WHAT NATURALLY USEFUL DO
Naturally Useful are committed to achieving positive social and environmental change. In a world of throw away, mass produced, cheap imported products, We make useful and beautiful products from willow, wool, and wood. All our materials are either grown by us or locally sourced. We make by hand, using traditional skills that transform these natural materials into products that last. Willow into baskets and coffins, wool into rugs and shrouds, wood into spoons and bowls. We have an array of products that enliven the soul and beautify any home with the additional positive outcome of total sustainability.
Naturally Useful need to expand to meet the demands for more sustainable products and the increasing number of people who want to learn these traditional skills for themselves. We imagine a world where each shire has its own local willow coffin maker, increasing jobs for local communities. Our apprentices have gone onto setting up their own business here in the UK and USA.
Naturally Useful was set up by Karen 10 years ago. She started as a sole trader making baskets and coffins and it is now a thriving business with 2 full time and 5 part time makers. 6 years ago Karen transferred the business into a not-for-profit community interest company, in order to create a business that was led by the community and be what the world needs. Profits are retained to develop the company and cannot be paid out as dividends.
check out the BBC loop program of us called the art of basket weaving on I player
6 years ago a 4-acre field came up for sale just next to the barn workshop that was perfect for growing willow. Luckily for us one of the directors offered to buy this field so we could grow willow and we promptly planted an acre in 25 different varieties. 20,000 cuttings Presently we are 96% sustainable in our willow for baskets and coffins.
2 years later we started the herb and plant dye garden. We buy fleeces from local farmers for a fair price and transform this raw material into rugs and shrouds, hats, and other useful household items. The plant dyes are harvested for colouring the wool and for botanical printing.
We are passionate about passing our skills on, with sustainability at the forefront of life we believe traditional hand crafting skills need to be preserved and passed down to the younger generation. We are new hands weaving old ways. We share our skills with others by providing workshops, from one day courses, right up to 3–9-month full apprenticeships.
Making is a practice, a meditation, and a way to stay connected to oneself and nature. Transforming business, society and oneself is at the heart of what we do.
Recently we have put up 3 polytunnels. One of these will house our 2022 health and well-being program for schools and adults. A very exciting project that utilises the field space, offering the possibilities for growing and an outdoor classroom Below is an artist’s impression of how the field could look in the future.
DIRECTOR BUY OUT 2022
Unfortunately, the situation for the director who initially bought the field has changed and we now need to buy him out to secure all our resources and potential for future development.
Schedule of our plans.
Your donations will help us to raise a full £120k. 70% will come from a bank loan. We are asking for your help with £36k.
Step 1/ Secure the field for the business which will cost £85k
Step 2/ Build 2 small shepherd’s huts and a compost toilet, shower, and kitchen to be able to accommodate regular students staying for up to 3 months at a time. The cost of the groundwork to prepare for these and the buildings themselves will be in the region of £36k.
We hope you like our excitting creative awards that we want to share with you.
............AND THATS NOT ALL 2023
Recently we were granted planning permission for two residential self-catering cabins for future students to stay in and for a new studio/shop to work and teach in
The new building will replace the current rented barn which is not fit for disability access or for running courses through the cold winter months. It will also concentrate our resources on our own land and save us rent.
ZoeBee2 on 19 Apr, 2021 5 out of 5 stars
Such a lovely basket! And another reminder of my Scottish heritage!
Fran on 20 Apr, 2021 5 out of 5 stars
Absolutely beautiful!! I couldn't be happier with my purchase!
Dawn on 22 Aug, 2021 5 out of 5 stars
Oh my goodness! This basket is stunning and worth every penny. Lovely craftsmanship.
Devorah on 25 Feb, 2021 5 out of 5 stars
Amazing collaboration! Thank you for helping me realize this little dream. I can’t wait to take it up a mountainside with my art supplies. Xo ✌️
Alvanroo on 25 Jan, 2021 5 out of 5 stars
This is a truly beautiful basket. Amazingly crafted and the team at NatuarllyUseful are lovely to work with. I can only highly recommend.