It's almost Mother's Day, and cozy mornings, warm bundles, and thoughtful gifts are top of mind. From reflecting on the warmth someone has brought to you to holding hope for bright futures—Spring is the perfect time to appreciate how much care good growth takes. We thought, who better to mark the occasion with than Tartan Blanket Co. founder Emma Macdonald whose clear-eyed vision has built a company that embodies these values. The Edinburgh-based company brings style to sustainability with an amazing collection of design-led wool goods. TBCo is a brand that truly delivers on its purpose, and we couldn't wait to catch up with Emma to find out how.
Tell us about your story—was there a specific moment that clarified design was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
My career started in fashion, working as a buyer for a large retailer in the UK, and I saw how often profit was put ahead of people. I wanted to create a business that proved things could be done differently.
I always loved textiles and beautifully designed products, and now one of my favorite parts of my job is getting to work with our amazing designers and product teams to come up with new and innovative collections.
You grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. How did that inform the way you see the world and your work?
Looking back, I loved my childhood in Edinburgh, and I was lucky my parents took us on adventurous holidays to places like India and Morocco, where we got to experience different cultures and environments. But after I left university, I couldn't wait to leave Edinburgh and move to the bright lights of London. However, after living there for a few years, I started to realize just what a wonderful city Edinburgh is and how Scotland is definitely my home.
When we started TBCo, we really wanted to focus on making something so traditionally Scottish, a tartan blanket, a bit more modern and sustainable. But now TBCo has become so much more. We really focus on harnessing the amazing creative talent we have here in Scotland to create design-led, sustainable products.
Happy (early) Mother’s Day! What’s on your wishlist this Mother’s Day?
Our gift boxes make the perfect Mother’s Day gift and are great for sharing warmth from afar. I’d include—
For all of the working moms out there, what’s one tip you’ve learned that you’d share with them about balancing your family and professional lives?
That you can be anything but not everything, I think it is important to find the rhythm and balance that works for you. I learned a couple of years ago to prioritize my head space so I can show up for my family or the team in the right way.
I had three kids under 2 after the twins were born, and I was constantly running on no sleep or headspace. I reached a breaking point, got a sleep coach in to get all three sleeping better, and started going for a run or walk as soon as the kids went to bed. Now I always prioritize time to exercise and process my thoughts every day, whether that be a run in the morning or meditation before bed.
It’s so easy to feel too overwhelmed or busy to take care of yourself, but it really gives you the energy and clarity to show up as a far happier and more productive version of yourself for everyone who needs you.
The other thing is to work with the working dads or partners to find the balance for both of you. My husband Fergus and I now have a rota for who has the kids in the morning or who does bed and bath time and then also regular time scheduled to spend together to make sure we are also connected. When the kids are young, it can be a really tough time, and you have to work together to support each other through it. It does get easier, especially once you get a bit more sleep!What are a few pieces in your collection that you are most proud of?
Our Recycled Wool Blankets are our best-selling range and are amazing. They’re made from 70% recycled wool and 30% recycled mixed fibers. On average, each blanket saves around six blankets from landfill, and we even use our off-cuts to make our pet blankets! And, of course, they look great in your home. We also have a very exciting new product collection launching later this year, and I am incredibly proud of what the team has created—I can’t wait to wear them myself!
We recently celebrated Earth Day, and we really admire your commitment to our planet through your Positive Impact Pledge. How does that impact the way you run your business?
Thank you! TBCo has been a purpose-driven business since it was created in 2014, and we always strive to be responsible for our effect on the planet and its people. This includes decisions at every level—from what our labels are made of to having additional team holidays for mental health or supporting the community.
Our Positive Impact Pledge is our commitment to giving 2% of our revenue to charity, so for each purchase made, 1% is donated to an environmental organization and 1% to a humanitarian cause.
TBCo also achieved B Corp certification in February 2023, which was an incredible achievement and shows our dedication to being a force for good in the world.
What is one thing you want all of your customers to know about your goods?
If there’s one thing I want our customers to know, it’s that wool really is a wonderful material. It’s hypoallergenic, breathable, durable, self-cleaning, and keeps you warm. It’s also a renewable fabric, making it as great for the planet as it is for you. The wool we work with and how we finish it makes it incredibly soft—our lambswool is even gentle enough for baby’s skin, and our baby blankets are one of our most loved products.
There’s also a misconception that wool is outdated or traditional, but at TBCo, all our products are design-led and take inspiration from timeless fashion and interior design trends. We’ve had some pinch-us features in Tatler, Vogue, and Apartment Therapy, showing you can be sustainable and stylish at the same time.
Care is critical in preserving these pieces; how should customers care for them?
Caring for your products is so important; the longer we can keep our wool in good condition, the better for the environment it is—that way, we don’t have to buy twice! It’s relatively easy to look after wool as well:
What’s next for you and TBCo?
TBCo is a purpose-led business with an incredible, growing team that embodies and stays true to its values. It has become much greater than the sum of its parts, and its impact is more than I could ever have imagined. As a company, we continue to evolve, push boundaries, and challenge how we can be better tomorrow.
As mentioned, we already have a very exciting range of new products, which will be launching later this year, and so many more plans in place to create more design-led products that bring warmth to people's lives while helping create a better tomorrow for all. We have also been working with some incredible retail partners like Lulu and Georgia, who embody our values and help us bring the TBCo vision and products to more like-minded customers around the world.
We are committed to designing a better tomorrow with warmer people and a cooler planet. We know we have a long way to go, but we are super excited about the journey!Photography by Tartan Blanket Co.