Nicole Phillips England Cushions

Profiles: Nicole Phillips England

Nicole PhillipsHomegirl London pays homage to Nicole Phillips England.  She’s just launched her first-ever range of quirky home furnishings and accessories which as the company name implies are all designed, sourced and packaged in England.  Specialising in fine textiles, she makes; aprons, cushions, hob / Aga covers, napkins, oven gloves, tea towels and tote bags.  These are adorned with watercolour paintings of foodie loves (rhubarb and custard, blackberry and apple crumble, strawberries and cream tea), coastal creatures (crabs, mackerel, trout)  and fabulous flowers (roses, geraniums).  I caught up with Nicole to find out more …

Q: Tell me about your design/art background.

A: Ever since being a little girl, I have always loved art and found it an excellent way of absorbing myself utterly – I find immense satisfaction in creating paintings, ceramics and just about anything.  I studied art at school, which was where I met a pottery teacher who inspired me to pursue my love of ceramics, and I went on to gain a degree in the subject at Bath University.  I then set up my studio in West Sussex, which I ran successfully for six years before deciding to scale back to start a family.  Working from home again allowed me to explore my other passion of watercolour painting and it wasn’t long before I had the idea of transferring these paintings on to textiles, which is where Nicole Phillips England began.

Q: Why set up your business?

A: Having always run my own business as a potter and artist, I don’t know anything else.  When I had the idea of transferring my designs on to textiles and creating beautiful products such as tea towels, hob covers and aprons, I knew I had to share these with other likeminded people who appreciate the fine and fun things in life and for their homes.

Nicole Phillips England Aprons

Nicole Phillips England Aprons

Q: Where are you based and why?

A: I have a studio on the South coast in West Sussex.  It is a converted cow barn on the grounds of my parents’ farm and is based close to the sea.  I have always been inspired by nature and being outdoors, and you will notice that lots of my designs are based on the natural world, so this setting is ideal for me.  You will often find me sitting on the beach in all weathers with my pad and paints.

Q: How many people work at your company?

A: It’s my husband and I who are at the centre of the business, but we also work with around ten others including textile machinists and those that help with graphic design, PR and admin.  Everyone mostly works remotely, and then we all get together when needed to brainstorm new ideas or review what has been happening.

Q: Describe your design style.

Because all the designs are hand-painted by me, it means that they are all original and unique.  I like to have fun with my work so you will notice that there is a quirky twist of humour that runs throughout many of the product ranges while still maintaining classic undertones that will appeal to all personalities and homes.  I am inspired by nature, so there are lots of coastal characters and botanical details.  Being a foodie at heart, there are also lots of items with a culinary theme, such as our popular rhubarb and custard tea towels and fish and chips aprons.

Q: Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

A: Everywhere and anywhere!  It could be while on a walk I spot a beautiful flower which I just have to get down on paper or at the seaside or on holiday – especially in the tropics having myself grown up in the Bahamas.  I also love food so I am often inspired by everyday ingredients in the kitchen or growing in the garden, and a food market is my idea of heaven!Q: What’s your fascination with linen?

Q: What’s your fascination with linen?

A: I love the versatility of linen, not only for the products you can create with it but the different settings it suits.  I not only like working with linen for its aesthetics, but it’s also a very tactile fabric, which brings warmth and feeling to a room.

Q: Tell me about your collection.

A: My first collection has a very summery feel with lots of seaside characters such as crabs, shrimps and mackerel combined with coastal stripes.  There are also lots of fresh and pretty summer flower designs and summery foods such as the strawberries and cream range.  I’m already thinking about my next collection, which will have an autumnal feel.  Article continues …

Nicole Phillips Food

Nicole Phillips England Food

Nicole Philips Fish

Nicole Phillips England Coastal

Nicole Phillips Flowers

Nicole Phillips England Summer Flowers

Q: Which designer do you admire and why?

A: I have always admired Vanessa Arbuthnott and India Hicks, probably because they both also draw a lot of their inspiration from nature and offer a fresh perspective on classic designs.

Q: What’s the best thing about owning your own business?

A: I like the fact that I can make all the design decisions and can follow my creativity, which might take me off in all sorts of directions.  Luckily working for myself, I am not restrained by deadlines, work hours or strict processes.  Having my own business also means I can balance work and family life so much better, and I love the fact that my husband and daughter are very much involved in what I do.

Q: What one piece of advice would you pass on to someone wanting to set up their own business?

A: When starting up a new business, be careful with whom you choose to surround yourself with.  It is essential that you have a team that is supportive and also that each person understands their role in the business.  If you are going into a partnership with someone, then make sure you have written agreements with everyone involved even from day one.

Q: What’s coming up for the rest of 2013?

A: As mentioned earlier, I want to do an Autumnal range, which will incorporate lots of leaves and seasonal fruit, such as apples and figs.  I’ve also got plans to do a tropical range, focusing on fabric by the metre that is adorned with big and bright pineapples and hibiscus designs.  I have so many ideas buzzing around right now, and I’m still working on launching my first collection and just hope that everyone loves the products as much as I have enjoyed designing and making them.

To give you an idea about prices; Cushions £25-48, Aprons £28, Hob Covers £15, Napkins £22.99, Oven Gloves £22, Table Cloth £32.50, Tea Towels £12 and Tote Bags £12.  You can buy Nicole’s products from her website Nicole Phillips.  Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Nicole Phillips, special thanks to Rachel Soothill.