How failing led me here

Before I started Toots Design, I created a hat brand with colourful winter beanies...

Here is a little behind the scenes about how it came about, and how it became a  part of the journey to finding you here now. 

 

 

Toots was my childhood nickname, and once I started teaching skiing, it evolved into Toots McSkibum. This soon became the name of my new company. It was a nightmare to spell out on the phone, made for a tricky email address and plenty of raised eyebrows among accountants, but it was so much fun and a huge learning curve.

 

I was loving teaching skiing overseas and had always wanted to grow a creative role alongside it. I spent winter evenings playing about with fake design briefs trying to get to grips with Adobe Illustrator and learn more creative skills. Some of my best creations arose by hitting a button by accident and loving the result but having no idea how to replicate it! As time went on I got better at navigating that software and one thing I'd played about with was designing some hats on an evening in Whistler. My housemates thought I should get them made up and I couldn't ignore that it seemed like a fun idea. With a lot of searching around, I managed to find a wonderful family run knitting company who made up some samples of 3 designs. 

 

 

I flew over to Wanaka for winter, armed with my three hat samples and I wore this very bright green sheep one while I wandered around town getting over the jet lag. I was stopped at least 10 times that day asking where I got my hat. And so... I ordered 50 of each of the 3 samples. They sold out within a couple of months and a ski shop in town also took them on. It was really exciting and from there, I created more designs and ordered more stock. Quite quickly, the hats found their way to shops in NZ, the USA, Japan, and the UK. 

 

 

It was truly wonderful to see them popping up on both friends and strangers around the mountains. I was really grateful to everyone who supported me along the way with photoshoots, purchases and helping spread the word. 

 

 

Not long after getting the business going, I broke my leg and found myself quite disconnected from the ski industry while I was based in the UK for further surgeries on my knee to put it right. The momentum that I'd built had faded which, coupled with some questionable business advice, ground what I'd grown to a halt. I couldn't get it back to where it had been, but after the sting of letting it go had passed, what I was left with was some phenomenal lessons in both in business and what I wanted out of life. 

 

 

I had loved creating the branding for the business, the cosy glows, the stars, the snow it's all still there in the work I'm loving now. I realised that was the bit which I enjoyed the most, and that's what I went on to focus on from there. I dropped McSkibum and replaced it with Design, which was the start of what lead me to you now. 

 

Much like skiing, the better you get, the more joy it brings. It has been the same with this journey too. The better I became at illustrating, the more magical it felt. I'm so grateful for the lessons I learnt in the first business, and I think I wouldn't have found my way here without it. 

Thank you so much for all of your support with Toots round 2 - it's lovely to have you here. Lorna x

 

July 15, 2021 — Lorna Gibson