Heather Alstead shares the story behind the meteoric rise of her Heather Alstead Design business. Her distinctive designs are quirky, touching and fun. They are also made in England using quality materials and local independent suppliers. If you haven’t already discovered Heather and her designs, let us introduce you…
Above: Family Selfie Portrait customisable print, £15.
Please describe what you do, and tell us what’s special about it.
I design my range from my studio in North Yorkshire, Each product is then manufactured by fantastic companies throughout Britain.
My design philosophy is pretty simple; I design lovely British made products to make people smile.
Above: Once upon a Time mug, £11.50. Once upon a time notebook, £2.75.
What’s your favourite way to start the day and when do you start work?
Armed with a cup of tea I like to read my emails in bed. I like to be in my studio for 8-8:30 but usually it’s a lot earlier especially around busy gift buying times such as Christmas, Mother’s Day or Valentine’s! Being self employed I have to be very self disciplined.
What’s your morning routine?
After arriving at my studio, I start with a ‘to do’ list, I don’t think its possible to function without ‘to do lists’
I then pack my online orders up (whilst drinking another cup of tea or, if I’m feeling crazy, an orange juice) before working my way through my ‘to do’ list.
Where/what is your work? Describe the setting for us.
It’s an old cowshed, a donkey was its last occupant before being converted! It’s lovely now though!
Tell us why you do what you do
Because I love it, its so fulfilling designing products that people choose to buy, It’s a fantastic feeling. I started my company just three years ago straight out of university, I finally went full time in the company in February, its been a challenging journey, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
Above: Bright Ideas Notebook, £2.75. Have a lovely day Mum bear build your own card, £3.25.
Can you sum up your ethos and what inspires you?
Making people smile, it sounds sooooooo cheesy but I like to think I do it in a non-cheesy way. I design for all ages and genders, I like to design cute fun (none mushy) designs that make you smile.
Favourite British design icon?
The Mini, they are cute and just make you smile…I’m obsessed with smiling ha.
What do you like to do for lunch?
I LOVE cooking and get so fed up of eating sandwiches so like to make soups, noodles, pastas. It gives me time away from my desk which is important as I find I’m much more productive when I return.
What keeps you going through the day?
Cups of tea and snacking on fruit, and obviously a choccy biscuit (or a pack)
Best moment so far in your business?
Going full time in my business, it was a massive turning point and made it feel more real, It was a huge confidence boost.
Above: She Awaited Help with the Dishes tea towel, £9. Big and Little Penguin A3 Print, £15.
What are you most proud of?
Saying I’m self employed. Three years a go I could never have dreamt that all of this would work, I came straight out of university and set up. I didn’t know a thing about business but just jumped in and went for it. It’s the best decision I ever made.
What’s special/unique about what you do?
I don’t really follow trends; I just design things that I like, things that I would like in my own house. They must be special if people part with their own money to buy them!
How important is sourcing British/local to you – and why?
Imperative. I love supporting local companies, not only does it support British manufacturing but to me it means great quality. It might cost a little more but it will last, and that’s how it should be!
Tell us about the local/British goods you use and why you chose them.
I like to get things manufactured as close to home as possible, this allows me to visit my manufacturers and build up a good relationship, for example all my boxes are made just down the road in York. I can nip in and find exactly what I need.
above: Mummy Bear apron, £19.95. Princess Apron, £19.95.
What’s your newest/most exciting creation?
I’m just launched some new designs for Spring, including some really cute and funny aprons.
I love my Goldilocks and the three bear range, I love that they are a family orientated gift, and all about celebrating family members i.e. bestest daddy bear, loveliest mummy bears etc.
Above: Goldilocks tea towel, £9. Goldilocks mug set £45.
Best place to unwind/escape to in the British Isles?
There are so many! We live in such a beautiful country.
I feel I should say my local city of York, because I think I take it a little for granted. It’s such a beautiful city. When I feel I need to escape I must admit this is the place I go to just mooch around and get away.
What’s your favourite local find
Sotanos, inYork. It’s a great little bar, they really know how to make a cocktail, and its such a lovely setting.
Best piece of advice you could share based on your experiences so far?
Learn from your mistakes, you have to make mistakes to learn and push forward.
What are you listening to/reading right now?
I’m more of a TV person, I LOVE New Girl and Big Bang Theory. I have to have the TV on to work, I cannot work in silence.
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