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A chance conversation whilst on holiday turned into a successful small business for Izzi Rainey, whose Norfolk-based company designs and manufacturers high quality homeware and interior products on her home farm, where she also breeds Highland and Lincoln Red cattle.
After growing up on the family farm in Norfolk where her dad bred Highland cattle, in 2014 Izzi graduated from The Glasgow School of Art. This coincided with Izzi’s dad wanting to take a step back from farming, so she decided to come home to farm, and set up a design business with her best friend Lara. IzziRainey was born!
IzziRainey is a small business, designing and creating colourful, fun and unique prints for homeware and stationery. All their products are inspired by the surroundings on the farm and Norfolk. Everything starts as a hand print here in their little studio and then is made into a digital print. All the products are produced in the UK.
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Despite a very competitive market, Izzi has found success and she credits that with her links to farming and the Norfolk countryside. “The market is huge for the products we sell but, like any small business, it is ‘us’ that sets us apart. Our story, our journey and sharing that. The faces behind our little business set us apart. Our story is happening and it is REAL”.
In a sign of the times, IzziRainey has had to change direction with the products it sells. “Our business has changed massively over time due to circumstances and demand. Our card and wrap range has expanded a lot, we used to be heavily textile based but now we have a huge focus on stationery. This evolved in the last few years and I think it will continue to do so more and more. We also do a lot more online since the pandemic, whereas before we did a lot of fairs.”
At the moment pricing is another huge challenge. “The cost of production is constantly changing. And also time scale. Printing fabric is taking a lot longer than ever before. Time is getting harder to manage. Producing in the UK is constantly a challenge, as our prices are constantly a lot higher. But it is what we believe in.”
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Being flexible is an essential requirement of a small business owner, more so when you add the unpredictability of farming to the equation! “There is no such thing as a standard day” says Izzi, “especially with all the cattle. A ‘normal’ day starts with feeding, bedding and checking the cattle. Then into the studio to pack orders from the night before, lots of prepping and fulfilment of products. Wrapping cards, folding tea towels, labelling etc. I am always trying to grab time to work on new ideas… and all these things are always interrupted by cows… escaping, calving etc!”
It certainly hasn’t been all plain sailing. “There have been so many things that have not quite gone to plan. Products which haven’t sold well… not being prepared enough for large trade fairs… fairs where sales have been shocking!” explains Izzi. However, that makes the taste of success so much sweeter. Supplying some great shops, including the retail giant John Lewis is a particular success story Izzi is very proud of.
Marketing is done mainly on Social Media, with pictures of products and designs regularly appearing on peoples timelines.
Izzi has also collaborated with The Highland Cattle Society, creating a range of exclusive designs only available on the societies website. With their Highland cattle at home featuring so strongly in her day to day life, it was a great chance to promote and support the society.
Future plans are simply to keep the business alive in these challenging times. “We have adapted so much over the years and reacted to our customers and the evolving situations around us and we will continue to do so. If this means changing our product range then we will” says Izzi.
As well as IzziRainey designs and homeware, 'Bates Moor Farm Beef' was launched by Izzi in 2019, selling all their beef directly from the farm through beef boxes and a farmers market.