With 20 years of experience as a textile and surface pattern designer, Joanne Cocker has a strong portfolio, working with big brands, including Mothercare, Asda – George Home, Dashwood Studio, The Window Film Company and Kahu Baby. Her designs have also been sold in high-end department stores like John Lewis - an absolute dream for many designers.
In 2013, Joanne started her brand, JOJO COCO Design, to enjoy more freedom as a freelance designer and collaborate with major brands through licensing her designs. With the brand ethos of “Design for Life, Inspired by Life”, Joanne creates nature-inspired prints to bring joy and happiness into people’s lives and homes.
After the pandemic, Joanne started creating products, such as tote bags and cushions, and selling them online. At this point, she found she had come to uncharted areas and needed to manage various business aspects.
Luckily, Joanne came across an online advertisement for the EnterprisingYou programme and worked with her Business Coach, Rebecca, who provides guidance and advice to her every step of the Journey. With the support of the programme, she can focus on expressing creativity in her designs, which she does best while enjoying a stress-free night without worrying about the daily operation of her business.
We chatted with Joanne about her experience expanding her product line and how the programme guided her through the development.
Joanne, you have been working as a designer for 20 years. What’s your story?
I have always loved designing from an early age. Both my parents were quite creative, so it's obvious I got it from there. Initially, I started in wallpaper design, and I quickly fell in love with the concept of print and pattern and how this can transform a space or home. I then went into textiles, designing bedding ranges for Mothercare, Asda, BHS, Tesco and House of Fraser for adults, children and babies.
I loved designing children's and nursery ranges, so I was pleased when I landed a job at Cosatto; designing there gave me so much experience. I also worked closely with the sewing department to create new products, and I loved that side of the job.
What was the motivation behind starting your brand?
After quite a few years in the textile industry, I found myself at a crossroads, and with a very supportive partner and family, I decided to pursue a career as a freelance designer. I was so thankful and lucky to have made some great friends and contacts throughout my years in the industry, which kept me very busy those first few years. I designed gorgeous sleeping bags for The Gro Company, Mothercare and John Lewis, and new and exciting bedding ranges for Snuz. I even created a range of toys for Baby Sensory through East Coast Nursery.
It made me think about having that freedom to design for myself, which I'd never done freely before, and I started to imagine what it would feel like to have my brand of designs. In 2013, I started using “JOJO COCO Design” as my brand. At that time, I mainly worked as a freelance designer for companies and collaborated with major brands by licensing my designs. Through the collaboration with Dashwood studio, John Lewis selected my creations from their ranges to be used on their sewing basket and bag ranges. This was a real boost for me and gave me the confidence that I must be doing something right.
What inspired you to create your products after the pandemic? How did you come to know about the “EnterprisingYou” Programme?
During the pandemic, we saw quite a lot of demand for fabrics, and the sales have increased. I believe it is because people were spending more time at home decorating their living spaces, sewing and crafting. With that in mind, I decided to create and sell my own products online.
One day, while researching, I found an online advertisement for the “EnterprisingYou” programme on Facebook. It could not have come at a better moment as I had just launched my product range. As I have always focused on creativity and design, I needed to gain experience in the essential aspects of running a business, such as marketing, inventory management, pricing, etc. I needed someone to “hold my hand” and guide me through those early months.
What kind of service and support did you get from the “EnterprisingYou” programme?
From enquiring about the programme through the website to being assigned a business advisor, I think it was just 2 to 3 weeks, and I just could not quite believe this was something that existed. At that time, I struggled to work out a structure for my business and needed help navigating my way through all the areas. The programme helped me to learn how to capitalise more on my designs while running my own business.
The workshops on the programme I attended, especially those on marketing and social media, were terrific. I have done a couple in each area to get the best out of the programme. It was great to receive all this free advice, and those courses resonate with me now and always will. I still cannot believe this was free!
I've approached my marketing differently and with more structure. One piece of advice shared in the programme is to have more “about me” and “behind the scenes” on social media, which I have never done particularly well before. I always tend to hold back on things until they are perfect, then share them online. Now, I have started to let go of that idea and share quick snippets of things I'm working on, whether it's “perfect” or not. I am posting more regularly now.
The best thing about the programme was having an experienced business coach by my side. We can discuss business in a relaxing style. Rebecca gave me the direction I needed and pushed me to move things on quicker and better than I would have done. This part of the programme exceeded all my expectations.
“The EnterprisingYou programme gave me the drive, confidence, and focus I needed.”
You can find out more about Joanne and her designs here: