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Interview with Saffron Hare, The First Female Managing Director in the History of James Hare Fabrics

cushions on chair upholstered in paxton, red gold

Early Exposure to the Family Business

Saffron Hare, the first female Managing Director in James Hare Fabrics’ history, grew up immersed in the family business. She recalls, “I grew up with the family business, so I cannot recall when I was first made aware. It was part of family life; we didn’t know any different.”

saffron hare managing director james hare

Continuing the Legacy

Maintaining a family business over such an extended period is a testament to the company’s resilience and adaptability. Saffron acknowledges, “When I was younger, I didn’t plan to join the family business, but you inevitably get drawn in. There’s a strong family ethos, and now I have been here for 25 years, the fifth generation.”

Embracing Change and Heritage

What has enabled James Hare to remain in the family for so long? Saffron attributes it to “our ability to change, remain relevant, and our heritage. Every generation has taken the business forward, and we’re very proud of what we are part of and lucky.”

apollo key braid sapphire blue by james hare

Evolving Offerings

When Saffron joined, James Hare specialized in silks for the bridal trade. Over the past two decades, the company has evolved significantly, developing “the James Hare look, a classic and contemporary interior style, designed very much for customers to create inspiring spaces from the fabric collections.”

Global Expansion and Innovation

James Hare has focused on exporting and expanding into the US market. Additionally, they have embraced new technologies, such as embroidered fabrics and an extensive range of plains in various materials, including pure and faux silk, linen, and wallcoverings.

Sustainable Practices and Community Support

Saffron takes pride in James Hare’s expertise in working with silk and supporting the farming and weaving communities. She notes, “Selling and buying silks supports local communities and keeps skills, which have been developed over 1000 years, alive.”

trims james hare

New Products and Trends

Some recent introductions from James Hare include:

  • A ready-made cushion collection
  • A bespoke service for paper-backing trims to create decorative edges
  • New designs tap into trends like ikats, florals, and damasks, reflecting the current mood for color and pattern.

Customer Support and Design Expertise

James Hare offers customers a network of agents and interior designers who provide guidance in choosing fabrics and creating interior schemes. Saffron emphasizes, “Our collections are designed to work together, but not to match. It’s more interesting to create interiors with different color tones and patterns.”

Design Style and Yorkshire Pride

Saffron’s design style at home reflects her love for comfort and functionality, with a smart yet unfussy drawing room and a cozy, family-friendly kitchen. She takes pride in being a Yorkshire business, noting, “Yorkshire has a strong sense of pride. It is a place where innovation thrives. We have an abundance of family businesses and start-ups. Leeds is a dynamic hub, rapidly evolving and embracing progress.”

Future Ambitions

Looking ahead, Saffron has ambitious plans for James Hare’s 160th anniversary in 2025, aiming to celebrate the company’s rich history and continued evolution.

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