Norfolk design firm IzziRainey branches out into the high street with John Lewis deal

Norfolk designers (L) Izzi Rainey and Lara Mullis are using images of the beautiful Highland cattle as inspiration for their range of homewares. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk designers (L) Izzi Rainey and Lara Mullis are using images of the beautiful Highland cattle as inspiration for their range of homewares. Picture: Ian Burt

A Norfolk textiles design firm is making the leap from artisan origins to the high street after securing a deal to supply a major national retailer.

Izzi Rainey started her textile and homewares business on her family’s farm in Foulsham, near Fakenham three years ago – and she said her eponymous brand has now “turned a corner” after arriving on the shelves of department store John Lewis.

She launched the company with her school friend Lara Mullis after graduating from the Glasgow School of Art, and the pair’s designs are inspired by the rural farming lifestyle and landscape around them.

The product line including oven gloves, cushions, tea towels and wash bags is being sold in the Norwich branch of John Lewis, but is also reaching a nationwide customer base through the company’s online shop.

The prints incorporate images of flowers, birds and the herd of Highland cattle which Miss Rainey still tends part-time, in between planning trade fairs, taking orders, or creating new designs.

“When the orders keep coming in we will definitely have to out-source more,” she said. “By the end of the year we will need to be producing double what we were doing four or five months ago.

“It is quite a turning point for us. We already supply quite a lot of independent shops, but they are really chuffed that we are in John Lewis. People need to see that we are doing well to want to invest in us.

“We are only in the Norwich store at the moment but we are also online, so you have got to think of it as nationwide, as 60pc of their sales are online.

“Everyone said it would take three years before we got the big breakthrough. We set a business plan and we gave ourselves goals and John Lewis was our target, because it has got such a wide market.

“Last year our turnover was about £35,000, but we hope to do a lot more. We have both got other jobs, but we want this to be our main thing.”

Miss Rainey said the personal farming origins of her designs are key to the unique selling proposition of her products, which she is now targeting at London designer outlets.

“Most of our products are made on the farm,” she said. “That is part of our story and it is what sets us apart from other people, which is why we make sure all our tags have got a story attached to it, so people can see it is made on a farm in Norfolk.

“My ambition now would be to get into London. We do lots of fairs there, so to get into a store like Liberty’s would be really good.”

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