A typical day with Sasha Zaman doesn’t end early. A year ago, with no formal training in design, she took her love for details and tapestry and created Jonquil with a mission to make a difference in the luxury bedding scene in Australia.
Working primarily as a full-time PhD student specialising in childhood epilepsy, her work at Jonquil only begins in the evening. Sasha spends as many hours dedicated to groundbreaking research as she spends developing the complex pleating and stitching in Jonquil’s range of bedding – all while being seven months pregnant.
We get a glimpse into her life and her ethos to design and the environment in this two part series.
Jonquil: How did you end up developing your love in design?
Sasha: That’s a good question! To be honest, I never really learned design but I just loved it. My gran is amazingly talented. She makes tapestries, blankets and throws. I guess my passion for all things home has stemmed from her. When I see her, I see so many skill sets that people don't appreciate anymore. It's slowly disappearing due to high throughput manufacturing and technology. Gran can imagine a design and she can make it. Nowadays, you can create a design, upload it and a machine can make it. That's great, but there’s no genuineness to it. It was this authenticity that I loved about handmade products– the mistakes she may have made, the additional loop to make it extra strong or the added tassel to give it that detail. We just don't have that anymore. So I based Jonquil around this unique and authentic mindset – from our designs to even our personalised packaging and the way we run our business.
Jonquil: How did you end up turning your love for design and textile into a means of impacting the lives of people in India?
Sasha: The main ethos of Jonquil was that it would take on some form of social responsibility. Starting Jonquil meant that we could give back sustainably. Not just one off donations, but actually supporting people's livelihoods, which has a far greater long-term impact.
Jonquil: What made you choose to create bedding instead of other garments?
Sasha: I'm a lover of sleep! To me luxury is comfort. When I think of luxury, I imagine being at home, cosy, warm, and sipping on a cup of hot chocolate. And I think so many people can relate to that feeling. We spend 30% of our lives sleeping. That's a hell of a lot of time. I wanted to make the bedroom a safe warm, inviting sanctuary where people could come home and spoil themselves.
Jonquil: How do you describe the way you design?
Sasha: I love history, delicate details and I'd say I can be quite eccentric. I don’t see myself as a designer or stylist by any means. However, I do love and appreciate detail. I love how people can be finicky over the small details that nobody else would care about or notice but to that particular piece, it meant something. And so when I started designing Jonquil pieces, I went in with the same mindset. I sketched things, imagined how it would look on the bed, why I liked certain details and how those finer makings would fit in with pieces people already had in their homes.
Jonquil: What are some of the challenges you faced when you were designing and producing the bedding?
Sasha: We came up with three collections– the lace collection, pleat collection and the hotel collection. Looking at the products you would assume that the pleat collection would be the easiest to get right. What I didn’t realise was that the way I designed the pleating meant that it required extra fabric, finer thread and more accurate measurements to ensure that the pleats were perfectly aligned and folded over each other without overlapping the one below. It took an extra three hours to make compared to the other two collections. It's difficult to explain why or how this makes a difference to the finished pieces but…. it does! It's really heavy and from a distance, you don't realise how much work has gone into it until you walk up close and feel it and see it.
Jonquil: How do you decide on the designs for the collections?
The designs have been inspired by our memories and experiences. They often stem from emotions that so many people have felt and experienced. The lace collection for example, was inspired from looking back at all the neat, perfectly sculptured calligraphy work in the temples and palaces in India while I was backpacking years ago. The stonemasons took so much pride in their work and it paid off. These buildings still stand thousands of years later and so many people have gone to appreciate their fine work. It's beautiful. When I started the collections for Jonquil, I wanted to focus on fine detail. When you yourself know and feel how much work has gone into each piece, it makes it even more special.
Beyond the design elements, in part two, Sasha goes deeper into how she incorporates her beliefs into Jonquil in a market saturated with fast production.
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