In conversation

In conversation

Meeting Rebecca of Ottoloom was the perfect excuse for a roadtrip to her home (and hometown) of sunny Mt Maunganui.

With a peek of ocean just visible past the lush, leafy garden; Rebecca’s thoughtful home has a clear connection with her business Ottoloom: a stylish and laidback curation of unique hand-loomed towels, for beach to bathroom.

Produced predominantly by the last artisans of Southern Turkey — Ottoloom is the expression of a commitment to conscious, beautiful textiles.

We spoke to Rebecca about her passion for sustainable and ethical products, and how this touches each area of her life; from her business, down to her personal style.

How did Ottoloom begin?

I had recently returned home to Mount Maunganui with my husband after travelling around Europe and was inspired by all the amazing textiles I had seen on my journey — in Turkey in particular. Everything just aligned and so we decided to go back to Turkey to purchase stock and the rest is history. Ottoloom started as a smaller collection of beach towels, then slowly expanded into the thick-looped designs.

The brand is all about trying to find suppliers who have organic products and who lean towards sustainable business practices. I love the idea of supporting handmade; supporting those traditions that were being lost but are now coming back because people are appreciating handmade again.

What part do issues of ethical and sustainable manufacture play in your work?

The Turkish product is all 100% organic cotton. It’s certified independently by the GOTS which make sure that the process of creating a product is sustainable from start to finish, and ethical as well — all the artisans are looked after fairly, and no one is exposed to any dangerous chemicals.

What part can we play as consumers to preserve the traditions of artisans?

People need to have that appreciation for the craft. Yes, it does cost more to buy artisan-made, but you’re buying quality, not quantity and it’s going to last you for longer. The money goes back to the families, so if the demand is there, they’re going to get more money to support their livelihoods — and pass those skills onto their children or grandchildren, to keep that tradition going.

It’s about buying; what you’re choosing to buy and who you’re empowering — are you empowering the people that are doing good, or not.

How does this passion for sustainable and artisanal made products inform the rest of your life?

I think I make very conscious decisions now about what I buy. I believe there’s a real power in purchasing behaviour, so I try to buy organic where possible. I try to buy quality products and furniture items that are going to last for years, rather than disposable, throwaway things. I think it’s about awareness. I read a lot and educate myself a lot, so I try to buy things that are real, handmade, and organic wherever I can.

Your home is beautiful! What can you tell me about style?

My homeware style is probably a bit boho, and very influenced by Balinese and Mexican vibes as well. We actually got married last year in Mexico, in Tulum, because I was obsessed with all the green there, and the natural beachy vibes. That was my dream place!

How amazing to be living and working back in your hometown. How do you find the Mount as a base for your business?

I think what I really love down here is the community of other entrepreneurs and smaller businesses. It’s quite cool to be able to call up friends who are doing similar things, and just have someone to bounce ideas off. They understand the struggle; the feeling where you can’t be bothered some weeks, and then they’re there to support you when you’re excited about something too. There’s definitely a lot of cool people around and I think that’s what makes the Mount, the Mount.

Lastly, what inspires you each day?

Lots of things inspire me! Beautiful fabrics and textures and homewares — I’ve just got a passion for it. I’m inspired by landscapes as well; beautiful colours, beaches and sceneries. Probably my biggest inspiration is travel though. I’m a travel addict. I just love going to places and seeing all the local arts and crafts and clothing. I’m inspired to do good as well. I’m quite affected by what’s happening with our environment, I get quite emotional about it. I was watching Greta Thunberg’s videos and the strikes, and I was thinking thank goodness someone’s doing something! It’s pretty incredible, that one girl can make such a big difference.

Photography by

Jane Keam

Words by

KM Marks

Shop Rebecca’s Look