Anouska Lancaster is the creative interior design talent and brain child behind Noushka Design. Anoushka herself has made countless TV appearances nationwide sharing the Noushka Design ethos- “Good interior design should be accessible to all”. This week we discover Anouska’s journey and her top tips to aspiring interior designers looking to get started.
Hey Anouska, Can you give us an insight into Noushka Design?
I set up Noushka Design in 2007 as I felt that there was a gap in the market for a forward thinking design company, which tailor made design schemes for the individual. I was bored of seeing non-descript grey and beige interiors; that were soulless and cold. My vision was to create a bespoke design company which created interiors that reflected the various passions, styles and personalities of its clients. My designs are colourful, bold, and brave; and always tell a story. It is important to me that each and every interior is as different as the person that I am designing it for.
Noushka Design is a celebration of individuality and personal style.Noushka Design is so much more than a business; it is part of me. I don’t have a ‘work persona’ and a ‘home persona’ – I am who I am; whether I’m working or relaxing with my family.When I work with my clients, I allow them to be part of my life and vice versa. It is an invite that requires trust and mutual respect. More often than not; my clients become important people in my life.
I pride myself on giving so much more than a simply a colour scheme or a mood board; I give my clients the confidence to create a bespoke interior that enhances their lifestyle. I truly believe that a successful design can only be achieved by spending time getting to know an individual and understanding their story.
Your background base is an artist, but can you tell us a little more about your current role?
Art is in my veins; it always was, and always will be. I think you are born with natural artistic flair; I don’t think it can’t be ‘taught’ – you either have it or you don’t. My career developed and grew as I did. Getting into Interior Design was a natural progression for me. My art and design passion remained with me growing up, but entering new phases of life such as buying a home; and having a family, threw me into unknown territory. It was at this time that I called on my key skill set for a new and challenging phase in my life.
Being an artist has given me my own identity; a confidence in my own style and creativity. Artists have a personal distinctiveness which they discover and embrace. You do not see artists painting in all genres, in all styles and using a variety of different materials and subjects to try and keep ‘everybody happy’. My ethos is to encourage each and every one of my clients to reach deep inside and identify their own distinctive style and individuality. An artist tells a story and dictates an intimate message through their work. Your interior should be your personal message; and be your unique story.
What is a day in the life of Anouska like?
Being a ‘mumpreneur’ means that you have to juggle family life with business on a daily basis. My day always starts simply being ‘Mummy’. I will get up and make the children breakfast and take them to school every day. I become ‘Anouska the Interior Designer’ at about 8.30am! Having a family; as well as your own business; means that you have to learn to divide up your day efficiently and learn to master ‘time management’. My children are my priority, so I will attend every event or match where possible. What this means is that I will need to make up the time at some other stage in the day. More often than not, my day ends with me replying to emails or creating mood boards once the children have gone to bed.
How much did you research the UK market prior to starting and do you feel you did enough?
I noticed that there was a huge gap in the market for Interiors that were colourful, bold, creative and brave enough to ignore the trends and tell their own story. I don’t follow trends and I encourage my clients to blinker themselves from what magazines are telling them to buy.
In a similar way to fashion, an outfit looks great on the catwalk, doesn’t mean that it will suit you or your lifestyle. Your interior needs to be an outlet of your own personal style, and it needs to be an interior which suits you and makes you content. A style that is true to your personality and one which tells your story.
I didn’t do a huge amount of research before setting up Noushka Design. I started designing leisure spaces and these soon started getting nominated for prestigious awards. This gave me the confidence that I needed to continue on my own path. I think for me, it was important that I wasn’t competing against other designers but simply doing my own thing. I have never had to advertise. All my clients have been recommendations from previous clients, or people that have seen my work and who have approached me.
According to Vogue, You are hailed as one of the most influential Interior Experts in the UK. However, where do you see yourself within the next 2 years, then a further 5 years?
My business is growing as I am. I am doing things now that I never dreamt I’d be able to do 5 years ago. I see myself on an exciting journey, and part of the excitement is not knowing what tomorrow will bring. I am a spiritual person and I trust that ‘what is meant to be will be’. I never beat myself up over the future, I take each day as it comes which allows me to simply enjoy the ride. I feel that creatively, it’s damaging to get too fixated on the future. I believe you have to live in the moment and see what each new day brings.
I have recently been given a couple of opportunities to get back into designing for the leisure industry; which is a field that I’ve been looking to get back into. Designing leisure projects gives you a much broader spectrum of opportunities to be creative and think ‘outside the box’ and therefore the timing is perfect for me. I am working with some really exciting companies at the moment, developing new products that would work beautifully in nightclubs and bars and I am really excited about putting these into place.
As well as more writing and TV work, I would like to launch my own collection of items for the home. Encapsulating my quirky and unique style with a furniture and accessories range would be incredibly satisfying. I really feel that there is a gap in the market for a brave and bold capsule collection that pushes boundaries, and encourages people to experiment. Watch this space!
How important do you feel it is to inspire other women out there, on a mission and how do you feel you do this?
I think it is hugely important to encourage and inspire other women to follow their dreams. I think I am able to achieve this by being really honest about my own experiences, and wearing my heart on my sleeve. When you let down your barriers and you are open about your own experiences, people are drawn to you, and they can relate to you.
I have been very open about my struggles and experiences on my journey as an entrepreneur. Particularly, whilst going through a fiercely acrimonious divorce and raising my two children single handedly. There is no manual or instruction booklet when it comes to setting up our own business, and it’s not easy. That is why women need to be there for one another, even if it’s simply to say ‘you can do this’.
What challenges do you face in your everyday life and how do you overcome the barriers faced?
When you are an entrepreneur, you face continual challenges. The biggest struggle I’ve faced is believing in myself. After a traumatic marriage and divorce, I decided that I wanted to be an independent woman and finally take control of my life. I wanted to be a woman that could not only support her children, but make them proud of her.
It is incredibly overwhelming to set up your own business from scratch. Particularly for me; as I had zero confidence or experience when it came to running a business. There were days when I was so overwhelmed, and had so little faith in myself; that I wanted to give up. Funnily enough, for me it felt a lot like Motherhood. In that; there was no manual. I literally had no idea what I was doing when I started out and every day was a learning curve.
For survival reasons, I soon learnt to take each day as it came and enjoy every moment. Noushka Design is like another baby to me so I always want to do everything myself. I currently over see every aspect of the business as I admit to being a bit of a control freak. Gaining trust and letting people help me is a challenge that I’m slowly over coming, but it is something that takes time. I am a perfectionist, and I’ve been brought up being told ‘if you want something done properly then do it yourself’!
Do you feel enough is being done to empower and support women starting their own businesses?
I don’t feel that there is enough women empowerment out there and this needs to be rectified. I would like to see more support groups and networking hubs for entrepreneurs and mumprenuers to get the encouragement and support they need to get new businesses up off the ground and to be successful. I would happily speak at events or seminars where my voice and experiences could change other women lives.
Can you share your top 5 tips to establish yourself as an Interior Designer?
1.Be prepared to work for free. In the beginning; I worked for free so that I could gain experience and create a portfolio of work. Don’t be selective about the work you take on. Accept anyone who is willing to pay you or give you an opportunity
2.Be patient and positive. These things take time and do not happen overnight. I have had as many no’s as ‘yes’s in my career
3.If possible try and support yourself financially through other means whilst you get your business up off the ground
4.Work hard and be passionate about all you do – it will definitely show in your work. Believe in yourself, and others will believe in you. I believe that if you lve what you do and are passionate about what you do then it shows. Be true to your design style and don’t be influenced by other designers or trends.
5.Research and educate yourself. Go to as many exhibitions, shows and galleries as possible to absorb other people’s work and gather inspiration. Travel is also key to personal inspiration for me. Take photos and compile albums of things that have excited you. Read books and magazines and follow other designers work online. I am always learning and always educating myself
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