The face behind this adorable brand, Nicola Goring, took some time out from her business & blogging to share her story…
How did ‘rubyandjoy’ start?
I had always wanted to be a florist, since I can remember. During my teenage years I did work experience at a few florists, and through connections my Nanna had (being a florist herself) spent many Saturdays just hanging out in flower shops. I was asked to do a friend of the family’s church flowers for their wedding, and it just snowballed from there. Once I had done a few weddings I thought to myself, ‘I should get some business cards done’, and then a website, etc. During all this time I was working in other jobs, including lifestyle styling. After getting married and moving to Scotland and being unable to jump straight into flowers again, I thought I‘d try something a bit different.
What was your motivation behind starting it?
Since I was a little girl, I had mini shops set up in the living room. It has always been a dream of mine to have my own wee shop that sells lovely things. It’s still a dream of mine, and now, with the two streams of rubyandjoy the dream gets bigger and bigger. I very simply wanted to do something I loved, and my family had always encouraged me to pursue that.
How did you come up with the name for your company?
The ‘joy’ came from my Nanna, we have always been very close, she taught me a lot, being a florist and a seamstress. Her name is Joy, as is my middle name so it’s very special. It’s also an important aspect of our business, to conduct things with joy, and is an objective in our campaigns. ‘Ruby’ has a much less interesting story – I just thought it sounded nice with ‘joy’!
Why did your blog ‘Lovelyprettycheerythings’ start?
The blog started mid 2009 as a means to connect more with the public. Not having a store front I wanted to allow the rubyandjoy brand to be understood in a few different mediums. Its purpose was not to sell, but to very simply be a mixture of all the things I love.
How has living in Scotland influenced you & your work?
There is a much bigger community of ‘crafters’ here, and I think it has a lot to do with the weather! When it’s a bit grey and rainy and cold outside, it’s much nicer to be inside with a cup of tea, sewing away. Just a very different lifestyle. There is a much greater focus on interiors here, and I wanted to create products that would warm up a house, and make it really lovely. Our circumstances and location here in Scotland meant rubyandjoy branched out into design/homewares which has been a blessing. And it means now I get to do two things I love!
What do you see outside your studio window?
We live in an old converted mill and it is beautiful! Our flat has a small balcony which overlooks the River Ericht. It freezes over in the Winter and floods when the snow starts to melt. Watching the seasons change from this view is one of my favourite things to do. We’re in quite a rural area, so it’s very peaceful, and looking up the river makes you feel you’re in the middle of nowhere. Out of my studio window I can see the path winding to the bridge, and the old tower of the mill, which is now some ones front door.
What’s your strategy for creative block?
I often find myself staring at the computer waiting for the creativity to kick in. The only way I can find inspiration is to get up and walk away from the studio. Go to a beautiful café and have a treat, sit on my balcony and let my mind drift, bake something delicious or go for a walk, just do something separate and lovely. It’s usually when I disconnect from ‘work’ that the ideas start to flow. I always have a wee notebook with me to write things down – anything that inspires me, even if irrelevant to my product.
What are some of the challenges you face as a small business?
Being a jack of all trades is probably the trickiest. I am no mathematician nor accountant, so those aspects are always tricky for me. You’re one person for every job, and it can be exhausting.
Do you remember your first fashion purchase? What impression did it make on you?
It wasn’t very fashion-y, but my first big purchase was a classic black trench coat from Portmans when I was a teenager and visiting a friend in Melbourne. I felt very grown up and sophisticated…and still have it to this day!
Who are some of your favourite designers?
I still love to see Australian designers doing amazing work, like Bec & Bridge and Lover. I also really love gowns by Christian Dior, Elie Saab and Valentino, and love high street champions Country Road and H&M.
Who are some of your favourite bloggers?
How would you describe your style?
Very simple, neutral, lovely.
What inspires you?
So many things! Colours, artwork, baking, walking outdoors, the view of our balcony, new fabric, my nieces, light, flowers (of course!) and gardens, other crafty folk, lovely things!
What music are you listening to right now?
Feist, Kari Jobe, Ella Fitzgerald, Jo Mango’s latest album and The Civil Wars.
What is the most significant investment you have made in your business?
At this point, probably all my design/websites/logo work. I’ve tried to keep things quite low-key in other areas and only spend what is coming in. However I really believe these things to be important and am very pleased with how it’s all come together!
In the past you were a florist – do you still do this?
Since being in Scotland I have done a few gorgeous weddings, and currently do estate flowers which I enjoy hugely! It’s definitely something that will continue being a part of rubyandjoy! There were so many highlights of that season – recognition was always exciting (we were featured in Marie Claire, Madison and Bride magazines), working on particularly creative events was a huge challenge but always so inspiring, but I have to say I really loved working with brides. It was always rewarding to know you’d played a small part in making their wedding day really special. And I miss the flower markets daily…they are always just gorgeous!
Do you have a favourite product from your archives?
Who is your muse?
What advice would you give to fellow designers wanting to branch out and do their own label?
Be flexible enough to adjust things if the consumer demands it, but be very careful to stay true to who you are. The original and best comes from the designer and their personality. And try not to stress too much (much easier said than done) – you’re doing what you love!