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SPOTLIGHT ON: Fenella Smith

The Henley-based brand known for its joyful design gives us a peek behind the scenes of its family-run creative team

Tell us a little about how Fenella Smith began and your background.

Fenella was born out of a desire to create and sell joyful accessories. Ten years ago I wanted to find a channel for my fashion degree as well as my home and fashion PR experience, I had also recently met Simon who came from the creative industry, so things and timing just aligned.

My first inspiration was home, so I set out to create a handwriting that would transcend seasons, focusing on home ceramics and fabrics. Things developed as we explored more categories over the years.

Where do you find inspiration and fresh ideas?

Everywhere… However most critically as a business, we focus on being customer-first in our design thinking. More than ever leaning towards the behaviour shifts we see now seasonally, from usage, style, composition, surface pattern and packaging.

Working with some amazing partners such as WWF also gives us access to diverse views and ideas which filter back into our studio.

What's new for the brand - do you have any interesting projects?

We have several exciting product and partnering projects which we will be able to talk about later this year. More generally our brand’s focus remains super clear this coming year and full of opportunity.

We remain committed to producing new products in recycled materials and continuing our journey of colour exploration! More generally we are just launching new lines in our men’s accessories collection Foxx Smith which presents a huge opportunity to liven up a dull men’s accessory category!

Fenella Smith Tote Foxx Smith holdall Recycled WWF In The Wild purse

Describe your typical working day

I’m fortunate in that all my days vary, from design development meetings with clients to days in the studio by the river in Henley with the team exploring the seasons ahead and drilling down to always improving the product.

My youngest daughter is at junior school so most days I manage to fit my working hours around her schooling and sports clubs! She comes to the office in the holidays sometimes and I hope has been inspired to carve her own identity and future against her own dreams and ambitions.

What has been the biggest highlight and challenge to date?

On challenges... Juggling home life and work remains a challenge although we have shifted our whole family lifestyle to enable the accelerated growth of Fenella Smith. My husband Simon recently joined us full-time which has now meant we are able to keep the full focus the business now requires.

With regards to highlights… Seeing the business growing up into a fashion and travel-focused brand, something I have always had in the back of mind. With that has come the bringing on board of a great team behind me, including some family who all share the same vision and hopes for the brand.

Best nugget of wisdom you can share with your fellow Creative Ducks?

Keep going! Running a business isn’t easy at times but there is always a way forward.

Keep smiling, be kind and keep going...

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