Lisa Todd Designs started back in 2012. From greeting cards to cushions, trays and rugs her products and designs are inspired by South Africa and sold across the UK. Get to know behind the brand:
Where did your surface pattern career start?
At a painting class at Windsor college where I was encouraged to go for it! I painted lighthouses, seascapes, landscapes, irises, hollyhocks, cacti and roses and began printing them onto greeting cards. I did a show of my paintings in the library and soon after they began stocking my cards. Next came an online surface pattern course with hundreds of other women all over the world … we still have a support group!
What has been a dream come true for your business?
I used to run an Italian furniture shop on Bond Street in London. Every lunchtime I would sit in the Fenwick basement café, just across from their amazing card department. After I began selling in the library, a card buyer from Fenwick agreed to trial my greeting cards. I couldn’t believe it.
Which products did you design next?
Next, I began printing onto simple cotton drill and cushions. They have really soothing prints, like a summer meadow. The first box reduced me to tears, I was so proud of my achievement.
Earthenware mugs with stripes and parrots came next. They were gorgeous but too thick for me, being more of a bone China girl!
What was a defining moment for your business?
I was introduced to the Centre for Advanced Textiles (CAT) digital printing at the Glasgow School of Art and fell in love with printing on velvet (I’ve always had expensive taste). Not only was the fabric sumptuous and the colours vibrant, but the velvet was produced at the last British velvet factory in Darwin, Lancashire. Darwin was a small town I knew from my Dad working there when I was a little girl, it was that job that led us to emigrate to South Africa.
I wanted to try printing on every fabric and surface I could find after that and began experimenting with linen, cotton and satin. The way the density and brightness of the colour reproduction on each fabric was different was a real learning curve.
How did you get your products and brand out there?
Amanda, a very stylish girlfriend who had a beautiful accessories shop in Bath, came over for wine and we bandied around ideas for reaching the glossy magazines. “Knicker drawer!” she announced! “What?!” I said, “make lavender bags and send them out to all the magazine journalists and they will keep them with your name on in their knicker drawer,” she explained. So, I tried it…the lovely home editor at Good Housekeeping posted hers on Instagram! It worked! I have given away hundreds to both journalists and as gifts and orders for patients undergoing chemo as the lavender is soothing and tolerated.
What are your printing secrets?
My ethos in life has always been to share, I figure people can only say no if you ask! When I entered the surface pattern community, I was so surprised that no one shared where they got things printed or who does the best job. The secretive nature of the industry was so alien to me. There is no other way to do it but trial and error.
What is the story behind your favourite product?
I first saw trays like this at Top Drawer at London’s Olympia and instantly loved them. They are made out of sustainable Swedish birch wood, completely waterproof, float and are heat resistant. There is something very romantic about them. When the first samples arrived, I couldn’t believe how beautiful, tactile and multipurpose they were; they are colour reproduction at its best. My range of trays decorate the outside wall of our cottage, withstanding all British weathers!
Christmas Quick Fire:
1. What is your most sought-after product?
2. Which product would you recommend as an anniversary gift?
A tray beautifully presented in coloured tissue and ribbon with four bone China mugs in different colours ..or a bottle of Bollinger
3. Which product would you recommend as a stocking filler?
One of my bold and beautiful cotton drill tea towels
4. What shall I buy my mum for Christmas?
A pink fizz extra large linen cushion
5. Which is your favourite design?
I still love my green and pink parrot design