Designerati interview with Joanna Sanderson

Earlier this month I was interviewed by Designerati, the online version of Designer magazine. My interview was in the New Talent section and focused on why I became a designer, what challenges I faced, my journey so far, and how to encourage others in this career. Here are some of my answers:

What do you think are the main barriers to a career in design?

With the availability of digital printing and print on demand sites, it is possible for designers to get started with modest budgets, although it will take a while to become an established brand. As a self-employed designer I would say that funding is probably the main barrier to manufacturing your own product line, as you need to inject a lot of cash up front for inventory. Building brand recognition can also be very difficult in such as crowded marketplace.

What do you feel would attract more new talent to the industry?

When I was at high school in the 1990s I didn’t know anyone who worked in the creative industries and didn’t consider design as a viable career. Now I think there is more industry exposure because of social media and hopefully more people have heard of surface pattern design as a potential career. However, mentoring is still really important in inspiring young people to follow creative careers, whether it be at GCSE stage or beyond. There are some mentoring schemes out there but we could always do with more.

What have been the high and low points of your journey so far? 

The high point has been launching our first homeware collection called Bright Botanicals in September 2021 and we have another coming out in February 2022 called Japonisme. It’s always a great feeling when you get customer feedback and they say they are enjoying a product you made. In the future I’d love to do more licensing and creative partnerships with other brands.

Trying to manufacture one of our collections during Covid has been a challenge. However, I have learnt that I need to be adaptable and always have a backup plan.

What’s been key to your success?

I recognise that whilst designing is really enjoyable, there are so many other important parts of the business that need attention and they might not be in my skillset. It is tempting to try to do all the work myself but it is necessary to build up a network of advisers that can supplement me with the right knowledge and skills I need to be successful. Also, being open minded and going outside of my comfort zone to take risks has paid off lots of times.


Until next time creative crew,