This fall, Indigo Handloom introduces A Common Thread - a series of interviews with women from diverse backgrounds that are connected by compassion and their drive to contribute to social good.
Today we meet LauraLe Wunsch, the co-founder of Oxgut Hose Company. Oxgut gives old fire hoses a new life by turning them into beautiful home goods. Each of their pieces are meticulously hand-crafted in the US. We caught up with LauraLe to learn more about her inspirations and what's it's like working with recycled materials.
What inspired you to start Oxgut?
Oxgut co-founder Kevin Riley and I were working on prototypes for iPad and MacBook Pro Cases, using reclaimed wood and Kevin actually had the idea to try to see if we could look at fire hose as a complementary material. We were both blown away when we discovered that fire hose isn't just white, but comes in a multitude of amazing colors, carrying so much history and local resonance. When we were shown how much of it inadvertently goes to landfill, we know we had to try to see what other uses might be possible. We initially shared some material from South Marin with a custom furniture maker we knew. The result was our O-type Chair and Kepple Stool – both high end items, and that just upped the ante altogether.
What has been your biggest challenge or highest hurdle?
Working with reclaimed material. It's very difficult to forecast what material we'll have when. We're literally "blazing a trail" in terms of working with reclaimed fire hose. No one else is doing what we're doing. So, while the response is extremely positive, the learning curves are steep.
"Anything made well, with quality materials and a skilled eye, capable hands, will last a lifetime."
What are three words that best describe the "common thread" that exists in your life?
Intention, relationships, dedication.
Can describe your own personal 'sanctuary' - a place where you get inspired and replenished?
My front stoop of my small craftsman casita or on a trail in the woods. Any place in nature, whether the woods or the beach, or even sitting on the front stoop of my little craftsman home in Oakland... provides space for my mind to quiet, the task list to be set aside and new ideas to come in.
Why is reuse and reclaiming important to you?
Anything made well, with quality materials and a skilled eye, capable hands, will last a lifetime. And all of those elements - the character of the fabric, the energy of the hand that made it - live on in the next iteration, the next life of that material. How lucky we are to be gifted that built in richness and history, to make it our own. (Mother Earth is also probably pretty stoked that we've figured this out! )
"...We can resist the temptation to buy three things that we may or may not love at $20 each or we can buy something special that is made to last..."
How do you think the average person can contribute to the sustainable fashion movement?
Willpower and a bit of self respect. What I mean by that is that we can resist the temptation to buy three things that we may or may not love at $20 each or we can buy something special that is made to last and we know we'll wear time and again as a true reflection of our beautiful self.
Learn more about Oxgut Hose Company.
LauraLe is wearing the Indigo Handloom Macrame 100% handwoven wool.