One of life’s great pleasures is climbing into a freshly made bed with crisp, quality sheets. The smell of linen, the cool but cosy touch – it’s bliss. Perth homewares label Natsukashi are making all your dreams come true with their lush range of bed linens named after Western Australian coastal locations and we’re in love!
Behind Natsukashi are two Perth locals, Sasha Lai and Alexandra Holt, who are partners in life as well as business. Both are creative cookies, Alex having studied sound for music and film and (Sasha tells us) being “an incredible musician,” while Sasha has a Bachelor of Arts in fashion and textile design. This is where the couple’s love of textiles emerged. After completing a couple of internships, Sasha spent 8 months creating and sketching whilst in Europe but she failed to find inspiration for her fashion label. Instead, she started looking at the textile industries: “I would visit museums that showed me the textile industry as it was and also factories and current textile makers,” she says.
And when Sasha and Alex met up in Turkey, the seed for Natsukashi was planted. “We started talking about an independent, small-scale textile business. Even though I had studied textile design I honestly didn’t know too much about it, especially producing fabric on a mass scale and the questions that come with that: where does it come from, how do you maintain quality, how is it harvested, is it good or bad for the earth, is it good or bad for the consumer?”
Their drive to answer these questions and create an awareness for consumers, as well as supporting the dying art of traditional textile making, inspired Sasha and Alex to launch a label upon their return to Australia.
Now, Sasha and Alex collaborate with artists around the world to design and make small batch, ethical wares. “Our aim is to bring Australian creatives and artisans from overseas together so the world can view, buy and learn a little more about where and from who they are purchasing these beautiful, handcrafted pieces,” Sasha tells us. “I guess we really want to build an online community of makers and buyers who are aware of one another.”
Reducing their impact on the environment is also at the core of Natsukashi’s business practice. They successfully avoid using plastics in their packaging and designs, and all the linen is stonewashed in natural enzymes without the use of nasty chemicals. “Linen itself is a renewable resource,” Sasha educates. “It needs no irrigation and is fully biodegradable.” Linen is also breathable, naturally antibacterial, and strong.
Both women left corporate jobs in finance to start Natsukashi. It was a real learning curve for both of them, in different ways, but sometimes experience in a vastly different industry can offer invaluable skills. Sasha credits Alex’s experience managing stock and inventory for a large scale, gourmet food business in giving them the skills to manage orders, stock, sales, packing, shipping, inventory management “and the endless list of stuff you have to do when you run a small business.”
Is it difficult being together both personally and professionally? “It’s sometimes difficult being partners in both sense of the word but there’s an unspoken understanding between the two of us and we really do bring differing skills with a unified vision to the table,” says Sasha.
Whilst bringing together global designs and practices is paramount to Natsukashi, so too is reflecting their own hometown. Their linen range is named after Western Australian coastal locations, as Sasha explains, “it’s all about educating consumers on where they buy from.” City Beach scored naming rights to their staple white range – the Natsukashi design studio as well as the couple’s home both found in the beachside suburb. The sand coloured stripes of their Cottesloe, the warm peach tones of their Lancelin set – it’s all about communicating a uniquely Western Australian style of slow, coastal living.
Natsukashi is a Japanese word (though in its common form spelled with two is). “In English it kind of translates to nostalgia, although there is no direct translation, which is what makes it beautiful and elusive,” explains Sasha.
What’s next for Natsukashi? “We really thrive on artistic collaboration,” urges Sasha. “At the moment we are working on a series of furniture with a design duo from Chile: we communicate via Skype and email and it’s really an online connection from which we are manifesting something real and physical; the series will be available late 2017.”
Natsukashi products are currently sold exclusively through www.natsukashi.com.au. If you would like to see the linen for yourself, however, head into designFarm on Hay St in the city where it is dressed on designer Adam Goodrum’s Aran bed. You can pick up samples and info there as well.