It all started with with a hand painted vintage tea set...
I sometimes look back at where Yvonne Ellen started and I have to pinch myself. I’ve worked hard to grow the brand to where it is now and I’m so proud of everything I’ve achieved, alongside my team.
Here’s how it started and how it’s going!
With a passion for art ever since I can remember, I originally trained as a printed textile
designer at Nottingham Trent University. After I graduated, I was working as a menswear designer. But a career in fashion isn’t for the faint-hearted and I found that I wasn’t passionate about it.
I knew I needed to do something else.
Yvonne Ellen all started with a vintage tea set. It was my best friend’s wedding and I was struggling with what to buy for a wedding gift. I wanted to give a gift that was both beautiful and unique, something super special which I just couldn’t find on the high street, no matter how hard I looked.
I had a huge collection of absolutely stunning vintage bone china which I had collected over the years from various charity shops, market stalls and car boot sales (my passion!). I decided to upcycle some of it by hand-painting it to create the perfect gift. I got amazing feedback for it from friends and family and so I took the leap and started selling my designs online.
I spent my days working at my full-time design job and by night I ran my online store - creating listings online, updating stock inventory and packaging orders. On the weekends I made more of my vintage stock and I had a stall at Spitalfields Market. Looking back, it was exhausting but I knew I was onto something good and I wanted to grind to make it happen!
How I grew the brand
I was introduced to my first supplier in 2017 and this opened the door to some of the UK’s best known department stores, an absolute dream come true for me. It was this that gave me the push I needed to work on my brand full time - it was now or never so I had to close my eyes and jump.
I handed in my notice and got to work! I spent my time creating new designs, chatting with department stores and wholesalers, and marketing Yvonne Ellen on social media. I quickly gained some celeb fans with Little Mix and Sam Faiers both pictured with my designs – I couldn’t believe it!
Yvonne Ellen has grown hugely since then and I still have to pinch myself when I stop and think about it. I now have my own central London studio and a full team working on my website, social media and brand. My range has also grown. I now have tableware, home fragrance, bedding, gifts, greeting cards and my latest new addition - the Yvonne Ellen Mini range for kids. There are also lots of new products being developed and launches in the pipeline – watch this space!
My design process
I still hand-design all of my products and my process has remained pretty much the same. I find my inspiration in all sorts of places including travelling (I always try to stay in the quirkiest hotels when I’m away!), fashion and around London. London is such an inspiring place to live, there’s always something to catch my eye.
Once I have the ideas for my designs, I hand paint them in the studio. I Pantone match the colours of my design to vintage pieces. I still have a huge love for vintage china and I end up picking up new pieces wherever I go.
I’ll then scan the illustration and rework it digitally until it’s perfect. I create paper prototypes of the product - I like to see a life-size version of what it will become to get a better feel for it and I want to make sure that I love it before it gets made.
It’s an exciting day (but nerve-wracking day!) when the first samples arrive! I colour match them again to make sure that the colours are just right (did I mention I’m a bit of a perfectionist?!) and look out for anything that isn’t quite right. I always feel nervous when the samples arrive in case they’re nothing like how I imagined them.
Once I’m happy with the products, it’s ready to go on the website and to the shops.
I still love seeing my products in John Lewis, which is one of my favourite shops, and showing my two kiddies mummy’s designs - even though they’re not really that fussed!
Marketing and social media
Marketing is a huge part of the brand and we do a range of different things to get Yvonne Ellen out there including social media (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest), press and updating our website with new products. We also work on brand collaborations and a few months ago I designed a label for my fave prosecco brand La Gioiosa.
Instagram is huge for us as a place where people get inspiration for their homes and I love seeing my designs being used in real homes - they’re definitely meant to be seen in a gorgeous kitchen rather than against a plain background in the studio!