What The Blazers

They say you can take the African out of Africa but you can’t take Africa out of the African. This is true of Diana Wood, designer and owner of What the Blazers, from Lymington, Hants.

What the Blazers is an upcycling business using clients’ precious clothing to make bespoke, heritage pieces full of memories. They make something out of the ordinary and give you back a great product telling the story of your life.

Diana says .... at What The Blazers we believe in the emotional bond between consumers and their belongings, and this ethos drives our design; every project is totally unique to the customer. 

Bespoke Handmade cushions with Luxury recycling and designer remnants

At The Start

Diana officially started 14 months ago but ‘cut me in half and I’ve always been doing this!’

So what gave you the inspiration to start-up What the Blazers? (Great name by the way!)

Diana continues. ‘I grew up in Africa surrounded by incredibly enterprising and creative people with the ability to make ‘something out of nothing’. Usually because they had no choice and mostly the outcome was mind-blowing in its artistry and practical use.

That inspiration is the basis for my love of upcycling. I absorbed the colours, smells, sounds and vibrancy of Africa which moulded me into the creative person I’ve become. 

Turning that into a business was organic as more and more people asked my opinion or for advice on a project. This, coupled with our family tradition of making Christmas presents, made the germ of upcycling a reality.

It was the realisation that ‘it’s the thought that counts’ could be progressed into a covetable product that started me on my quest five years ago. What I had absorbed by osmosis as an African child became a reality. I decided to use gorgeous things that had ‘run out of life’ to make even more gorgeous things. 

What the Blazers was a natural progression. I was clearing the loft out and found a suitcase full of my husband’s clothes. It was huffed downstairs to reveal his school uniform circa 1980 and I muttered ‘what the blazes?’!  

And in that moment, the name and the idea were formed. What the Blazers would use precious old clothes and turn them into picnic rugs or cushions; the possibilities were endless!’

Take a look at Diana's fantastic designs.

Home Working Benefits

I love the freedom of working autonomously but the routine of it too. Mostly I work with the radio in the background, sometimes with the iPod on full blast and (it should be more often!) with a French language tape. (Well, Zulu and Afrikaans don’t go very far here…)

The benefits of fitting work around family life are well catalogued and don’t need any more input from me. The drawback to that is when it’s time to ‘go home’ and I’ve not finished what I’m doing!’

Family Support

Diana is one of those lucky business start-up entrepreneurs whose family are completely behind her flourishing business.

‘I have a team of excellent people who do piece work for What the Blazers. I also have a complete employee organogram in my husband, who is a great support! My youngest daughter with her nimble fingers loves threading sliders onto zips and luckily I have three other children much more accomplished than I am in IT. 

Saying that, one of my favourite parts of the day is the quiet when the riot of family have left, and I can begin the ritual of tidying up and starting work!’

Your Inspiration

Apart from your childhood in Africa, who else do you draw inspiration from?

Diana says, 'Everyone with original thought or ideas, people who shine despite everything. Rodriguez (Sugar Man) is an example of this. My friends.'

Now And Next

Diana tells us ‘I have worked on private interiors, with a property developer, and run a curtain company. More recently I’ve worked with the architect refitting the Brasserie Blanc chain under the brief of designing cushions with 'lipstick' colours, diverse fabrics and interesting textures to inject style and fun into the decor.’   

What’s next for What the Blazers Diana?

‘I want to expand my business.’

Fond Memories

See how Diana gave one of her clients a lovely memory of her deceased husband ... Diana made took this bunch of shirts and upcycled them into memorable cushions.

From this ...

Diana Wood made took this bunch of shirts and upcycled them into memorable cushions

 

To this fantastic range of conservatory cushions.

Diana Wood made took this bunch of shirts and turned them into memorable designer conservatory cushions

 

Advice For Others

‘Stick to your guns and do what you love.’ 

Great advice for anybody thinking about starting their own home business – thanks Diana! 

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