Jan Constantine- Heirlooms of the Future
Iconic British themes have been central to the work of designer Jan Constantine since her company was formed in 2002. Her aim has always been to create the heirlooms of the future with products such as hand-embroidered cushions, throws, wall hangings and kitchen textiles. Products designed and made by Jan are already highly sought-after in prestigious stores such as Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty and Fortnum & Mason. Advantage Creative Fund supported Jan in the early stages of building her brand and growing her business.
Jan continued to develop new collections and became known as “the Union Jack Lady” after Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen referred to the title when Jan appeared on a TV programme with him. The Union Jack has been a major theme in Jan’s designs that have included soft furnishings and ceramics. So to be one of only two companies, nationwide, licensed to produce home textiles for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was a perfect fit. But securing the licence has meant far more to the Jan Constantine company than just a retailing opportunity. The story began when London was announced as the host country for the 2012 Olympic Games.
The company was awarded the contract later that year and a new warehouse was leased to cope with the significant upturn in activity leading up to the Games.
The guidance I've received has been tremendously valuable. I'm a designer, I rely on other people to help me with the financial side of the business. Because the people in Advantage Creative know about banking, they have been able to introduce me to people who have helped me develop and grow the business. But they also understand creative businesses like mine and that's made a huge difference.- Jan Constantine
I was so delighted - like everyone - and I knew I really wanted to be part of it and started thinking about what I could do. Later, in 2009, we had a stand at a trade fair in London and we were approached by someone from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) who saw the patriotic side of our work and asked if we had thought of applying for a licence to provide official Olympic merchandise.
The London 2012 Olympic licence has opened doors for us and made us grow up as a company, The status of the company has been raised and we've had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the giants of the High Street. The way we do things had to change to meet the demands of being an Olympic licensee, and that will give us tremendous value and energy going forward.
Jan continues to produce new collections and now collaborates with Harrods and Selfridges on specific collections of soft furnishings, whilst offering other collections to the retail trade and public. Website sales and trade fairs are still important avenues to market for Jan Constantine Ltd which also works with other companies to produce licensed collections using Jan's designs. The company is also building brand in Japan with a view to selling collections through department stores in that country.
When asked what advice she would give to young entrepreneurs, she says:
'Press has always played a big part in building my business, right from the early days. Great lifestyle photography is vital and if press requests are made, be sure to follow up as quickly as possible with the info and images required - this makes life easy for journalists and more likely that they will come back for more.'