This month, we’re firmly shining the spotlight on Brighton-based designer, Lola Hoad. This young creative (who makes the most stylishly simple cards, prints and totes – perfect for quote-lovers, like us! We actually have one of her prints on the wall at Brighton Style HQ!) bit the bullet and launched her own business; LH Design just over a year ago.
Since then, we’ve seen her social media follower numbers, rise and rise and a few of her products go viral! In the last few months, Lola also started One Girl Band meet-ups – giving self-employed women in biz the opportunity to meet, be creative and hear about each other’s highs and lows – a definite must go-to, for any of you starting to go it alone!
We caught up with her to chat beautiful moments, keeping it local and making Christmas products, in July…
How and when did you decide to start your own biz?
I’d been made redundant from a graphic design job, and needed something to keep me going whilst searching for a new job. Lettering and type has always been a love of mine, and deep down, I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, but I didn’t ever think it was an option. After a month, and still nothing on the job front, I decided to just do it. LH Design opened on Etsy in May 2014. We now have our own site, a loyal online following and are stocked in shops over the country.
Where do you find inspiration from?
Beautiful moments. It may sound ridiculous, but day to day life is a major factor in my work. I take a lot from the Danish concept of hygge; living in the moment and making more of the simple things. Other creative entrepreneurs are also a big inspiration to me. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without the lovely ladies on Instagram who keep each other going.
Can you briefly tell us about your process – from initial design to printing?
Every design starts off in a notebook. I’m always jotting down anecdotes or phrases that I think are relatable and would work well as prints or greeting cards. I then hand-letter them when I’m in the studio, scan them in and digitally fix them ready for print. They’re then sent to my printers in Woodingdean. It’s important to me to keep all production in East Sussex, and all materials are sourced from the UK.
We absolutely LOVE your new Christmas range! Can you tell us a bit about your new products?
They were designed in July so I’m very happy they are out. It’s my favourite time of year, no matter how busy it gets, and I love that people allow my products to be a part of this special time.
Our new ‘Shop Independent This Christmas’ tote bag has been extremely popular, which I’m really excited about. I did a graphic last year with the phrase that went ‘viral’ over Instagram, so I thought it would be good to get the message out on the streets. I just saw someone in the street carrying it this morning and I nearly burst into tears of joy!
Which product is your overall bestseller?
Our ‘If I Know What Love Is’ print has always sold high and above the rest. It’s great for anniversaries and lovey moments. People love anything to do with their pets, so our ‘You, Me and The Dog’ Or ‘Cat’ prints are popular, as well as anything that gets folks up and motivated.
2015 has been a busy one for you. What has been your highlight?!
The first One Girl Band meet up was a definite highlight! I may have spilt coffee all down my white trousers just before speaking but it was such a great morning that I think about every day. Attending Top Drawer for the first time as an exhibitor was also great, and something I still can’t really believe I did. It’s been busy, but I’ve loved every single minute of it, which I’ve never been able to say about any other job I’ve had.
One Girl Band sounds amazing! What’s it all about?
One Girl Band stemmed from a blog series of the same name I started when I first registered as self-employed and had no clue what I was doing (not a lot has changed!). I wanted to journal down what I was learning in the hope others could learn from it too, and it quickly became the most popular topic on the blog. I then started Instagram Q&A sessions every Sunday evening, where I’ll ask a question based on living a creative life, working from home, being self-employed in general, and others would put their insight into it. I decided then we needed to get all of these amazing girls in the same room, having a chat about what we all do and why we do it.
My aim really is to make it clear to each other that we are all in the same boat. Social media is great, but it can be misleading and causes a lot of comparison, and ultimately, not-very-nice feelings. I want to empower women with these meet ups, and to inspire and motivate each other.
What does 2016 hold for you?
We’re at Top Drawer Spring in January where we’ll be meeting new stockists and hopefully picking up leads with the big retailers we met last time. I’m also hoping to take One Girl Band on the road around the UK, so fingers crossed we can get some inspirational women together.
What would be your top tip or advice for readers starting their own biz?
Just get started. You can dream all you like, but you won’t get anywhere unless you actually do something. Deciding you want to be your own boss is the first step, and it’s incredibly brave, so you’re on your way! Also, remember that it takes time to build trust with your customers. People won’t buy from someone they don’t know, so take the time in making it clear who you and your brand are.
And finally, when you aren’t working (!), what do you enjoy getting up to in Brighton?
We (my boyfriend and I) have lived in Brighton/Hove for nearly four years now, and there is no way you could ever tire of it. Living in North Laine means spending my few days off in the Flour Pot Bakery, popping into Resident to get any new records, admiring everything in Wolf and Gypsy and Magazine Brighton, then ending the day with a pint in the Heart and Hand.
If we need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, we either drive up to the downs and take a long walk with our puppy, Barney, or we head to a little beach near Shoreham that we like to think we discovered but probably didn’t! Brighton is a great place to have a small business, I don’t think I would have the same opportunities I have now if I lived elsewhere.