Indie Oxford Interview: Jericho Design House
This week we catch up with the incredibly talented Anna from Jericho Design House to find out how she launched the brand and how she balances work and family life.
Tell us about yourself.
Hello! I’m Anna, I’m 38 and have lived in Oxford for 14 years, I’m originally from Newcastle, but sadly don’t have the accent! I have 3 children and have lived in Jericho for 5 years in a very lovely, but slightly crumbly house which we are finally doing up.
I found textiles when I was 16 when they introduced it as an A-level at school – I just fell in love. I thought I wanted to be fashion designer but on Art Foundation it became clear that I wasn’t really bothered about the shape of the clothes but more what was on them.
Most recently I was the print designer for Oliver Bonas, I’ve also worked for brands like Anthropologie and Hush Homeware and still do occasional freelance work.
Why did you start Jericho Design House?
I always talked about having my own collection, and I’ve had a few false starts that never got past the design phase, I just wasn’t sure what I wanted it to be or look like!
I returned from maternity leave after my 3rd child and my freelance work was very quiet, so I just started drawing and painting and couldn’t stop – I wasn’t sure what I was designing for at first, I thought maybe I could sell them or put them in my portfolio, but I loved them too much and thought maybe I could turn them into something for myself.
Once I’d decided to put them out there, it took on a life of it’s own and grew into 4 collections… and counting! I suppose I felt that if I was finally putting my name to something I’d better do it properly; so I threw myself into designing the branding and packaging, developing the products, learning how to build my own website (much hair tearing and very late nights) and trying to spread the word through social media and lovely groups like Independent Oxford!
Tell me about you ranges and the inspiration behind them. The colours you use in your products are always so lovely. How do you choose your colour palettes?
I take inspiration wherever and whenever I can find it, and I’m always photographing things I find beautiful; be it nature, clothing or art. I suppose the starting point for Jericho Design House was my own home and wardrobe and things I’ve collected over the years. Some of the designs were things I’d started and not finished years ago but still loved. I wanted to create patterns for my home – but I didn’t want it all to look the same so I’ve ended up with 4 collections; Ornate, Playful, Tonal and Fresh, to hopefully cover all the different spaces in my home from the garden through to the kids rooms.
What do you love most about being a designer?
I do feel very lucky that I get to paint and draw for a living – in my freelance life I love collaborating with fashion brands and seeing my designs in stores and on people on the street or even on telly – Mary Berry once wore my scarf on Bake Off!
With Jericho Design House it’s an opportunity for me to create something that I love, it’s quite self indulgent, but I hope other people love it too! It’s meant I’ve met some brilliant local creative and independents – Oxford Alterations are a tailors based in Jericho who sew most of my products – I love collaborating with them to develop new ideas and we’re currently working on some makeup bags / pouches in time for Christmas.
How do you balance family and work commitments?
With difficulty! I have three young children and I also still freelance for fashion clients so I have to pace myself. I work a lot of evenings – which luckily suits me as a night owl, but my youngest also goes to nursery 3 days a week and the other two are at school. It’s often a case of choosing between a tidy house, or getting some designing done and I know what I’d rather be doing!
Tell us about your upcoming events.
I’m very excited to be part of the upcoming Independent Oxford Christmas Market on the 1st & 2nd December at Turl Street Kitchen and also the Indie Oxford Market Place in the fabulous Covered Market from the 24th Nov – 24th December. In the new year I’m hoping to arrange more pop up events and possibly some workshops to make things with my fabrics – watch this space!
How important is the local community to your business?
It’s been integral to building JDH, and I love that I feel more part of it now, as my freelance work always took me away to London. A big part of my customer base is local, which means a lot. I think people are shopping more consciously – thinking about where and how things are made.
Local businesses have also been so supportive, though my fabrics are printed in Kent and London, they are sewn here in Oxford.
I’m stocked in The Annie Sloan Shop and Shop at the Old Fire Station and had a Pop-up Shop in The Curtain Shop in Summertown earlier in the year, plus my cushions can now be seen in ‘38’ on South Parade thanks to local interior designer Element Studio.
What is the best business advice you have ever received?
Actually most recently it was at an Independent Oxford talk organised by Sarah Wiseman – what I took away from her talk was that you don’t have to act on every idea or piece of advice you’re given – everyone will have an opinion on your business, but only you know where you want to take it.
Of course I’m always really interested to hear peoples thoughts, it can be incredibly helpful, but you can tie yourself in knots trying to pursue every idea or opportunity suggested!
Finally, what are your favourite independent businesses in Oxford?
There are so many that I’ll have to go with the ones I frequent the most; very close to home is Barefoot Bakery in Jericho for a sneaky toasted banana bread with yoghurt and honey, usually on my way home after the morning school run as a little pick me up before I start the day!
Boswells and their legendary toy department – it’s brilliant for last minute birthday party presents, party bags fillers plus the kitchen shop’s amazing.
And Mamma Mia do the best pizza – my daughters now refuse all pizza except their Margharitas – which is really annoying actually, but a great reason to go out for tea!