08 Jun When Disability Forces a Career Change
How Lisa Todd Had to Relaunch Her Career After a Life Changing Accident
After a devastating life changing accident in 2003, interior designer Lisa Todd was diagnosed with Cervical Dystonia. Cervical Dystonia is a debilitating painful neuromuscular condition; a rare disease that affects just 18 000 people in the UK. From a practical point of view, it meant that Lisa had to completely rethink her life and give up her much-loved career as an interior designer.
“Not only did I miss my old career terribly, but I had to also find something new that I could physically manage. This took a long time, but started when my old passion for painting was reignited at a local art class. From there I discovered an online course in surface pattern design. Through this I became part of an international textile and print community, which has been a big supporter of the launch of www.lisatodddesigns.com. We are a supportive group of women at all stages of life and career paths.”
“It hasn’t been straight forward. My first attempt at printing was tea towels and it became clear that the intricacies of colour balance, fabric choice and print quality would be a steep learning curve. Producing a range from the kitchen table with limited resources was definitely a challenge! But seeing the first fabric samples with my name on the selvedge was a huge thrill. And a memorable moment was when a woman walked into a pop-up shop and bought all eight of my cushions on display. ”
“Socially, Dystonia is very isolating so you become very self sufficient by necessity. It’s difficult to meet new friends, but the friends and family I have, have been hugely supportive. My sister paid for the first term of surface pattern course and my mentor Dr Emma Neuburg has guided me through the complicated textile process, tutoring mainly by phone apart from one meeting. My greatest support has come from my mum Thelma, my husband Jeremy and my daughter Olivia. Olivia was seven when I had the accident and is now about to start university studying art!”
Lisa has gone from producing her work from the kitchen table with limited resources, to seeing her cushions on display at Fenwicks in Brent Cross. Her dream is to keep developing, expanding and selling an inspiring range, bringing joy to contemporary and traditional homes and Interiors.
Her team is growing and now consists of Lisa (artist, designer, researcher), Maggie (expert seamstress), Ruth (pattern cutter), Geraldine (whizz kid print designer), Olivia (Lisa’s daughter – gift wrapper extraordinaire), Jeremy (husband/Mrs Doubdtfire), Dr Emma N (textile mentor). Lisa’s advice is “Don’t expect to be able to do everything. Take the time to find the right people who you want to work with to develop the online presence who you trust to remain true to your vision.”
“All along I’ve been inspired by people and brands like Cath Kidston, The Designers Guild and Orla Kiely. Seeing my cushions on display in Fenwicks has been a big boost, but I still have plans to keep developing expanding and selling an inspiring range, creating an instantly recognisable brand and bringing joy to contemporary and traditional homes and Interiors. Lisa Todd Designs is the culmination of a journey that has been both physically and mentally challenging.
Further information about Lisa Todd Designs can be found at www.lisatodddesigns.com