MEET LORNA SYSON

The challenges of planning for Christmas

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m a textile designer for home interiors, I love being inspired by nature and the hidden beauty of everyday we often miss. I live in rural Oxfordshire with my husband and my dog Jenkins; I love animals and would have more than one dog – if my husband let me!

How did you get started?

I started my textile business in 2009 with help from the Princes Trust.  In 2012 I moved into Cockpit Arts Studios and transferred my textile designs on to cards for our open studios, these were really popular and this is where my greeting card collection started!

A year later we adopted Jenkins and he was my first pet portrait.  The pet’s collection called Jenkins and friends is now one of my best selling.

How do you come up with your Christmas designs?

I think it’s really important to be different when it comes to Christmas cards, there are so many out ther you need to know who you’re designing for.  

I concentrate on the individual cards you send to those closest to you at Christmas, and Jenkins in a Santa hat was my first Christmas card just sent to family and friends. 

I also look at what’s been selling well in our everyday collections, some of my favourite characters get a Christmas revamp of Santa hats or antlers!

How long in advance do you start to plan for Christmas?

I like to think of designing Christmas a year in advance so it is cold and Christmassy when I’m doing the illustrations.

I once tried to design a Christmas card on a sunny day in April and it didn’t feel right, so I always put a bit of time aside for Christmas cards in the last week before Christmas to design the new collection.

What challenges do you face around Christmas?

Christmas is always a busy time and decideing what stock to have in for orders can be hard, thankfully i’ve changed the printing system so that we now hav a fast turn around.  I get them printed to order so I don’t have to guess my best sellers and bulk buy before they’re tested in the market!

How do you create a Christmas photo shoot in July?

I learnt the hard way after my first Christmas shoot in July that it’s impossible to buy Christmas trees, decorations or even Christmas looking ribbons in the height of summer, so I now keep a box of my favourite Christmas bits that I can bring out in the summer.

Thankfully lots of the plants I associate with Christmas such as ivy and holly are green in the summer too so I can grab them from the garden.

Who is your go to designer / maker at Christmas?

I always try and spend my money with indie shops or designer makers.  I like to think that my spending with them allows them to carry on with their business and goes towards them living their dream.

I love to go to Christmas markets and meet the people who make the work.  Small Business Saturday, which falls on the 1st Saturday in December every year, helps to promote small businesses like mine, and encourages people to shop small for their Christmas presents and in general throughout the year

What advice would you give someone just starting their own business?

Designing is only a small part of running your own business.  Be prepared to look at the bigger picture and be aware that once you’ve done your amazing collection the challenge is to get it out there!

Visit the shows and your favourite shops, ther shops where you dream to one day be stocked and learn as much as possible before you launch.

Meet other Designers like Lorna

Would you benefit from working and chatting with other like minded designers in a closed facebook group?

Practice things, ask those really silly embarrassing questions that we think we should know but don’t and have someone that will hold you accountable when you don’t do the things that you keep saying you will?  Comments would be greatly appreciated – tell us how we can help you and we will do our best to find a solution.

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