An interview with design entrepreneur Hatty Fawcett

Following a career in marketing and e-commerce that she describes as "longer than I care to remember" and whilst decorating two rooms in a new loft conversion, Hatty Fawcett realised how hard it was to find original, designer-made homewares and accessories. She set about trying to change that with the launch of Seek & Adore. I was keen to talk to her to find out more... Hatty Fawcett

What’s the most important thing to know about you?

We’re all individual. I believe the things you surround yourself with should say something about you. Your taste, your individual style, your personality. I’m lucky enough to work with a wealth of designer-makers all of whom have their own distinctive take on life. Their creativity means Seek & Adore can offer a huge variety of beautiful homewares – not just things you’ve seen somewhere else before. It makes it so much easier to find the piece that’s “just right” for you.

Timea Sido Teacup with gold handle

Describe a really good day and a really bad day in the life of Hatty Fawcett.

My best day is always “Maker Pay Day” when I pay makers for all the work they have sold through Seek & Adore. You buy direct from the maker when you buy through Seek & Adore but we handle the payment on the maker’s behalf to keep it simple for the maker and so that it’s easy for you to get your money back should you decide to return something. I love seeing our makers build up their sales on Seek & Adore, and gaining appreciation from our customers. One of my favourite treats is to read the little messages that customers send to our makers. It might be a “thank you” note that a customer sends to a maker when they find that “special something” that suits then to a tee, or a question about how something is made or just a note of support on seeing something they love.

Like each of our makers, I run my own business and there just never seem to be enough hours in the day. A bad day is when I get to the end of the day and my “To do” list is still longer than my “Done” list!

Seek & Adore chinaware

What inspires your ideas?

My ideas come from anywhere and at any time! Sometimes ideas are sparked by friends, family, our makers – or just something I overhear on the bus that sets a train of thought going in my head! I get some of my best ideas on long train journeys (travelling to see makers around the country) when I’m away from the Internet and without a phone signal. Free from distractions and with time to mull things over, I am often surprised by what pops into my head. When I have time to work an idea through the result is invariably better than the first thought.

Flow Stoneware Jugs Kate Schuricht

Describe the process you go though to turn your ideas into products.

Like our designer-makers when they are developing a new idea or design, I find turning an idea into a finished product is an iterative process. You need to try a few things out. Create a mock-up of what it might look like, ask a few people to try it out and give you feedback, and then improve the idea in the light of that feedback. It was like that when I first developed Seek & Adore. We built an early version of the website and asked customers what they thought. They were so interested in the designer-makers behind the products they wanted to know more about them so we created “online studios” where you can meet the maker, read an interview with them, watch video of them at work and even ask them questions. Now online studios are some of the most visited pages on the site!

Deryn Relph cushions

What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur or designer-maker?

Don’t give up at the first bit of “bad” feedback. There will always be people who don’t like your idea – but hopefully many more who love it! Listen to the feedback and see if you can take something from it to improve your idea. Have confidence in yourself and your idea and keep going. If it were easy everyone would do it. It’s the fact that you are willing to keep working at it that means you will succeed!

Which three items could you not live without?

I love to keep in touch with our makers so my phone is very important to me – not just for calls but for access to email and the Internet. Trouble is it takes quite a hammering and I can never find it quickly in my bag. I recently treated myself to a red leather iPhone cover made by Wolfram Lohr (although I actually have a smart phone not an iPhone). The colour means I can easily spot my phone in my cluttered bag and the leather protects the phone from all the bumps, jolts and scratches I seem to give it!

Wolfram Lohr iPhone pocket

I’ve mentioned that I have some of my best ideas when travelling. I love these Travel Notes from Bookery. It means I always have a stock of paper to jot my ideas down on - so long as I have my Oyster card to hand!

At the end of a long day I enjoy snuggling up on the sofa for a bit of “chill out time”. Surrounding myself with cushions always makes it feel so much more cosy and comforting. I love Isobel Anderson’s handmade cushions. She has a real eye for colour and I love the simple but effective designs she creates. Many are inspired by the shapes and colours she finds in her garden. My current favourite is her “poppy” cushion in sorbet colours

What are you most proud of?

It’s hard work building a new business, particularly in a recession. I’m proud of what I've achieved in such a short space of time and it is a real privilege to be working with so many talented designer-makers, helping them to raise their profile and gain recognition and sales for their wonderful work.

Holly Bell Double Planter

What’s next for you?

We’re always on the look-out for talented designer-makers and there are a string of craft fairs and shows that we’ll be visiting over the next few weeks to hand-pick the designer-makers whose work deserves a higher profile.

I’m always thinking about new and exciting ways of promoting our makers and their work. I love meeting people who want to help us with this and developing ideas in partnership. If you have any suggestions why not contact me on Twitter? You’ll find me at @seekandadore. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sally Weatherall kaleidoscope cushion

And, finally, what’s your favourite colour?!

I love colours inspired by nature – particularly blue as I’m a keen sailor and love things that remind me of the sea!