|The lady herself… Helen Rutland
First a little bit about the lady herself. Helen Rutland worked within the London fashion scene until her 30s, designing for various companies including Topshop. At 30, she decided London was no longer the place for her so moved back home to Cheltenham. As she became more and more involved with her church, she also started up her own business. With two goals in mind, to rebrand the church outside and challenge the church inside, Helen started The Word Is with card designs and prints. Five years later and she moved into t-shirt and hoody designs. Incredibly, this has all been done out of her own home – a modern day cottage industry. On the day I turned up, the house was a factory as the Big Church Day Out was only a week away, and it’s one of the biggest events that The Word Is attends.
I mentioned two of Helen’s goals for The Word Is. The first one, to rebrand the church outside, refers to her aim of changing the world’s idea that the church is fuddy-duddy and behind the times. ‘Socks-and-sandals’ sums up the world’s view of Christians pretty well. The second one, to challenge church inside, refers to Helen’s policy of being as ethical and sustainable as possible. Her clothing is all sourced from the same company who own their own factories and can trace the materials back to their source. So buying one of her t-shirts isn’t just a chance to start conversations with one of her slogans but also an opportunity to support the planet we are supposed to steward.
|Bamboo is a new fabric on the scene but due to it’s fast-growing qualities highly-sustainable.
And super comfy too!
Once the t-shirts arrive, Helen can begin to design and apply her slogans. It’s a long process to print and her slogans on the vinyl. Fortunately, computer programmes and devices makes this all a lot easier if still slow. When the printing and cutting is finished, the slogans are pressed out and are ready to be applied.
|The laptop and printer/cutter in the heart of Helen’s house/factory.|
|T-shirt and slogan just before it goes into the press. You pull the plastic off afterwards.|
After all this, the t-shirts are ready to wear. Or be folded, packed and shipped to Helen’s next event or order.