products and processes?
Sally: The materials for our products are carefully sourced – all of our rugs are crafted from natural, sustainable or recycled materials such as jute, wool and reclaimed PET. The entire process, from dyeing to spinning and weaving to finishing, is performed by hand using techniques that have been handed down through generations – we don’t use machines. We’re also in the process of obtaining B Corp certification and we’re constantly looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint, especially as we grow as a business.
The Armadillo Foundation is doing groundbreaking work in enhancing and improving the lives of underprivileged communities, what sparked the idea for this?
Jodie: Sally and I have longstanding ties to India, and a deep love and respect for its people. The work we are doing with the Foundation is not new, in fact we have been doing this for years and it has been the backbone of our company since inception. We are very proud of this. Through the Foundation we sponsor a local school which is attended by our artisans’ children called the Kantilal Vidya Mandir (KVM) School. Since 2014, Armadillo has fully funded all of KVM’s overheads, including staff salaries, textbooks, teaching aids, school uniforms, furniture, equipment, utilities, maintenance and improvements.
Sally: We launched The Armadillo Foundation to formalise our fundraising initiatives, and in less than a year we have already installed solar panels at KVM, subsidised a medical clinic for local residents, held eye checks and distributed free glasses to students, and awarded our first round of scholarships to the top performing girls at KVM to complete their secondary education. We’re excited to do as much as we can to improve the lives of underprivileged communities in India.