In our work as Designers we come across so many talented and inspiring people. We believe that creativity is contageous, so in the interest of spreading the creative bug we feature inspiring design stories from some of the people who inspire us most.
Recently we collaborated with the vibrant, fun textile company Bluebellgray. We caught up with their founder Fi Douglas to discuss all things creative businesses and the Bluebellgray story.
Fi, can you tell us the Bluebellgray story?
I have had a love of painting since I was very young and actually began my degree in the painting department at the Glasgow School of Art. During those first couple of years I had a best friend across the road in textiles and she kept saying to me, ‘Fi, you belong in textiles!’. She was absolutely right and when I switched to textiles I was able to bring my two loves, paint and design, together. I never looked back. After working in the industry for a couple of years I knew I really wanted to go out on my own – I had a real desire to create my own designs, to my own brief, and to keep that business in Scotland. In 2009 I set up bluebellgray, literally from my kitchen table, with a collection of just 6 cushions. I travelled on the train to London with my Mum for my first ever show and was lucky to get some great press from that show which was huge. Over the last 7 years, bluebellgray has grown into a design studio with a wonderful team of 14 and we now offer a full lifestyle collection including bedding, fabric, cushions, rugs, lampshades and tableware.
What inspires you or where do you source inspiration?
My inspiration mainly comes from nature, sometimes it’s hard to define it, it’s like a feeling I have inside, but when I see things like the beautiful cherry blossom trees around at the moment or a wood full of bluebells the colours just speak to my soul! I find lots of other things inspiring too and sometimes it’s little things, the decor in a great restaurant, traveling or a brilliant exhibition.
What is a typical day like in the Bluebellgray HQ?
Part of why I love my job so much is the variety, everyday is different! One day will be spent commenting on and approving samples, the next might involve planning our new season photo shoot, followed by a day of painting and drawing.
Who is on the Bluebellgray team?
I’m so lucky to have such a lovely team full of creative minds, coincidentally lots of them grew up in the highlands like me which is really nice. I have a design team who I work really closely with who develop my paintings in to products. We also have a PR and marketing team as well as an operations team who wrap and pack all customer and trade orders. Altogether we are a team of 14!
What is the process from concept to completion for your designs?
It always starts with the paint. I try not to spend too much time thinking about which product the final piece will sit on but just focus on the colour. I usually have a palette in mind for the season we are working towards and I just let that take over. From there I am lucky to have a really wonderful team who I work very closely with to manipulate the original painting and apply it to bedding, cushions, fabric and so on. It’s always an exciting day when those first samples arrive in the studio!
What have been your business highlights over the lifetime of Bluebellgray?
Being featured in Elle Decoration magazine back in the very early days was incredible and really helped get the brand name out there! More recently though on a trip to the states, it was a dream come true to see my designs available in Bloomingdales in New York city!
What advice would you give others who may be thinking about setting up a creative business?
Aside from working hard and all that is involved in the business side, what you really need above all is a passion for your design. There will always be some pressure to follow trends but when you stay true to your instincts you will always produce your most successful work.
How do you unwind and switch off from the demands of business life?
Spending time with my two young boys is often busy in itself so luckily it’s not too hard to switch off from business life when I’m with them, I especially love taking them up North, they absolutely love being outdoors! When I do have some spare time though I really enjoy reading Monocle and Kinfolk magazine for the beautiful imagery and design inspiration.
What’s ahead for Bluebellgray in 2016 and beyond?
I’m super excited to bring out a wallpaper collection in the very near future, it’s something I have always dreamed of and I can’t wait to decorate my home with the designs! I’d also love to do a kids collection, there’s just not enough gender neutral, interior bedroom options out there!
Connect with Bluebellgray: