National Storytelling Week took place earlier this month (1st - 8th February), celebrating the wonderful tradition of painting a picture with words. Excitingly distinct from the exhaustive history or the factual bulletin, storytelling extracts the essence of narrative with a few well-chosen words. For the listener or reader, it fires the imagination and provides access to other places, both real and imaginary.
A well told story can construct the physical and emotional heart of a time or place, allowing you to empathise with characters living very different lives, in places a world away from your own. As marketers, we feel that creative writing should also be able to expose the true heart of a brand, complementing great photography, a wonderful product range, great customer service and robust manufacturing processes, in order to create a strong brand with which customers feel a real affinity.
With this in mind, we have set ourselves the challenge of telling the story of Salted Clothing, not in the potted history style of an About Us page, but in the more creative tradition of storytelling...
The sky is grey and the city beneath seems camouflaged to match. It is unwelcomingly cold and full of hard surfaces and sharp, man-made edges. The bustle of urban life is punctured with loud, mechanical noises, cloaked in cloying fumes and populated by people whose shoulders are up and whose heads are down, as they hurry along the crowded streets.
A woman is walking along the pavement, the pin-points of her stilettos rapping out a harsh rhythm on the cold, damp slabs. Her pencil skirt is tight, restricting her movements and digging in at her waist. The white skirt she wears on top gaps open a little bit at the chest and she is self-conscious, pulling her work jacket around herself to preserve her modesty and to keep out the cold air. She is hurrying purposefully to an office where her computer is waiting to be fired up and her keyboard ready to take over from her uncomfortable shoes in creating the monotonous percussion beat of her working day.
No alarm clock is ever needed in this room. You wake up slowly each morning, sunshine pouring in through the open window, birds singing in the trees outside. No mental to-do list springs you unceremoniously from your sleep. Instead the sunshine warms you limbs and fills you with a desire to get up, to experience the world beyond your window, to put your hand under cool, fresh, flowing water, to close your eyes and inhale the perfume of freshly opened blossom, to bite into a piece of perfectly ripe fruit and to feel the breeze in your hair. You are going to love this day, not just survive it.
We all strive for a life that 'fits' as well as our favourite dress. A life that feels like that first day of a holiday-of-a-lifetime, an existence where we have the liberty to live simply but well and also to give something back by doing something good. This is not just a way of life that simply happens to some lucky people, it is something you have to create, consciously striping away the unnecessary stresses and complexities of modern life and reverting to simplicity wherever possible.
This philosophy is at the heart of Salted Clothing. Unless you really want to, we are not suggesting that you reject the 21st century all together and go and live a basic existence in the woods or on the beach (though some days, that really does sound appealing!). Our ethos embraces the opportunities that communication and travel offer, but does so consciously, knowing that our international flight to a tropical paradise or our reliance on a smartphone to communicate with others has an impact on the environment and attempting to offset that by doing something positive too.
Born in South Africa and now based in the Cotswolds, Salted Clothing is owned and managed by Des. Also South African by birth, her passion lies in order, restoration and the discovery and creation of beautiful things. This has manifested itself in a number of ways throughout her life, from five years creating sumptuous bouquets as a florist, to restoring and re-modelling historic houses and turning them into functional yet beautiful modern homes.
Des has an enduring interest in clothing and fashion but has never felt comfortable with the destructive principles of the fast fashion industry. Valuing classic styling and longevity over faddy fashion trends, Des' own wardrobe is based around the Salted collection (with some warmer weather garments for facing the vicissitudes of the British climate!).
Whilst she acknowledges that impulse purchases can be thrilling, Des believes in really doing your homework before you buy. By doing this you are more likely to purchase something you genuinely love and that really suits your figure and colouring. It also gives you the opportunity to find out if the garment is made in a way that aligns with your own values. A well-made dress that has been ethically produced is better for the planet, will last a lot longer than a cheap, poorly made alternative and will make you smile every time you put it on.
Wear clothes that are so comfortable that you do not think of them again all day. Clothing should facilitate an enjoyable life, not impede your movement or make you feel self-conscious.
Stop to appreciate beautiful things. Whether that is a painting, a flower or a sunset, don't be so busy that you become immune to stopping and staring or standing still with your eyes closed and inhaling the scent of newly opened blossoms on a nearby tree.
Slow down! Whether you go for a walk to gather your thoughts or take a yoga class to focus on your breathing and the way your body moves, don't let being busy turning into a 'human doing' rather than a 'human being'.
Try to create a balance. If you need to do something that puts someone out or has a negative impact on the planet, counter that with something positive. That can be anything from donating to charity, helping out a friend or volunteering your time to a conservation project. This will make you feel better in yourself and will benefit society as a whole. You don't have to be perfect to make positive changes.