Pattern Occurring Features - Natalie Ralls, Commercial Textile Designer

Working in corporate design I met some really lovely people and one of those was Natalie Ralls.  Natalie is a real work horse with a super sweet personality.  When felling vexed with difficult designs Natalie was the go too girl for a little calm.  Natalie has recently started her own studio so I wanted to get the low down.

Natalie Ralls and baby Lula

Natalie Ralls and baby Lula

Anne Marie - What is your favourite medium/tools for creating textile designs?

Natalie - Love working with pen and ink. I like to start with simple black and white motifs and textures. This way I can keep colors separated from the start when working on textile design repeats with 12 colors or less. I then scan my drawings and work on the repeat and color with CAD software such as Adobe Photoshop and NedGraphics.


Anne Marie - What are the pros of being a textile designer for a huge corporate company?

Natalie -There are many pros really. For one thing, the work is fast paced and never boring. I enjoy working a year or so ahead of season and researching trend and color for the following year. The prints are never the same. Even if there are best sellers, I like to update the prints and provide newness and a fresh look for the customer. When I design for a corporate company, the work is produced for store deliveries. It is fun to see my designs in the stores. I also enjoy working with other designers. It is nice to see the bigger picture of what all goes into a product. I love working and collaborating with a design team. Working with a team just fuels creativity and provides more inspiration.


Anne Marie -  What was the most challenging thing about starting your own studio?

Natalie - The most challenging thing about starting my own studio is no doubt just taking that first step! Leaving a full time position in house at a fortune 500 retailer and taking the leap to step out on a limb to start my own studio and client base was a difficult but great decision.


Anne Marie -  What style of prints are you loving right now?

Natalie - I am loving anything full of texture and tonal colors. Very natural and true to colors in nature.


Anne Marie -  What makes a print commercial? Which prints always seem to have appeal?

Natalie - I believe simplicity always makes a print commercial. Don’t overdo a print! Those prints with simple tonal colors with a touch of pop colors to coordinate back with a full ensemble seem to do the best. Today’s customer wants a functional piece that can be worn in many different ways. So color is so important. I feel it is important to have neutral colors and pop accent colors within the print in order to pull it together with other items you may already have in your closet.


Anne Marie - Do you work with an agent and how did you find them? 

Natalie - I have worked with a couple of agents. One agent is a past co-worker of mine that I have always been fond of her design work. Another agent found my work on coroflot and felt we would be a good fit to work together. Yes – I felt my design “hand” fit her customer base better. So I decided to work with the agent. However, after one season of endlessly developing prints and not knowing where they would end up or what they would be printed on….I decided to start my own studio and rep myself. I prefer to work for specific design needs with a design team to develop a great product together. I feel more inspired and creative when I know what the finished product will be.


Anne Marie - What do you do to help you with time management?

Natalie - I am a very detail oriented designer. This helps with my time management. With working with corporate design teams, there is usually a set amount of prints needed per season. Therefore, I am able to request this number per design label in advance and request the due dates for the vendors. I then estimate how long each print will take and I work on the priority prints with the closet due dates first. I mark my calendar out ahead of time to manage the time to design each print accordingly.


Anne Marie - What is next for you?

Natalie - I hope to be able to inspire other designers to take the leap to start their own design firm. I would like to continue to work with corporate retailers and to expand my studio with a larger design team. I have also started to work on home design projects for a major retailer. I would like to continue to take on new design projects that challenge me to think and create outside the box and develop artwork for several different surfaces. Most of all – I LOVE being a full time mommy and wife to my sweet baby girl and loving husband. Family time was the biggest motivation and support for starting my own print studio!! Happy day.

As you can see Natalie has a hugely divere range of styles, skills and expertise in designing for a corporate market.  Thanks for Sharing Natalie! 

Pattern Occurring Features - Samantha Mureau

Since working for myself I have come to realize what a close and supportive industry I am in.  I Feel so blessed to have really lovely people reach out to me on a daily basis. One such person was Samantha Mureau the creative force behind Trendline Europe and Dovetail living.

Samantha has worked in the fashion, interior and lifestyle industries for over 15 years and has a vast knowledge base.  She started her own trend reporting service Trendline Europe 7 years ago and works with retail clients in the UK, France, Portugal, South Africa and here in the USA. Her unique taste and expertise helps guide her clients, spot forthcoming trends and appropriate merchandise to create a brand specific product presence.

Anne Marie - What were the most important lessons you've learned from working in the fashion industry?

Samantha - Gosh this is a heavy loaded question, there are so many lessons but I guess at the end of the day it is one of the biggest industries in the UK so I certainly have learnt a lot from over the years and it is the basis of all that I know today and that has enabled me to set up my own businesses.

One of the key lessons that I have learnt is that the customer is always right and you have to respect and listen to what the customer or clients needs and likes are, and offer a service in order to make someone feel special, be it a Designer or a client coming to buy a product from me.

Anne Marie - What aspect of your job do you love the most?

Samantha - There are quite a few aspects that I really love and that drive me. The first one is discovering talent and Designers whom have a passion and total belief in what they are doing and the drive and energy and vision to achieve their goals and make their products work.

I love meeting the Designers and finding out about their inspirations and if I'm lucky, actually going into the factories and workshops and seeing the products being made first hand as this further enhances the beauty of the product. I think that finding out about the product in terms of its origins and initial inspirations really gives more depth and interest to a product and it makes me fall in love with the pieces even more.

Anne Marie -Tell me a little about Trendline Europe ltd and your on-line store dovetail living?

Samantha -Trendline Europe Limited is a trend forecasting and consultancy business for the fashion, interiors and lifestyle industries. I work on private projects for the Design teams of large global retailers, sending them information and ideas of what I'm seeing in Europe and that could be used to inspire their own ranges. I also take Design teams to Fashion Capitals through to resort towns across Europe in search of new ideas and looking for the "next big thing".

Dovetail-Living goes hand in hand with Trendline Europe as whilst I'm looking for newness and ideas for the retailers in new stores and up and coming places, I'm also looking for new labels and Designers for Dovetail-Living. Dovetail-Living is about bringing beautiful products in homewares and interiors that have been hand-made or hand-designed in Europe to my own clients and offering them styling services in their homes too. 

Anne Marie - How do you spot a trend and choose a product to feature in your store?

Samantha - I'm constantly out and about in the stores and on the streets of London, in particular, in restaurants, bars, going to the latest exhibitions and the latest trade shows to keep an eye on what's happening trendwise and in order to identify trends. I also travel to Paris for the Shows and then check out new destinations too, such as Stockholm and Marrakech for newness or even go and discover artisans in Provence for example so that I mix products that are on-trend with pure classics too.

In fact from all of the trend work that I have been doing, that is something that is emerging more and more, that I'm not endlessly searching the trends nearly as much for Dovetail-Living as I have done previously and that for Dovetail-Living I'm picking out more of the pieces that I love and that I consider to be timeless classics over being trend right.

Anne Marie - Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

Samantha - At the moment I'm really enjoying meeting Designers that are hands on and are totally into making their products. One lady in particular, whom I'm going to put up onto Dovetail-Living for September is a lady that has a large workshop working for her producing the most beautiful metallic woven cushions in Marrakech. I was so impressed with the number of people working for her and that they were making everything by hand, from the fine cutting of strips of leather to the weaving of the leather inbetween cotton yet on old and traditional weaving machines. Just watching the process was like taking a step back in time.

I'm also loving all of the incredible patterns out there right now and also the new mixing of colour palettes, especially what's coming through now for Autumn Winter, it's going to be good.

Anne Marie - What is next for you?

Samantha - Next for me is to evolve Dovetail-Living and incorporate more of my interior styling services for private clients and also working more closely with interior designers on their projects and helping them with sourcing new products for them.


A special thank you to Samantha for her insight into customer service, trend and craftsmanship. Check out Dovetail Living for some wonderful designed and selected products for your home. Below I have selected my favorites, enjoy!

Jane Foster

Ok If you don't love the super cute and clean designs of Jane Foster we have a little problem.... Bright colours, clean and fun for all ages.

Jane has been screen printing for many years now, and is strongly influenced by Scandinavian design. She particularly like design from the 50's and 60's and has a large collection of fabrics and ceramics from these periods. She also love early Marimekko fabric designs and the work by Lucienne Day. Good Girl! Aim high.

Proof that doing what you love makes you happy.  

Proof that doing what you love makes you happy.