Founder Focus: Meet Eliza
Topic 2: Eliza’s Background
What is your background in terms of education and work experience?
I graduated from Heriot Watt University – School of Textiles, Galashiels after studying ‘Design for Textiles’, specialising in print. I had some training in fashion prior to that, because I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer. I studied fashion business for a year when I first moved to Scotland and then applied to Heriot Watt University for their fashion and textiles course. After the first year, I decided that I loved textile design much more to be swayed into that direction and asked to be moved to their textile design course for the second year onwards.
I got asked to do the odd commission work during my studies at Galashiels, I also applied to a number of design studios for various design-related work placements and ended up working at a few of them, in London and Yorkshire. I then proceeded to do my placement with Timorous Beasties in Glasgow shortly after graduation, whilst working as a freelance designer for a design studio based in Northern Ireland. I had a stint of freelance work with Timorous Beasties shortly after doing my placement as well, where I helped out with some of the digital drawings and artwork editing during a busy time for them.
I then got accepted for a job with a major interior company as a part of their interior design and visual merchandising team, whilst still doing the very occasional designing of my own work in my spare time.
How well did your college experience prepare you for this job?
As great as the universities are in training you in the world of design or anything else, I would say that no matter how good of an academic education you get, nothing will ever quite prepare you for the harsh reality of the real world experience! Where you have to work with and around quite challenging situations and limitations. This is especially the case when it comes to running your own business.
So, the most helpful aspect of my background in preparing me for my career in this field, has to be the work experiences I have had with all these design studios and commission work I got while I was still studying; and after. I am forever grateful to these places, the people and the bosses I have had in my journey, because they are the ones who have informed the decisions I made along the way, to where I am at today.
What initiated the spark in you to start your own business?
There were limited opportunities for a textile design job out there during the time I finished my studies. For those instances I got interviewed for, feedback was often that my style and ideas were too niche for their typical customers.
Disheartened but not beaten, I dusted myself off and saw that there were many designers with distinctive styles out there in which I highly admire and respect that made it on their own. This is in spite of everyone else thinking that they were too ’niche’ when they first started.
This just shows that there is a gap in the market for distinctive designs it just takes a lot of time, hard work, dedication and perseverance. People like to be different, but yet there is also a lot of fear of being different – because people like to be unique, but they also want to fit in (such a contradiction, I know). So it takes time to convince people you’ve got something great for them and that being different is something to be embraced and celebrated rather than feared. I think having a genuine passion for what you do is also really important in keeping the focus on what you want and need to do, and in communicating that to others.