I am privileged to have been entrusted to continue the Juniper Hearth story. Just like Noreen I have a lifelong love of textiles, travel and colour, art and making, so I'm absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to now make that passion my life's work, similarly moving from Sydney to the stunningly beautiful South Coast in December 2016.
I will continue to build upon well-established traditions, working with and supporting the craftswomen and designers in India and Nepal in their textile making, as well as travelling and searching far and wide for unique textiles and other treasures to share with you all in the much-loved destination that is Juniper Hearth.
Come with me on the journey!
I am among the lucky people who have turned their passion into a way of life, and it has been a wonderful journey. The Juniper Hearth Studio opened its doors in Berry in 2002, the result of a seachange from inner city Sydney to the greener pastures of the NSW South Coast, and a wanderlust that began in the early 1970s.
My partner Bob and I started and built an adventure travel business, and escorting groups to the Indian sub-continent was our life for 12 years. I grabbed every spare moment on these trips to pursue my other great passion, textiles.
Colourful handknitted sweaters that I brought back from Nepal in the 1990s attracted much attention. A spell as Jenny Kee’s PA had given me an insight into the fashion industry, and immersion into Jenny’s exotic world of colour was no doubt an influence. I began creating designs and spending a month each year living with my Nepalese knitting family, working hands-on with a team of women knitters to produce ranges that were snapped up by boutiques back in Australia.
Another phase of the business evolved as the boutique buyers, hungry for something different, encouraged me to source other ‘interesting’ accessories on these annual knitting trips. Knitting morphed into felting, the Juniper Hearth and Lillian Norah scarf labels found their niches, and the Berry store evolved and gathered a loyal and enthusiastic following.
Meanwhile the young members of my knitting family have married and had their own families, and a bright new generation who call me ‘aunty’ are now going to college. It has been a great privilege to have been included into another culture, and I feel a very real ‘sisterhood’ with these hardworking and creative women.
The skill development and worker support programs in many of the businesses that I have worked with are an inspiration, and now that my business is established I am in a position to make a greater contribution and support friends who are making a real difference in these and related women’s issues.
I continue to travel at least twice a year to source the unique and special, often now to Europe as well but returning always to Nepal and India where my heart takes me. It's a joy to share the spoils, and meet fellow enthusiasts who return regularly to see what's new and absorb the vibe.
Where possible, working directly with craftswomen will be a continuing theme, drawing on their traditional and extraordinary skills to develop a unique collection of wearable and decorative accessories with a contemporary edge, to be enjoyed and treasured by an expanding and appreciative community through our e-Emporium.
You will play a big part in how this evolves. The conversations that run - "I can never find...", "Do you ever see...", "Is it possible to…", "When I was in Ecuador…" - really contribute and enrich the Juniper Hearth story.
- Noreen Giles