//Meet The Maker//
Founder Tempy Osborne
of Urban Grey Whale
I have these vivid childhood memories of being in a ‘camotik’ or sledge pulled by dog team, bundled up for beyond freezing temperatures as we crossed the icy arctic sea. When I was 5 years old my wild adventurer parents took me and my younger brother and sister to live in the remote Inuit community of Grise Fiord in Northern Canada for a year.
The people who live there have an enormous respect for nature and the wild environment, they have to because they depend on it, though increasing less and less. I have been back to Canada’s arctic many times since and here perhaps more than other places the effects of climate change are seen clearly. Disposable plastic trash piles up, past ways of life dependant on the land disappear and year after year the sea ice melts earlier until those well-known pathways across the frozen sea no longer exist.
I have always been aware of our connection with the environment and with nature as I grew up mainly on the Atlantic coast of rural Ireland. Moving to the city years later I found an exciting, fast and colourful way of life but began to feel there was a heavy disconnect. I realised I needed to somehow live differently and though I know I can’t change the world with Grey Whale I want to work to be part of the change in the move towards more sustainable living.
The name ‘Grey Whale’ is my metaphor for the city, it’s a huge living breathing thing that depends on nature and in a sense is a part of nature. So many of the worlds resources are finite and there’s ultimately a limit to how much non-biodegradable waste it can take. To me it’s really important to reduce waste and chemical laden products in my own day to day living but also to inspire and help give others the possibility of doing the same So this small scale handmade production of natural fiber bags is really the result of me setting out on a personal mission to lead an urban lifestyle that is more mindful.
My simple philosophy is that comfort, style and easy living need not only be found in the never ending cycle of shopping and dumping. In my own life I feel happier owning fewer disposable products instead choosing items that have been constructed with love using quality materials. I believe it’s the key to eliminating a wasteful pile-up of stuff destined for landfill.
All Grey Whale fabric is screen printed by hand with my original hand drawn designs. A computer is not used to make these as I prefer the more organic look. I hold a BA in Fine Art and having an artistic element is really important to me. It makes the final pieces more unique and also it gives me a lot of control with the fabrics and the style I’m aiming for. These fabrics are sourced locally as much as possible and as Belgium is famous for its fine linen it's a current favourite. Apart from being locally produced, linen is stronger and more ecologically sound than cotton. It uses fewer pesticides and fertilisers and needs no irrigation other than normal rainfall. I aim to use only 100% natural fabrics and packaging materials that are biodegradable and recyclable. The printing inks used are water based, solvent, PVC and phthalate free and all Grey Whale production waste is carefully kept to a minimum.
At the moment I am working on new designs that will extend my range to include certified organic fabrics and other alternatives to cotton to eventually reach my goal of making Grey Whale as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible.