Name: Vicky Trainor
Company: The Vintage Drawer and The Linen Garden
Sum up your business in a sentence. ‘Professional potterer and maker of all things floral and linen’
When did you start your business and why? Many years ago in the 90’s I used to have a greetings card business, working wholesale with large high street stores and lifestyle independents. It was always my dream to work for myself and I grew my business from working in my friends granny flat to a large commercial studio. Loved it, but it took over my life and sometimes what you think you want isn’t actually ‘it’ when you get there.
Then I chose a rather important role – to be a Mum – and have moulded and re-shaped the business to fit around family life.
I love working for myself. The freedom, how each working day is so very different from the last, the opportunities it delivers and the ‘flexi time’.
What & who inspires you?
The beautiful selvedge of a fabric, a faded floral linen print, French rustic living and English heritage, painters from Vermeer to Vanessa Bell to Hockney……., weathered surfaces against newly painted grounds, natural forms against pattern, the Victoria & Albert museum, Pinterest, The Bloomsbury Group and The Arts and Crafts Movement in general.
I am also inspired by a wonderful community of friends who also run exciting and creative businesses. Their friendship, support and advice is invaluable.
What sets you apart from others? I am always striving to do something different. Setting up The Vintage Drawer has to be one of the best creative moves I have done. I moved from being a printed stationer to a stationer only working with vintage fabrics, stitch and haberdashery. The Vintage Drawer Collection has now grown and developed and now has a broad range of lifestyle/interior and gift products too, as well as stationery. So I suppose it is developing more into a making and styling brand than working in any one specialism. As a maker, I am also a natural hoarder and I affectionately call my studio ‘the linen garden’. As my hoardings can get out of control at times I have now opened a vintage haberdashery and fabric on-line shop called The Linen Garden. So there are now two sides to my business – ‘I make’ and ‘you make’.
What did you do before setting up your business?
I lectured in Textiles and Surface Design from A Level through to degree level for 20 years.
The best part of your day/ running your own business.
The best part of my day is when I first come home from the school run in the morning – I make a pot of coffee and potter for 30 minutes before tackling my to-do list. It normally involves pinterest – a tad addicted – may need to seek therapy soon.
Your favourite product & why. I am currently loving my wedding horseshoes. They are new for this year and a bit tricky but because they take so long to make I find their making rather therapeutic….
Your greatest business tip. Stay true to your own ideas and skills and don’t be too inspired by the industry you work in. It helps ensure, in a certain way, that you stand out.
Also learn how to say NO, and feel confident in that decision. Sometimes you feel as if you can never turn down any business/collaborative/marketing opportunity, but it all takes time out from your main avenue of business and ‘earning a crust’. Be considered in your choices.
Being creative means you are constantly spinning in your own whirlpool of ideas. I spend a lot of time on my own as a lot of makers do, and as much as I love my studio and what I do, you can go a little stir crazy. Invest in a small proportion of time in making arrangements to see/meet people/clients/friends outside of your working environment.
Your biggest weakness. Too many ideas which I find very distracting.
Your biggest success. Having the confidence, last year, to finally throw my business up in the air and slowly catch only the sections, as they fell, that I loved, that made me happy and that I felt earned me a living. My business income contributes a lot to the monthly running of family life so I have to be quite disciplined….it was very unnerving and scary as I pulled out of all advertising but it is helping me develop my new chapter. I live my life in chapters and this one is turning out to be rather an exciting one.
Funniest moment. I have a terrible memory but the funniest moment recently involved a car boot, my friend Tea with Ruby, a Victorian chamber pot, a bloke and a pansy – I’ll let you make your own story up….but I can still make myself cry with laughter now thinking about it…boy do we have a hoot when carbootin’…
Favourite quote. “There are hundreds of languages in the world but a smile speaks them all”. Anon.
Favourite motto. “Before doing anything always give it two coats of thought”
Your favourite colour. Blue nodding to Grey
Favourite artist. Vanessa Bell
Favourite season. Spring
Star sign. Aries
Business dream. To be paid £100 per stitch.
Favorite flower. Auricula in late spring and a scented rose in the summer
What are you listening to right now. The Cocteau Twins and P J Harvey in abundance.
Your simple pleasure. Being away in my caravan with the family, my comfy camping chair, my blanket (it’s always cold up north) and a glass of red. By the side of me are all the magazines that I have bought for the last few months that I never seem to have time to read.
What’s your brew. In the early morn ‘Lady Grey’ – no milk – by the time the first school run is done I am onto ‘A strong Italian’ black, no sugar.
Tell us a joke. Currently – Royal Mail
I think this is one of my favourite interviews so far. I find Vicky such an inspiring person, I so enjoy her company and am lucky to live very close by for regular chats. She’s a very kind and generous person with her time, ideas and support. And clearly I don’t need to tell you how beautiful her work is, it speaks for itself. Thank you Vicky for sparing me some time to do this interview, I have loved learning more about you and seeing more of your incredible photos.