the big plan . . . part 1 !

so following on from my last post i thought i'd start a bit of an online diary of my ups-and-downs whilst preparing for Top Drawer / Home january 2014.

in one years time i hope to have just completed my first trade show (eek!). i was hoping to do this september but 3 market stalls and xmas kind of got in the way. having now done markets i know the path is clear for me to focus on the trade show. it's surprising how much time preparing for a market stall actually takes so goodness knows how things will be for a top london trade show!!

step 1 ...

clear a space to create a plan. a BIG plan. i have a whole wall that i now have dedicated to my research, findings and ideas.

it's a bit bare at the moment but i'm only just starting and i'm sure it will soon be full of lots and lots of fabulous ideas ... give me a little time!

i have a little calendar up underneath my planner for all my deadlines and so i can keep an eye on the time slipping away  :s

so what have i done apart from this? well, i signed up for a couple of sessions with Monica Lee of Smart Creative Women for some advice and guidance. i felt i needed someone who had the experience to give me some honest opinions and also to add some fresh ideas. you can become stuck in your little bubble far too easily when you work on your own and it's good to get other peoples thoughts. and boy did she have a few! all good - lots of tips and trick, and it's made me think about things a little differently ... lots to get on and think about!  i still have another session left which i'm looking forward too ... have a look here for full details (i'd recommend it!)

i have also signed up with Make It British and Kate has been most helpful in researching manufacturers for my needs. i have lots of different product ideas and i am researching them all to find the best combination design-wise and price-wise. then i can select my favourite and move forward with producing the final designs for those.

so that's it so far - a lot of researching at the moment but a lot hinges on that so i need to focus and get that done. then i can get back to the fun part - designing!

top drawer & home round-up!

so i had a little day out with my fellow Smith-onian - Liz - of Elle Jane Designs on sunday - we went wondering around 2 fab trade shows - Top Drawer and Home.

i wasn't off to the best start - i had set my alarm to the right time but not on the right day so had to rush round to get my train but then realised i hadn't even printed my ticket. not to worry though as Liz had got on the wrong train and was heading the complete wrong direction! so between the two of us we were starting a cracker of a day!

anyway, when we finally made it to Earls Court our first stop was Home. we hadn't been to this show before so wasn't really sure what to expect. it was chilled out! a nice easy start to the morning...we had a slow wonder round - saw Wayne Hemingway (great stand - loved the water 'butts'!), Marimekko, Mini moderns (love love love the more i see)...

...then we reached the 'home grown' section which housed our Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design e-course tutor (crikey that's a long introduction!) Rachael Taylor. i saw her last at Top Drawer in september and this time round her stand was even better - full of cushions, bags, wallpapers, tea towels, aprons and some new lampshades.

we also stopped off and had a chat with Jess Hogarth of Jessica Hogarth Designs. she won the Confessions of a Design Geek (COADG) Bursary and got to show off her designs at Home - how fantastic is that! lovely gal and a well deserved of luck Jess!

and then over we went to the Top Drawer side. hmmm....very different. it was like a marketplace compared to Home!! all hustle and bustle, full of life and JAM-PACKED full of people.

along the way we met up with Esther of Esther Cox's Kiosk. (it turns out we had been stood right next to Esther when talking to Jess but didn't realise at the time...doh!). we had a quick run down with where we were all at in our design lives (all at panic stage i think!) and off we went on another inspiration hunt.

here's a few of my hot finds:

zeena - delightful screenprinted & handmade cushions, and illustrated sticky tapes:

amy allwright - screenprinted pinnys, tea towels and cafetiere cosys

stormy knight - aka sarah knight. eco-friendly greetings and stationery products.

double sided notebook - 'my rubbish ideas / my bright ideas'

elena deshmukh - gorgeous handmade cards (and an even more gorgeous website)

we popped back and forth between the two shows a couple of times and stopped off to speak to Tina of tobyboo at the recommendation of Esther. lovely lady, full of tips and advice (and some free rock!). she had exhibited at Pulse last year and was now taking the next step and exhibiting her range of goods  in Home...

we stopped off and had another good chat with Rachael, who was now joined by kelly. yet more advice was given and some 'gentle' pushing for me to go and book my stall that very second!

i had been planning on doing Top Drawer in september but was steadily getting a bit nervous.  after seeing these shows i've had a good long think about things, talked them through with my appointed 'kick-me-up-the-a***-if-get-too-slack' gal, Liz (thanks Liz!) and i am going to postpone and do the january show instead (if they'll accept me of course!). i am still on my quest to find manufacturers so factoring in how long it could take to get samples, finalise my designs, do the artwork, sort out stand props, do the brouchure, PLUS work a full time job...well, i think i would be near to breaking and wouldn't get to really enjoy the whole process if i had to get it all by september!!  i would be far happier to have those extra 3-4 months to organise myself and feel 100% confident in my work.

so that's the plan - either Top Drawer or Home in January. one year from now...i have a wall dedicated to my show plans, i have a monthly planner, i have organised and colour co-ordinated all of my emails from manufacturers so far...let's get cracking!

let's fly blog hop!

hello fellow pattern lovers!

hope you're enjoying this fabulous blog hop today - so many brilliant designs to see! you've probably just joined me from Tiffany Designs and you have reached your penultimate stop with me!

so the theme is 'let's fly' - it's a start of a new year and we're all aiming high and raring to get our design careers well and truly on their we could look at the theme from that angle...

...but i'm not. i'm going to just go with good old BIRDS! pretty feathers and cute birdies. nice and simple :)

these designs all create part of my existing 'black border' range which i am having so much fun designing for and i soon hope to have products manufactured which show them off at their best!

my pans for 2013? well you can read all about them here! onto your final stop with Lisa Rivas!  if you want to start from the top pop along to Gill Eggleston. many thanks to Rosie of Believe Create Studio as curator to this blog hop and to MaJo Bautista V for designing the fab banner!

guest blog from decorque - post 2 . . . emerald green!

welcome to the first blog post of 2013 on mel smith designs! but i'm still in holiday mode so we have someone else providing the work (hehe!)... today the post is brought to you by decorque, their second guest blog post on!

Hello again, we are delighted to be continuing our partnership with the fabulous Mel Smith Designs, and cannot believe this is our second post already.

One of the hottest topics last year in the design world was Emerald Green 17-5641 being chosen as Pantone’s colour of year 2013. So our post is on this “Lively. Radiant. Lush” colour which according to Pantone is a “colour of elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony”.

In Ancient Rome it was the colour of Venus the goddess of love and beauty, and today it still has a special position in many cultures and religions. It is the Holy colour of Islam and is featured on the flags of many countries, as a symbol of unity and faith.

The gemstone Emerald has always been a favourite of ours due to its luxurious and sophisticated appearance. Its faint bluish tint compliments colours such as mustard, turquoise, cream and plenty of other green hues. Its intensity never fades as it has a quality of freshness that remains interesting to the eye.

Emerald appears in trends from interiors, to fashion and stationery. Visual inspiration and sources have allowed us to create this rich, opulent and varied mood board, showcasing the colours presence on bright cut glass, in fabrics and it’s use in patterns, such as our Tropically Toucan Art Print or Tropical Leaf placemats.  Emerald can make a statement on its own as the main, or an accent colour, combined with lighter tones it defines and strengthens creating statement designs.

Where ever Emerald is used, it is clearly a powerful and universally appealing colour, its versatility translating into any market. So the question is, will you be including the “Harmonious Emerald" in your interiors or wardrobe this season?


Main site link:

Blog site link:

Twitter link: @decorque

Pinterest link:

Moodboard image references/links:

Emerald Accents via Pinterest

Pantone Swatch via The Design Tree

Trends We love: Emerald Green by Layla Grayce on The Backroom Blog

Emerald Green Ikat fabric via Elle D├ęcor 

Teacup colour by Design Seeds

Donna Karen Atelier by Style Caster 

Emerald tones by Of Beauty & Love 

Emerald Green references via Design Magnifique

Feeling Green Colour Inspiration for Sitting Room via Signet Rings & Preppy Things

A Colour Story by Magnolia Rouge