A first for both @home and South African fashion designer Gavin Rajah, the Prêt à Vivre collection of luxe linen and hand-poured massage candles is now finally available to shop in-store after being made available for pre-order.

Better still, the collection is also a product of Rajah’s Behind the Seams initiative, which outsources and trains women from vulnerable communities to sew and embroider, allowing them to work from home. Since its inception, Behind the Seams has employed 14 women full-time, with supplementary jobs pouring candles and producing boxes for the candles created by the @home collaboration for the women too.

Says Rajah, “I started this much earlier, and I’ve just escalated it now in terms of bringing a kind of hand-made sensibility to this collection. I want people to be able to buy things that have a very special detail.

“Many of these women head up their households and are the sole breadwinners for their family. Becoming involved in the project enables them to provide for their children while developing their innate potential and learning additional business skills as well.”

And this foray from fashion to homeware is just the start, as Rajah reveals, “I love fashion and I love working in the interior space at the moment as well, but designing for interiors allows me a different kind of perspective and takes me into an atmosphere which is more mass retail, allowing me to work with different scales and volumes. I’m learning a lot more, because it’s really about consumer patterns and behaviour.

“I think I will continue doing both, but the homeware and interior business is really expanding dramatically. We’ve been asked to do other things and to work on other collections, and I’m really excited about that.”

The decision to partner with Rajah for this luxe linen collection was a no-brainer, says @home, “Gavin is a well-known SA designer and we saw it as a great opportunity. We decided on the bespoke luxury linen range as sleep is a current topic and a key wellness trend. Over and above the local design element, most elements of the range are manufactured locally. Gavin drives high standards and being a bespoke range this has helped to build our suppliers’ technical capability in the process.”

And it’s something @home plans to expand on with other local design talents in the future, “Definitely – our business is constantly evolving and we are always looking at opportunities to showcase local design, whether they are well-known or up-and-coming designers – we want to create a platform to showcase their talent.”

The homeware brand has also been inspired by Rajah’s example, creating development projects of its own, “We are busy with a few of these initiatives, developing smaller local suppliers, forming partnerships and growing their business with them. In some instances, even working with charity organisations to up-skill local people and create job opportunities as well as giving back.”

Make your way to @home to view Gavin Rajah’s Prêt à Vivre collection now.