For this week’s Open Call, please meet Atomic Doris. She creates cool bespoke lampshades in fab colours with just enough of that whole retro kitsch vibe. She shares her design inspiration and business story so far.
How do you come up with your designs?
I’ve always had a love for retro, and began collecting wallpaper from the fifties – it’s my favourite design decade! A lot of the graphic designs are graphic inspired by the wallpaper patterns sitting in my studio. This is also a combination of retro and modern and I feel that designers are now looking back further and further for inspiration. I like modern takes on design classics.
What led you to start your own business?
I’m driven by a pretty inherent need to create. Early on in my career I realised that trying to work for all my favourite design brands (such as Alessi, The White Company, Habitat) was a lot harder than just waltzing in and claiming ‘I have a degree in Surface Design’. I decided that with my strong ideas I should go down the avenue of creating my own design brand. So here I am! I am very excited about having cushions in the pipeline and have had amazing feedback from early mock-ups.
What has been most difficult?
Doing EVERYTHING for myself. I’m the designer, manufacturer, blogger, PR manager, petty cash officer, payroll manager, director, researcher… You have to put your all into everything, or it won’t work. Don’t assume because you have a great product you will succeed.
How do you get your work seen by customers or retailers?
This is a difficult one, as I’m just starting out. I have done craft fairs in the past, but they weren’t really suited for my product and price range. I’m aiming to do a couple of trade fairs next year as I feel it’s a much better platform for my products.
Any advice to people starting out?
NEVER give up. This is my 10th year and third design venture. It’s not that the other ventures weren’t great, but I didn’t have the knowledge and experience that I do now. Also: Press. Is. Everything.
What has been most successful about the business?
The feedback and lovely comments I get! Be it someone online, at exhibitions, or even sometimes people walking past my Northampton home and seeing what’s inside (loads of lampshades!). This doesn’t pay the bills, but it’s the thing I’m proudest of, and it helps keep you going because you know you’re on the right path.