The first in a series of conversations with mYcard friends, Neil Chadwick, Founder Director of Seasalt Cornwall, talks to us about his Cornish roots, the value of community and trying to do the right thing.
How come Cornwall became your Seasalt home?
We moved here when I was a boy, and Dad bought a shop in Penzance, which sold traditional workwear and second-hand clothing. Our customers were the sailors, farmers, fishermen and artists of West Penwith. I worked in that shop, and that’s why all Seasalt garments are not only beautiful but functional as well.
How is Cornwall echoed in Seasalt?
The people, the places, and the traditions all inform what we design and sell. You only have to step outside and breathe the air to get inspired!
What’s your best day out locally?
A day trip to Scilly.
‘Community’ is clearly important to Seasalt – can you tell us more?
It is. Within the company, the county, and everybody that is part of what we do, including our suppliers and our customers. My ambition was to be a very big employer in the county, and to create jobs where people had proper careers and felt part of something good. We are now one of the county’s largest employers with around 1000 people, 500 in Cornwall, and it feels to me like we’ve got a very nice community feel both in and out of the business.
Tell us how and why you feel sustainability matters?
It’s better business. We started out in 2005 as being the first company to get Soil Association certification for our cotton. That set the agenda for our future. By trying to do the right thing, it’s much easier to build a Seasalt community, and to grow a strong and profitable business.
Seasalt are champions of innovation. Which recent product development excites you most?
There are too many I’m proud of! In terms of product most recently it’s Seasalt Reloved, a garment take back scheme we’re trialling.
They say charity begins at home – do tell us about your local initiatives.
Lots of volunteering for local organisations, the Leach Apprentice Scheme which we have run for years, Hospital Rooms which is a mental health charity, Mylor Sailability, which runs sailing and powerboat sessions for people with disabilities…and lots more! We feel it is just part of living and working in such a wonderful community.
Name one thing – big or small- that you feel ‘makes a difference’?
In retrospect what one piece of advice would you have given to your teenage self?
Eat your greens!
What’s your current favourite read?
Creative Vegetable Growing by Joy Larkham
My favourite tree
Myrtle…so common in Cornwall, but rare elsewhere in the UK and thought of as a bit of a weed locally by some people. Poor Myrtle.