This month we spoke to Phoebe one of the founders of Pico Goods. I have known about Pico for many years and I enjoy wearing their vests and basics, they are so soft and I love the simplicity of the cuts. Phoebe sent us some of her wonderful towels which photographed beautifully in the cabin & the Lean to.
Pico produce essential, everyday goods, which can be traced right back to the source.
In Project # 1 they began with the first things to be put on in the morning - super soft and simple, everyday underwear. Pico work directly with a small, living-wage paying, factory in southern India, using organic cotton sourced from farmers’ cooperatives.
For Project #2, They researched and learnt about indigenous Indian cotton and are working with a cooperative in Gujarat to produce handwoven bath sheets and hand towels using this locally grown fibre.
They also work with natural dyers and other artists and makers on bespoke collaborations and limited edition pieces. For the past few years they have also been involved in a side project researching UK fibre production.
The product that features in the photographs in our cabin and Lean-to is the handwoven towels, they have a twill weave and are woven from organic cotton. They are soft, textured and lightweight making them perfect for both home and travel. Produced in collaboration with Khamir , a cooperative whose work supports ecology heritage and craft in Western Gujarat. Each towel is handwoven in the weavers’ homes using organically and locally grown Kala cotton. Kala is a variety of cotton, native to the Kachchh region, which has naturally adapted to its dry and arid climate over thousands of years. Read more about Khamir here.
Scroll down to read our conversation...
Tell us a little bit about yourself... I’m Phoebe - one half of Pico. I would describe myself as a lover of nature, community, farming, food and bres. I have recently become a mother which has been a whole new world and teaches me daily mindfulness and awe in the everyday. As for Pico, the seed began back in 2014 over countless cups of tea with Isobel, discussing the lack of transparency in the textile and fashion industry and how the information around our clothes was not accessible in the same way as food. Isobel made lots of her own clothes and yet often the materials (even the organic ones) just said the country they were from rather than any more details. I wore mainly my Mum’s hand-me-downs but when it came to our basics we were stuck as to where to get them that we felt comfortable with their comfort, quality and sustainability. I have always been interested in farming from a young age and so felt there was such a disconnect between the farms producing bres to them becoming the clothes we wear. I also felt that the work of the farmer needed championing when it is so vital in order to feed and clothe us. Isobel and I set out to learn as much as possible about bres and fabric production and it led us on our rst research trip to the home and biodiversity farm of the incredible environmentalist and activist Dr Vandana Shiva. Fast forward 8 years and here we are...producing everyday underwear traced right back to the source.
When designing your products, what is your process and what inspires Pico? Simplicity and comfort have always been our drivers as well as producing timeless pieces that are not aected by trends or seasons but have a longevity to them both in style and quality. When we started out, comfort, simplicity and a considered design aesthetic didn’t seem to be something we could nd in underwear on the market so along with our drive to produce as sustainably as possible we started to get designing. What I love about Pico is the simplicity of the shapes, visually they look really beautiful but they’re also so comfortable. Is this something you look for in the clothes you wear? I would say yes - wearing things that last as well and my favourite is wearing things that I also feel connected to - either the maker, the story or the previous owner. Isobel makes a lot of her own clothes and I feel like both the simplicity of shape and comfort often drive her design and making process and I think she always looks very timeless and elegant. Throughout our journey with Pico my understanding of bre, fabric and clothing manufacturing has only heighted my appreciation of the time, skill and energy it has taken to produce something so we must celebrate them. We have been fortunate enough to become friends with a lot of incredible makers and designers and I love wearing their pieces and celebrating their stories - such as Ottowin footwear, Jaggery, Bug clothing and Tamay & Me to name a few.
Sustainability is obviously a big part of the Pico brand, how do you incorporate sustainability in your home life?
I think it feeds into so many of the decisions I make and things we do, how we eat, what we wear. We grow a lot of our own food (slightly less since our son came along) but our allotment and garden play a big part in our life. We are also part of a community goat milking project, which is how my partner and I met - out milking at 7am before work. I personally love shopping for small sustainable brands and there are some fantastic makers out there. What are your favourite sustainable brands? I have mentioned some above and there are so many out there I love but a few more that came to mind include: Rosanna Morris a wonderful Bristol based print artist who has done a lot for the Land Workers Alliance
The Modern Sewing company - selling pdf patterns and online workshops Made My Wardrobe who does the same and Lydia who set it up is one inspiring human - who wears only clothes she has made Grain and Knot - whose wooden pieces I love so much. Madeleine illustration - Her embroidered pieces feel very folky and remind me of some of my eastern european routes An artist I came across recently who I really like is Araki Koman I also love This is Lakshmi prints of the female form - the blue hue she uses throughout a lot of her work is so wonderful and her work so unique How do you navigate a work/life balance when running a small business?
I think this is always a tough one but made so much easier when running it with such a dear friend as we have the business’ and each other's personal interests always at heart so we can help navigate and balance it all and carry each other. We have often said how woven our lives have been the last 8 years since we started on this journey.
Where does the name Pico come from?
Actually came from our names Phoebe and Isobel and also means little and a peak of mountain in Spanish and Argentinian. This always felt very tting especially as Isobel’s partner is Spanish / Argentinian.
Can you tell us a bit more about your flax growing process and what you intend to use it for? So we were talking about flax when we wanted to create underwear out of UK grown bres and this was not a possibility and we began questioning what had happened to so many of the incredible bres producers and farms in the UK. This led us into meeting Simon and Anne, who run Flaxland, and are some of the most inspirational people I know. They grow and spin ax and run workshops teaching people the process. Simon has produced all thehand-held wooden tools and machines to process the ax himself alongside a beautiful range of boats and coracles made from ax bres. We had always wanted to work with them somehow - so we’re especially pleased to source ax yarn from them for The Slipper Project. This is a side project to produce a product from solely UK bres in collaboration with Ottowin footwear. This has been paused due to the arrival of lots of babies amongst us but all the groundwork is there. Part of our interest in UK bres led me to working as an apprentice shepherdess at Fernhill farm to try and understand about wool production and then in lockdown both Isobel and I grew some ax having been so inspired by our time with Simon and Anne.
I love that your range is so considered, what are your plans for Pico in the future? Next we have a wonderful collaboration with Krystle from the Bibio Project and objectsxhumans. Krystle has been working closely with some natural dyers in Northern Ghana. In her words this is part of her ‘slow radical revolution to resist modernisation’ with indigo dying as the rst stop. We have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to collaborate with her on this and we will have some new products coming out very soon. We can’t wait to celebrate the talent and stories of the artisans in Daboya working on this.
Thanks for talking to us Phoebe!
See the wonderful Pico Goods here