The Route I Took

Someone asked me a question this week which I couldn’t answer. Well, I could but it would have taken too long. It was a good question and the answer might be useful to some.

So I was telling her about a travel grant I was awarded last month by Cultural Enterprise Office  (CEO) to visit three Paris Trade Shows. It was a modest grant, just enough for a budget air fair, metro ticket and the entry cost for the shows. The question she asked was, ‘how did you get this grant?’

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Premiere Classe and Who’s Next Trade Shows

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Tranoi Trade Show, Paris.

Warning…it’s a long answer… it’s taken 51 years i.e my lifetime (!) My career has grown organically because I’ve squished it, dropped it and reformed it to wrap around my own circumstances. So this post outlines my long way round route to the grant. I hope it doesn’t read like a cv, that’s not the intention, but it may be helpful to see the steps I took as I know a lot of people are either having or wanting to have a refreshing late career.

I’ve always been (and have written previous posts about this) of the belief that the very early years are extremely influential in later life. I think the toys we constantly handled as toddlers, the prints our parents wore, the textures of wall coverings, blankets and textiles that surrounded us all seep into our souls. I’m also certain the obsession British childrens TV had in the late ’60’s early ’70’s on visiting the insides of factories (remember the milk bottling one….) laid the foundations of my utter fascination with manufacturing…and to my absolute joy took me to a paint factory, Tikkurila in Helsinki with my job decades later.

1960s

Mum in a bold print and our house mid 1960’s

Mum had been working in The Denmark Room, a place in central Edinburgh which served smørrebrøds, Carlsberg and sold Danish homewares while Dad although a genetic scientist, enjoyed making things and the copper light (top right) is something I still love decades later. Their friends mainly consisted of Edinburgh College of Art graduates so the house always had pictures hanging. Looking at the photos now I can say firstly that Mum still has, and uses virtually everything in them and secondly, I know the things so intimately I could describe them in great detail with my eyes shut. I would like to say my current designs have been influenced by this environment and believe that is Part One of the long journey towards the travel grant.

Part Two, fast track to university. I studied geography. Whats that got to do with design you may ask? Quite a lot in an odd way. Geography is observation, people, process and  pattern and that’s exactly what I’m doing now, making patterns from observations.

Part Three – jobs. For many years I worked for Inhouse, a company with inspiring showrooms in Edinburgh and Glasgow displaying contemporary furniture, lighting and accessories – this was the 1980’s before modern design became mainstream and I was trained under the watchful eye of the late architect Bill Potter and his wife Sylvia. They taught me everything I know about contemporary designers and it’s where my obsession with Italian designer Achille Castiglioni’s started (and continues). I was also working for The Open Eye Gallery, which specialises in contemporary Scottish art so I was absorbing design and colour every day at work. Fast track several more years and I was working for a paint company designing colour palettes for their interior range…by this time, colour was the ‘thing’ that motivated me.

Part Four, I set up on my own. At this point, my story may become useful to you as its tells you who helped me on my way. However, I have written about this part in previous posts so I will be very brief.

In 2015, I launched my first mens ties after being encouraged to print textiles by Solii Brodie of BeFab Be Creative. Gordon Miller of Scot Street Style was very supportive and took the collection over to New York to officially launch in Brooklyn during Tartan Week – he did this for no financial gain to himself, he just believed in the product and was proud to show America contemporary Scottish design.

Then I was introduced to Creative Edinburgh ,‘a network of creatives in Edinburgh, committed to advancing the value and impact of creativity, both locally and internationally’. They helped me connect to others working in similar fields. They encouraged me to take part in The Fruitmarket Gallery Design Market which helped me reach out to a very receptive local audience and is also where I met  an executive from Scottish Enterprise who gave me lots of useful links. After that Craft Scotland invited me to take part in their 2016 Edinburgh Festival Summer Show, again, widening my reach. Scotland Re:Designed then invited me to design a new print celebrating the iconic Paisley Pattern and exhibit at their Paisley Make event. At Paisley Make I was told about Cultural Enterprise Office and I enrolled to receive free mentoring. They strongly suggested I improve my social media (arg, still working on that), build a better website – I’ve done that, it’s now branded Niki Fulton rather than my company name ‘unifiedspace’ and to prepare my range for export – which finally gets me to the point…this is why they gave me the travel grant. The reasoning is that if my brand does well, I shall eventually employ people and if I start to export, well that’s obviously good too. When they awarded the grant, they knew I had been invited by Charlotte Abrahams to exhibit in the Spotted area of Top Drawer, a London Trade Show in January 2017 (something Craft Scotland had encouraged me to do). So what I’m keen to explain is that in this time of austerity, it may seem a little feckless to be sent over to Paris on a grant. But, the award is very carefully thought through and CEO have calculated that it might be worthwhile not just for me but for others too if I can get the brand to take off.

I did warn you it’s a long answer, you may have even forgotten the question by now, (how did I qualify for a CEO grant)  but I felt it was maybe useful for others to see the huge list of people and organisations that have really helped me get to this point. As I said it has been a slow organic build and the more conventional way would be by doing a related degree, textiles for instance, and building your business up much quicker. However my design knowledge has been the 10,000 hour route rather than the Art College route so it has taken a lot longer. I hope I can prove CEO right and do well abroad, I will certain try my hardest. And on that positive note, there is an exciting project opening tomorrow, more on that next time and thank you, if you have, for reaching the end of this post!

 

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Top Drawer, London SS17 ‘Spotted’ Section Stand SP55

If you are in London next week it would be fantastic to see you – I will be exhibiting at Top Drawer , Olympia from Sunday 15th – Tuesday 17th January in the Spotted section, stand SP55 – please drop by if you can! It is a trade only show and you can register here.

Top Drawer, London SS17

Highlights include BBC2’s Great Pottery Throw Down judge, Keith Brymer Jones who will be throwing pots to a live audience and keynote speakers include Leanne Manfredi from the V&A, Lucy Lines from John Lewis, Bethan Williams-James from Liberty, Sally Bendelow from notonthehighstreet.com and Rebecca Hossain from the Design Museum.

There is also an eco product trail, a GB product trail (which includes my stand, named Niki Fulton), trend tracking fashion shows and loads more too – so wear your trainers, you could notch up several miles!

Like many other exhibitors, I will be launching several new pieces, including the Eclipse print now available in blue plus a brand new collection of bow-ties , both linen and silk pocket squares plus scarves, both silk and wool.

Blue Eclipse Linen Tie by Niki Fulton

Blue Eclipse Linen Tie

Fennel Tangle Linen Bow-tie by Niki Fulton

Fennel Tangle Linen Bow- Tie

Pink Fennel Silk Pocket Square by Niki Fulton

Pink Fennel Silk Pocket Square

Eclipse Linen Pocket Square

Eclipse Linen Pocket Square

…and if you are thinking it’s odd to have graphic prints (Eclipse) and floral prints (Fennel Tangle) in one collection , I have to confess that there are also stripes, abstract and painterly prints (and many colours) …some days I feel very bold and graphic and others lighter and painterly, don’t ask me why, it’s just the way I work so the ‘collection’ is pretty varied but then who wants to wear the same kind of look day in day out 😉

‘Paisley Make’ with Scotland Re:Designed for Paisley 2021

Did you know that the town of Paisley is entering the bid to become UK City of Culture 2021? Despite having lived in Scotland all my life, I had never, until yesterday ever been to Paisley – only ninety minutes from my home in Edinburgh (and around fifteen minutes by train from Glasgow). And this is what I found. Pretty impressive, yes?

Paisley

Paisley Abbey and Town Hall.

You will however, like me, be familiar with Paisley Pattern and as Dan Coughlan, Paisley Pattern Shawl Curator at Paisley Museum said, “during the 18th and 19th centuries, Paisley was one of the leading towns in Europe for the manufacture of high quality fashion fabrics…and much of the legacy of this great textile tradition is now preserved in Paisley Museum“. In fact the museums textile collection holds “what is thought to be the largest collection of shawls in the world, together with many pattern books containing an enormous variety of original Paisley designs”. 

Cotton Street

Street names reflecting Paisley’s textile heritage

So, a town famed for its patterns (not to mention the incredible history associated with its Abbey which was founded in 1163) asked Scotland Re:Designed to curate an exhibition showcasing contemporary Scottish textile designers as part of Paisley Make , a festival celebrating its pattern heritage under the umbrella of the Paisley 2021 bid.

When I was invited to be part of the showcase, I have to admit, I was more than delighted. I immediately researched the history of Paisley Pattern and looked at several examples of the print. I could see that over the decades, Paisley Pattern had inspired swathes of designers and there are literally millions of examples from across the world – lush and supremely detailed forms of Paisley to simplified and psychedelic examples from the 1960’s to contemporary companies such a Sweden’s Happy Socks who are still celebrating the lure of the Paisley Pattern.

Paisley

Paisley Knits for the Cloisters at Paisley Abbey by Dyane Lanez of Tout Petit

If you know the kind of patterns I normally design, you will know that Paisley Print is miles from my usual stable. However, a pattern has emerged from this whole Paisley project and is currently being printed by the BeFabBeCreative sisters in Leith, Edinburgh. Warning though…you will not look at it and say, ‘Paisley Print’!  – it is a heavily distilled unifiedspace version of Paisley Pattern – images coming soon 🙂

So back to Paisley Make and the pattern showcase which runs until Saturday 3rd September in Paisley Abbey. Work from twenty seven designers is on display and there are talks by speakers such as the enviable and effervescent Penny Martin, Editor in Chief of The Gentlewoman magazine.

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Fashion bloggers at Paisley Make

Penny Martin

Penny Martin of The Gentlewoman magazine talking about the magazine’s creation.

Fennel Tangle

unifiedspace stand at Paisley Make. Picture of ‘Fennel Tangle’ wool scarf.

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unifiedspace at Paisley Make

So if you would like to see some beautiful Paisley lace from the legendary Scottish lace mill MYB Textiles or a very contemporary collection from emerging designers from The Fashion Foundry or indeed patterns and prints from any of the other twenty seven designers, I would urge you to take a trip into the magnificent Paisley Abbey before 4pm this Saturday – I certainly wish I hadn’t left it this long before visiting the Abbey.

Good luck Paisley 2021 in your bid and thank you for asking me to show my prints in such an important textile town.

Craft Scotland, Edinburgh Summer Show

You don’t need me to point out how many events are on just now in the Edinburgh Fringe and Edinburgh International Festival – but I will anyway – over 30,000 Fringe performances alone – it’s the biggest arts festival in the world.  And in Venue 205, Craft Scotland occupies the 2nd floor of White Stuff ,89 George Street, Edinburgh until Sunday 28th August 2016.

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Work by Clod & Pebble, Hilary Grant Knitwear, Warped Textiles, Clare Dawdry.

Thirty one Scottish makers – potters, textile designers, jewellers and furniture makers – were selected to be part of this years Summer Show, unifiedspace being one of them. So I took the opportunity of launching some brand new designs for scarves and ties, discussed in more detail in this interview.

Breton Signal

‘Breton Signal’ 100% Irish Linen Tie & Pocket Square.

I’ve added 100% Irish Linen ties to the range. I’m still producing the original Fife linen union ties (available from Urban Reivers Festival Shop on George Street) but I’ve been asked for slightly more formal ties and the finer texture of the Irish linen achieves a fairly polished look – don’t worry, the ties are not going all corporate in nature, the prints are anything but!

There are 100% silk scarves in the same print – just in case you want to go out ‘matching’?! I’ve also added some gender neutral skinny scarves/cravats, silk squares and gauzy wool and cashmere blends for the Autumn.

scarf Night Hatching 3

‘Night Hatching’ 100% Silk Scarf

Love You, designed by Niki Fulton

‘Love You’ Wool & Cashmere blend scarf

If you would like to hear a little more behind the scenes chat at unifiedspace HQ, Creative Edinburgh kindly arranged for filmmaker David P Scott to shoot this short vimeo.

You might hear in the film I mention a new bespoke service. More about that soon but essentially, it’s about commissioning your own print/pattern – one which reflects your story, your colours, your life – a modern portrait if you like, and one that can be worn.

Also, lots happening next week too so another post will follow very soon regarding the run up to the Paisley 2021 City of Culture bid.

Meanwhile, enjoy the final week of the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe and please pop into the Craft Scotland Edinburgh Summer Show if you can – there’s a special late night opening this Thursday 25th August and I believe even some goodie bags are to be had!

 

 

The Fruitmarket Gallery Design Market

If you are in Edinburgh this weekend it would be great to see you at The Fruitmarket Gallery Design Market which will be running from Friday 10th, (Preview 5-9pm) Saturday 11th, 10am-6pm & Sunday 12th, 10am-5pm. Around 40 independent makers and designers will be showing and selling their work.

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‘Love You’ Silk Scarf

 

I’ve been experimenting with some new prints and will be assessing which designs to take forward to the Craft Scotland Summer Show during the  Edinburgh Fringe Festival so I will have several promotions on over the weekend to hopefully encourage feedback.

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‘Eden’ Silk Scarf

Most designers bring out a cohesive ‘collection’ each season but because of the way I work, my prints are fairly discordant – you have been warned!

The way it works for me, perhaps you are the same (please let me know, I’m really interested) is that when I am least expecting it (usually when I am about to drop off to sleep), a fully formed image falls into my mind. The next day I go about recreating this image – an image that seemed to appear from nowhere. The ‘mysterious’ image however, can easily be traced back directly to an experience. So as we all have many experiences in life, the ‘pot’ to draw from is pretty extensive (hence the diverse prints). So that’s why, for me anyway, it’s imperative to get out as much as possible and explore because every time I do, my mind is busy in the background drawing from the experience and creating the next print.

So that’s the process or perhaps an explanation.

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‘Breton Signal’ Silk Scarf. Photo by Abi Radford

 

The prints are unisex (can a pattern be gender specific anyway?!) so you will see prints on both silk scarves and on linen neck ties.

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‘Eden’ Linen Tie

I will also be bringing a new product – long wool and cashmere open weave scarves – only a few – so if you would like one, please be quick.

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‘Fennel Tangle’ Wool & Cashmere Scarf. Photo by Abi Radford.

Another new product is the wool ‘Charger Pouch’. Ok, yes, I know, that’s a bit specific and they can be used for other purposes too – coins, lens caps, lipstick, jewellery bag – but I find them especially useful while travelling. Having a brightly coloured soft wool pouch to pack my phone charger in (I can’t be the only one who fuddles about in my bag searching for said charger, can I?) is of great comfort. They are designed for the minimalist at heart who craves a block of tactile colour and has a very guilty secret pleasure (sssh, I won’t spill the beans on you but they have a patterned lining – linen off cuts from the ties to be precise, we don’t like to waste at unifiedspace).

wool and linen pouches

Wool (and linen) Charger Pouches

So new prints, new products and many other designers all housed in the Fruitmarket Gallery which of course is also home to Milk Cafe . It would be great to see you this weekend! (10th – 12th June 2016)

If you have a sec, can you tell me what your favourite colour to wear is please?

 

 

 

Notes From Premiere Vision, Paris

Having immersed myself in the vast textile trade show, Premiere Vision last week, I can report back on some key trends – but without images – photography is strictly forbidden (taking notes is not even allowed near the stands – stands being white pens with frustratingly high walls with a humid murmur leaking out from within, akin to a set from a Margaret Attwood novel) as the textiles and designs being sold are for 2017 collections and are therefore not even launched.

Red

If colour trend forecasting leaves you cold and you put it on par with reading ones horoscope, you just need to attend a seminar at a trade fair and you will find a frenzied atmosphere, a room bursting at the seams with the worlds top decision makers in fashion and interiors – as we know colour can kill or cure a business so they need time to gear up their production to get their pieces out in time to feed our every whim.

Of course there are several trend ‘stories’ which gives a platform for a variety of colours to shine but they were mostly underpinned by a juicy, meaty red. Red, we are told is in gutsy opposition to our move towards a plant based diet (although I’m sure the food writers have this covered by giving us lots of other juicy reds from pomegranates to beetroots 😉) It’s quite an impertinent colour trend really as it celebrates  fake shiny food, artificial substances, think plastic sushi cartons, rubber cups, and bright synthetic palettes. The colours may seem a touch violent and frantic, but it works because only two or a max of three are used together.

The theme is really all about contrast, sweet and sour, rough with smooth, futuristic mashed with antique. It is designed to shock, invoke a reaction, look odd and unbalanced. In fact the stranger the better. Individualism is key. Wonky prevails.

As for patterns, designs are asymmetric, off balance, and shaky. Patterns are ‘placed’ rather than repeated and ‘colouring in’ is imperfect. Registration is ‘off’. Trusty old stripes are back (and so is gingham) but think huge, spectacular and sometimes flawed. No subtleties, no mush, just dynamism.

But then I look at my notepad and see I have written ‘epidermal pales’ and ‘angel skins’, ‘palpable paleness’ with ‘chalky finish’, ‘grating simplicity’ and ‘vapours of powdery, sage, ash and clover’ …mmm, perhaps not all red then…but then I did mention contrasts 😗

So like anything, frame your colour and design choices around the story of its creation, that’s what is important, it’s your individualism that gives your designs integrity and provenance – we all like a good story after all, and trend forecasters are brilliant at doing just that.

 

Now Stocked by Wear Eponymous

Just a quick post today to announce the great news that the full collection of linen ties are now being stocked by Wear Eponymous .

Wear Eponymous

Wear Eponymous brings,

“the cream of current design talent UK wide and beyond. This isn’t the place for fast fashion or disposable purchases, this is the destination for investment pieces, stand-out accessories and unique treats”

Take a look through their site if you are looking for ethically produced independent brands and if you are quick they are currently running a great competition to win a beautiful leather VVA handbag designed by Sarah Haran.

Next post on recent travels to Norway and the London Design Festival coming shortly…

Ties Launching at NYTartan Week

I am happy to report that Edinburgh is most certainly riding a creative wave. Being an 80:20 kind of person (specialising in almost ‘getting there’ but often not being able to see the wood for the trees for the last 20% of a project) I have discovered that collaborations are most definitely the way to go.

'Chalk' print on linen designed by Niki Fulton available from Printed and Co

‘Chalk’ print on linen designed by Niki Fulton available from Printed and Co

I met sisters Solii and Zoe Brodie from BeFabBeCreative fabric print bureau in Edinburgh over a year ago and they have proven to be the catalyst for turning my designs and aspirations into physical products. They print my patterns onto a variety of natural fabrics (locally sourced Fife linen being one of my favourites) in the most astoundingly efficient manner. They also own Printed and Co, a carefully curated collection of textile designs stemming from ten U.K based designers, of which I am delighted to be one. Customers can purchase lengths of any of the designs on any of their fabrics allowing the patterns to be used in dressmaking or interiors. Wonderful flexibility and it is all printed to order so no waste either.

'Pear Drops Tan' on linen designed by Niki Fulton. Available from Printed and Co

‘Pear Drops Tan’ on linen designed by Niki Fulton. Available from Printed and Co

So I have a smooth and enjoyable means to produce textile designs but I also wanted to manufacture products. Enter Nina, a Swede living in Edinburgh with an armful of design related Degrees, a Swedish fashion label behind her and honed seamstress skills.

Botanical DNA and Falling Apples available from Printed and Co

Botanical DNA and Falling Apples available from Printed and Co

She is the Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective, an agency that works with textiles from concept to manufacture. Nina knows what I am describing before I even reach the end of my sentence so our collaboration is working like clockwork and I now have silk scarfs, linen make up bags, mens ties (more on that in a sec) and some silk tops in my range, some of which are available from my Etsy Shop (more being listed very soon).

'Chalk' on silk. Designed by Niki Fulton. Available per metre from Printed and Co

‘Chalk’ on silk. Designed by Niki Fulton. Available per metre from Printed and Co

 

'Lines' on silk designed by Niki Fulton. Available per metre from Printed and Co

‘Lines’ on silk designed by Niki Fulton. Available per metre from Printed and Co

But my biggest focus is currently on a niche market, a micro market I suppose. On a trip to Rome last October, I was searching for a replacement watch strap. I popped into a shop selling leather luggage and asked them if they sold watch straps. The manager literally took a step backwards and looked at me square on and said, ‘No! I sell luggage!’ My stupidity seemed to offend him but when I looked rather sheepish he softened his voice and said, ‘you need to visit Marco‘ and directed me to a tiny slim shop with a wise old man sitting under a vintage task light replacing watch straps. Attached to the wall were literally hundreds of shades and widths of beautiful watch straps and of course I found the perfect strap. Mission accomplished. I doubt if anyone would go to that shop and not find precisely what they were looking for. It was therefore very well known and a ‘go to’ destination – nobody would even think to waste their time shopping around. Job done.

With this new mind set I asked where I could buy a pair of leather gloves for my friends 50th birthday, Sergio di Cori, Piazza di Spagna of course. Again, every conceivable colour and length of leather glove were there displayed on beautiful panelled walls. They sold nothing else. Don’t complicate the process, they sell gloves, brilliantly.

So I finally reach the point in telling you this tale. I want to sell linen ties. Linen I hear you say. Yes linen, not silk. I want to design ties less ‘officey’  than silk which will convey more individuality and hopefully more spirit. Laid back formal. I want a ‘Slow Food Movement’ kind of tie. In other words I want a tie that is designed, made and stitched locally on locally sourced linen. Designs that have slowly been forming over, in my case, many years. And this is what I’ve been working on and by the end of this week, six patterns will be finished and be safely delivered into the hands of Scot Street Style who is kindly launching them in New York City during New York Tartan Week. My ties are not tartan in case you were wondering but Tartan Week celebrates all kinds of Scottish business and I am thrilled to have them represented there.

Linen Ties designed by Niki Fulton

Linen Ties designed by Niki Fulton

Below are other bolts of fabric waiting to be made into ties – cloth is cut on the diagonal for ties so these designs will look quite different when they are made up.

So more on the tie development soon and look out for NYTartan Week pictures on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you go to a specialist ‘go to’ shop for anything? 

 

'Eclipse' print designed by Niki Fulton

‘Eclipse’ print designed by Niki Fulton

Richter Red designed by Niki Fulton

‘Richter Red’ print designed by Niki Fulton (as in Richter magnitude scale)

'Cog' print designed by Niki Fulton.  A new take on pinstripe.

‘Cog’ print designed by Niki Fulton. A new take on pinstripe.

 

Printed and Co. Goes Live!

At 6pm tonight BeFabBeCreative’s brand new Printed & Co will be launched in the Kalopsia Gallery, Edinburgh.

Printed & Co is a collection of textile designs from ten designers from across the UK. The designs are available to order per metre and can be printed on several natural fabrics such as Fife linen, silk, cotton and bamboo. To celebrate the launch there will be products on display – examples of what can be made from our fabrics.

Party Time, Printed & Co launch is tonight!

Party Time, Printed & Co launch is tonight!

Most of the designers have had interesting commissions already from leading interiors and fashion houses and from public bodies so it gives me enormous pleasure to be included in such a dynamic group of designers.

The company is the brainchild of sisters Solii & Zoe, owners of BeFabBeCreative, a stunningly efficient and accurate digital fabric print bureau.  Seeing the many and varied designs come through their studio, Solii and Zoe, decided to create a platform where designs can be purchased on line.  They have selected ten designers each with their own strong and distinctive style and created Printed & Co – a fresh place to search for fabric for interiors or tailoring.

Please be one of the first to look through the collection Printed and Co fabrics, it is so well curated I am quite certain you will find it an inspiring website to browse. And if you are coming to the launch tonight, don’t forget your ticket!

'Feed the Birds' print on Fife Linen

‘Feed the Birds’ print on Fife Linen

'Punch Holes' in inky blue. Printed on silk and formed into a top.

‘Punch Holes’ in inky blue. Printed on silk and formed into a top.

'Botanical DNA' in inky blue. Printed on Fife Linen

‘Botanical DNA’ in inky blue. Printed on Fife Linen

'Fennel Tangle' Orange printed on silk and formed into a top.

‘Fennel Tangle’ Orange printed on silk and formed into a top.

 

'Feed the Birds' (multi) printed on Fife linen

‘Feed the Birds’ (multi) printed on Fife linen

 

Thank you, Huldufólk

Finding the right hole for your peg may take a while. Kids are asked to make ‘career choices’ when selecting their subjects at school. Do they really know what they want to be at that age? Great if they do but I think it’s important for people to know that it’s alright to make career changes throughout life.

Letterpress Christmas Cards

Letterpress Christmas Cards

Perhaps I’m just trying to justify my own wandering career path but I bet I’m not the only one who has discovered what they want to be later in life. I think every job you have is important whether you like it or not because you always learn something – it’s like walking through life wearing a sticky cape – some experiences stick  and others just tumble off until finally the cape feels complete and you feel ready and informed to make the right decisions.

I’ve always worked for small family organisations because I like seeing processes from the start to the finish and enjoy floating from menial tasks to important pitches and although my jobs have all been quite varied, one fact remains absolutely constant – there are always visible people in an organisation and a whole team of ‘hidden people’ supporting them. They often go unnoticed to the end user but they are an integral part of every company.

I work for myself now and that constant layer of hidden people are more important than ever. You may look at my products all finished and ready to buy but other people have helped me reach that finishing line. I always create all of the design work and decide what I want to make but there is of course a process. Take the mugs for instance. I don’t have a kiln to fire the design onto the china, or the skills to do so. That is done by a skilled craftsman, Graham, in the very heart of Britain’s potteries, Stoke- on -Trent. My textile designs are printed here in Edinburgh by the immensely helpful sisters Solii and Zöe from the print bureau BeFabBeCreative. I have had a beautiful tailored blouse made from my ‘Fennel Tangle’ print by seamstress and poet, Claire from Make Me a Frock and no, I don’t have the skills to make bespoke ties – I can design fabric that I want to see as a tie but without Nina and Adam from Kalopsia Collective who constantly encourage and mentor me as well as sew my ties beautifully, I would not have ties in the shops. And in case you wondered, no, I don’t have a Letterpress machine in my studio, but Euginia a superbly helpful and talented Siberian living in Edinburgh does and she presses my cards for me. I’ve talked about Hosanna Yau before, my friend from Hong Kong who is most certainly the best logo designer I have ever come across and she gifted me the ‘niki’ logo. Her mantra is ‘using the least to represent the most’ – perfect.

Linen ties, Made in Edinburgh.

Linen ties, Made in Edinburgh.

 

Letterpress Card Made in Edinburgh.

Letterpress Card Made in Edinburgh.

 

'Tjornin' Mug named after the lake in Reykjavik.

‘Tjornin’ Mug named after the lake in Reykjavik.

 

 

 

Twigs Linen Union Tea towel - fresh new shoots

Twigs Linen Union Tea towel – fresh new shoots

'Toffee Apples' ' printed onto Fife Linen in Edinburgh

‘Toffee Apples’ printed onto Fife Linen in Edinburgh

So, I now have a range of products that are stocked by very supportive independent shops, The Turpentine in London, Persora in Worcester, Concrete Wardrobe and Red Door Gallery in Edinburgh, Kerachers in St.Andrews, Wooly Blue in Newcastle and Teasel and Tweed in Aberdeen and several more which I will tell you about early in 2015.

But back to my title and the Huldufólk. I find my home country of Scotland massively inspiring from the busy colourful urban ports to the utter wilderness of the Western Isles but I have to mention the huge influence Iceland has had on me over the years. I have been several times at varying times of the year and the land, its people and its culture touches me every time and so I hope a little part of Iceland somehow appears in my designs. As this post is about all the people who help me and allow me to work in an area that I very definitely want to stay in, (Surface Design), I think I can borrow the word ‘huldufólk’ from Icelandic folklore – the word for the elves that stay hidden but have such enormous powers and should always be respected.

Thank you Huldufólk, you know who you are.

Happy Christmas everyone.

Thank you!