Beatrice Larkin is a woven textile designer based in Hackney, London. After graduating from the Royal College of Art she established her label with the desire to make modern British textiles for the home. She works with a mill in Lancashire to weave jacquard fabrics from the highest quality Italian spun merino wool. She then uses these fabrics to create throws and cushions to sell online, at shows and through retailers such as Heals.
What was the main motivation behind your application to the LCN programme?
I previously had a studio Cockpit Arts as part of the Cockpit Arts and Clothworkers’ Company award. This award gave me a subsidised studio space and access to the Business Incubation team support for two years. After the award period ended I found a studio closer to my home. But leaving the studio made me realise how much I valued the business advice and support I received from the Business Incubation team and programmes. I applied to the LCN programme in order to continue that relationship.
As my business has grown it has been crucial to keep connected with other makers and have somewhere to go for help when new challenges arise. I was looking for help with finances, production, writing about your brand, marketing and planning. LCN was a great opportunity to get free advice relating to all areas of running a creative business. When you are an independent designer maker, you have to juggle many roles and it’s always good to have refreshers across every topic.
What is the most useful advice or tip you’ve been given on the programme so far?
At this stage in my business I am aiming to grow, develop new markets, increase awareness of my brand and maintain a solid income. Therefore the financial advice and tips around production planning have been key. Keeping up to date, clear records is so important. Specifically useful were workshops on profit and loss and keeping track of spending and cash flow. This has allowed me to analyse past years accounts in order to project for the coming year. Last year I received a business loan through Virgin Startup to pay for trade shows and production and I am constantly on the lookout for investors and other funding opportunities, therefore having a clear understanding of my financial situation is crucial.
What new product, service, business system or projects are you introducing to your practice and why?
In the coming year I am hoping to change my business slightly and focus more on fabric by the metre, for the interior design market, both domestic and contract. I will continue to stock in shops and create soft furnishings under my own name but I have learnt over the last year, through a number of successful jobs, that there are larger projects and more profit to be made through working for trade rather than wholesale. I came to this decision after looking over my financials during one to ones through the programme and realising which areas of my business are more profitable.
What plans do you have after participating with LCN?
I would like to find another network I can be part of to keep that connection with other makers and mentors. Without networks such as these, as an independent designer, you can feel disconnected. It keeps me on track to go to talks, workshops and networking events and I can see how my business has grown because of it.
Over the next few years, my aim is to be able to work full time on my business. I am confident this is achievable due to growth over the last year. Having your own business in the creative sector is expensive and risky, but over recent months I have seen the result of investing in my business through the Virgin Startup loan. In order to be able to grow further, it might mean borrowing more or finding an investor but I am confident I have the ability to manage my business to achieve these goals.
I've just finished designing a new collection so will be organising a photoshoot and marketing campaign to launch it in the coming months. And excitingly I'm spending the whole of July on a weaving residency in Iceland so I am looking forward to having the time and space to draw, design and hand weave again as well as taking some time to step back and evaluate.
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