Taking the plunge and diving head first into a world of uncertainties is never taken on with ease, it can be terrifying, exciting and sometimes completely worth it! Liz Nagle designer and founder of Echo Designs has recently taken that nose-dive and entered the world of self employment. Just last month she said her final goodbyes to her job in ITV’s editorial department to follow her passion full time.
Liz’s creations are beautiful, and as her websites states, they are as unique as every customer. Each item, ranging from decorative wooden hearts to fabric prints, are made to order so each one has something a little bit special about it. They are simply precious and not to mention right up my alley with the beautiful colour scheme of pinks, blues and greys. And for any parent with a Frozen obsessed child then Liz’s Christmas range is worth a look (hint: They’re not just for Christmas!) So let’s meet Liz and pick that beautiful brain of hers…
Describe what Echo Designs is and what it means to you?
Echo designs is an online based business selling bespoke made to order items for the home or to give as gifts. I make (amongst other things) pictures, plaques and cards from my studio at home. It is my livelihood and my passion. Ever evolving my range features quotes to suit all people and occasions and are personalised at no extra cost.
Tell us about your career and why you chose to give it up? Was it a scary move following your dream?
Terrifying! But I felt compelled to do it and I have no doubt that it was the right decision for me. I worked at ITV for nearly 14 years having got a degree in Media Studies. I loved it, and I have very happy memories of being there and am proud to have worked on some flagship shows which I’ll hopefully be able to tell my grandchildren about but since having my daughter 3 years ago I’ve had itchy feet and my heart was with echo so I knew it was time to take the plunge. Fortunately I have a very supportive husband who has supported me throughout. I’m so excited to be able to focus all of my attention on echo which has grown and grown over the last 2 years.
What advice would you offer anyone deciding to take the plunge by starting their own business?
Be patient – it doesn’t come over night, you have to be prepared to work incredibly hard and often for little reward but if it’s something you are passionate about your drive will carry you through the hard days. Test your product and work out who your target audience are, I’d also stress the importance of branding early on, I try and stick to a strict colour pallet for my products so its instantly recognizable as mine, there is a lot of competition out there you have to find your own identity.
Tell us a little about how you balance your family life and work life. You work from home so do you let Isla join in the creativity or do you work after she is in bed?
It’s a constant battle for me! Having just left ITV I will now be working from home which makes me want to dance on the ceiling – no more commuting and my own space! I love my own company and the days fly by when I’m in my studio working away. I can only do limited bits of work when Isla is here, and wait until she is in bed or at her childcare 2 days a week to do a proper work session. She does love to help and I’m sure it will be her first Saturday job, she has got stickering parcels down to a tee (if you don’t mind a wonky label! ) One of the main reasons for leaving ITV was to enable me to balance my time with my family more. Echo has grown to a state where it’s too big to juggle with another job and a family, so from January I’m hoping to restore a bit of balance and have designated family time as well as growing the business. Throw in a homemade pie for tea and I have my recipe for success!
Tell us about you decor style, is it mirrored in your work?
Absolutely. I’m hugely obsessed with interiors and I think that love is how echo began. I used to see things and think ‘I wish it was a bit more rustic, and less perfect, I’ll make my own! I’m all about vintage appeal, rough edges, frayed ribbon, old keys and maps, anything which has a bit of history and character. Even though everything I make is made to order and obviously new, I hope it has an old feel to it, just like a lot of the accessories in my house which are mainly from flea markets and antiques fairs. We’ve also got in to a phase of painting absolutely everything we own grey, the whole house is grey and white with rustic furniture – grey is one of my four colours I use in echo so there is definitely a cross over in my love of home décor and making things, I basically just make things I’d like in my house – it seems to work!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My favourite weekends are spent going round an old market picking up bits of old lace and trinkets so I’m definitely influenced by these visits. Leek is great for this and any chance I get I’m there. I also love instagram and pinterest for inspiration, and I’m obsessed with home magazines, these keep me up to date and on point for keeping my designs relevant, the rest is from my head which is littered with ideas I want to make!
What materials and suppliers do you use in your work?
I source from all over and my collection is a well tested and tried assortment. I only use things I consider beautiful, as you can’t fail to make something lovely if you’re using well made, good quality materials. I have 2 lovely suppliers of wood who are based in the UK and are small companies like me. I love to support small businesses and other than the odd panic shop to Hobbycraft when I run out of something its independent suppliers all the way.
What is next for Echo Designs?
The big question! It’s an exciting time as In January my working life will just be Echo designs, and I’ve so many ideas I can’t wait to get started on, I’ll also be extending my wedding range, looking at doing some occasion prints and expanding and perfecting my current ranges. I’m intending to become a lot more occasion driven, last year when it got to Valentines I buried my head under a pillow hoping no-one would notice! This year I’ll have a capsule range for this and all other occasions so I can be a bit ahead of the game for once! What is your go to quote? What saying motivates or resonates with you?
Oh gosh how to pick one! I love a good quote as you can probably tell as my business features many of them! At the moment it’s a very over used one which resonates the most ‘be the master of your own destiny’ I really feel like I’ve taken my life into my own hands to achieve what I want and do what makes me happy. A bit wordier but I also like ‘The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be’ Can you tell I’m going through a life change?!
What does success mean to you?
Success to me is making money doing what I love, and I’m not talking oodles of it (although wouldn’t that be lovely?!) but enough to allow me to have a comfortable life where I don’t have to worry about money. A holiday here and there would be great but my dream is to be able to pick my daughter up from school, make homemade meals for my family, see the people I love, work in the comfort of my home indulging my creativity and being able to buy that vintage stool I just can’t get out of my head. It’s a funny thing, I’ve been surrounded by a lot of career driven people, and I used to class myself as one of them, but I’ve come full circle and now realize that success goes hand in hand with happiness, and happiness for me is having a good work life balance with both family and work fulfilling me in a different way. I feel so lucky that my work is my passion, it feeds the soul and I pinch myself constantly that people want to buy it – that makes me feel successful.
I know you are an excellent pianist, have you taught Isla to play? How else do you like to pass the time?
Bless you thank you – I’m better when your drunk – you don’t hear the les Dawson moments! I do love a good tinkle on the ivories, I’ve played since I was 5 and always loved it, Isla does sit and play with quite a grown up pose and elegance for a 3 year old although the notes are in the wrong order so we’ll have to work on that. I’m hoping to teach her if she’ll let me! I love to read although that feels like a luxury at the moment (hopefully something I’ll have more time to do in the new year!) I’ve already mentioned trawling round vintage markets, that is my favourite day out, I also love the theatre when I get the chance, and a glass of wine with the girls. Mainly any spare time is spent seeing people, I love having people round to the house for tea.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Baths. I have one EVERY night! Pure indulgence and for that half an hour I drift off and relax, it’s now crucial to my day – some days I’ll have two in one day!
When do you feel most inspired?
Usually at 3.00 in the morning – not ideal! I have a notebook by my bed to scribble things down in, although it’s never there when you need it (the downside to having a 3 year old in the house!)
What is your perfect holiday?
Anywhere with Jay and Isla. We are big on holidaying the UK, I don’t think there is anywhere lovelier when the weather behaves and we always find some lovely little villages with lovely shops so I always come home with a vintage crate or enamel jug. But, if I was pushing the boat out I’d repeat the 5 star luxury holiday we had in Thailand for our honeymoon, just the most indulgent holiday staying in stunning places and being waited on hand and foot.
What was your favourite childhood book?
I was obsessed with Enid Blyton – Mallory Towers was my favourite although I loved the Famous Five and Secret Seven too. I also adore Winnie The Pooh and a book my mum loved as a child and I must have read 10 times each year ‘Swish of the Curtain’
What advice would you give your daughter?
Do what makes you happy as long as it doesn’t hurt others. Keeping it simple but how I want her to live. I’ll also encourage her to have faith and follow her dreams. I think if you put your mind to something, you can achieve anything. Self believe perseverance and hard work can take you anywhere.