Dids­bury res­i­dent Beth Travers founded her own busi­ness in de­fi­ance of the es­tab­lish­ment’s ‘ you can’t come in’ at­ti­tude… and now doors are open­ing all around the globe

Cheshire Life - - Homes & Interiors - WORDS: Kate Houghton PHO­TOS: Kirsty Thomp­son

BBeth Travers was born in Manch­ester but left while still a child to live in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia. The col­lapse of her par­ents’ mar­riage trig­gered a re­turn to the UK and she spent ev­ery sum­mer there­after in the win­try weather of Aus­tralia’s south­ern coast.

‘I didn’t see a sum­mer for years!’ Beth laughs. ‘When we re­turned to the UK mum took us up to Sun­der­land and then I’d visit my dad in the long sum­mer hol­i­day.’

I can’t help but won­der if this some­what peri­patetic child­hood, with the need to find her feet quickly in mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions, has con­trib­uted some­thing very pos­i­tive to Beth’s char­ac­ter. She’s bold and brave, im­mensely cre­ative, de­ter­mined and ded­i­cated to build­ing her busi­ness, which she estab­lished af­ter meet­ing with one too many re­jec­tions when seek­ing em­ploy­ment in her cho­sen dis­ci­pline. It takes some courage to set up for your­self, at the ten­der age of 26.

‘I stud­ied art and de­sign at col­lege and then went to study for a de­gree in In­te­rior De­sign at Hud­der­s­field Uni­ver­sity,’ Beth tells me. ‘One year in I was re­ally not happy. I’ve al­ways been a lit­tle bit re­bel­lious and be­ing marked down for be­ing a mil­lime­tre out on a scale plan felt too con­stric­tive; I’ve never been one to colour just be­tween the lines! My lec­turer could see where my true pas­sion lay, and pointed me in the di­rec­tion of a dif­fer­ent de­gree – Sur­face Pat­tern De­sign. Ev­ery­thing in the world has a sur­face; it was ex­actly what I wanted and I loved it.

‘Af­ter I grad­u­ated in 2012, right in the mid­dle of the re­ces­sion, I was in­vited for lots of in­ter­views, but kept be­ing re­jected for my lack of ex­pe­ri­ence. I had in­ter­views with com­pa­nies in Lon­don, De­troit, Canada, New York…but they all said the same thing.’

I won­der how on earth a grad­u­ate is sup­posed to gain ex­pe­ri­ence if no­body will em­ploy her? And hadn’t these peo­ple read her CV? It’s not hard to em­pathise with Beth’s frus­tra­tion.

‘The fi­nal straw came at a job in­ter­view in Lon­don. The whole ex­pe­ri­ence felt like a cross be­tween The Devil Wears Prada and Mean Girls. Two women sat me in front of them and just got re­ally per­sonal, not re­motely con­struc­tive, like they thought my am­bi­tions were laugh­able. I could have come out of that in ei­ther of two ways: to­tally crushed or ut­terly re­bel­lious. I chose the lat­ter.

‘I said to my­self: “right, if no­body is go­ing to open a door for me I shall do it my­self.” I launched my busi­ness – named for my nick­name and my grand­fa­ther’s birth­day – in 2016 and went on, in 2017, to have one of those mar­vel­lous Pretty Woman mo­ments, when the two women

in ques­tion vis­ited my stand at Decorex (Europe’s lead­ing in­te­rior de­sign event, held in Lon­don ev­ery Septem­ber) and just lay­ered on the praise. I was des­per­ate to say that clas­sic line “Big mis­take”!’

Hav­ing worked through­out her life, Beth had amassed some sav­ings, which she used to start her­self off, spend­ing ev­ery penny on the de­sign and print of her first col­lec­tion of wall­pa­pers, which she sent sam­ples of to in­te­rior de­sign­ers around the UK.

‘I had a call within days,’ she says. ‘At first I thought it was a joke, but no, it was real! My first job was right here in Manch­ester. I was just two months in and my work had been se­lected for the new Princess Street Ho­tel. It was a crash course, I can tell you. Once they got go­ing they asked me for up­hol­stery fab­rics to match the wall­pa­pers, which was new to me. I had heard a Richard Bran­son quote “If some­body of­fers you an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”, so I did. Then they asked for rugs!

‘I have had the best time in the last two years. I’ve done the Cham­pagne Bar at The Grand Cen­tral Ho­tel in Glas­gow; a bou­tique ho­tel in the Lakes; count­less small com­mer­cial and do­mes­tic briefs… and am cur­rently cre­at­ing a col­lec­tion for a ho­tel in New York!’

Beth’s de­signs are com­plex, con­tem­po­rary and com­pletely be­witch­ing – and many have their own mes­sage.

‘My Val­ley of Fire col­lec­tion is about men­tal health. It’s a silent, in­vis­i­ble ill­ness peo­ple just don’t un­der­stand. My de­signs re­fer to a harsh, desert en­vi­ron­ment where things can bloom and thrive, not only sur­vive. It’s a vis­ual mes­sage to suf­fer­ers.

‘My Di­noflor­ous col­lec­tion is about gen­der equal­ity. I hate that girls only get princesses and pink and boys only get di­nosaurs and trucks!’

Beth’s new­est col­lec­tion, To the Sea, was re­leased last month and is fab­u­lous. It’s in­spired by the beauty of the oceans and the ug­li­ness of the plas­tic that is drown­ing them. Whales in plas­tic bot­tles, crus­taceans in tin cans, a mermaid in a net…listed so baldly this might give an im­pres­sion of dark­ness and de­spair, but they re­ally are truly beau­ti­ful and stir­ring de­signs.

You can see Beth’s cre­ations on­line, at her stu­dio in Manch­ester and also at Ate­lier B in Alderley Edge, an as­so­ci­a­tion that came about fol­low­ing a serendip­i­tous meet­ing at Decorex ’17.

‘When I set up it was just wall­pa­per,’ she says. ‘Now I just don’t know where it’s go­ing to lead…and I like that.’

“When I set up it was just wall­pa­per. Now I just don’t know where it’s go­ing to lead… and I like that.’”

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