Meet the Maker - Alex Fulton Design

August 19, 2014

[caption id="attachment_2491" align="aligncenter" width="700"]AFD Photo credit to: Sophie Jensen[/caption] Today on the blog we have the amazingly talented and inspiring Alex Fulton of Alex Fulton Design. Alex has been super generous with her time and has answered some questions for us including how it all began.
Background
Q. Describe a bit about your background, how did AFD  all start?  I was always sure when I grew up that I would be a doctor.  I was fascinated by Science and used to spend hours pondering over my step-fathers anatomically correct Dr’s models. My love of science was also accompanied by a love of art.  Together they were my two favourite subjects.  After school I ended up studying nursing then Science at Otago, which lead to jobs in both medical and pharmaceutical sales. It was after having my first daughter that I discovered the world of interior design.  Another new mum and I came up with an idea for putting graphics onto canvas which was affordable and fun - neither of us had a clue about interior or graphic design but we were fast learners and our business was born.  This was my first glimpse at a world that was to change everything.  I was selling to designers and I loved their world. After moving to Christchurch while pregnant with daughter number two I sold my design business and started a new venture - Alex Fulton Design.  There really was a lot of towing and throwing about wether to study or not, so I took the middle ground and studied online while setting up my new business.  A very good friend of mine saw my inner turmoil and sat me down and gave me this advice.  "Alex, you have a designers mind, a creative heart and a natural talent for colour - you need need to trust that.  When the next person asks you what you do for a job, you say 'I’m an Interior Designer’” and that’s what I did.  My first job was a contra job for a graphic design company that did my first logo in exchange for designing their new office space.  I was in-business! [caption id="attachment_2481" align="aligncenter" width="700"]AFD Photo credit to: Hardhat Design[/caption] Q. What was your reasoning behind the rebrand? I started AFD officially in 2006 and I knew the power of ‘looking the part’.  As I said above, it was also a touch of fate that lead me to my first job, and therefore my first logo and branding.  I had that logo for 8 years and I loved it.  It was inspired by my initials and a pattern I had seen on a retro light fitting.  In 2013 I decided it was time for a re-brand and I had been thinking about it for some time but who was going to do for me was going to be key.
The Rebrand process
Q. How did you come about choosing Hardhat for your branding? I had admired the team at Hardhat ever since I saw their award winning branding for Supreme Coffee.  It was edgy, innovative and told a story and it’s imaginary stayed with me until I saw more of their work again with Douglas and Bec and on the Fancy! Calendar.  They now had a connection to my world of design.  I was unsure about how they would like my world of colour, pattern and chaos but I approached them none the less and "yes please" was the answer. [caption id="attachment_2480" align="aligncenter" width="700"]AFD Photo credit to: Hardhat Design[/caption] Q. What was the best and worst part of the whole process? It must have been hard at times also being a creative? Yes, you are right, it was a little difficult to let another creative essentially take control of my new ‘look’ but the key to this was to give a tight and comprehensive brief.  I know when I design for other people I research the heck out of them before I establish a plan so I guess I was aware of the creative process and gave them ‘the works’ to work with.  Easily the best part was opening that first files and the worst part was waiting for it to arrive in the first place! [caption id="attachment_2484" align="aligncenter" width="700"]AFD Photo credit to: Hardhat Design[/caption] Q. What’s your favourite part of your rebrand? Personally, we love your email signature - so fun! I loved handing over ‘me’ to Hardhat to interpret.  It was nice to be on the other side of the design coin and to be the client.  I loved seeing the graphic incarnation of 12 years in my design career and what that looks like to someone else.  I am ultra proud of the work that Hardhat did for me and they continue to out-do themselves in the projects we are currently working on with extensions of the brand.  It was a no-brainer to use them again when starting the new AFD Store so that it links back to AFD but still remains an independent entity. [caption id="attachment_2482" align="aligncenter" width="700"]AFD Photo credit to: Hardhat Design[/caption]
Expanding
Q. How would you describe your individual style and how does this feed and adapt into your new AFD store? Individual!  It has taken years to embrace who I am and to feel comfortable in my our design skin.  It’s such an organic process and it will only fail if you rush it.  I sometimes wish that I have ‘found myself’ earlier in life but then I realise that it wouldn’t have come from a very genuine place.  I’m happy with where I am and what I’m doing - I just wish I had more time in the day to fit it all in!!  The AFD Store is really a physical manifestation of Alex Fulton Design as a whole.  It’s a place with products that reflect me, my style and how I curate.  The next stage is getting AFD Store online and in front of the world.  I respect my suppliers, their craft and the art of creating and that is paramount.  My products range in price, functions and style but they are united by me, and that’s what I want to share. [caption id="attachment_2485" align="aligncenter" width="700"]AFD Photo Credit: Alex Fulton Design Instagram (@helloalexfulton)[/caption] Q. What’s the story behind how this all came about? How did you choose what to stock & pick that location? The AFD Store wasn’t really on the plan.  There was always a unopened door that had the idea that I wanted to ‘sell’ what I talked about and I constantly had people telling me that I needed to open a shop.  It wasn’t until a space came up in The Vines Village retail complex that an seed was planted.  My husband and his brother/business partner own the complex and I have been working with them closely on their new ‘make-over’ so it seemed the right thing to do to move from a private studio space into a work/store/design hub set-up. The bonus of being situation in Blenheim is that the rent is a lot cheaper than more metropolitan centres but the down side is that you don’t get the foot traffic.  It’s also been nice to provide Marlborough with a design space that’s a little different.  The most common reaction is that people are delighted to see products for real rather than just online. Q. Why is now the time to do this? I’m not sure and who know’s if this is the right time?!  Retail is hard and is a real money suck but the good outweighs the bad and I feel pretty lucky that I can do what I do.  It’s hard work but I know that is how I work and thrive.  I try not to over think big decisions too much, right or wrong, and for now I’m happy as.
The Studio
Q. Describe your work place. Tucked away on a mezzanine floor above the AFD Store surrounded buy stock, boxes, and sampling.  It’s organised chaos.  There is also huge white board for writing lists (I love lists). Q. What is the most exciting and most terrifying aspect of your adventure so far with AFD? The fact that it is AFD - Alex Fulton Design.  It’s me, myself and I.  The buck stops with me.  I now have three amazing staff members and there is a huge responsibly to that which I take very seriously.  Like anything I undertake I want to give them, and what I’m doing 100%.   I just keep moving forward with new ideas, collaborations and life. [caption id="attachment_2487" align="aligncenter" width="700"]AFD Photo Credit: Alex Fulton Design Instagram (@helloalexfulton)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2489" align="aligncenter" width="700"]AFD Photo Credit: Marlborough Express[/caption]
Going Forward
Q. What are the long term goals for AFD? Having just completed the first round of AFD School workshops I would love to develop that a lot more. I get a kick from talking about design and there is a real hunger out there for people to learn about stuff they are actually passionate about.  What I have learnt along my journey is that my knowledge is not mine to keep close to my chest, it’s there to share and I would love to do that more and more. [caption id="attachment_2486" align="aligncenter" width="700"]AFD Photo Credit: Alex Fulton Design Instagram (@helloalexfulton)[/caption] To find out more about the talented Alex and stay up to date with her fantastic finds - be sure to follow her on Facebook and Instagram! I can guarantee her colourful posts will brighten up your day.



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