From Burning Man to the V&A — the story of Textiles by St Annes

Textiles by St Annes is a busy social enterprise supplying soft furnishings to the trade and private customers. It is a social firm and operates as part of BITA Pathways, the largest mental health charity in Birmingham, supporting people who have experienced mental ill-health back into employment.

And Textiles by St Annes truly is a real, customer-focused working environment. Its clients include local heritage museums and historic buildings — such as Victoria and Albert Museum and Birmingham’s own Aston Hall — as well as customers supplying large upmarket stores such as Liberty of London and Paperchase.

Aston Hall, Birmingham

Aston Hall, Birmingham – a Textiles by St Annes customer

St Annes recently completed an order for the great dining room at Aston Hall and is currently creating a new line of wash-bags (700 pieces) for Chase and Wonder, a local seller of characterful and quirky British products, featured recently in the Daily Telegraph fashion blog.

A Textiles by St Annes customer

The business is also producing further supplies for Festival Tails. What is Festival Tails, you ask? Well, three or four years ago a bunch of friends had the idea of making animal tails that they could wear — and presumably wave around — at Nevada’s Burning Man festival.

The tails proved popular. In fact, people loved them. And Festival Tails was born. In 2010 Festival Tails decided to expand the idea. Let them take up the story:

In 2010 we decided to expand the idea, make more tails and to see if we could bring some tail fun and colour to some of our favourite UK festivals. Whilst Nan enjoyed making a small amount of tails, she was less keen when we suggested a quantity of several thousand! We therefore decided to seek out appropriate manufacturing services, especially looking at social enterprises.

Our search led to Textiles by St. Annes, part of BITA Pathways, a Birmingham based charity specialising in rehabilitation services for adults experiencing mental ill health. We’re thrilled to be working with Textiles by St. Annes and all our festival tails have been lovingly made in their textile workshop. We’re happy to see the making of our tails being used to train and provide therapy through work experience

Festival Tails! Photo: courtesy Festival Tails' Flickr stream

Festival Tails!

Connecting the V&A, Liberty of London, Paperchase, Chased & Wonder, Festival Tails and many other satisfied customers is Textiles by St Annes — a small Birmingham-based social firm helping people who have experienced mental ill-health back into employment. It sounds unlikely doesn’t it — but it just shows what can be done.

Textiles by St Annes is always looking to connect with other social enterprises. For enquiries or more information please contact Helen Costa, manager. Send mail to Helen Costa.




Birmingham UK. Freelance research, evaluation and policy consultant specialising in social enterprise and the third sector. I maintain the BSSEC blog and website

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