You could say choosing to complete a design internship in India, then living there for six months while setting up a new business is a bit of a wild ride. But for Genevieve Fennel and Lauren Bennett it was just the beginning. In 2012 they set up Walter G, a textiles design business that specialises in handmade fabrics as well as wallpapers and ready made products such as tablecloths, lamps and bags. The duo, old school friends, base themselves in a studio in Ultimo, Sydney but travel back to India about three times a year to liaise with local craftspeople and oversee their products being made. Genevieve and Lauren also buy treasures they find along the way, which they sell too. More recently they showed a range of their wares for the first time in New York. “Honestly, we were both pretty anxious that no one would know or like us,” Genevieve says. However, not only were they known, but the duo was applauded for their hand block printed fabrics. Above is a glimpse into the process that goes into creating their textiles - from block carving and printing to dusting and drying.
Which five words best describe you?
Genevieve and Lauren: Patterned, indigo, artisans, travellers, passionate.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since?
Lauren: I decided to do the mandatory internship portion of my COFA Bachelor of Design in India. I lived and worked there for six months doing everything from block printing, to dying and weaving. Gen met me over there a few times and then we decided to follow our mutual passion for textiles by starting Walter G. We then moved to India a year later for six months, living with artisan families and designing our first range.
Genevieve: I was teaching Kindergarten in Hong Kong and visited Lauren in India a few times while she was doing her internship for her Bachelor of Design. I completely fell in love with India and its textiles.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
Genevieve: Sounds so cliched, but it is so true. Never give up.
What’s your proudest career achievement?
Lauren: Surviving six months living in India on a shoestring, weathering through the storm of countless setbacks, all to build our baby - Walter G.
What’s been your best decision?
Genevieve and Lauren: Founding Walter G!
Who inspires you?
Genevieve and Lauren: Sally Campbell, owner of Sally Campbell Textiles.
What are you passionate about?
Genevieve and Lauren: In one word - textiles. If they were edible, we'd both eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet?
Lauren: Florence Broadhurst
What dream do you still want to fulfil?
Lauren: Seeing Walter G textiles in the four corners of the world, from a single block printed cushion on a chair in someone's apartment in Tokyo to having our wallpaper all over the walls of a boutique hotel in London.
What are you reading?
Genevieve: Desert Queen: The extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, advisory to kings, ally of Lawrence of Arabia by Janet Wallach.
images courtesy of walter g