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I went back to college about 6 years ago and did a textile degree course. I loved pattern repeats and enjoyed learning all the different techniques using the computer. The facilities were not very good at college in the print room so I tried to do as much as possible on my Mac. I was thinking of selling my designs at a show called Printsource in NYC but after visiting and researching the other sellers I decided it wasn’t for me. I realised that these sellers were working hard and selling their designs for not much money. I then decided to set up my own business and sell my fabric and wallpaper, mainly so I could be in control of my designs. Licensing pays very little and your design could be seen on many different products, you have no control.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I love visiting museums and any places, which have lots of character. I usually take loads of photos with my iphone and look at them later in more detail. I am always looking for unusual shapes and I can see them in all sorts of places. I like old historical objects and places, mainly because there are loads of shapes and potential patterns.
How long ago did you start your venture?
I only started to trade professionally 2 years ago. I became a Limited company and registered for VAT.
Who are your main customers?
I mainly have trade customers who buy my fabrics, I usually showcase my designs on my website but deal mainly on the telephone or email. It takes quite a long time for people to decide which fabric they want to use, nothing happens very quickly in my line of business.
How long does it take you to achieve a design you end up printing?
What I do first is lots of sketching, I use my ipad for this and I build up a bank of motifs. This can take a few weeks, until I have exhausted my inspiration. I then have colours printed off onto the base cloth and I use this as a reference. The colours on the Mac screen are not the same as real life. I then start to create repeat patterns using my motifs and colours and test out many options. I spend more weeks making as many patterns as possible, I then edit all the work I have done and choose what to print out. I do a massive test of lots of ideas on one long piece of fabric. When this arrives I cut it out and play around with what works and what does not. I then commit to the patterns and colours I want and get larger samples made.
What collections do you have and what differentiate them from each other?
I have created 4 collections to date, The Hermitage, which was based on some old Chinese wallpaper in an old house on the banks of the Tyne. I was helping a friend with this paper and the results then turned into my first collection. My second collection was stronger colours and some stronger and subtler designs, this is called Summer Tea, a combination of lots of different patterns, scales and colours. My third collection is called 1751 and was about silk dress designs in the 1750s. This was just a starting point, then lots of different ideas come from the first sketches and designs. My latest collection is called Empire and is based on a diary I found that my Gt Grandfather wrote about his trip to Persia in the 1880s, the diary was in a lovely brightly coloured bag. He wrote an amazing account of how he met The Shah of Persia.
What do you have up your sleeve next?
I will be attending Decorex this September, which will be good, I went last year so I am looking forward to reinforcing my brand. I have a much better position this year than last, so this should make a difference. It is all very professional indeed, but I am proud I will be there considering I only graduated 2 years ago. I will of course start designing a new collection in the autumn and I want to put out more videos. I have just published my first brochure, there is an online copy available to view from my website from today.
I love what I do and I hope to continue designing fabric and wallpaper for many years to come. There is something so satisfying seeing your design all over a wall or made into beautiful curtains or blinds, I can never believe that I designed it all. I look at it as useable art, and much more fun that just painting a picture to hang on the wall.