BrandM.A.D.E. is a Wear Eponymous community focused on alleviating all that puzzles, stresses and bamboozles you when you’re working hard to develop and grow a brand, blog or seed of a business. Our ‘focus on’ series of interviews is here to introduce you to key W.E. feature brands who have strong businesses, interesting back stories and key skills to share with creators who may be looking for specific advice and consultation time with a fellow business owner who’s walked their path and may know the answers they’re looking for.
Our first feature brand is Tir-Dhàimh (pronounced teer-dayv) which is Scottish Gaelic for homeland. Created by Scottish designer Rachel Devine, Rachel has utilised her Glasgow and London-based training to design for both high street and high end outlets, and her senior designer experience has lead to the creation of her own lifestyle products such as silk scarves and luxury scented candles. Hand picking the right sourced materials for Tìr-Dhàimh from around the world has lead Rachel to create a lifestyle experience which draws inspiration from Scotland: its people, its culture and its landscapes. This brand encapsulates everyday luxury with the comfort of home.
We wanted to get to know Rachel a little better and discover exactly why Tir-Dhàimh has hit the ground running and has connected with it’s target audience from the get-go.
What was the driving force behind you starting your own business?
Working in London for lots of different brands has given me some amazing experience designing across several product categories but essentially you’re designing to someone else’s brief. This can sometimes be a little soul destroying if the brief isn’t particularly interesting. I’ve been harbouring the dream of starting a business of my own for the last few years that would allow me to design products that I liked, in the way that I would like them, using techniques and materials that appeal to me. Having the freedom to explore my own interests through the brand is hugely inspiring and exciting. As the old adage goes “working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion”!
What would you say your personal business strengths are and did they come naturally to you or did you have to develop those skills as you worked?
Having worked with so many different clients over the course of my career so far has given me great communication skills, finding out what a particular client wants/needs from a brief and similarly, being able to communicate this accurately through design and instruction to suppliers/manufacturers to create the best possible product. Although I’m quite a fastidious person anyway, I’ve definitely had to hone this skill (and sometimes adopt a little diplomacy!) to get the best out of every situation and of course, having always had a creative streak is definitely a must! This attention to detail has helped massively in knowing what I want from my own products and given me the confidence to communicate this to manufacturers, as well as reach out to prospective customers and business contacts.
I do believe it’s important to always be building on existing strengths and skills as well as learning new ones – as a new business, I feel like I’m learning more than ever, just by dealing with everything on a first hand basis, for me, there’s no greater satisfaction or sense of achievement than the knowledge that you are developing yourself and your business through your own hard work.
Which elements of business do you feel many companies can often neglect (e.g. no time for social media, not actively networking) and can you relate to the juggling act of having to fulfil multiple job roles in your own company?
Social media is definitely one aspect of small businesses that is invaluable for promoting yourself and seems as though its would be an easy or fun part of the job, but in reality, its quite difficult to maintain consistent content if you are juggling a few different roles or getting started on your own. I can absolutely relate to the strains of juggling multiple roles within a start-up – it can often be quite daunting knowing that the final decisions come down to you but its vital to force yourself to deal with situations that might be out of your comfort zone or experience level. I always think it’s important to remember that every decision (good or bad) is a learning experience and there are always positives to be taken from every situation. Effective time management is also crucial to any business, which can be hard to master at first (It’s one I’m definitely still getting to grips with!), its easy to get carried away pouring everything into some aspects of the business and neglecting others, but always try to be realistic with timings and forward thinking with your planning, whether that be arranging meetings, scheduling production or anything else in between!
Do you feel that there is enough support for developing businesses and has this been your own experience?
Personally I haven’t had any official support (financial or otherwise) in starting Tir-Dhaimh, but I do know that there are lots of bursaries and grants that you can apply for if you are willing to invest a bit of time looking for the right one for you and presenting your business plan. I also think it’s massively important not to underestimate the benefit of support in the form of advice – the benefit of learning from other peoples/businesses experience can be absolutely priceless for a start-up. Networking is a great way to meet like-minded people and sharing information and experiences. I always find it hugely inspiring connecting with other small business owners, learning about their journeys and how they work.
What guidance do you think you could provide to a newer company or one in need of some fresh thinking if they chose to connect with you through BrandM.A.D.E?
I would be able to advise new businesses on how to deal with overseas manufacturers and how to make their spec packs clear and understood by factories. With this, I would also be able to give them realistic expectations about what to expect from different global regions in terms of speciality fabrics and embellishment or print techniques, as well as pit-falls to look out for when dealing with outsourced manufacturing and liaising/negotiating with suppliers.
I feel that newer designers could definitely benefit from my experiences of designing to brief for high street to high end, understanding clients needs and brand expectations (market level/age range/etc) and also being able to adjust this introspectively to push their own brand forward – whether that be with branding, design, or product range and ethos. Having developed mood boards and ranges for clients across womenswear and accessories (scarves/bags/jewellery) I can definitely lend a constructive eye over collections to see what’s working and what may be missing, as well as advising on costings, fits, trim sourcing, print development and all other aspects of garment/product development within my field of experience.
Is Rachel’s advice and guidance exactly what you’re looking for? BrandM.A.D.E. is here to connect you with those in the know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how we can ease that pain point to focus on the growth and success you deserve.