By Alice Meets Carole Bamford
This month we had the pleasure of speaking with
Carole Bamford, founder of Daylesford and Bamford.
We are forever inspired by Carole's work on sustainability, her exquisite taste and style.
Carole gives us an insight into running the Daylesford Empire, how she stays calm, who inspires her and advises us on how we can live more sustainable lives.
We were so thrilled to have an extensive chat with her...
Do you have a morning ritual to get you ready and put you in a positive mindset to start the day?
I always do a meditation practice, along with breathwork and yoga. They’re very important to me and really set the tone for my day. Meditation leaves me feeling calm and centred and I feel imbalanced – as though something is missing – if for some reason I don’t manage to fit it in. I’ll always take my dogs for a walk. I need that time in nature. One of my favourite times of the day is when the garden is waking up; you can hear the sound of the birds and perhaps the wind or just a rustle of leaves and the world feels so peaceful. It’s such a blessing to be able to have that time and I savour it.
What is it that inspires you to wake up and work hard every day?
I’m very passionate about what I do and I love my work. I know it’s a privilege to be able to say that and I don’t ever want to take it for granted. No day is the same and that keeps everything interesting but also enormously fulfilling. I never know what I’m going to learn that day or discover, and that makes life an adventure.
You have been a pioneer of eco consciousness for a long time now. What small steps could each one of us take to shop and live in a more conscious way?
Trying to shop locally and seasonally is one of the simplest but most effective actions we can each take.
Producers who work according to the seasons are connected to the land and to nature and therefore they are inherently kinder to the planet.
The most important thing, however, to do is to try to make changes that are sustainable for your lifestyle.
There are lots of relatively simple swaps we can make to ensure we’re avoiding plastic, for example, but there are plenty of other small steps that we can take to adapt our lifestyle, such as reducing or preventing any food waste at home; looking after our clothes to make sure they last; and buying clothes that aren’t
designed to be worn for a season then thrown away.
Another big part of being conscious is arming ourselves with information – seeking out and supporting the brands and businesses that are doing the right thing and are behaving responsibly. That’s not always as easy as it sounds but by doing research you can start to get a sense for companies that are being truly transparent and brands that are hiding behind jargon.
I read a quote of yours which really resonated, ‘I think people today want to know that what they buy has integrity and responsibility’. How do you think we can make more people aware of how much of an impact each purchase they make has on the planet?
I think it’s twofold. A lot lies in how stories are told – strong storytelling can be a very effective means of communication when it’s done in the right way, but it can’t sound like preaching or unachievable.
We’ve seen that with David Attenborough’s Blue Planet BBC documentary series which sent a very strong message about plastic and why it’s so vital we reduce our consumption.
It’s also not just about creating an awareness but an understanding of a problem and therefore how changing our daily decisions can impact the short- and the long-term health of the planet.
And for brands it requires complete transparency – they have a responsibility to offer accurate, honest disclosure about a product’s lifecycle, but above all consumers need to trust that that information is truthful. The emerging movement towards environmental labelling and certification helps with that and I absolutely believe that more of that needs to be the future.
Essentially, I think it’s about clear, authentic communication backed up by data.
You have incredible taste and style, who has been your inspiration?
Hubert de Givenchy was a huge inspiration for me. He had effortless style and elegance and exquisite taste. But I think most of my inspiration comes from my surroundings – from exploring other places and cultures; visiting exhibitions and galleries; I read a lot and love looking through books and magazines –
and always from nature. I say it a lot, but nature really is my biggest source of inspiration in everything I do.
Where has been your favourite travel destination and why?
India holds a very special place in my heart – I’ve been travelling there for over 40 years and I discover something new or learn something different each time I go back there. The Galapagos Islands were also very special. We went there as a family a few years ago and took my grandchildren, and part of what made
it so memorable was watching their interpretation and discovery of such a unique place. The experience of being there is very hard to describe. The islands are just so remote. There’s no interference; no background hum of traffic or electricity or any form of interruption; just the peace and calming beauty of the natural world. You’re left with an overwhelming sense of humility and gratitude: to be granted this gift of watching nature at work and that stays with you, and will stay with my grandchildren, I hope.
Daylesford sells homeware that is beautiful and handcrafted. You are an advocate for artisans. Is it important for the pieces in your home to be handcrafted and if so why?
It’s very important. I’ve always admired the work of the hand. Craft is beauty and I love the sense of emotion that comes through in a piece that’s been crafted by hand. We have an expansive array of heritage craft skills – not just in the UK but around the world – and I want to support those traditions and see the skills survive, because so many of them are in real danger of being lost forever. I’ve recently been reading about the British crafts that are considered endangered and the number is frightening. Skills
such as block printing, kilt making, harp making and the work of coppersmiths are all under threat and those are just a few of many. The making of traditional cricket balls, for example, is already completely extinct and that devastates me.
If God forbid there was a fire and you could only take three items out of your home with you, what would you choose?
My dogs; as many photo albums as I could carry; and the first watch my husband gave me which is engraved with the words ‘Je t’aimerai toujours’.
Name three of your desert island discs?
Elvis Presley’s ‘Love me Tender’
‘The Long and Winding Road’ by the Beatles
‘Imagine’ by John Lennon
How do you stay calm in stressful situations?
I breathe – slowly and deeply. Breathing instantly calms your nervous system and also gives you a moment to think. Having a regular meditation practice also prepares you for those situations so that you’re better equipped to handle them. It means you can keep your head level and take a decision with greater composure and think through its consequences rationally and without the panic that can sometimes overwhelm people
If you could turn any building in the UK into your home, which would it be?
The Sloane Museum
You’ve previously said in interviews that you didn't plan on being an entrepreneur and business woman, yet it seems to me that you’re incredibly driven and that no task is too big or too small – what’s next on the horizon for you?
I’m opening a members club for wellness and fitness called 'The Club by Bamford' at our Cotswold siteearly next year.
Finally, do you have a favourite By Alice piece?
I love all the vintage Murano glassware – there’s a lovely heart-shaped Murano dish that I’m very drawn to.