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Herald Entrepreneur: Artistic Gillian has designs on business success

Herald Entrepreneur: Artistic Gillian has designs on business success
Hello everyone! I'm really pleased and excited to share an article that the Herald did recently about my career and the Gillian Kyle design business with you all. I really enjoyed doing the interview and would love for you to have a read below...
Hare and Butterflies print in frame by Gillian Kyle

Butterflies and Beasts range.

WHILE mulling over how to set up a design business, Gillian Kyle would often pop to her local corner shop for provisions. One day while looking for inspiration for subjects to draw, her eyes settled on three Scottish favourites: the plain loaf, Tunnock’s teacakes and Irn-Bru.
It was the moment of magic she needed and nine years on Ms Kyle’s business is a thriving online gift and homeware emporium that sells to every corner of the globe.
The mother-of-two from Kilbarchan says she has always been inspired by Scottish culture, history and humour, but admits to being surprised how well it translates around the world on mugs, coasters, bags and prints.
“We sell trade orders to South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand – all over world. We sell into lots of little independent gift shops in Japan and they send me pictures of their windows, and there is my Mary Queen of Scots and Alexander Graham Bell mugs. It’s such a great feeling. I have no idea why they love Scottish culture so much, but they really do.”
Scottish Highland Cow cushion by Gillian Kyle

Design from butterflies and Beasts range.

The 39-year-old’s business has grown steadily over the years, as the appetite for all things Scottish increased and the web revolutionised the way we shop.
“Web technology has been vital to my business,” says the designer, who trained in fashion and textiles at Glasgow Clyde College and Glasgow School of Art. “At the beginning my website was basic, but the growth in my business really coincided with the move to online shopping. Technology makes it easy to sell online and for people buy online, and that development is still going on, with functionality improving all the time.
“Technology opened up the playing field for people like me starting their own business. Social media is really important too. We’ve built a great following over the last six months to a year, doubling our followers to more than 10k – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
Ms Kyle says a licensing agreement she negotiated with a bigger company last year to manufacture and sell her products to trade has allowed her to concentrate on what she enjoys most: the design and creative process.
“It’s good when you can focus on your skillset rather than being a fish out of water,” she explains.
“Ultimately the success or failure of the business rests on the quality of the design, so that’s the bit we have to get right and that’s the bit I love.”
Being her own boss also allows Ms Kyle flexibility around family life with her partner and two boys, aged four and two. But she admits having young children can be a challenge while running a business.
“Sometimes I look at friends who have corporate jobs and think it would be nice not to have some of the worries and responsibilities of being self-employed. It also would have been great to have been able to take six months or a year of maternity leave and not worry about it at all, but obviously when you’re self- employed you can’t do that.
“But we got through it and now we’re in a good position to really push the business forward. And I love the flexibility of working for myself. A couple of friends recently joked with me that I’m unemployable now, so it’s just as well I like being my own boss.”
Scottie print detail in red

Scotties Suitcases in red. Shop here: 

Ms Kyle says the skills and support she received at Glasgow Clyde College played an integral part in giving her the confidence to become a designer. And she is keen to encourage others in the creative industries to go out on their own.
“If you’ve got a good idea, just do it,” she smiles. “I remember being very nervous about borrowing money and a friend said told me to think about the very worst case scenario. I realised if the business didn’t work I’d probably have to go and get a job to pay the money back – but that wouldn’t have been the end of the world.
“Sometimes it’s easy to talk yourself out of things before you’ve even started. The magic starts when you stop procrastinating and start doing.”
Link to article:
Author of article: Marianne Taylor
If you'd like to check out my designs, head over to

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