Clarissa Hulse is one of the leading lights of the British textile world. Her colourful signature print cushions, throws, wallpapers and more sell in Liberty, Selfridges and in exclusive boutiques across the world – and now in her own online boutique. Inspired by nature and influenced by a childhood spent criss-crossing the globe, with time living in Thailand, Spain, Italy and Greece, we spoke to Clarissa to find out more about the woman behind the brand:
Tell us about your journey from textiles graduate to one of the most successful textile designers in the country.
I started off designing a collection of scarves which I sold to Barneys in New York and Liberty in London. Other buyers from stores around the world spotted them and soon I was inundated with orders, which meant that I had to grow my business rather rapidly without any business experience at all!
I soon started to branch into clothing (mainly loungewear and sarongs etc), but this proved a very tough market to be in as I was competing against the major designer labels and also the high street. I then designed a small collection of cushions which I sold to Heal's, The Conran Shop, Liberty and Barneys.
I knew I had found my direction after this, as the world of interiors is much easier to be in if you have a strong signature look as I do.
People buy things for their homes because they love them and are less influenced by what is in or out of fashion.
Your product range includes everything from i-pod covers to notebooks to cushions and lampshades. Do you have any particular favourite products and favourite prints?
I do love my lampshades. They look so beautiful when lit as the rich silk colours really glow and the print silhouettes stand out in a strong graphic way just as they are in my head. As far as prints go, that's a hard question! I do love the Burnet design.
All my designs are taken from real plants that I collect and photograph. I think the designs which work best are those that need the least amount of fiddling with. That one was from my friend's garden and I knew the second I clapped eyes on the plant it would be a winner.
Which items in your online boutique are your current bestsellers?
The bed linen is flying out at the moment, which is great... In terms of design the Klimt stripe is our all time bestseller...which is quite amazing as the colours are pretty bonkers and certainly not everyone's cup of tea! We have a sale on at the moment and the cushions are doing well as they are such good prices.
Which other designers do you admire?
I adore Missoni for the beautiful use of colour and I love the work of artist Andy Goldsworthy. When I see something beautiful in nature I just wish I could capture it exactly but also add something to it too, and this is what he manages to do exquisitely.
Why do you think your prints are so popular?
I think it is successful because it is quite hard to find colourful but still tasteful items for the home. Plus my look seems to fit many interior styles, from a Georgian London house, to a country cottage to a modern urban flat...completely unintentionally!
What advice would you give to any designers out there looking to emulate your success?
Stick at it forever! And also get heaps of work experience in as many different places as you can.
This is something I didn't do and I regret it, as I had to learn everything as I went along and it is definitely the harder way. Watch someone else make the mistakes first.
What next for Clarissa Hulse?
I have a gorgeous range of towels being launched in John Lewis and in our in our online shop in March. I am so excited about these as they are totally different to any towels I've seen before.
I have also got a new range of fabrics and wallpapers coming out in August... and lots of other exciting pans in the fire!
To check out everything on offer from Clarissa Hulse, visit her online boutique: www.clarissahulse.com