A move to India was the initial inspiration for the bold pattern-led brand Lulu & Nat. The range of playful designs, across bedding and sleepwear, is the brainchild of former childrenswear designer Lulu Watts. She talks to us below about how it all began, her own home style and influences...
Can you tell us more about the life-changing adventure of moving to India, and how it led to the inception of Lulu & Nat?
In 2007 I moved to India with my partner, now husband, to set up a design studio in Mumbai. At the time I was relatively footloose, freelance designing for Baby Gap and The Little White Company, so jumped at the chance for a new adventure. I think India unlocked the inner entrepreneur in me. The colours and crafts that I experienced made a huge impression and sparked an idea; to blend the boldness of India with the pretty refinement of English prints. We set up Lulu & Nat the following year with the simple aim to create homeware for the family, driven by colour & inspired by India.
Who or what inspires you most?
I am quite obsessed by colour in general. How designers use it in everything from fashion to interiors, but also how it appears in the natural world. India continues to be a huge inspiration & I take every opportunity when visiting suppliers to seek out unique prints, vintage designs, even scraps of fabric... anything can be a starting point for a new design or collection.
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
Being my own boss. Developing concepts with my own vision. The wide range of tasks and challenges. I would say flexible hours, but the reality is that running a business is a time consuming pursuit and you need to want to live it, not just do it as a job.
What lessons from your time as a children's fashion designer did you find the most useful when setting up your business?
As a student you are taught to think freely and to find your own personal identity. My experiences at companies like Benetton, Liberty & The White Company taught me to channel creativity into a commercial venture. That meant learning to work with trends, understand processes, costs, the management of putting together ranges and collections. Most of all, I got to understand what sells, which has been hugely beneficial for decision making when it comes to putting collections together.
How has the lockdown impacted your business, and do you think it will fundamentally change how you operate going forward?
Lockdown has led us all to think more about our home environment, but I think also it has created a situation where people are more willing to make braver decisions about their decor. As an online-only business lockdown has helped to accelerate sales. Our bed linens and pyjamas for kids and adults have been our best sellers & we have also started making and selling face masks from our printed fabrics, which have been a huge hit. The crisis has proven our online strategy to be right, however I feel saddened by the effect it must be having on small high street brands and retailers. I truly hope that physical retail will find a way to bounce back.
Your designs are full of vivid patterns and prints, do you have a favourite or if you had to choose just one to keep what would it be and why?
My personal favourite is our parrot print. It’s fairly new and very vibrant & available in two colourways; A zingy green and white and a pink & green. I think it captures the essence of the Indian tropics and works just as well on bedding and pyjamas.
Can you tell us about your home style and what your favourite room is and why?
My home style is quite eclectic with our bright, vibrant home textiles scattered around the house set against white washed walls. Our open plan kitchen/living area is the heart of our house and my favourite spot. The light is incredible due to the abundance of windows and tall ceilings lend it wonderful proportions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Follow your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life.
What does your perfect day off look like?
It starts off lazy in bed, enveloped in crisp colourful bedlinen, then breakfast of waffles with maple syrup, bacon & berries, followed by a walk with friends on Hampstead Heath and ending with a pub roast.
What’s in store for Lulu & Nat throughout the rest of 2020, are there any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
We have a new collection coming out toward the end of the year, where we will be continuing to expand our pyjamas range and offering new print designs across adult & kids bedding. We will also be venturing for the first time into the male domain, with our first line of men’s boxer shorts.
Discover the range of Lulu & Nat now available at AMARA.