For our very first blog post we meet the woman behind the blooms – Dawn Rose. In a frank and behind-the-scenes interview, we hear all about her passion for the brand, daily life with her gorgeous golden doodles and the roller coaster ride of running her business. Grab a cuppa and a hobnob as Dawn invites us into her fascinating world…
1) What inspired you to start Ragged Rose?
Having worked with companies such as The White Company, Designers Guild and Cath Kidston, I really felt there was a gap in the market for more colourful, affordable homewares and gifts. Also, after I’d spent the last few years in a corporate role, I really missed the creative side of designing an actual product. My love of both textiles and strong colours, meant I was able to combine the two and Ragged Rose was born!
Ragged Rose is based on my surname and the fact a rose is rarely pristine. The petals can be quite ragged around the edges – just like me! A simple packet of garden seeds in bold vibrant colours, inspired the first ideas for the prints, creating a modern take on pastel vintage fabrics. This developed into powerful visions of all over floral prints in roses, anemones and tulips.
The company was launched to the trade in June 2011 at Pulse, closely followed by RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Bringing together a home & gift concept of furnishings, the collection developed to include beauty wash bags, kitchen aprons and textiles, table linen and most recently garden gifts and bunting. By coordinating bright colourful plains in both cotton and velvets to match the prints these products have grown from strength to strength.
In my previous jobs, I was lucky to travel extensively, sourcing products from around the globe for well known retailers. This experience gave me invaluable knowledge of working with manufacturers in Far East Asia and India, the latter being my choice for Ragged Rose.
I can’t describe enough how much I love India with its passion for vibrant colour that matches my own. Each trip really is an assault on the senses and I always come back so inspired – where else do you see a camel with a head dress pulling a wagon?!
India’s creativity, manufacturing methods and beautiful vibrant fabrics are a complete inspiration and I knew this was the country best able to translate my ideas into reality. Using the latest technology in roller printing we use 11-12 colours in each print, each requiring a roller engraved to the Ragged Rose design.
2) What is your background and what lead to the formation of Ragged Rose?
I left my home in Sheffield at 16 and went to the London College of Fashion to study fashion, design and textiles. Having completed a 4-year degree based course in Clothing Management I then went onto work for various fashion houses including Paul Costelloe, before joining the Burton Group as a trainee buyer for menswear. Here, I climbed the ladder to senior buyer of menswear which is when I first began travelling around the Far East and Europe to source men’s casualwear. After Burtons, I moved onto the C&A Group and then House of Fraser, first launching Linea Menswear, followed by Linea Home in 2000. At this time I was Head of Buying for Home and knew this was where my passion lay, hence my last role as Head of Home at Selfridges.
3) What is the target audience for Ragged Rose?
Our target audience tends to be female and aged between 15 and 75. We appeal to an ABC1 demographic with interests in gardening, home decorating, crafts, baking, modern vintage and of course bright vibrant colours. The pink velvet pouffe is always a hit with teenage girls and our cushions are adored by glamorous grannies!
When we first launched I had 3 personalities in mind, Pixie Lott, Billie Piper and Jo Woods – all feisty, slightly bohemian, glamorous, sexy women.
4) What lines are currently the most popular?
Bobby pompom cushion with the most popular colours being pink, lime, and duck egg blue;
Betty vintage style apron in pink or duck egg blue;
Velvet range including Belinda throw and Arabella cushion, especially in pink, gold and duck egg;
Christmas bunting and tablecloths in red folkloric print.
5) What is the long term plan for Ragged Rose? (5 – 10 years)
- To become a recognised major well-known home & lifestyle brand;
- To expand our product lines to include gift items such as candles, mugs, placemats and crockery in the short term;
- To add lingerie and sleepwear, girls nightwear and expand bedlinen in the medium term;
- To add a ladies fashion collection in the long term;
- To expand to overseas markets including Asia, Europe, Australia and the USA;
- To evolve Ragged Rose to be a more modern quintessential English country brand.
6) Where can I buy Ragged Rose products?
- Selected independent garden centres around UK, including David Austin Roses;
- Selected small retail gift and interior design shops;
- Housing Unit Manchester.
7) Can you describe your typical day in the life of Ragged Rose?
- Up at 7am to get son off to school;
- Sort out home and take dogs for a brisk walk;
- Start the day at 9.30am in my office from Home;
- Check incoming orders from overnight and arrange picking and packing of stock. Brief team on priorities for the day e.g. design, seo, website, marketing;
- Plan events, shows and marketing;
- Deal with logistics e.g. deliveries and imports etc;
- Deal with overseas factories i.e. production planning, sample developments and fabrics swatches, checking quality control via email or skype;
- Check invoicing and update stock inventory;
- Late lunch and in winter take dogs out before dark;
- 6-7pm sort dinner with family;
- Carry on working on emails and website during the evening;
- Collapse in front of the TV about 10pm with a glass of wine and 2 large dogs on my lap!
8) What is the most interesting piece of advice you have ever received?
Never give up and I am too nice!
9) What challenges do you face as the owner of Ragged Rose?
Raising finance for production overseas has been a challenge, especially with the lack of funding from Banks not lending to small businesses. This has also made investment in stock holding more difficult. Retailers rarely pay on time which means we have to be very careful with day-to-day cash flow too.
10) What are the most enjoyable parts of owning Ragged Rose?
I love being in charge of my own destiny and that I can spend my days being creative with colour.
11) What advice would you give to others looking to start their own Home and Gift brand?
It’s vitally important to ensure systems and logistics are set in place, as well as always double checking factory standards. Any business needs sound financial advice from the offset and having a good team around you is indispensable.
12) What’s your favourite Ragged Rose Colour?
Fuchsia pink – of course!
13) What’s your favourite Ragged Rose Product?
14) Why these?
Betty apron has become our signature piece with its 1950s vintage style combined with a modern contemporary floral print.
Rufus cushion because it’s our Ragged Rose.
15) What’s your favourite room at home?
My sunny conservatory in duck egg blue and gold.
Meet the lovely Team behind Ragged Rose
Dawn Rose – Managing Director and Jack of all trades
Chloe Hilder – Graphics Designer and media
Rachel Jones – Office admin and E-commerce
Marie Gamage – Accounts
Gary Speed – Head of Operations/IT
Maxene Dainty – Sales
Lucia Lopez Galmes – e-marketing assistant
Various freelancers in social media and PR