The print designer lets us in behind the scenes of her luxury fashion brand
Alice is the owner and designer of luxury accessory brand Alice Acreman Silks. After studying fashion design at university and with a passion for painting and print, Alice set up her own business. Focusing on printed silks inspired by vintage botanical and scientific illustrations, Alice’s style of collaged designs are beautifully unique.
Alice believes in slow fashion and believes you should cherish her designs forever. The brand also has a big emphasis on sustainability and regularly gives back to environmental causes and charities. Most recently Alice helped support Australia with the wild fire crisis.
I ask Alice everything there is about starting your own business and get to know the designer behind those beautiful hand painted silks...
How did you start your career in print?
My print career started in 2011 when I studied fashion design at Bournemouth University. I was always drawn to surface design and different texture applications within my degree. I soon began to realise print and surface decoration was really exciting and the area I wanted to explore the most.
What was your first job after finishing University?
Before even graduating university I landed my first job as a CAD designer for Hollister within Abercrombie and Fitch in America. I was there for one year, learnt so much and gained great experience within that time. I realised what I wanted and what I didn’t within my career. Although I loved my first job It also opened my eyes to the amount of resources that were being wasted on a regular bases and I soon realised working within a fast fashion company wasn’t for me. When I got back to the UK I knew I wanted to build something for myself, I wanted to be more creative and explore a more sustainable way of working.
So fresh back from America, how did you first start Alice Acreman Silks?
It kind of grew organically. I would paint and design artworks, and then I had them printed onto scarfs. At first I sold my designs on Etsy and Not On The High Street. This was great experience, I had to pitch my ideas and designs to a panel of buyers to even be able get on the site. Something I will never forget, thankfully it went well and I started selling my silks.
Top drawer show
Where do you find inspiration?
I get so much inspiration from my travels. I love travelling and experiencing new places. I want my designs to always be multi cultural and not ‘too english’ looking. I like to mix different cultures within the artworks, for example animals and nature from the desert mixed and collaged with tropical foliage and creatures.
I also get lots of inspiration from vintage botanical and scientific books. Darwins theory of Evolution and Ernst Haeckles illustrations have been hugely influential on my designs. I want my designs to tell a story, mixing old with new, different cultures and animals.
How do you start a print?
The Collections are inspired by science, nature and mythology. Each one requires lots of research and then I slowly start to form patterns and shapes in my mind. For the Enticement collection I was inspired by myths from the Amazon Rainforest. One of my favourite stories is about a man who gets lost in the jungle and all the different worlds he encounters deep within. I will then draw and paint motifs I envision and start to piece them all together within a collage.
What are your favourite books that get you inspired?
I have a big collection of vintage books, everything from botanical to scientific illustrations. I love to rummage around charity shops to find old books, you can find some great inspiration when you look for it. Vintage postcards are also great to get ideas from and any original historical illustrations. I am fascinated by the amount of detail and time that went into drawings before the use of photography.
How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Botanical, obscure, detailed.
Best part of you job?
I love being able to design what I want and what inspires me and only me. I love that customers are buying solely my designs and ideas, it really is the best feeling. I am also as creative as I want to be and able to take to a gamble mixing prints together. It may not be everyone’s taste but I want to stand out and be different.
It's a great feeling sending out orders as it's always so flattering when people love my designs and want to own them. Sometimes I read a really positive review and it makes me feel really proud of what I have achieved.
It also can't be easy, What struggles come with running your own business?
I have definitely outgrown my home studio, I need more space for all of my stock and deliveries, which are currently being stored in multiple friend's houses at the moment. I am also in the studio most of the time, doing everything from updating the website to packing orders. It’s good in some ways but I can sometimes feel I like I don’t leave.
Another thing is finding the separation between work and life, as running my own business does spill over into the evenings and weekends. I probably see the parcel delivery guy more often then I see my friends!
Loving what you do is so important and luckily I do.
Best advice or career tip you would give anyone wanting to start their own business?
Loving what you do is the most important advice but it's rarely ever easy. Be ready to learn to do lots of different things; sometimes dull, long winded tasks which are not creative. Expect constant challenges and try to find humour in the difficult situations.
What are your favourite podcasts or audio books to design to?
My favourite podcasts at the moment are - Creative Rebels and Table Manners with Jessie Ware
Audio books - The Kind Worth Killing and Small Great things
Favourite instagram accounts you follow?
My favourites have to be...
Florence Welch - @florence
Atticus - @atticuspoetry
Interior Curve - @Interiorcurve
We have come to the end of our interview with Alice, I hope you feel inspired and have enjoyed reading.
Please get in touch if you would like to be featured.