Ella Doran is a designer, photographer and mark-maker, whose innovative and constantly-curious eye has led to the creation of a wide range of highly-accomplished projects and objects across product and textile design, fashion, furniture and large-scale interior graphics.
Tell us what your business is/what your business offers?
My company has an online shop and wholesale arm where we design, manufacture and sell products for the home and interiors markets using my textile and photographically inspired designs. I also work to commission for private, public companies, charities, retailers and manufacturers across interiors, hospitals, and fashion.
What was it that inspired you to set-up your own business?
Seeing my designs selling on Equipment Shirts in Harvey Nicholls, and a bedding collection in Springs in New York, inspired me to make the leap and be involved in the process of design idea through to finished product.
Do you think an Entrepreneur ISA and a Small Business Savings Allowance would have helped aid your company’s growth in the early stages?
Absolutely, I started my business with a loan from the Princes Trust (PYBT) it enabled me to exhibit at my first trade show, where I won ‘best new product’ for my tablemats and coasters, a product I had literally stumbled across as a great product to test out my photographic designs on. Winning the award enabled me to exhibit again the following season, where I then began to establish my relationships with retailers.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
The biggest challenges I have faced have been either in legal agreements with manufacturers – such as confidentiality agreements, defining very clearly the role of each party and copying and infringements of my designs by third parties. It has been challenging at times to find good financial support and advice without it costing too much, I have had fantastic business support through a local body called the East London Small Business Centre whenever I borrowed money to invest in a new development or to expand the company.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
- Play to your strengths, & employ people better than you at the role you need them to do.
- Create a strong team which you feel proud and empowered to lead
- Show off your talents, message and style on social media
- Be open to opportunities, be confident, and stay true to your vision and style.
What is your proudest achievement to date as a company?
I am proud that I helped pioneer the application of photographic imagery onto everyday products back in the late 90’s when digital technology was in its infancy.
I am proud to be an independent company with a track record of awards for my textile designs.
I am proud to have designed the paediatric wards at The Royal London hospital in London, the curtains, side tables & cabinets.
I am proud to be a fellow of the RSA (the Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce).
I am proud to be a champion and advocate of the Circular Economy.
You can visit the Homewares web-shop here: https://www.elladoran.co.uk/
Find out more about Ella Doran here: www.elladorandesigner.co.uk