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Diana Wood, owner of What the Blazers finds new use foor old school uniforms

PUBLISHED: 15:36 24 June 2014

Credit: Paul Close

Credit: Paul Close

Archant

With the South African ethos for recycling engrained in her from a young age, Diana Wood has found a new use for your old school uniforms

With a retail management course under her belt and experience working in PR, South African born Diana was well equipped when, after starting her family, she decided to set up on her own.

Taught to knit by her Granny at the age of five, she went on to further her skills at school when her class made blankets for the township residents.

Inspired by her home country’s recycling mentality she has since set up a charity, Knitting for Africa, and has always been keen to make the most out of what she already has. She explains: “I have always made things, usually from what’s already kicking about. In 2007, a couple of years after I started K4A, I was making up a blanket to go to Africa when the idea came to me to up-cycle discarded cashmere jumpers and cardigans into big, pashmina style shawls. This evolved into wrist warmers, hot water bottle covers and other items. Then three years ago we had our loft insulated and, while I was clearing it out, I came across a suitcase full of my husband’s school uniform. ‘What the blazes’ was my response and What the Blazers was born!”

After her husband’s old school uniforms had been transformed in to cushions, Diana began looking for other materials to develop her business. As well as clients bringing in their old clothing to be up-cycled, schools, pony clubs, and the military all provide her with remnants and off cuts to be given a new lease of life.

What the Blazers appeals to anyone and everyone, from mothers asking her to make mementos from baby clothes, to men wanting a permanent home for all their old ties. Selling through county shows and horse trials, Diana also has a website www.whattheblazers.com where you can purchase her products or order something bespoke. Talking about where she sees her business going Diana says: “I would like to be supplying leaver’s cushions for schools as an alternative to hoodies, or making mementos for military regiments. I also want to continue to work on collaborations in Africa and am looking in to supplying Anthropologie with my cashmere shawls.

“I love that each job is different – each product is as individual as the person it’s made for. Working for myself is very flexible and immensely satisfying.”

Length of time in business: 7 years

Number of employees: Me and four outworkers

Ethos: To re-use pre-loved textiles in a fun, original and practical way; to combat the mountain of waste that is produced by us all every year. Every little helps!

Location: Lymington

Contact: diana@whattheblazers.com, 07855 807882

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