Textiles Alumni Estelle Lilly Pop-up at John Lewis!
Textiles alumni Estelle Ronald will be hosting a pop-up of her brand at Newcastle’s John Lewis in Eldon Square this week, Monday 11th December – Sunday 17th December as a part of The Great Brand Exchange! This pop-up is a culmination of over a years hard work since graduation for Estelle and marks a significant achievement for her and establishing her work since her degree. Make sure you head down to buy some thing hand-made with kindness and care this Christmas, read on to find out more!
Tell us about your business!
I graduated July 2022 in BA (Hons) Textiles and Surface Design and my business was intertwined with my Final Major Project. I chose to create a body of work surrounding kindness and kind messages – which was the birth of Estelle Lily Design as it was my first body of work I uploaded to my Etsy Shop.
I’ve always loved the idea of people buying something or hanging something up in their house that I’ve created and has my name on. My goal for Estelle Lily Design is to create pieces that make people smile and comfort them when they’re going through something. I create this through greeting cards, art prints, stickers, wrapping paper, bookmarks – all digitally designed by me on my iPad/photoshop and printed at home (apart from the wrapping paper and stickers which I outsource). But as of recently I wanted to explore my sewing skills more, so I have introduced dog bandanas, hair scrunchies, makeup bags and for this Christmas season, handmade felt Christmas tree decorations.
It’s definitely been a big learning experience in the 16 months I’ve been doing it.
I did my first market October 2022 and it didn’t go how I thought it was going to go, and it left me feeling very deflated. When you’re out of the situation you’re like “okay that didn’t go how we wanted to, let’s move on to the next thing” but when I was in it, it felt like the a smack in the face. 4 months earlier I was in London for New Designers and had just graduated. They say “the world is your oyster” and that’s 100% how it felt. Everything I’d worked so hard to achieve over 3 years was coming to an end and it was now my turn to go out into the world and find my feet.
There was a period of time, those last 3 months of 2022, where I was exhausted doing markets – sometimes I’d come home with £0 and 9 times out of 10 I’d come home and wouldn’t have even made the price of my table back. This REALLY knocked my confidence. But what came next was John Lewis.
Tell us about John Lewis!
My friend I was on Textiles with (shoutout Olivia) works at John Lewis in Newcastle and she had told me that small businesses were selling their work in store and later sent me the Instagram post on how to apply. I hadn’t really got my confidence back yet and had wondered if something like this was too early in my story. A few months went by, I was in a better place and decided to submit myself. There was about 3/4 rounds you had to get through and I got through to the end, submitted my John Lewis store of choice (Newcastle) and waited to see if they had space for me. They did. During all of this, I just had traded at Orange Pip Market in Middlesbrough and had the most amazing time. My final sales were more than all the other markets I’d done prior, combined! This gave me the confidence boost I needed to move forward. I constantly have butterflies in my stomach when I think about how close it is (and how much I still have left to make in time!)
Tell us about The Great Brand Exchange!
Once I’d got through the 1st or 2nd round I was invited to join a group Zoom call with The Great Brand Exchange and other small businesses who had made it as far as I had. If I stand corrected I’m sure I heard them say there were around 500 small business applications they had to look through – and those were the ones that made it through to the same stage I was at. The Great Brand Exchange is a company that helps put small businesses on the map. They’re essentially the “middleman”. They help small businesses connect with stores like John Lewis to sell their work in-store. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without them so I’m very grateful to them.
After the zoom meeting I had a conversation with my dad about it because I needed an outsider’s perspective. I asked him if he thinks it’s not right or if I should do it. He basically said “If you told me you had this opportunity and turned it down I would be annoyed with you” so I took that as a go for it!
Something I’ve learnt more than ever over the last 16 months is – trust the timing of your life. When an opportunity is put in your path, it is meant for YOU. The timing of your life will make you realise why things didn’t come earlier or why something didn’t work out. It’s preparing you for something bigger, and to let you move forward. I have disgustingly bad imposter syndrome but I have felt a certain amount of peace about all of this – which is a blessing because I don’t think I could handle any more crippling anxiety. I’m nervous don’t get me wrong, but I think that’s a good thing. It’s new, it’s progression and it could be the beginning of something for me.
You studied BA (Hons) Textiles & Surface Design, what was this experience like and how did it prepare you for life after uni?
It’s crazy to think that 4 years ago I’d just started University, not knowing how to use Photoshop properly, and here I am now, about to host a pop up in John Lewis selling the work I’ve created, all on my own, from my own ideas. The skills and the confidence I adopted when I was at Northern have allowed me to go for things like this. It also showed me that I need to trust myself more as I can handle more than I think I can and will always meet the deadline, even when it feels like too much to manage through.
I also currently have some Christmas cards and dog bandanas stocked in Sunday Coffee and Kitchen in Guisborough.
You’ll be able to find me at John Lewis in Newcastle (Eldon Square) Monday 11th December – Sunday 17th December. You can shop Christmas Cards, Christmas Wrapping Paper, Bookmarks, Felt Christmas Tree Decorations, Art Prints, Greeting Cards, Stickers, Makeup Bags, Scrunchies, Dog Bandanas and Personalised Photo Prints.
Follow Estelle on social media: Instagram – @estellelilydesign, FaceBook – Estelle Lily Design and TikTok – @estellelilydesign. Click the link to shop her prints and products: Etsy Shop – Estelle Lily Design
If you are interested in studying textiles at degree level make sure you check our degree pages here!