First off, how are you and how is your 2021 going?
Honestly, it’s been a struggle getting back into the swing of things after restrictions have eased and I’m sure I can speak for a lot of people in that we’re readjusting to life which comes with new challenges. But the business had a massive push in 2020 during lockdown so I’m still revelling in that!
Can you tell us about Eleanor Bowmer LTD and how it all began?
It began in my spare room. I quit my job as a textile designer as I was no longer happy at the company I was working for. I designed collections for some top interior houses and wanted to continue my passion for design but I wasn’t sure how!
I started freelancing for a similar company I used to work for, designing repeat prints for interior textiles and started selling little A4 prints to mates after buying a scanner on eBay with my last wage. I set up EB with £500, spent on the scanner, some new paints and some sketchbooks and contacted not on the high street to see if I could sell my prints on there. They took me on as a partner and I was making a good profit so decided to invest some of that in tea towels! It may seem like a random product but I just saw a gap in the market for interesting kitchen textiles that were design-led. I struggled to sell them at first. But after setting up Instagram, initially with 200 followers (my mates lol) I started to contact influencers basically begging them to share my product. They did! Sales started to pick up and I moved to a studio that was in a shared space and got my first employee. I’ve grown the business organically from that point. Investing profit in new product slowly and refining what you do I think works amazingly!
I have a real passion for painting which I hope shines through in our products.
Where did your love of prints come from and did you always want to put them on product eventually?
I’ve been painting since I can remember. My dad was an artist and every Christmas I’d get a new art set. It was never pushed on me, I just had a real love for it. I carried this through to my working career and I’ve never stopped painting. I felt initially as though my prints would lend themselves perfectly to art prints, and they’re something I would like on my walls at home!
How do you want people to feel when they receive an Eleanor Bowmer product?
I want them ultimately to feel super happy! From packaging to product we really do put a huge amount of effort in making the purchase extra special as well as value for money.
What is the process like for creating a new print and deciding what to do with it?
I think it’s so useful to picture where you see the print before you design it. Some of my designs I know would instantly lend themselves to a lot of product types. I do a lot of research before design, which is often the most time-consuming part of the process but so worthwhile!
Sometimes I do designs and never use them because they’re just not quite right, but again it’s all part of the process…
Can you tell us about some highs and lows of starting your own business?
Can I? LOL. There are so many…
Gratitude for being able to do what you love
Giving people jobs and hopefully creating a happy work environment
Watching the business grow
People buying your product!
It’s all-consuming! You think you’ll have more time when in reality you don’t! I think that’s probably down to my own mentality and life choices. I could slow down but find it hard!
Making a bad business decision – not everything works out. But it’s the act of not letting it dishearten you (again hard!)
What’s the best advice for someone wanting to turn their art into a product?
Do your research! What gap in the market are you filling, what’s your USP? Find good suppliers and have a vision for your product and stick to it!
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on some new kids bags for back to school and a new art print collection!
What are some of your other favourite small businesses that kill it on Instagram?
I’ve got LOADS
@smithandgoat (concrete tables and dog bowls!)
@ktgillies_surfacedesign (amazing terrazzo homeware)
@als_place (tufted mirrors)
@wexbaby (softest jumpers and kids clothes)
@by.bonhomie (pampas grass)
What does your perfect weekend look like?
No kids! Just joking… (am I? ha!)
The perfect weekend – seeing friends and family, a few drinks and quality time with the kids! Either that or a weekend away in the Camper!
What do you always carry with you?
I always have my little EB zip bag with me to hold all of my essentials i.e. Lipstick and sunglasses!
What would your last ever meal be?
Sunday roast… HANDS DOWN!
Hang on, scallops to start and then some kind of chocolate volcano for desert.
What is one positive piece of advice you could give to our audience?
Be yourself and follow your dreams! You only get one shot so don’t spend it doing things that make you unhappy.