It was the Summer of 2003, whilst sat on a beach in Fiji with my boyfriend Ross, that it was decided that on our return to the UK i would stop messing about and have a crack at setting up my own creative business.
What that business would be was merely a minor detail that would work itself out…
Graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University a few years previously with a BA Honours Degree in Textiles i would often create handmade cards to sit alongside varied design projects and they were always well received…and thus, the fledgling seeds of Laura Darrington Design was sown.
…greetings cards it was!
My first office was a small room in a shared house with Ross and 3 of our friends, which was far from ideal.
With the help of a Princes Trust Loan and a cobbled-together business plan, (not to mention a lot of late nights, cups of tea & sheer bloodymindedness), the orders started to flood in – as well as my understanding of how to make a design-led product work commercially.
Soon the small office became a rickety loft room in Ross & i’s first little terrace house. A Henry Award for Most Promising Young Designer followed in 2008, and it soon became clear the loft was simply too small (and illegal) – so after some searching i settled on our 2nd office location: The Old Baptist Chapel, Huncote, Leicestershire.
The Chapel became our spiritual home (literally) and with this solid base, i employed our first collection of staff members to help steady the good ship Darrington.
Our name started to resonate with the bigger, more established national accounts and our luxury design-led cards began to be spotted far and wide, with a glut of international customers arriving on the back of our now annually attended trade shows.
Three more Henries wins followed in 2009, 11 & 12 seeing our brand start to gain much appreciated recognition, and our niche was formed amongst our ‘publishing peers’.
2013 saw the arrival of one my most popular designs – Luca (my son).
Whilst the business took a slight dip – with new collections sidetracked in favour of baby sensory classes and the soothing sounds of a jumper-roo, we took on additional staff to help with demand and soon we were back up to speed.
2014 saw us leave our little terrace house (with a loft that now passed all necessary building regulations) and moved out to a very lovely house in the countryside.
The following year saw the arrival of another award winning piece of art in the form of our second child, Heidi.
The jumper-roo was retrieved from the garage and again, designing took a sideways step.
But, happily, with the help of a steady supply of Calpol, more cups of tea and the support of our excellent staff members Jade, Janet & Mel – we continue to go from strength to strength.
In 2016, Ross decided his 12 year career in University sport had given him just about enough grey hairs and joined the family business to help drive Laura Darrington Design forward.
(Mostly he is here to tidy up the backroom, but we don’t tell him that)
In 2017 we won a LOUIE award for “the best selling Christmas card under $4” in the USA, with the awards ceremony taking place in the Edison Ballroom in New York.
Whilst we hoped for a slightly quieter 2018, we realised we had outgrown the Old Baptist Chapel and so with a heavy heart moved to our current office premises, the rather splendidly named Clayton Willey Grocers, Inkersall House.
Happily, our new home is a wonderful former Victorian hotel boasting high ceilings, beautifully tiled floors and bursting with character.
And thus we arrive at present day, me wearing a yellow shift dress waiting for a delivery of award winning, design-led greetings cards to arrive back from the printers.
Our tenacity to thrive in a friendly, yet highly competitive market is still as strong, as is our company ethos to design and publish beautiful greetings cards for all occasions.
I hope you enjoy our cards as much as i do creating them and thank you for the support.