June 26, 2017

From behind the scenes to centre stage: life as a freelance textile designer

Amelia Graham started her career in womenswear print, but after 10 years designing for different brands, she decided it was time to put her name on her own line.

Amelia is a textile designer from London working across multiple disciplines within fashion, art, and interiors. Before deciding to go freelance, Amelia had an extremely successful career in womenswear print, spanning 10 years. So, why did she decide to go solo?

Where did the drive and ambition to start your own business come from?

I started my career in womenswear print, working anonymously under the guise of a number of different brands, appearing on both the catwalk and in international press. After 10 years, I decided I wanted to appear from the shadows and put my name on a product where I controlled the whole design process. I wanted to make sure production was maintained in the UK, whilst still being able to focus on where my true inspiration lies – within geometric form.

How did you know the time was right to start working on your own line?

I was driven to produce my first line while I was pregnant with my son. I continued working on commissions for brands such as Topshop, Calvin Klein and Rolling Stones alongside this – it was great to keep the collaborations going, it’s the key to staying creative.

Tell us about your influences – what inspired your love of geometric and arithmetic work?

My influences come from all over. My father is an architect and raised me to love Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. He also sparked my interest in photography, buying me my first SLR as a gift for passing my A-levels. My mother loved textiles, especially those inspired by the styles of the Bauhaus movement and William Morris.

My own line’s got a clear modernist intention. I’ve got a strong sense of form and I use colour boldly – I believe textile design is about more than just fashion and interiors. They can be used anywhere.

Talk us through your creative process – do you work digitally or by hand before transferring your designs onto fabric?

It depends on what I’m creating, but usually digitally. The start point of all of my work is creative play. It’s a process that usually results in something true to what I’m trying to express. Sometimes I’ll work digitally from photos to create botanical and floral work, and sometimes I’ll play around in Illustrator straight away for more geometric pieces.

You’ve worked with some fantastic clients. How did you get your work noticed?

In the early days, it was purely about clients liking what I did and buying it off the peg at trade shows. Recently though, I’ve depended heavily on harnessing the power of social media to reach new clients and markets.

What’s been your favourite client project, and why?

Definitely a collaboration with a friend from my art foundation course, Ellie Mac under the guise of EvA for the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. We produced four large scale art works for the newly refurbished interior which brought us to an international stage and allowed us to explore the boundaries of fine art and design.

How do you use brand identity to stand out from the crowd?

I believe that everything should be produced to the highest quality – from the products right through to the promotional materials. MOO is synonymous with this and allows me to retain control over the quality of my product collateral; from MiniCards for swing tickets to Stickers for packaging, allowing for a really strong brand identity.

What are you doing to promote your brand?

I’ve always been keen to promote myself and the brand as more than just a product. I love having a product and I love the demand for it, but collaboration and interdisciplinary dialogue are fundamental to who I am as a designer and is what my brand is all about. Social media is great too, as it allows me to show my process as well as my final products.

What are your tips for other entrepreneurs looking to launch their own business?

I found it really important to do everything myself when it came to branding my business. Initially, I thought I should hire someone to do the collateral, but I realized the only person who knew exactly what I wanted and could convey it best, was me.

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