Laura Olivia has a long-term fascination with Vietnam. So much so that she has designed her latest collection around it – from the floating markets where the locals trade from boat to boat, to the lush tropical flora and fauna of the area – especially around the massive Mekong River, which is the lifeblood of Vietnam as well as so many other countries in South-East Asia.
Perhaps it’s a foil for her home-base in not-so-tropical Nottingham, but Laura has built up a career and portfolio based around these lush, vivid themes. Vibrant colour and bohemian style, in lots of handpainted, layered textures, she focuses on supplying designs to the interiors and soft furnishing industries, and her clients now come to her from around the world, including Haiti and Malaysia.
Although she does work with some major retailers, she often finds herself being sought out by small start up companies. For instance, the client in Haiti requires stationery and homeware designs for the launch of a new brand strongly reflecting the Haitian culture, and she’s also working for a fashion designer in Malaysia who wants to produce a new line of dresses aimed at ladies who are respectful of their faith yet want to wear beautiful clothes. Laura loves it, and says it’s great for keeping everything fresh – “My projects are very random but always exciting!”
It’s taken some time and very hard work, but since she established her studio in 2010, she’s built it up to include a small team of designers, and now offers clients a bespoke pattern design service, a print library and a luxury boutique homewares brand.
Branding is something that has grown naturally over time. “It’s still a work in progress but I know I’m on the right track. The best method I have found to help with this is creating a huge story board to refer back to and develop; it’s a big visualization tool. This could include pictures of your work and other inspirational images that best fit your brand, but also props such as furniture and accessories that would work well when styling product photoshoots, to ensure everything is working well together. I’d also display your colour palette and include some key words to describe your brand. A great way to do this is imagine for a moment that your brand is a person, if they entered a room how would you describe them?”
“I do use a photographer for my product and lifestyle images and I’d say that is a must, but I didn’t get any help with my branding because I thought there wouldn’t be anyone who understands my brand better than me, and a lot of branding companies I looked at were geared towards a more corporate look.”
Her best piece of advice?
“The best advice anyone gave me is don’t be too hard on yourself, and try to learn how not to ‘self sabotage’ . We are our own worst enemy sometimes and it is true that we can often stand in our own way! . Oh and also don’t compare yourself to strangers on the internet, no good can come of it!!”
You can find more of Laura’s work on her website www.lauraolivia.com, where you can also purchase prints and homewares with her lush designs.