Spotlight on Tatie Lou
Today’s Spotlight is on Tatie Lou, producing handcrafted homewares. Louise studied textiles at Dundee University 20 years ago and has travelled the world to seek inspiration for her designs. You will see some of her beautiful home accessories through the blog post below or you can shop directly from her online store here, where you will also find a link to her Etsy store.
If you are interested in learning more, Louise also runs workshops in her home two of Nottingham and you can read on to find out her journey below.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
I studied Printed Textiles at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, back in 1996 so have always tried to work within this field. In 2016, I started working with Indigo and Shibori and instantly fell in love. I have been selling hand dyed bedding and homewares for the last 3 years but last year realised I wanted to take my shibori practice one step further and produce wallpapers and homewares I could sell at a larger scale. So that is when I applied to Top Drawer and was offered a place. I taught myself Photoshop and the rest is history
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?Kitchen table literally….my poor wooden floors turning blue on a regular basis...and my poor old hands. Now I work in our cellar which we had converted last year.
3. How did you fund your business?
My family and I were in a plane crash in India in 2016 and were finally compensated for this (a really poor amount) at the beginning of 2019...so all my money has been invested in my first trade show and sampling. One good thing to come out of a hideous, traumatic event.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money,advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
Initially, accessing enough funds to start sourcing and sampling. But now I’ve done my first trade show, finding people to buy. I got amazing feedback at Top Drawer and since there has been some very exciting things coming off for me. I’m still in the early stages of the wholesale stage area so it’s a constant quest to get out there.
5. What help was missing for you?
I think juggling my creative side and the business side has been a massive learning curve for me and would have liked
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t beentrading that long?
I taught myself this year how to put my Shibori hand dyed patterns into a digital seamless repeat. This has been quite a challenge for me as when I studied Printed
Textiles is was all done by cutting up photocopies, sticking and painting colour ways in gouache. Photoshop was only just coming out when I was studying (showing my age now). At 45 years of age, teaching myself this skill has been a challenge and I have had quite a few hiccups along the way but I’m very proud of myself as I think I’ve managed it quite well. I’m very happy with how my collection has turned out.
Also pricing my products for wholesale. It is hard to match everyone’s price expectations but I am learning that my price points are what they should be and to be confident in this. All comes with experience I imagine.
7. What have you learnt?
To be confident and proud of my achievements. To believe in myself and to try my hardest to not get bogged down by what everyone else is doing and comparing myself to them.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
To not take knockbacks too personally (I’m still learning this). Have a clear idea of where you want to move your brand to. Take time sourcing manufacturers and don’t compromise on quality as it will backfire in the end.
Find a good photographer who you can trust and whose work will compliment your brand's identity/style. Use Instagram to its full potential as it is amazing and can open so many doors
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
I love getting my hands stained in indigo and love creating designs from my Shibori practice. Running workshops is brilliant (I’m going to be running one of my Shibori workshops in a gorgeous retreat in Portugal next year)
I love talking about my work and showing people my process whether it being at a trade show or craft fairs which I do frequently over the festive period.
I always get a buzz on Instagram from people’s lovely comments. I even got such a lovely compliment on Instagram the other day from Mulberry Home...which I was most excited about.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
Today...I would say 8 out of 10. Some days 2 out of 10...it can vary day to day..week to week. But overall if you are determined and passionate about your work it would probably average out at about 7/10