Chipping Norton Business Wins Top Prize in The Independent Awards

L-R: Leah Nixon, Katie Weller, Founder Holly McMullen and son Aubrey, Anna Parrinder

The Basket Room, an ethical homewares brand headquartered in Chipping Norton, scooped the prestigious ‘Female Founder’ award in The Independent Awards in December.

The Basket Room sells handwoven storage baskets, basket bags, woven planters, rugs and bike baskets online. Its wholesale outfit supplies over 140 retailers across the world, from small independent plant and gift shops to High Street favourites Oliver Bonas, The Conran Shop and Anthropologie.

Founded by Holly McMullen and Camilla Sutton in 2014, The Basket Room partners with over 4,000 female weavers working in craft collectives and cooperatives across Africa, bringing a sustainable stream of creative work to rural women who otherwise depend on drought-dependant farming to support themselves and their families.

Holly was brought up and educated in Oxfordshire, attending Icknield Secondary School in Watlington before taking her A levels at City of Oxford College and completing an Art Foundation Course at Oxford Brookes.

She met Londoner Camilla whilst they were both studying BA Fashion at Arts University Bournemouth. The Independent Awards is an annual campaign led by Holly Tucker MBE (founder of notonthehighstreet and Holly & Co) alongside Dell, NatWest and Royal Mail. Taking place annually in the weeks leading up to Christmas, these awards recognise the ‘bravery, innovation and sheer hard work’ of independent retailers across the UK, with a top prize of £10,000 for each winner in ten categories.

“Winning the Female Founder Award means so much to me and Camilla, and the whole team. For seven years we’ve worked extremely hard, making our passion and dreams become a reality. To be recognised in this way feels incredible! We are so grateful to Holly Tucker for creating this platform on which independent businesses can shine.”

-Holly McMullen, Co-Founder

The Female Founder Award celebrates female founders of independent businesses in the UK “who are smashing stereotypes, defining a new narrative and helping their fellow sisterhood, by paving the way and making that path an easier journey to tread for others.”

Holly and Camilla will be using the £10,000 cash prize to pay for a sustainability impact report to be conducted on the ground in Africa.

“Investing in this sustainability report will enable us to analyse the supply chain and our overall business in order to identify areas to improve. We will be able to understand the environmental and social impact of raw materials better, further understand weavers’ pay versus various wage thresholds, and understand their overall welfare and success stories more clearly.

“This will allow us to share a more transparent story with our customers, improve operations on the ground with the weavers, and make greener and more sustainable choices for the business as a whole. “