Runaway Coast

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Runaway Coast has opened a brand NEW store in London.  The new shop, at 23 Cale Street on Chelsea Green, SW3 3QR, will undoubtedly make you feel as though you’ve escaped to the seaside.  Behind a quaint white picket fence, you’ll find unique fabrics and lovely things for the home – from cushions and bed linen to tablecloths and towels, all inspired by the coast.  All the designs work together to provide that feeling of bliss, when all you can hear are the waves and the sound of seagulls… If the idea of living by the sea appeals, Runaway Coast has everything you need – and as much as possible is made in and around Suffolk with a huge amount of love and British pride. 

Runaway Coast make original fabrics, cushions, bedding and homewares which work together to provide that blissful sense of freedom when you escape to the seaside. The company was set up by Claudia Roberts in May 2009, after she decided to give up her marketing role at Brora in London to live on the Suffolk coast. Claudia came up with the name, Runaway Coast, when sitting on the beach in Aldeburgh. All designs have been inspired by the Suffolk coast – from bird reserves and flotsam to sandcastles and sailors. Claudia says, ‘It's always exciting when people walk on to our stand or past our shop and say "Look Runaway Coast are here! I love that look." It means a lot, and the best bit is that the brand seems to appeal to all, just as the coast does.’

We caught up with Claudia on life at Runaway Coast.

Claudia Roberts - Runaway Coast 12-4-14-100

Tell us about how the business idea came about?

I'd lived in London all my life and prior to leaving the City I’d worked as a Buyer for many years and then I was Head of Marketing at Brora Cashmere. I had always been passionate about developing brands and products for other businesses. Before I moved to the Suffolk Coast, magazines such as the Sunday Times Home supplement were light relief from the 24/7 daily routine of City Life. The appeal of the simple life of families who had packed up and moved to the seaside with children running free, playing with surfboards rather than nintendos's, chickens in the garden as family pets and vegetable patches, all seemed so refreshing in comparison. So when I did finally make the move with my family, I found my mind free from the busy London lifestyle and immersed myself in what was around me. 

It was sitting on the beach in Aldeburgh one day with my children skimming pebbles, that I looked around and breathed a sigh of relief and thought how wonderful it was to just 'runaway coast' as it were. It amused me that the children took such delight from just playing without technology glued to them, families sat together and ate fish and chips on the beach despite the rather windy day. I then started to imagine how I'd create a perfect runaway home and how it would be filled with cosy blankets and stripy bed linen. I left the beach that day and it felt like a lightbulb moment had occurred but the usual bedtime routine of the children occupied the rest of the day. I then woke up at about 2am and thought 'runaway coast', and how I really liked that name and I crept downstairs and thought I would just check to see if it was a free domain on register.com. When it was free, I was so excited, I rushed to register it and nearly had a party on my own to celebrate!

 Over the next 6 months, I started creating scrap books and mood boards of products, design ideas and fabric ideas that I thought fell in to the 'runaway coast' brand in my mind. When a friend returned from a holiday in Australia, I showed him the various designs and ideas and he gave me the confidence by saying that it would go down really well in Australia but he'd put up the initial money to get the company started. And so it started, and I worked night and day to produce the products into a catalogue and online site – we launched in May 2009

 How did you manage the transition from employee to employer? 

I always knew I wanted my own business since I first started working. It looked challenging, varied and exciting. I didn't realise what giving 150% was and how even when you don't always know the answer, it is your business and sometimes you just have to make the best decision you can. It helped having worked in setting up and growing other businesses but its not until you do it yourself, you really understand the real challenge that entails. Employing people is the hardest part of running a business for me.

 What are your top 2 pieces of advice for starting your own business?

Believe in your what you are doing completely and utterly, as this belief will keep you going when the tough times kick in! It always costs more than you think, so have your plan but be flexible if you need to.

 What do you hope customers will experience coming to your store?

 A breath of fresh air, a slice of the sunny Suffolk coast, beautifully made product, made in England.

 Your most favourite product (in your store)?

Our lovely fabrics. Hours of time designing, getting the colours right and then watching them being printed – they bring a smile to my face each time I look at them.

 Tell us about where you grew up?

 I grew up in London initially and then went to boarding school in Ascot. Holidays when I was younger were spent on the borders in Scotland and then when I was a teenager, I often worked. My favourite job was at Beverley Hills Bakery in Knightbridge when they first opened. I worked in the bakery during the holidays and the money I earned paid for a school trip to Russia the next term. I still remembering counting out my wages to the Bursar proudly to pay for the trip.

 Who or what influenced you mostly to pursue your passions in life?

 My father died when I was 9 and it had a big impact on my life. I watched my mother work hard to support our education and maintain a lifestyle my father had created for us. Despite some hard times, my mother never failed in ensuring everything always had a huge amount of style to it, from a picnic to the way she laid the Christmas table. I learnt a lesson that whatever gets chucked at you in life, you have to brush yourself down and continue onwards and upwards. 

To find out more please visit Runaway Coast and to enter our fabulous competiton to win this gorgeous Union Jack Floor cushion visit A-LISTED COMPETIONS

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