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A quick word with … textile designer Vanessa Quin

Vanessa Quin is no stranger to jumping in the deep end. The former downhill mountain bike world champion has turned her love for a challenge into a textile design business that’s rapidly gaining momentum. And it all started making up stories about a horse.

First artistic memory?

Like most kids I loved to draw, paint and make things but I think for me I’ve always loved being practical and artistic so my first memory of this was coming home from school exams pulling my bed completely apart and painting it bright colours. Following this up with painting all my bedroom furniture. 

How did you wind up in this line of work?

I’d been living out of a bag for ten years racing the mountain bike world cup circuit and always dreamed of having my own set of draws so when we ended up building a whole house and starting a family I got busy decorating. I fell in love with hand printed textiles and I wanted to learn how to print myself. So I found screen printing courses in Wellington and Auckland, learned as much as I could and started to experiment. Out of this came Henry and Co.

If I wasn’t doing this I’d be…

Writing children’s story books. I love them, they are always so full of brilliant characters and there is never a dull moment. Our company is named after a horse up the road we lovingly call Henry. He’s also the horse behind one of our bedtime story pillowcases.

A typical work day… 

Revolves around the family. Kids up, feed, school run for one, nap time for the other. Then its printing, packing, emailing, with a few choccy bickies thrown in, until family life kicks in again. I print a lot at night as well. One of the perks of having our set up at home.

How do you source items?

Sourcing and using local talent and resources is important to us. Right now everything Henry and Co produces is printed by me in house. We have also sourced through the help of Hayley Pearce from The Art Room, manufacturers to have all our pillowslips made in New Zealand. Which is really exciting as this provides us with the ability to extend our range to other bed linen products in the future as well.

What do you look for specifically?

Anything we source has to be good quality and user friendly. We’d like to think we are making colourful, practical things for peoples homes that they will use and love the way we do.

Design trends for 2014?

Hopefully lots of colour.

Design heroes?

I’d have to say all Scandinavian and Australian textile design rates as as being super human. I could marry Marimekko or at least wrap my whole house in it. Independent designers like Melbourne based Harvest Textiles and Spacecraft are amazing. I’d happily take a job sweeping floors at any of the above. But then I’d do the same for Leanne Culy. I could have curled up in her Homebase Collections pop up shop in Auckland over summer. Felt like a total stalker seeing all her range in the flesh. Is there such a thing as a fabric groupie?

In three words?

Simple, colourful, fun.

Vanessa Quin is the designer, printer, and maker behind Henry and Co Home.

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