It’s biz day on the blog, but before we start the hugest thank you from me about all your lovely comments on the new collection and the birthday wishes. Cannot tell you how much it means. Overwhelmed thank you again.
I would like to introduce you to Blackpop a fabric and wallpaper company which was launched in 2013 by Maxine Hall. Exquisitely beautiful, opulent designs abound and to quote Design Lovers Blog ‘look like they have been stripped from the walls of a stately home’. Maxine’s collections are carried by stockists throughout the world including Liberty and I whizzed over some questions to her about her business, and how its grown, its a fab read!
What led you to start your own business? The ideas behind Blackpop have been percolating in the background for a long time. I have always worked digitally mixing graphics and photography to create hybrid images. Way back in the early 90’s I made a series of designs destined to decorate plates, not realising that the ceramic industry was not yet set up for digital print and screen printing and wouldn’t accommodate the complex and multi layered tonality of my designs. Many years later around 2009 I revisited the idea but still couldn’t find the quality print that I wanted. But I did find a way of putting my designs via direct print onto any flat surface. I started sourcing mid century pieces of furniture like coffee tables where the tops were past their sell by date. The results excited me, but it was difficult to see how I would make a living as each piece was bespoke and very time consuming to create. I have always used pattern and repetition in my artwork and was aware that wallpaper was remerging as an important element of the interior palette. It dawned on me that wallpaper would be a perfect surface for my designs and from this point everything started to fall into place. I have a genuine flair and eye for colour, design and style in general. I like difference and prefer to lead style rather than follow it. So, soon a vision started to materialise.
What has been most difficult? Fortunately I’m pretty driven – I want to create beautiful things and I needed Blackpop to be a success. What I hadn’t realised was just how much time would be taken up running and growing the business. Developing new ways of working, stock control, accounts, photo shoots and marketing marketing and marketing. The most difficult discipline has been to keep on track, moving forward, trying to make the right decisions about what to do and what to ignore – what to invest in and what not to. The down side of this is that I am left with very little time for creative play and experimentation.
How do you get your work seen by customers or retailers, is it through trade shows, mail shots etc? Blackpop launched at London Design Festival 2013 – this was a great beginning for us. We met lots of lovely people and made loads of valuable contacts. The feedback we got about our wallpaper designs excited us; it was our confirmation from the trade that we were definitely on the right track. This year Blackpop exhibited at Decorex for the first time and we took a few risks with the stand. Our aim is to offer individual styling and we dared to be different – we decorated the stand using some of our darkest designs and off set that with some of our brightest fabrics. The stand looked dynamic and the show was an overwhelming success for us – I think the trade shows will become Blackpop’s analogue window to the world. Liberty stock our wallpapers. We were the first new label to be taken on in the furnishing department through their best of British Open. It’s the perfect placement for us for so many reasons. It’s one of a kind; I love the more unique rather than the mass outlets. Of course our products can also be bought directly from www.blackpop.co.uk We do a monthly e newsletter which features news, updates and sneak previews. We are also featured by a number of industry specific bloggers, who help promote our new products.
Any tips/advice to people starting out? I would say first of all you have to be confident about your product and have some sort of long-term vision of what you would like to achieve. Check out the Trade Shows to get a feel for how things work, talk to people and ask questions. And above all, follow your heart. If like me you are starting out by yourself – you either need a truckload of digital skills or a lot more money than I did to throw at the marketing side of things [for instance for image production and website creation]. Even if your actual product isn’t digital, everything else will be!
What has been most successful about the business? The products! I started with the wallpapers, creating a much larger collection than I would now, but ignorance is sometimes bliss. I couldn’t stop designing! Anyway from that initial collection, I have just launched ‘The New Velvets’, a fabric range to match our wallpaper designs that are so beautiful, full of our trademark-faded grandeur and so soft to the touch. Sold direct and by the meter, the velvets also feature on our ‘Morph’ sumptuous swivel chair, covered in ‘Duprez’ and in a selection of large velvet cushions – all to order direct from www.blackpop.co.uk
Thank you so much Maxine I loved learning about your business and wish you continued success. If you fancy telling me about your business and want it featured across my social media channels email me at submissions@