If Cantabria is part of our spring mythology, Botánica Textil promises to give us what we most desire at this time of year: colour, nature, flowers and fresh design. The young project Botánica Textil by Paula Andrés is an example of a story of craftsmanship, one of those stories that hooks you, makes you fall in love and, what’s more, works.
Her workshop, located in the centre of Cabezón de la Sal (Cantabria), was born from a dream: to create plants for spaces without sunlight. Sustainable, artistic and not at all opulent, impregnated with the personality of this young, energetic and multifaceted artist, a space where creativity and know-how can be breathed.
At Labois, we wanted to get to know her project in person and we couldn’t help but interview her about its origins.
Botánica Textil workshop
Who is behind of Botánica Textil?
Paula Andrés Castrillo, graduate in Fine Arts. I have always been instilled with art, since I was very young. My father is a doctor and a sculptor. I have always known that my destiny would be related to art and culture.
I’ve worked in everything: in galleries, as an artist, I’ve done a master’s degree as an art commissioner… but I’ve always had the feeling that they exploit you or that you don’t get to be you.
How was Botanica Textil born?
When I lived in Barcelona, I lived in a flat that had no sunlight and I couldn’t have plants. The alternative was plastic plants, but I refused to buy them, I couldn’t see the point. At that time I was working in an atelier of fabric toys, and while I was helping them my brain was going round in circles and suddenly, in a dream, it appeared to me. I saw the possibility of making an artificial plant of fabric. As an artist, I identify with the relationship with nature and I saw that it could have an interesting commercial purpose.
It’s been 6 years since I made my first cactus. At that time I was still working in Barcelona on other things, while I had just made the decision.
For personal reasons I had to return to Cantabria and I saw the opportunity to create Botánica Textil. When I returned to my homeland, I felt calm and wellbeing and everything started to flow without me wanting it to. One day I came to Cabezón de la Sal and I saw that a girl had opened a very interesting proposal of second-hand clothes, Fibra Sensible, and I thought that something could germinate from here. Then, another girl opened a honey shop next door. A very good synergy was created and at that moment they showed me what is now my place, and I fell in love. So I decided to leave everything and set up Botánica Textil.
Since then, I have got on very well with them and we have foolishly started doing concerts, exhibitions, creating a cultural trade association called Portal Número 8. Unconsciously, we have been creating content and the response we receive is very pleasant. They compare us to soho, the new soho.
It has been a year since I set up the shop. As a result I am very happy, although it was a complicated year because of the pandemic. But I couldn’t just sit back and wait for the world to be put right, I had to get things moving again.
What do Botánica Textil pieces look like?
I have an internal debate with Botánica Textil. On the one hand it’s a work of art, it’s unique, you won’t find anything like it and it takes a long time to make. If I really quantified the time it takes, it would have a very high price, but I don’t want it to be like that, I don’t want it to enter only the world of art galleries. My intention is for it to be accessible art, so that anyone of any level or status can enjoy it.
In my creative process, when I choose the fabrics, they are the ones that speak to me and tell me what they are going to become. That is why I put all my energy and love into each one of them.
So, how is your life as a businesswoman?
In the end, this is a company. So apart from enjoying making my creations, I also have to work as a graphic designer, photographer, salesperson, think about how to do my communication, what texts I am going to create… It is not as gratifying as when you are creating, but I understand that it is part of creating a company. The world of the entrepreneur is a juggling game that has to be coordinated in order to move forward and not die.
You are training in communication and marketing – how is it helping you?
I have lived the experience of having my own shop and I have taken a risk in my first year as an entrepreneur. The analysis is that it has gone well, despite the times we are in, but the future has to get better.
That’s why I see that it’s very important to get training. It annoys me the lack of knowledge and feeling that I am going blind, there are hundreds of things that I have to learn that are important to have a business. Setting a strategy, a good message, a good image, good planning, knowing your ideal customer…
You can do it in an amateur way, as I have been doing, but that consumes you and if you consume yourself, you shut down and stop fighting. A good orientation helps you a lot. It shows you the way so that you can climb well and not get exhausted.
What is the difference compared to when you lived in Barcelona?
A lot and better. In Barcelona I had a pop-up shop with more people in a very central location. And when I came here I thought, “You’re crazy, you’re going to set it up in a village!” But in a city like Barcelona I get the feeling that everyone goes in a marked lane and doesn’t see anything else. There is so much over-stimulation, options, proposals,… that you don’t know clearly where to go. Besides, people don’t have time and it’s more overwhelming. Compared to a town, you don’t expect to find a business like this and the human effect, word of mouth and proximity is not in the city. Here, if someone knows you, they tell their neighbour, their cousin… The cyanotype workshops I give and the activities we organise with the association also help a lot to make yourself known. And I am surprised by the warmth and support I am receiving.
What are you currently working on?
I mainly sell my fabric plants to the private public, but I am now working on new formats, larger sizes and new techniques for interior designers, restaurants, hotels, festivals, shop windows and large-scale projects. This allows me to express myself artistically in other sectors as well.
How do you see yourself 5 years from now?
I don’t know, I hope to continue doing what I do. But I don’t know at what level and in what state. I don’t know if I see myself exactly the same doing the cactus as I am doing now, maybe I would like to have more people here with me and create a workshop to help me do the production. I also want to do big things, I imagine myself doing a staging of a festival, filling a big hall of a hotel…
Finally, what would you recommend to an artisan who wants to start a business?
I would tell them to go ahead, that there is only one life. That in this life we have come to enjoy and do what we want and what makes us happy. Nothing is going to be easy. You have to work hard. But if you feel it can go well, if you have that sixth sense, that hunch; jump into the pool. I played my card and it’s working out well.
We would like to thank Paula Andrés for the time, care and attention she has given us.
And if you want to know more about her work and the Botánica Textil project, we encourage you to visit her website and discover her workshop in person.