By Kate Marsden
We’re heading to Manchester today to have a chat with someone who will be familiar to most Just A Card supporters. I’ve “known” Gail Myerscough online for years and we finally met when she came to see our stand at Top Drawer back in January (when I threw myself at her – not embarrassing at all!). I love Gail’s colorful designs, and her passion for all things mid-century and bright shines through everything she does. Prepare to fall in love….!
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
I’m a surface pattern designer based in Manchester, UK.
I would describe my style as modern retro. I create colourful and bold designs and produce my own range of homewares, prints and stationery.
I’m influenced by mid-century design, the 1960s and post war architecture.
What does a typical day involve?
I currently have a full-time job as a retail manager for an independent shop and my pattern design work is my spare time!
I’m passionate about designing patterns so it’s a joy to come home and work on new ideas.
Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
I work from home and my studio space is currently my dining table. I start by drawing my designs in my sketchbook then scan the drawings into Adobe Illustrator on my computer which I use to colour and manipulate the images to create the overall design.
I can’t work without a cup of tea on the go and music on the stereo.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?
In the current climate it can be difficult to get the word out there and make sales, but there is a significant rise in independent shops and businesses as customers want something different from the big high street chains. The high street may be able to sell at a fraction of the price of independents but can’t provide the passion, creativity and personal service of independents.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
My goals for the next couple of years are to continue designing and building my brand, gain new clients and continue to develop my practice.
I would love my designs to be picked up by major retailers and brands. My ultimate goal is for my designs to be instantly recognisable as a ‘Gail Myerscough’.
Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/ small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?
You need to be passionate about what you do as a lot of hard work is involved. As well as great designs you need some business sense and lots of determination. Be original and have your own unique style.
A good website is important as you can have a portfolio full of beautiful designs and products but you need people to see them. Social media has been really important in growing my business. Most of my sales have come from sharing my designs on social media. Twitter has been my most successful platform. I think it’s important for your social media posts to show your personality. If all your posts are sell, sell, sell people will eventually switch off.
As a retail manager I see the business from both sides. Don’t be afraid to approach shops and galleries but have a clear wholesale pricing structure.
Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.
Royal Exchange Theatre Shop, Manchester - A fantastic independent shop full of brilliant work by UK designers, artists and makers.
Franny & Filer, Chorlton, Manchester - Run by two very talented jewellers who are passionate about supporting independent and handmade jewellery. A lovely shop.
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
Yes, any purchase from a small business makes a huge difference. It also means someone likes and appreciates what you do.
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
Just A Card has been very important as the campaign has supported my work and spread the word about my designs. The lovely team at Just A Card are passionate about promoting independent business which is hugely important in keeping small businesses afloat. Every sale really does make a difference.
Where did you hear about the campaign and which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently? What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
I first heard about Just A Card on Twitter. I always take part in the brilliant #justacard hour on Twitter and have connected with lots of brilliant designers and makers. It’s good to feel part of a supportive creative community.
People can support Just A Card by supporting and buying from independent businesses. I regularly mention the campaign on twitter to help spread the word. The shop I manage also supports the campaign and has a lovely Just A Card window sticker in pride of place.