From their incredible home in the woods, Miscellaneous Adventures have been steadily growing as a sustainable outdoor business. Coming to the forefront of the outdoor industry through the form of The Outsiders publication back in 2014, the company has firmly rooted itself in the industry.
We sat down the Emma and Andrew to discuss their handmade products, the wilderness and what inspires their workshops in the woods.
If you could describe Miscellaneous Adventures in a sentence, what would that be?
Miscellaneous Adventures is a small, creative outdoor brand making tools, accessories, teaching workshops and creating imagery inspired by nature and adventure.
The outdoors obviously plays a huge part in inspiring Miscellaneous Adventures, but have you always loved the outdoors?
Yeah, I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors and grew up mountain biking, surfing and snowboarding but hiking, camping and paying closer attention to nature came later in life. Now, spending time outdoors is everything to both me and Emma; the feeling that being outside, immersed in nature gives you is what underpins everything we do at Miscellaneous Adventures.
How did you start Miscellaneous Adventures? What inspired you to start your own business?
I’m originally a freelance illustrator and designer and Miscellaneous Adventures was created as a kind of extension to my regular creative work. In 2011 we completed a multi-day hike in northern Sweden, our first experience of true wilderness, and in the same year we moved to a woodland barn in the Sussex countryside where nature and outdoor life became part of our every day existence. I took the things I had seen on our trek, plus the new skills I was learning in the woods and combined them with illustration and design to create Miscellaneous Adventures. It began as a simple side project but it’s since evolved organically into something much more all consuming!
You sell quite a selection of products through your website. Do you make all of these products yourselves?
Everything is handcrafted by us in our woodland home and studio. I (Andrew) make all the wooden items, mostly from leftovers from forestry work that I do and Emma makes all the fabric items. We also do all the design, illustration and photography work ourselves; it’s very much an outlet for everything we enjoy doing. Occasionally we collaborate with other makers and brands too which is always a rewarding process.
The products feel very handcrafted, with a lot of attention to detail. Was this something you wanted to get across through the range?
Yes definitely, we wanted to create products that people feel a sense of connection to, that feel somehow special and that can be cherished for years to come and maybe even handed down generations. Everything is crafted by hand in small batches, making every item unique. Each product is also inspired by an adventure, a place or a material and we love sharing the story behind our products; we hope that by learning about the materials and processes involved, our customers feel like they are part of the story too when they use our products. I think the relationship that we as consumers have with products is something that needs to change as we strive towards sustainability, opting for goods that are perhaps more expensive but that have meaning and are manufactured in a socially and environmentally responsible way over goods that are desirable simply because of their low cost and convenience.
Along with the products you sell, you also run a number of workshops in the woods. Is this something you always wanted to do? Teach others more about the outdoors, make things and share in those experiences?
Teaching is not something I ever planned to do, but once we started on this journey and began to benefit from learning more about nature the desire to share our experiences was overwhelming. Passing on knowledge and spending the day outside in the woods with likeminded folks around the campfire is a real joy; the workshops are without doubt the most rewarding aspect of what we do.
What’s your favourite place to explore when your not busy running workshops and making products?
Well, we love exploring the woods on our doorstep; we have developed an intimate knowledge of the location, witnessing it change over time and through the seasons so it’s always a joy to wander around, catching up on the woodland goings on and letting nature reveal itself to us. Further afield, Sweden is probably our favourite place to explore; the sheer scale and variety of the landscape offers boundless opportunities for spending time in nature. We are very fond of Norway too as it was the first place we went adventuring with our then 9 month old son, Benji – plus the landscape is breathtaking.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know? Any upcoming workshops or new projects you’re working on?
We have a Woodland Basecamp workshop coming up in October which we’re really looking forward to; autumn is our favourite time to be in the woods and this workshop teaches a little bit of everything we do. We’re off to teach a workshop at a micro festival in Holland at the end of August and we have new products inspired by a recent trip to Sweden launching in a few weeks…
An inspiring story, and some great handcrafted products. For more information and to see all the products and workshops on offer, please visit miscellaneousadventures.co.uk