Lettie Pattinson, Co-Founder and CEO of The Design Studio (TDS)
A daughter-mother duo who specialise in creating handmade one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories
Mum lectured in fashion textiles for more than 20 years, so I grew up around the industry to some extent. We’ve always been incredibly close and she’s a daily source of inspiration – not to mention my style icon – which means our personal and professional relationship is rock-solid.
The business started when I was at university in Liverpool studying Media Production. One day, I wore a jacket that received so much attention from fellow students they couldn’t believe it when I told them my mum had made it. I used to go back home to North Wales at weekends and I remember being so keen to tell her about the level of excitement her unique creation had stirred up.
With no business plan but plenty of self-belief, we found strength in each other and set up an Instagram account with the intention of promoting our clothing to a wider audience. I continued to study at uni and eventually graduated, but used my free time to buy fabrics and help mum get our ideas off the ground.
Specialising in faux-fur bomber jackets, our following mushroomed in the first year to more than 25,000; then we started to court national media interest – appearing in the likes of ‘Vogue’, ‘Elle’, ‘The Financial Times’ and ‘Look’.
In 2015, less than 12 months after TDS was founded, we were guest speakers at the Clothes Show Live event. Today we’re selling our products worldwide, with everything handmade in our home studio; it feels like an amazing dream!
Looking back, mum and I know the real reason why our business was born: as a way of coping with losing dad to suicide when I was 16. Growing even closer, we used our passion and skills to turn our grief into creativity. We recently designed a bum-bag in his memory, with all proceeds going to the mental health charity Mind.
In her fifties, mum found a new lease of life when she became a businessowner – proof that age is no boundary when it comes to achieving professional success. I’m also going through personal change – working with an amazing therapist named Ruth who is empowering me to be open about our story and my wellbeing.