Spotlight on Wendy Morrison Design
Renowned for simply stunning rugs and now, equally beautiful cushions, today's spotlight is on Wendy Morrison. See her rugs in the beautiful homes of Fiona Cameron and Emily Murray and hear about her journey from designer to business owner. You can shop rugs and cushions and learn all about Wendy here:
Wendy graduated in fashion from The Scottish College of Textiles and immediately gained recognition from her peers as a talented designer, producing top selling products for well-known brands. After working as a freelance fashion designer for several years, a commission opportunity arose introducing Wendy to the world of rug design.
A debut rug collection was well received, with Vitality, a vibrant design in reds inspired by the incredible Australian outback, selected as a finalist for a top industry award. Wendy formed her first company in 2004 and for eight years the business focused on the design and creation of bespoke rugs for Interior Designers, Architects and discerning residential customers.
More recently Wendy has developed an international manufacturing partnership sparking the release of exclusive Wendy Morrison branded designs for John Lewis and the development of her own retail led collections, for the first time bringing her beautiful designs to a wider audience.
Wendy describes her influences as deriving from her surroundings. Seasonal colours and textures, in tune with emerging trends.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
I was working as a freelance fashion designer when an opportunity arose to design for a local rug manufacturer on a commission basis. I soon felt compelled to create my own collection and was quite shocked when I was selected as a finalist for a prestigious UK interiors award. That gave both me and my partner Gregor the confidence to embark on our business adventure.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
My timing was impeccable. Almost immediately after starting the business, I fell pregnant and went on to run the business for the first 8 years from home whist raising 2 wee boys!
3. How did you fund your business?
We moved to a new house and used some of our equity to fund marketing efforts right at the start. In hindsight, it was an ill-thought decision fuelled with passion and excitement. I continued to pick up freelance fashion work until such times as I could afford to focus full time on the business. Gregor continues to work part time on the business with current plans to join full time at the end of the year.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
In all honesty, I don’t feel like we started a business the way you would if you were business savvy. Its evolved over time and been a constant challenge on all fronts. And guess what – nothing changes!
5. What help was missing for you?
Undoubtedly a lack of sound business advice. I was an experienced designer but business was a mystery! Every decision we made and continue to make is a lesson, sometimes sore, but always valuable. I’ve learnt so much about running a business on a tight budget. It’s tough and I just can’t imagine being able to do it without a deep-rooted passion and belief in what I am creating.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
I lacked any sort of formal plan and support and made some poor brand decisions in the early days. Once I realised the business was about me and not necessarily the rugs, things started to fall into place.
7. What have you learnt?
My goodness, where do I start? I’ve learnt so much about running a business purely through the positive and negative experiences but at the root I’ve always had an absolute belief in designing from the heart and creating a product of extremely high quality. I’ve wavered when times were tough and considered becoming more commercial but now it feels like I made the right move.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Make sure you are passionate about whatever you plan to sell. You’ll be working long hours and thinking about your business all the time. You can’t escape so it’s incredibly important that you’re excited and inspired by what you do.
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
The whole process from initial inspiration and ideas, sketches and artwork, sampling and photography to finally seeing my designs adorning the floors of some gorgeous homes is just incredible. Such a joy to be part of a creative business.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
With children, it easily goes straight to 10! But I still wouldn’t change it for the world.
Nicola Says "something that always comes through the spotlights on the blog, is how difficult and consuming it can be running a business without a business background, the steep learning curve, the need for advice and help and just how much time gets taken in the non-creative side. This is also true here for Wendy, especially with two very young children to look after once she launched. It’s incredibly important to be excited and inspired by what you do to allow you to cope with the long hours, taking a step back to move forward, make mistakes but keeping going, you can only truly do this if you believe in yourself and what you are doing'
Thanks for sharing your story Wendy!
The Girl with The Green Sofa