Long days. Many sleepless nights. A ton of coffee.  Whatsapp conversations around the clock.  Teething problems and tears. And a constant state of learning and adapting, growing and marvelling. What a whirlwind it’s been!

The Basket Room turned FOUR on November 1st and so we wanted to take a moment to reflect on how remarkably our baby has grown. The Basket Room has very much proven to be one with a mind of its own, charging forwards as Camilla and Holly look on in awe at the huge steps it has taken in its four short years.

 Holly (left) with Mbeti, and Camilla (right)

It all started with us - Holly and Camilla - and a shared vision for ethical, sustainable homewares. In November 2014 the business was launched from Holly’s spare room where The Basket Room’s total stock fitted into one 4 x 4 IKEA shelving unit.

Our first ever rented office back in 2015!

One spare room soon gave way to two rooms in Holly’s house in the Cotswolds, and then in 2015 The Basket Room moved to its first proper office at The Old Dairy in Charlbury: a cosy, 250 square foot set up! A year later the baskets were on the move virtually of their own accord to a slightly larger office in the same building, and when this office was fit to burst with woven wonders they moved again to the largest office in the complex at 650 square feet. Today as we write this, we are being squeezed out of the door AGAIN by these pesky baskets, and so early in 2019 we’re on the move again to a proper, grown up warehouse.

Ella and Dominique packing wholesale orders in our current office

It takes a village, and where it started with our co-founders the team soon swelled to total four employees in the UK and one freelancer, plus one full timer in Kenya and three part time workers, a lorry driver and a motorbike driver, an errand runner - and various cats. Husbands and siblings have been roped in at times along the way to share the workload. Talking of husbands, The Basket Room acquired TWO this year when both Camilla and Holly got married, to Ben and Bill, respectively!

Ben and Camilla on their wedding day in May

Bill and Holly on their Wedding Day in August

 Our first foray into selling baskets involved working with a network of fair-trade cooperatives in one specific area of Kenya, totally 300 weavers. Today we’re working with artisans all over Kenya as well as Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. 3000 of them, in fact, as well as a stunning leather workshop and a gifted artist who embroiders our new collection of motif baskets for SS19.

Holly and Camilla with a weaving cooperative in Kenya, June 2015

The main group we partner with has increased from 30 members to over 100 in the three years we have worked with them, becoming able to purchase a communal patch of land with profits from their basket weaving work. Next year we’ll be launching a crowdfunding campaign to help them purchase storage units to keep on their land. They, like us, are struggling for places to store their ever-increasing volumes basket orders!

Our main partner weaving group in Kenya has grown from 30 to over 100 members 

We’ve done three trips to Central and Eastern Kenya, one trip to Northern Kenya, one visit to Zambia, and we’re about to head out to Ghana at the end of this month to meet the cooperative who produce our Moses baskets and bicycle baskets – and visit Accra.

Camilla gets to grips with weaving! November 2017, Kenya 

Holly has a break from the filming and gets chatted up by Madam Dorcas's brother!


  Camilla's adventure to Northern Kenya to meet the weavers of Ngurunit, March 2017

Breakthrough moments so far: getting coverage in our first glossy magazine (Ideal Home in spring 2015) and our first stockist (Jigsaw, who contacted us before we had even decided to start the wholesale adventure!) Our wonderful weavers’ creations have now graced the pages of Vogue, Grazia, The Guardian, The World of Interiors, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration and House & Garden, among many others. Our scrapbook is bursting at the seams!

Collaboration with Jigsaw, Spring/Summer 2016

Seeing our baskets on sale in The Conran Shop and at Urban Outfitters were two more ‘pinch us’ moments in the past couple of years, and to date we supply over 120 wonderful shops all over the world, from the USA to Japan to Australia.

Woven basket bags as seen in Urban Outfitters, Summer 2018

But let’s not get too boastful – we've had lows as well. There was the Christmas fair where we sold ONE basket all day; the nightmare shipment of baskets from Uganda that arrived unboxed and completely loose, rolling around in the back of a bus; attempts to fumigate baskets in the office that resulted in setting off the fire alarms… And plenty of long, long days – shooting, stacking, packing, designing, eating, drinking, sleeping BASKETS. It's a labour of love but love it we do. And for all the late nights, early mornings, errant sisal fibres EVERYWHERE, chafed fingers and general chaos, the highs have been totally dizzying.

(left to right) Anna, Camilla and Holly at our first ever Trade Show! Maison et Objet, Paris - September  2017

Gifts from our suppliers in Africa have included freshly plucked chickens, gigantic pumpkins carried miles by backpack to Nairobi via bus from the countryside, and bagfuls of cow peas.

Hilarious moments? Watching our cameraman running alongside one of the Kenyan cooperative chairladies, Madam Dorcas, with his camera whilst she cycled through her village on her bicycle - as the entire village rolled about with laughter. Holly being too scared to sleep in her Zambian lodge because of hippos prowling outside, and one characterful weaver named Margaret who once confessed on camera that baskets occupy so much of her brain space that sometimes she completely forgets about her husband!

Holly and Camilla meet the Weavers of Wote, Kenya October 2016

What we’re proudest of is growing capacity with our weaving groups by a further 40% for the SS19 season. In doing this, we’re bringing yet more reliable, sustainable and fairly-paid work to the weavers – and that’s what it’s all about. And we have YOU to thank for this. So thank you for your support over the past four wonderful years. We couldn’t have done any of this important work without you.

2019 will be another big one for us - more learning, adapting, growing and marvelling - not least because Camilla and husband Ben are expecting a baby in May! Many congratulations to them both!

November 16, 2018


Jill Small said:

Absolutely love these baskets!!! As an avid basket lady and shop owner, I have had many African baskets for sale in 25 years. These are outstanding. Tracked you down through one of my current suppliers , Swahili, in Oregon. Hope to add these to my shop this spring/summer!

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