We have a chat with Anj McGillivray, owner of Some of Black Rock Textiles’ lovely fabrics and designs Black Rock Textiles, providers of luxury knitted goods and beautifully tactile home furnishings which are designed and made in Scotland using locally sourced materials.
What first sparked your interest in design?
Colour. I’ve always loved the breadth of colour that’s around me in nature.
Have you had any formal training and, if so, how has this shaped your aesthetic?
From an interest in art and photography at high school, I then went on to study Furniture and Textile Design. I feel this has influenced my designs in terms of scale and composition. Also, having an understanding of how fibres handle has influenced my choice to work in natural fibres where possible.
When and why did you decide to launch your own business?
I have always made things for myself and my family, but after my daughter arrived I stopped making as much. Perhaps she took up all of my free time! After a conversation with another Mum the seed of starting up on my own was planted and soon afterwards I found out the company I worked for was making the staff redundant. My first thought was “Oh, I could start up on my own.”
Are your products a reflection of your personal style?
I definitely think my designs reflect my style as I can only design based on what inspires me and this is then reflected through my colour palette and pattern choices. I find the whole process very personal from design to selling the final product.
What’s the biggest lesson you learnt through the whole process?
That you cannot underestimate how important it is to have the support of your family while starting up your own business as it takes up so much head space, occassionally at the oddest times of the day! I use my husband as a sounding board constantly, poor him.
You’ve just woken up – what time is it? What do you do first?
7am is normally getting up time. First thing I do is have a cuddle with my wee girl and then it’s time for a shower and some coffee.
Breakfast of choice?
Breakfast in the winter is usually wholemeal toast and banana, while in the summer it’s yoghurt and fruit, but always coffee no matter the season.
Where’s your first destination?
First destination is the nursery. My Dad and I walk my wee girl to nursery everyday, then it’s a quick cuppa and into the studio.
Who are you with for your morning coffee/snack?
Morning coffee in the studio listening to the radio while doing some small admin tasks.
How do you keep inspired throughout the day?
I keep inspired by keeping busy. My studio is nice and bright and I keep it relatively tidy. I also keep in touch with other friends that design throughout the day as I know their days are similar when you work from home.
Tell us about your design process:
I’m always seeing things that inspire me. Usually when out for walks, but I also use social media like Pinterest and Facebook to look for ideas and inspiration. I make notes and gather inspirational images throughout the year and then pull them together into mood boards and start pulling these ideas together into pattern, design and product ideas.
Who do you bounce ideas off?
I bounce ideas off my husband primarily, as he knows how I think. Luckily I know a lot of people who are creative in different ways so I share ideas with them also. It’s always good to have a different perspective.
What’s your office/studio/craft desk like? Is it tidy/messy? What does it look out onto?
My studio is spacious and bright, but the level of mess depends on the level of busyness. The window looks out to the front of the house and I have a bench in front of the window for when the weather is nicer.
It’s lunchtime. What’s on your plate?
I like a nice bowl of homemade soup or a smoothie. Again, this is weather dependent. I may also have a sneaky biscuit too!
What’s the best and worst part of your afternoon?
Best part of the afternoon is finishing a project, especially if it’s a commissioned piece. Worst part is when the knitting gods aren’t smiling on me and holes appear, or worse the knitting drops off my machine. Company policy is to always be nice to your knitting machine!
Are there any rituals you enjoy?
I have to start the day with a coffee. I also like to listen to 6 Music throughout the day as you never know when a good tune will come on and there’s always time in the day for a dance.
When do you pack in the day job and head home?
I usually pack up around 5pm and start getting ready for dinner, but admin, photos and social media sometimes happen in the evening too. That’s usually when IT Support gets home from his job.
What do you do to relax?
Relaxing is spending time with my family, reading, dinner with friends and going to gigs.
And so to bed – is it usually an early night or a late one?
Bedtime is around 10pm, which was an early night when I was younger, an aspiration when my daughter was a baby and now an achievement if I’ve not fallen asleep on the sofa by then!
Zara, the Tibetan Spaniel.
Nothing specific, but if it’s tasty it makes my toes wiggle.
Safari in South Africa.
Some of Black Rock Textiles’ lovely fabrics and designs