In Conversation with Charlotte Gaisford

Charlotte Gaisford Ltd is an indépendant fabric and wallpaper designer. The company has been trading for over 4 years and has established stockists throughout the UK, US and Australia. Charlotte has created 6 collections so far and these have a historical theme with a modern feel. 


What inspired you to be an interior designer?
Really I am a fabric and wallpaper designer but I do interior design on a small scale which involves my designs. Often I am helping people put schemes together or creating rooms in my own house. I have always been keen on interior designing since I bought my first house in Kendal, Cumbria and I used lots of paint effects to make it a very unique home. I have been lucky and had many of my houses featured in national magazines over the years. My inspiration always comes from am object I can't or won't change in a room or I start with the curtain fabric because this is always the hardest item to decide on and makes a big impact in a room. I then add in other fabric patterns for other soft furnishings in the room and then I choose the paint colour last.

 

If they were to make a toy action figure of you, what would your accessory be?
My action figure would be 'Wonder Woman' and my accessory would be a wand because I am always multi-tasking and sometimes I make magic happen when I really need it!

To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life within the design world has taken?
I have been lucky and been in control because I have taught myself so many skills for my business. I can do every stage of my design from pencil and paper, paintings, digital work to print-ready file. I do have to rely on my printers to print the fabrics and the wallpapers. I need a good business head because the design aspect is actually a very small part of what I do. I need to organise my stockists and sell my products which takes a bit of time. Marketing is also a very important part of my business and I have learnt how to do photography and often take all my promotional images. In a past life, I have run businesses and have employed lots of people which I did not enjoy. My design life is so different and I outsource quite a few aspects of the business so I can have a clear head to design and plan my direction. For me having a clear head for creativity is so important and it means you are open to inspiration. I am always asked how I do it and am contacted all the time by other designers who want me to give them the magic words of success! running my business involves a great deal of business sense and luckily I have picked up the skills over the years, the designing aspect is very small in comparison to what else I have to do. I usually design a collection in the autumn and have it ready to market in the early spring. It would be great to just design all the time but you would not make a living, getting your name and brand out there is at least three-quarters of the business.

What would be your dream interior project?
What I would love is to have an interior designer use all my fabrics and wallpapers for an entire project so my designs would be seen at their maximum. I would love to see what their take would be and how they would put them together to create schemes. It would be great to see what colours they would put together. I can change the colours of the fabrics and the wallpapers to suite the clients' theme and I love seeing how they turn out. It makes me see my designs in a different light and always helps me with my inspiration for other colour schemes in the future.

What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
I suppose I have a really 'Gun-Ho' attitude, I make the most of every opportunity and try and sew seeds in as many places as possible. I always enter a project with the best intentions and execute the work to the best of my ability. I have an open mind and try not to worry if things go wrong, I relax as much as possible about it because there is always another good opportunity around the corner. I am very honest and I would like to think I am a kind person and will always help people out and be generous with my time. I do get upset if I come across people who are out for their own gain and trample people along the way. I suppose what makes me different is my 'onwards and upwards British attitude' let's keep going whatever the weather!

If you could go back in time and speak to your adolescent self, what advice would you give them about the design world?
My Advice is it is very competitive and difficult to get started. You need to have lots of fingers in lots of pies and have the patience of a saint. You have to take a deep breath when things don't go your way and other designs are chosen over you. It's all a bit like a massive art competition, you will send out loads of samples and the designers asking for the samples will be asking loads of other fabric companies for samples. The designer then has a massive pile of samples to choose from and you have to be lucky you are chosen out of this pile. It is a numbers game and you need to send out as many samples as possible to as many designers and the orders will start to come in. It is important not to take things too personally because the fabric is chosen by the designer needs to fit in with their scheme and be liked by their clients. I think of it as a filter system staring with the showroom, then the designer then the designer's client. As long as you are always being asked to send samples things will become constant and the orders will be regular.

Charlotte Gaisford Ltd

www.charlottegaisford.co.uk

Follow her on Instagram : @charlottegaisford

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Photo courtesy of Charlotte Gaisford 



“I would like to thank you very much for the wonderful furniture pieces that arrived today. I can say that they have absolutely exceeded my expectations. It has been my pleasure and privilege doing business with you, and I hope we will again have an opportunity to furnish houses together in the future.”

Terri Steinberg, Interior designer