Homegirl London’s Interview: Jan Constantine. Known for her striking hand embroidered home textiles, Jan is on a mission to inject some much needed colour into our homes. She makes the most adorable embroidered cushions, throws, wall hangings, tea cosies, lavender bags and more. Her dreamy designs include patriotic union jacks, crowns and love hearts. The new collections feature tropical birds, cacti and even glam rock motifs! I caught up with Jan Constantine to find out more.
Iconic British Classic Collection
Meet Jan Constantine
Jan tells me about life before setting up her business – “Previously I was in the world of fashion. I studied at Bolton College of Art and worked as designer for a London fashion house called Shubette. Many of my collections were embellished with embroidery, as we had a processing plant in the building, so this is where I became a little obsessed with embroidery! I moved to Cheshire when I wanted to see green fields and started an interior design business. I kept one foot in London with regular travelling to the city for magazine editorial and advertising styling jobs.”
Meet Jan Constantine
Jan rewinds back to her childhood – “I always dreamt of having my own collection in my own name, so it’s a dream come true. Since I was young I thought about every detail and how it could happen. My grandmother was a wonderful and very stylish woman who still inspires me today, though sadly she’s no longer here. She took me to many fabulous places as a young girl and taught me not only to sew but how to live.”
Love, Hearts and Flowers Collection
Learning to sew at an early age has paid dividends for Jan. She reveals – “My first appliqué project was when I was 13 years old and I stitched red velvet hearts onto my blue shorts and T shirt. I’m recognised for my embroidered homewares with bold appliquéd designs and blanket stitch detail, often incorporating the word ‘Love’ and the red heart motif. Today, the artisans who help stitch my designs, pass on their traditional skills through their generations. I like to think that the pieces they create will also be passed onto the next generation. With this in mind I use the strapline – Hand Embroidered Heirlooms of the Future.”
Best Sellers in Luxury Velvet
Getting her business off the ground was helped by Jan’s sister Elaine who kindly lend her £10,000 to get started back in February 2002. Later Jan received investment from a company after she met the fund’s managing director at a networking dinner by chance. Fast forward to now and Jan has seven staff, which includes her husband David, along with an embroidery team. Having done all the hard graft Jan can enjoy the flexibility that being her own boss offers by taking time out after she’s thrown an all-nighter at work!
View the Jan Constantine Collection
Jan talks me through her design style – “My work is striking, colourful, graphic, beautifully appliquéd and hand embroidered. It is often patriotic and reminiscent of vintage embroidery and people tell me that it is very recognisable and distinct. I make primarily textiles for the home using natural fabrics such as wool, linen and cotton. The main items that we produce are cushions, throws, wall hangings and at Christmas we make lots of festive stockings, tree decorations, buntings and cushions which many customers collect.”
Glam Rock Collection
Some of Jan’s previous collections include – Iconic British Designs which feature the Union Jack, British Isles Maps and Crowns. Love, Hearts and Flowers are also heavily featured. The Seaside range is awash with crabs, lobsters, coral and sailing boats. Her current collections are beautifully bold – Glam Rock, Tropical and Fiesta. The Glam Rock Collection is Jan’s homage to the 1970’s and the love of David Bowie – Ziggy thunder bolts, stars, hearts and words like Cool, Kiss and Love. The Tropical Collection is alive with parrots, love birds and toucans along with lush palm leaves. Jan says – “I wanted to create this range to complement the massive trend in house plants and our thirst for tropical interior tastes.”
Jan tells me more about the Fiesta Collection – “This was created after of a very insistent customer who was desperate to find a cushion for her half Mexican son, with the words “Mi Casa es Su Casa” which she begged me to make. I agreed and this triggered a new range which features colours and symbols associated with Latin America. Heart motifs with the words Love and Amor sit alongside cactus and skull designs. The dramatic black backgrounds are brought alive with vibrant colours combined with pompoms, tassels and fringes for decorative interest.
Jan draws inspiration from her life when she designs her collections. She explains – “My designs are inspired by antique embroidery, my British life, my travels and things that excite me. I enjoy travelling to see and experience new things. Because I spend a lot of time on the Cornish Coast this inspires my nautical line. I love visiting flea markets, fashion is a big passion and wandering around textile exhibitions is a real pleasure. These ‘loves’ all find a way into my designs.”
Glam Rock Collection
Tricia Guild is a massive inspiration for Jan, she tells me – “Tricia and her company ‘Designers Guild’ has always been my favourite. I have been visiting her King’s Road store for many years and treating myself to all sorts of wonderful things that make me feel good. Her colour sense is so exhilarating – I love colour so much and it’s obvious she does too.”
Buy Jan Constantine Products
To buy products, you can visit the Jan Constantine Website. You can also buy her pieces from the Amara Website. The products are shipped worldwide and they have a big following in Japan because they love the patriotic pieces and the embroidery techniques. To give you an idea about price points – Needle Cases are £18, Lavender Hearts £25, Cushions £50-120, Throws for £200 and large Wall Hangings are up to £470. Jan can also make bespoke items for a minimum quantity of 25 pieces per design. For one off pieces the price would be higher due to the time taken to design and make just one item. Contact Jan if you have something specific in mind.
Author: Homegirl London. Thanks: Jan Constantine. Photographer: Caroline Arber. Disclosure: This feature includes the following affiliate partners – Amara (if you click through from my website and purchase items from the affiliates I will earn a small commission).