Today we are chatting to Fiona Burrage, co-founder and creative director at Nor-Folk; a design led apparel, homeware and lifestyle brand which has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2015. Originally from Essex, Fiona feels as passionately as we do about finally ditching the negative 'Essex girl' stereotype. She and her team have taken Nor-Folk to over 70 stockists across the globe, collaborated with brands such as made.com and tokyobike, and still have plenty of aspirations for the future. Fiona Burrage is making waves in her field and we couldn't wait to find out more about her journey.
Could you tell us a little bit about what you do and where you started your career?
My name is Fiona Burrage and I co-run Nor-Folk, a graphic design-led lifestyle brand. We design and curate products with a minimalist and graphic design led aesthetic. Before launching Nor-Folk, two years ago, I co-ran my husband’s branding agency, The Click.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Creating a little human is definitely top of the list but, in terms of career, setting up a brand and business from scratch that has been so well received has been amazing. Two years ago, I’d have pinched myself if you’d have said I would have stockists across the whole world, with Japan being one of the largest markets.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Juggling my time. I’m not very good at saying no to opportunities and I definitely need a better work-life balance in 2017.
So far all of the brand collaborations we’ve done, they have approached us. I think their willingness to want to work with us, rather than us approaching/convincing them definitely helped. Fortunately having worked in a design consultancy for a decade as head of client services meant I had a good understanding of working relationships. I think a great working relationship is built on mutual respect and both parties allowing the other to push boundaries and take risks.
Nor-Folk has reached a stage where you must have many varied opportunities presented to you, how do decide when to say yes and when to say no?
This is definitely what I find most difficult. I hate letting people down. Surprisingly I don’t find it difficult to explain to bigger brands when I don’t think the fit will work, perhaps because it feels more annoymous. But I do find it hard to say no to people, often mums starting out who ask for help. Next year, I will be offering SME consultancy support.
Your husband is also your business partner, how does that impact your work-life balance?
We’ve worked together for 10 years and been together for almost 8 of them. We’re both very similar but sufficiently different to give each other an alternative perspective. Whilst we’re both passionate about our work we know when one needs pushing or a break.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
My dad said to me, don’t be afraid to fail. You will learn more from making mistakes than you ever will from things going right. You just have to hope it won’t cost you too much! Better to have tried than have never tried at all.
What is your favourite quote?
Find a job you love and never work again.
What’s next for Nor-Folk? Where do you envisage your business in five years?
Good question and honestly, I really don’t know. I really didn’t think I’d be where we are when I set it up. We’re in the process of searching for a barn as a retreat and would love to roll those out as part of our business. I would like to start a photography masters and continue to travel and shoot great businesses and awesome people. Bringing my family along as much as we possibly can.
It was an absolute pleasure to interview Fiona for The Mother Hub! To find out more about her apparel, homeware and lifestyle brand, Nor-Folk, visit their website here.