Fabric and home ware designer, Helen Baker’s Start Up Story

As a Cornish girl at heart I love homeware that is reminiscent of this coastal county, and this is just what Helen Baker captures. She designs fabric and homeware with a laid back coastal theme that’s just perfect for any family home. When Helen got in touch with me to share her story and business I knew she’d be a perfect fit for a Start Up Story feature. As a fellow parent and business owner Helen knows the juggle first hand and 

Hi, I’m Helen, a self-taught fabric designer, living in Wiltshire with my husband and two sons. I was a primary school teacher for nearly ten years but left after having my second son. Being the only female in our household I wanted to furnish our new home in stylish gender neutral designs after we had moved from Cornwall to Wiltshire with my husband’s job. Unable to find what I was looking for, I researched how fabrics were designed. After a busy year teaching myself pattern design I used our home to test some initial designs. I then went on to create a contemporary coastal inspired collection titled ‘You can take they girl out of Cornwall’ based life in modern day Cornwall.

Tell us a little bit about your business 

I launched my debut fabric and homeware collection in May of this year and I sell my designs as fabric by the metre, cushions and lampshades through my website www.helenbaker.com

Once you had the idea how did you go about turning it into a reality?

It was probably about 18 months from my initial ideas to launching the business. Living in a digital age, I feel so fortunate to have so many resources and information at my finger tips. I taught myself surface pattern design from Skillshare, an online learning platform run by creatives, for creatives and listening to lots of podcasts for the business side of things. This style of flexible learning means I can fit it around busy family life which is a priority for me and an advantage of working for yourself.

 

What’s been the hardest part of your life as a start up business so far and how do you overcome those kinds of hurdles?

For me, the hardest part is doing everything myself so if I don’t know how to do something I have to find out and learn new things. Talking to people really helps. My husband has been really helpful as he ran his own business for ten years and knows what’s involved. I also was on a business support programme where I got 12 hours of EU funded support which was invaluable.

I run on black coffee and chocolate biscuits when I’m working, what couldn’t you live without?

Depending on the time of day, tea or coffee, with biscuits (of course!).

 

I know from running this blog and my own online store that when you’re a primarily online based business you need a strong social media presence, which is your favourite platform and do you have any tips for running it?

As my business is very visual my favourite platform is Instagram. It’s great to find like minded people, engage with them and to keep up to date with what’s going on in your field. My tip would be to not get hung up on follower numbers. I try to remember that everyone has started from zero and through consistent posting of content that’s relevant to you, your following will grow.

What is the best part of running your own business? Has there been a ‘pinch yourself to check it’s real’ kind of moment for you?

For me, the best part is the flexibility to do what I want when I want. My pinch myself moment was at the supermarket last month where I first saw the feature of myself in Country Homes and Interiors as their favourite designer maker of the month. It was such an honour to have been in such a prestigious interiors magazine.

Has being a parent influenced the way your business works? 

Yes it has. As I work from home I am able to do the school runs each day which I feel really lucky to do. This means I have to be very focused with my working time so I have to prioritise what I can get done between 9am and 3pm. I will then work evenings and weekends when I need to.

What makes you tick? The things that gets you up in the morning to make your business a success?

I am passionate about creating family friendly homes and I really love the friendly world of interiors that I am now part of so working on this feels so right. ‘Design the life you want’ is an ethos I love to help decision making and to drive me forward.

What’s your current favourite item or range in your store at the moment?

I love the Cornish Clouds fabric design which is an updated version of the classic seaside stripe with a graphic inspired cloud motif. It’s simple yet striking and based on the Cornish coast which always makes me smile.

Got any new products or projects in the pipeline?

I’m putting the finishing touches to a British Gardens collection, which will again incorporate my style, nature-inspired silhouette shapes, that people can relate to but with a contemporary feel.

 

Whether practical or inspirational, what is your top piece advice for anyone out there wanting to take that leap and start their own business?

Podcasts. I have learned so much from other people who have been in similar positions starting up their own business who offer advice and tips.

 

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morganaFabric and home ware designer, Helen Baker’s Start Up Story

79 comments

Join the conversation
  • Mum Reinvented - August 13, 2017 reply

    Love your start up stories! Helen’s homewares are gorgeous! I’d not actually heard of Skillshare before, so have added that to my list of things to check out – while listening to podcasts which you have got me addicted to 😉

  • Amie - August 13, 2017 reply

    I would love to win this cushion simply because it is so beautiful!

  • Tracy Nixon - August 13, 2017 reply

    I would love to win the cloud cushion for my daughter to match her cloud mobile and curtains!

  • Ashleigh Allan - August 13, 2017 reply

    I would love the cushion for my daughter’s room. It would go great with her chair

  • Kim Styles - August 13, 2017 reply

    I love the colours- very coastal and I can see colours you would find not only in the sea, but also in the wet pebbles on the beach .

  • frances hopkins - August 13, 2017 reply

    The cushions would be gorgeous in my living room

  • amanda walsh - August 13, 2017 reply

    I would love to win this beautiful prize as the cloud cushion would fit wonderfully in my nieces nursery theme

  • Solange - August 13, 2017 reply

    I think it’s very chic and stylish and would wonderful in my living room.

  • Liam Bishop - August 14, 2017 reply

    Love the cushion, the lamp shade is brilliant though! That would look brill in our living room!

  • Lindsey Smith - August 14, 2017 reply

    I love that Helen has shared the highs and the lows, love the designs and just wish I was in any way creative so I could run my own business!

  • Joy - August 14, 2017 reply

    I like Helen’s positive outlook and her inspiring ‘Design the life you want’ spirit.

  • iain maciver - August 14, 2017 reply

    cushions would be perfect for my living room

  • joanne darnell - August 14, 2017 reply

    Just love the design

  • Andrea Fletcher - August 14, 2017 reply

    I would love the cushion for the beach hut in my garden.

  • Tania Atfield - August 14, 2017 reply

    Inspiring story and I would love this cushion, it looks amazing, and full of dreams

  • Rachel Craig - August 14, 2017 reply

    Nice cushion. Practical and useful item.

  • Harriet Leonard - August 15, 2017 reply

    This cushion would be perfect for Ollies grey, cloud themed nursery 🙂 x

  • Sue McCarthy - August 15, 2017 reply

    Would love to win this prize to donate to charity

  • Karen Robinson - August 15, 2017 reply

    What a gorgeous cushion! I’m renovating & revamping the whole house with a completely new look and this would fit in so well well with my plans!

  • Emily Hutchinson - August 15, 2017 reply

    I’d love to win the cushion for my bedroom as we’ve just redecorated it in grey and this would look amazing in there.

  • Emma Wayt - August 15, 2017 reply

    Beautiful fabrics – stylish and contemporary. Would love to win one of these cushions! x

  • Catherine Stewart - August 15, 2017 reply

    I’d love to win the cushion as a reminder that sometimes it’s ok to have your head in the clouds!

  • Isabel O - August 16, 2017 reply

    I would love to win it as it’s just right for the colour scheme in my bedroom. 🙂

  • Judy kennedy - August 18, 2017 reply

    I would gift it to my daughter who always has her head in the clouds. Not that there’s anything wrong with that

  • Claire k - August 18, 2017 reply

    clouds in the sky, best theme ☀️☁️

  • Nicola - August 19, 2017 reply

    What beautiful fabrics, I’d love to win a cushion.

  • Stevie - August 19, 2017 reply

    I would like to win the Cornish Cloud Cushion for mysister in law who loves cushions.

  • lorraine kirk - August 20, 2017 reply

    It gives me hope that there is life after teaching if you have the talent and determination to succeed 🙂

  • debbie smith - August 21, 2017 reply

    id love to win this as it would match my whole room fab giveaway thankyou x

  • Hannah Wallington - August 21, 2017 reply

    I love the cushion! It would be great for my daughters room

  • Mary H - August 22, 2017 reply

    I’d love to win in because I’m a huge fan of anything cloud print.

  • Joanna Ford - August 22, 2017 reply

    I am in the process of redecorating my living room so would love to win this cushion!

  • Natalie Crossan - August 22, 2017 reply

    This would be gorgeous in my living room – exactly my taste xxx

  • jessica catherine - August 23, 2017 reply

    i would love to win cause it is stylish

  • sb - August 24, 2017 reply

    i’m getting a new sofa soon and a new cushion would be the finishing touch

  • Lindsey Loughtman - August 25, 2017 reply

    I love that Helen’s designs are gender neutral. I also like be the Cornish coast, like her!

  • Pam Smith - August 26, 2017 reply

    I love the positivity of the story. It proves that if you want something badly enough and are prepared to put the hours in, all things are possible. I also love the cloud cushion!

  • Taryn Duhig - August 26, 2017 reply

    Would love the cushion for my living room!

  • MuchelleD - August 26, 2017 reply

    I’d love this cushion for my newly decorated bedroom!

  • Carole Nott - August 26, 2017 reply

    would love to win as it would look good in my home

  • Angie McDonald - August 27, 2017 reply

    I’d love to win the cushion as it would look perfect in my front room!

  • Dawn Andrews - August 27, 2017 reply

    I love the design.

  • donna l jones - August 27, 2017 reply

    lovely design

  • lynn neal - August 27, 2017 reply

    The cushion looks well made and stylish!

  • Avs - August 28, 2017 reply

    I lived in Cornwall in my youth, would bring back happy memories.

  • Emily C - August 28, 2017 reply

    Since I was diagnosed with chronic pain I’ve been looking for ways to start a business from home so I can still work and Helen’s story was really inspiring to me.

  • carol boffey - August 28, 2017 reply

    lovely cushion

  • Rebecca Howells (@PeanutHog) - August 28, 2017 reply

    The cushion is fab! Would match in my lounge well.

  • christine westlake - August 28, 2017 reply

    love the simple but great designs she has come up with

  • Charlie Lovatt - August 28, 2017 reply

    I love the simplicity and neutral colours

  • Sheri Darby - August 28, 2017 reply

    I want to win the cushion – because it is stunning

  • Sharon Burroughs - August 28, 2017 reply

    I would love to win this cushion simply because I love it!

  • Amy Dacre - August 29, 2017 reply

    My living room is white and grey and this would be the perfect little finishing touch

  • Chris Fletcher - August 29, 2017 reply

    I like the simplicity of the design it is very stylish

  • Rachael Mccadden - August 29, 2017 reply

    I would love to win this cushion simply because I love it!

  • elaine stokes - August 29, 2017 reply

    the start up story was great to read, gives inspiration to us all

  • Robyn Clarke - August 29, 2017 reply

    The cushion would be perfect for my daughters bed, its just what I’ve been looking for, fun but stylish.

  • Charlotte Carter-Dunn - August 29, 2017 reply

    I’d love to win as this cushion would look ace in my new chair 🙂

  • Susan Trubey - August 29, 2017 reply

    My grand-daughter loves clouds and cushions

  • Caroline Cordery - August 29, 2017 reply

    Have always loved cloud designs- my umbrella is a blue sky with white fluffy clouds.

  • Eileen Tingle - August 29, 2017 reply

    I’d love to give this to my daughter

  • Jessica Barber - August 29, 2017 reply

    Loved the story! Would be delighted to win the cushion as it would go perfectly in my bedroom! 🙂

  • Ellen Stafford - August 29, 2017 reply

    I would love to win the cushion because it would look fab in my living room.

  • Jodie A Green - August 29, 2017 reply

    i love the design and think it would look beautiful on the rocking chair in our sons nursery

  • Amy Lambert - August 29, 2017 reply

    would love to win as would look lovely in my front room as matches the colour scheme

  • jacqui rushton - August 29, 2017 reply

    Would love to win the cushion as it would look awesome on my new sofa!

  • Zoe Graham - August 30, 2017 reply

    i would love this to go in our first ever home!

  • Steven Beasley - August 30, 2017 reply

    I would love to win this cushion because it’s beautiful and would look stunning in our conservatory. Thank you for this chance

  • Keith Hunt - August 30, 2017 reply

    The Cornish Cloud Cushion looks nice and we got 1 like it in the 1980s camping in newquay.

  • hayley payton - August 30, 2017 reply

    iv just redecorated and this would look fab

  • nicky pearce - August 30, 2017 reply

    I love the cushion, its very chic and stylish. Helen is gorgeous by the way 🙂

  • Steph Furneaux - August 30, 2017 reply

    Lovely work, from a fellow Cornish Maid 🙂

  • Nicky - August 30, 2017 reply

    Very inspiring and I love the cushions x

  • Katherine Parsons - August 30, 2017 reply

    Beautiful cushion would go well with my decor

  • Melissa Lee - August 30, 2017 reply

    The cushion would match my sitting room perfectly

  • Gemma Holland - August 30, 2017 reply

    I love this as I always feel inspired by mums who have made a success of their businesses. I’d love the cushion for my son’s room please. Love the design

  • Jade Rogers - August 30, 2017 reply

    I love Helens Homewares, we’ve just moved into a new home, and its still a big empty cave! The page makes me feel a little better! The cushions gorgeous and it would brighten up my cave :’)

  • Natalie Gillham - August 30, 2017 reply

    I would love to win the cloud cushion for my daughter as it will go perfectly with her newly decorated bedroom x

  • Alexandra - September 2, 2017 reply

    Very inspirational and motivational post! I am in a rut in current job- although a satisfying role, very part time hours and I want something more. I would like to be able to put my creativity to good use.

    Your cushion would be a lovely daily reminder that it can be done!

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