Meet the Members: Amelia Ayerst

Digital embroidery designer Amelia Ayerst is following her creative dreams.

And what dreams they are! This stitching powerhouse single-handedly runs two creative businesses from her home studio and Flexi setup at Gather Round. Undone Stitch gives traditional embroidery a modern twist, offering avid customers personalised products made to order here in Bristol. DUO-HUE creates one-off art, interior and lifestyle products loved by the likes of Elle Decoration and House & Garden.

We chatted about what it is like to launch a business in a pandemic, how to juggle two creative businesses and Amelia’s fave foodspot in Bristol; Whapping Wharf.

Amelia in GR with embroidery

Can you tell us what you do and what an average workday looks like?

Every day changes but it mostly revolves around my digital embroidery machine! I spend a big chunk of my time creating new ideas and working on commissions for clients. Whether that’s creating new patterns for a big wall hanging or colour matching to fit an interior concept. It is really fun working on new projects. I try to split my week between the two businesses. Normally two days are spent creating personalised clothing for kids and adults and the other three days (and sometimes on the weekends!!) are focusing on my luxury interior pieces! I am currently getting new products made up for an upcoming photoshoot. I am so passionate about my new collection.  I am excited to show the new designs later this year!

Having a space at Gather Round allows for a great break from my sewing machine. It gives me a chance to focus on creating new designs in Illustrator or work through the admin associated with running a creative business. Whether that’s editing photos, organising my website, PR, finances, orders or emails. There is always plenty to do!

What excites you most about the creative process?

I love being challenged by interior designers on new concepts. As a textile designer and previous CMF designer (colour, materials and finish), I have always been interested in all types of material. It is really interesting speaking to designers about how my interior embroidery can fit into a concept and how I can challenge my designs and colours to bring out a commercial or home design.

A lot of my DUO-HUE work is based around colour and how the material moves and how people interact with the pieces. It excites me when people are moved by my work, it motivates me to create new ways to encourage people to interact with my work.

One of the main concepts of my business is collaboration. I love working with like-minded designers. My first collaboration was with Ali Goodman of FRANCLI. We created a range of one of a kind rucksacks using ex-army surplus using my embroidery to bring the material back to life. Each bag is completely unique and lasts the owner a lifetime! I am fascinated about using my embroidery to bring the material back to life. I am currently collecting vintage jackets and embroidering them. Watch this space for the launch of these one of a kind fashion items!

Amelia Ayerst threads and swatches

What kit/tools can you not live without?

I couldn’t live without my embroidery machine. It is how I create all my products.

I am completely obsessed with taking traditional digital embroidery and creating pieces that are much more innovative and modern. I apply this to my main passion (and newest business!) DUO-HUE, developed whilst studying at the Royal College of Art. Undone Stitch is more traditional with embroidering words, shapes and motifs onto clothing and accessories but I  create designs that are modern and unique! People love these personalised items for presents and it is really popular at Christmas. The embroidered aprons and hot water bottles go down a treat!

I would also be lost without all of my thread swatch books. As I used to be a CMF (colour, materials and finish) designer at Dyson, I am obsessed with finding and sourcing new materials and colour matching. These books could be called my bible of colour!

What are you watching/reading at the moment?

I am reading ‘Careless’ by Kirsty Capes, a story about a girl who is only 15, lives in care and finds out she is pregnant. I have only just started the book but am already hooked by its honest and brave heroine. Would definitely recommend picking up a copy!

I am also watching Messiah on Netflix. It’s a  gripping and unusual story of how the modern world would react to the arrival of a Messiah figure. I am absolutely hooked!

Amelia Ayerst's embroidery in the Sun room

Anything you’re working on at the moment that’s exciting you?

I am at a really exciting point in my business, where I can finally have a real life show! I have work at Burlington Arcade in Mayfair, London. The show is with ‘Future Icons Presents’ and it showcases lots of different artists and their craft. Ranging from textiles and fashion to ceramics and woodwork. It is the first time DUO-HUE has been at a show and the public can come and see the textiles.

I am working on a new collection to be launched in September, which includes some blankets and cushions woven in collaboration with Bristol Weaving Mill. I am also working on a furniture collaboration with Tom Collision where we have a small selection of one of a kind handmade wooden furniture stools with my unique embroidery on! I can’t wait to launch and show everyone these.

As for Undone Stitch, I am just super excited to see how much the business has grown since I first started and I am currently in the process of getting my new Christmas items ready!

How do you juggle running two creative businesses? 

It has been a bit of a learning curve to manage my time correctly. I have to be quite strict with splitting my days up between the two. As both businesses grow, I hope to employ other textiles, embroidery and colour enthusiasts to join my team and help grow both businesses!

Amelia Ayerst Flexi Membership

How was launching your second business Duo-Hue during the Pandemic? 

The pandemic actually gave me a great opportunity to slow down my design process and really focus on what I wanted to create. Just before lockdown began, I had launched Undone Stitch, which was all online and really helped fund me whilst I could focus on my new business DUO-HUE. I have found the support of other designers incredible and everyone has been so great to give advice and help motivate me to start a new business. In a way, it has been a success to launch at this time because more people are focused on supporting new and small businesses like my own and people are interested in hearing about my journey.

I am now excited that live shows can finally start to happen because I have missed the interaction of meeting people and talking through my products in person rather than just over Zoom or Instagram. Even though instagram has been a great way for me to connect and reach out to interior designers. Due to not having real life meetings, I adapted my business plan and started sending samples out to designers which was a really great way to get clients and start conversations with interior designers!

Where is your favourite place to eat in Bristol?

I live in Redcliffe so Wapping Wharf is my favourite pit stop for food! My absolute favourites have to be Root or Box E (especially if I am feeling fancy!).

Amelia Ayerst Flexi Membership

Why did you choose to come to Gather Round?

Going from working in a big corporate office to living and working alone, I really needed some interaction and motivation from other creatives. I joined for the social aspect and even though it has been a funny year, it has been a great way to meet like-minded designers and creatives that are either starting out or have established a small business. It really helped me feel like part of a community, and I am excited to meet more people and join things like ‘book club’!

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Amelia! If you want to find out more about Amelia’s work check out DUO-HUE & Undone Stitch.  Join us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to get to know all things Gather Round and meet more of our creative members.