I am a committed, enthusiastic and creative individual with over 10 years successful visual merchandising experience, creating award winning displays.
I live in Surrey, but work all over the world. Although most my work is in London, I have accepted work as far as New York to Frankfurt, Paris and all over the UK.
After a few years in the Hospitality industry, looking after the likes of Film Directors, Cameron Diaz, Politicians and the England Rugby Team, I decided to turn my focus towards a career path closer to my heart (although working with very good food was a very close second!).
From here I put myself on a two-year Advance Diploma course in Windsor, to study both Retail Display & Merchandising and Interior Design. I walked away with a heavy portfolio and two Distinctions.
Before I even had to face the big wide world of retail I was snapped up by a local independent boutique who had followed my work during my studies. During my 6 years with Cocoa Bean I was the proud recipient of 5 retail awards and 7 nominations. Cocoa Bean was a wonderful spring board into the retail world for me. After my success at Cocoa Bean, I landed a new role as Head of Visual Merchandising at Vinegar Hill. This role took me on the roads around the country, managing and creating VM schemes for all 7 stores.
Why did you decide to start freelancing and how have you found it?
My relationship with retail had become one like rhubarb has with custard. I couldn’t imagine myself in any other industry and I wanted to get out there and help the high streets give birth to more independent stores. So, I took the huge leap to go freelance and haven’t looked back since…Although my love with nice food is still strong and find myself trying out as many independent eateries as my diary will allow.
At the beginning I was taking on such a wide variety of freelance projects . The first was a redesign of a trade show stand for a well established business in Cheltenham, I really enjoyed this project and was great to hear that the result was a 30% increase in orders placed at their Europe and American shows.
I then went on to design pop up shops, residential interior design, and create window displays for department stores, independents and large multiples.
Where has been your favourite place to work or favourite project to work on?
I have enjoyed all my projects for different reasons, they've all been so varied that it would be hard to select a favourite. However, the projects I found most rewarding were the pop-up shops for Meri Meri. Meri Meri is a stationery and party ware company based in California.
For one of the Pop-up shops I was asked to turn an old empty retail unit into a fun, concept store. Taking the shell and transforming the space from floor to celling and window to walls, was great fun! Sourcing all fixtures and arranging the space to best accommodate the product and the very important ingredient - customers.
The second was a collaboration with Liberty London. I worked with the VM team of Liberty to create a magical space on the third floor of the iconic department store. This proved to be a huge success and the original allocated space was then more than doubled and I have since revisited to manage the re design of the newly allocated space.
Without naming any names :) any nightmare projects?
Well, a few stressful moments spring to mind, but to write about them in any detail even without naming names could land me in some hot water! That being said, there has never been a time when I didn't pull together to put a bad situation right when things got really tough. The 'nightmare' situations are the ones that really allow you to grow. At the time it can be very stressful, but when you get through and laugh about it down the pub afterwards it's a sign of a new lesson learnt! Sorry not to dish the dirt!
If you weren't a Visual Merchandiser what would you be?
Probably an architect, I've always admired buildings, their stories and the stories of the people behind them. At school I absolutely loved designing stuff, particularly a project that involved designing a wine bar. I worked days and nights on that project, it was also the only time I got myself in trouble at school, and that was for hiding in the girls showers so that I could run off to the Design studio once my class had begun their P.E lesson! Ooops! (Sorry Mr Bell - I just loved my Graphic class much more than I enjoyed Dodgeball!)
I even tried to pursue a career in Buying with the dream that one day I would be designing my own products for some big brand. However I found my joy and strengths lie in designing home and retail spaces.