INTERIOR TRENDS

Breaking into the interior trends market was an honor, it's an area I'd love to explore further in my business. I dream of one day having my own hand painted ceramics range, which is slightly odd since my crockery collection is a mismatch of all white pieces. But I do love a pop of a crazy patterned sweetie dish, mug or serving bowl and spend hours drooling over Anthropologie's eclectic selection on a regular basis. However, I digress. I believe a good designer, given half the chance, can design anything and I'm sooo glad the fabulous Nic Fenton also agreed with this since it was she who contacted me to work with the award winning Flair Rugs after we had crossed paths in a previous life. As the new big girl boss Nic wanted to bring a trend led direction to the well-established, award winning rug design and supplier to pretty much everyone, from Dunelm Mill right through to the V&A collection. Rather than her customers coming to her with ideas she wanted Flair rugs to lead the way in design and trend direction. I felt the best way to lead this was to start with a seasonal round up of the key interior trends and then progress each trend into rug "micro trends" which could be pulled for inspiration as a trend. I took onboard the latest catwalk print trends alongside slower paced yarn trends, colour and new developments within rugs. Nic and the team at Flair are passionate people to with, and I love passionate. It's important to me to work with big ideas folk who just wanna create great things, whether it be a new process or a fantastic product. When I visit Flair HQ my trend report pages are pinned all around the walls and it feels amazing! I'm just about to start my seventh seasonal trend prediction pack with them and it's always something I look forward to.

If you feel your brand could benefit from a bespoke trend service please get in touch for a chat, I'm sure together we could create some magic!

LOUNGEWEAR

So, whilst I adore dressing up in heels for a big night out my love of loungewear has grown by stratospheric proportions as I get older, wiser and well, just a bit happier in my own skin. Working from home is a blessing and none more so than when you can sit in your pjs...all day if you like! But I like to get showered and dressed as my "getting ready for work" routine. Don't get me wrong, the odd nightmare deadline insists on rolling out of bed straight into my office but it's great to feel cosy but oh so very sexy in your slounge.... So, when my old colleague and friend revealed she and her sister were launching their brand I was over the moon to be asked to help bring their vision to life.

Because these girls just live and breathe their product they brought lots of time worn and well-loved samples to the table, along with magazine rips, Pinterest pics, scraps of fabrics, etc., etc. (!) and we sat down and had a good old cuppa and put the slounge world to rights fueled by a big pot of sweetie skittles. As a small startup brand budget was tight so we homed in on half a dozen key styles they just couldn't live without and we talked fabric, fit, details and trims. Caroline had already created the beautifully simplistic branding so I could focus on bringing the product to life with detailed sketches. I created a base range of factory specification packs that they could take to the factory and build on with different trims and fabrications. Natalie is a hands-on design driven fashion buyer, passionate about product and really wanted to personalise each style whilst sat with the factory, a very organic development process which creates the best samples and products.

I absolutely love these editorial shots from the Something and Sunday website and I fell in love with the whole brand ethos the first time I eagerly browsed the website. Working with new brands I connect with is an amazing buzz and feels like fun not work! The whole brand, from development of product, photography through to delivery is handled by these hard working, fun loving sisters and mums! Wow! I'm exhausted just thinking about it...

I'd love to reach out and work with new startups looking to be #girlrebels in this big bad business world. If you would like to see my client portfolio please get in touch. Or if you just fancy hooking up with me and sharing some #girlboss love you can find me on instagram. (Photos : Copyright Something & Sunday)

VINTAGE PRINTS

Timeless, age old fabrics have always inspired me. Rummaging through boxes of scarves in a vintage shop is my idea of fun…or a jumble sale (do those still exist?) …That feeling of “what treasure might I find” is such a simple pleasure. When I was studying at art college I lived in posh Berkshire, just outside London and the jumble sales were magnificent for finding good stuff. I also love to design vintage prints, in shades that look washed away by time. Here’s a typical example from my portfolio, made up into this cute romper for Mamas and Papas, one of the UK’s leading nursery brands. Whether it be a coordinated set of prints or a bespoke one off, I’m always happy to work with stylish brands to develop my romantic boho style. If you would like to see more of my print work, I have an online portfolio here. Just drop me a line and I would be happy to provide you the password. (Photo : Copyright Mamas & Papas)

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MAMAS & PAPAS MY 1ST HALLOWEEN

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using 'Content here, content here', making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for 'lorem ipsum' will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like). It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using 'Content here, content here', making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for 'lorem ipsum' will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).

CHRISTMAS

Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year apparently. Well, when I was asked to design the complete range of gift, clothing and toys one very warm July for the lovely peeps at Mamas & Papas I was, to say the least, crapping myself. I had been working on the Mamas & Papas maternity clothing design and development for six years, and then more recently, small projects on their baby gift ranges. I was delighted to be asked and instantly replied “it would be a pleasure”, but inside my head the “feel the fear and do it anyway” force was strong!

Not only was toy and character design a little(!) out of my comfort zone, it was also a notoriously difficult category to get right; not too gimmicky, but broad appeal, with the all-important M&P sophistication. Oh, and not least forgetting trying to get it signed off by Louisa, the owner and founder of the company, who kind of despised the whole Christmas product category, as it was “never quite right”. Challenge set then. Not to be rattled by a spoonful of self-doubt I set about the task at hand and began researching. The whole season category would be sat together in store, so had to look like one cohesive collection. From clothing and accessories through to picture frames, baubles and My 1st Christmas gifts, the key was to create something classically Christmas, driven by characters, but stylish. We also wanted a non-character capsule collection to sit alongside, in complete harmony with the rest of the range.

I began with three concepts, each with their own palette and theme, and through presentation and discussion with Luisa we whittled it down to two directions. I then set about breaking down the process, first developing characters via inspiration boards and pencil sketches and then onto colour concepts. Typography was also a key component. I selected suitable fonts and designed a hand drawn typeface for the “My 1st Christmas” tagline running through the range. Alongside this I also developed simple two colour all over prints and motifs which would be used throughout the ranges, where appropriate, to link the overall feel of the surface pattern. This stage of the process was the biggest hurdle to jump, but once these concepts were approved it meant we had a huge depth of artwork to draw upon as we then developed into each category.

So, with my line list of products to design, and a long list of suppliers, each with their own USP, I began working through gift, toy and clothing product design. This was fun. I enjoy learning new skills, and understanding how things are made and their manufacturing constraints help me set my own brief on what is possible and what is just too risky to get right. I always look at the big picture and believe working with a factories’ strengths. I like to take some time to research the components and then work with those to create the best first samples possible. Sure, push them a little to source amazing new things but be realistic.

When the factory specifications went out in the post I’m not going to lie, it was a relief. It had been a long development process to get directors and buyers happy with a very tricky, short selling, seasonal product category. I went through a huge learning curve on a lot of “new to me” product areas but when the samples returned the team were over the moon. Result! The intensity of a few months hard work had been worth the effort. My most favourite product will always be the “My 1st Christmas” handmade glass tree decorations, which are individually hand painted from the inside of the bauble. Completely amazing craftwork and a true keepsake gift.

So, my first multi-product seasonal range was a success, and I was asked to return to design the “My 1st Halloween” clothing range, of which you can see a snapshot on my Instagram feed here. Working with clients on a long-term basis is just so rewarding, and a real “win win” partnership evolves whereby you can really get into the DNA of the brand, but as a freelancer, always bring something new to the table, from what’s going on outside the business. Them having the confidence to ask me to work across many different products was a real opportunity for me and I can now confidently take on briefs from stationary, gift and soft toys.

Here are a few photos, all courtesy of Mamas & Papas. If you would like to see the full range design development please contact me for access to my portfolio here.

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