My work at Toast.
Forming Toast has always been a joint effort with my husband Jamie.
We started with the idea of making some pyjamas: simple, textural and deep-hued pyjamas. We had no money but we had a thirst to make something different. We found some fine cotton dobby cloths,
a heavy linen and a soft waffle too. We found a factory in a cleft of a Welsh valley near Abergavenny that could both stitch and dye to order. Jamie designed a simple, easy, slightly mannish pyjama shape with deep pockets. I came up with the name Toast and we launched with a graphic, simply photographed, poster catalogue in the early autumn of 1997.
I loved running the business through those first growth years when I learnt so much and used my creativity and instinct to find solutions to the many diverse problems we faced. Jamie looked after the design but it thrilled me when he broke new ground, adding simple loungewear to the pyjamas in season two, and then as his enthusiasm blossomed, adding a fine riding boot one season, some linen sheets another, and on and on, until we seemed to make so many things. We rode a wave and loved it.
For both of us making photographs of the collection was the whole job bearing fruit. I remember one day in Patagonia where we experienced three seasons in the space of a day, from autumn, through snowy winter and then the weak sunshine of spring. And took such beautiful and different photographs that I was deep in a daze of happiness. Then there was the time where we raced across an island to catch the last light, carried armfuls of intense pink and orange and citrus yellow cushions and mats to photograph in the fading light against black sand, foamed our essential oil soap in the tail of a wave and took a photograph as the wave drew back, bubbles popping on the soap’s shining surface.
Then there were the hours pouring over book layouts on the floor of the studio, encouraging bravery in the design, pondering covers. Or working with authors to record Christmas readings to send out to our wonderful customers (those same authors rammed between bath and loo in a Beijing bathroom to record their fluent words into the tinniest of digital recorders).
So much to relish, and of course so many difficult times too. It hasn’t always been easy, but who would ever suggest raising something with love would be?
Click some of the pictures to explore what Toast is up to now.