Charlotte Ehrt, the founder of ehrtweibchen in interview
with Eco- and Upcycling-Market.
Please introduce yourself briefly.
My name is Charlotte Ehrt and I create special plush toys from recycled textiles.
During the almost seven years lasting partnership with my trusty Veritas sewing machine we have produced nearly 600 “children” – most of them are already out of the house, but all cuddly soft and washable at 30 degrees.
How did you come to the issue of sustainability?
It is a topic that really interests me not only as a private person but also as a designer. Everyone wishes that a good toy is durable and environmentally friendly.
How do you get ideas for new products, what materials do you use in preference and why?
I prefer to use old textiles. I give fabrics, that have had their first life as clothing, curtains or pillows, a new purpose. I have also experienced that many old materials are more robust than new ones and also skin-friendly and less polluting because they have been through many wash cycles.
People who donate their sorted out textiles to me are delighted even more, when they discover their sweater in a new animal.
The old fabrics give my creatures a charm of its own – because of the different textures and fabrics that meet one another and perhaps also the stories they have to tell.
Please describe your creative working process briefly.
A fluffy, brightly coloured thing headed for that’s called inspiration, lies down on my head and whisperes to me secretly things that I express in drawings and doodles. The result is a paper pattern, then I rummage through my endless textile worlds for THE right fabric and then let’s go. Sometimes I also have to look at a half-finished animals for a few days to know how it will continue with it – building a character is not done just in one day!
How do you reconcile your work with your studies?
The common goal of the play and learning style is so obvious, yet both run in parallel and I find most of the time for new collections during the semester break.
How did you get the idea for your business and when did you get started?
My whole life I have been a passionate cuddly toy fanatic. Add a pinch “monster fascination”, skillful hands and an intensive course in biology at school and then stir it vigorously with a large spoon of imagination: It is only corollary that it eventually became a self-production!
How is the development since the start?
Well, the family has grown powerful – about 100 specimens a year – and now they are located throughout Germany and to some extent in Europe and America.
What do you love about your job? What gives a special pleasure to you in your work?
The emergence of an animal is an incredible joy for me. As it slowly takes shape and gets a character. And the more beautiful it is to see that someone else appreciates it.
Who or what inspires you?
Most nature itself: You can see from how a new collection looks like, if I was again in a zoo or aquarium!
What is your vision?
Each toy should be created and purchased with the aspiration to be the dearest. But then it must meet several criteria concerining longevity, sustainability and materiality.
Textile recycling offers wonderful possibilities for this that are not exploited yet to my opinion. For me as a designer it represents an enormous potential of design in it, so I just cannot leave it!