From making knitwear for Liberty and Paul Smith to Brighton and Hove's Artists Open Houses
Brighton textile designer Jo Cranston talks about how she went from working in New York to running her own business.
Sometimes in life you have to create your own opportunities. Something that Jo Cranston did when she phoned designer Paul Smith.“I just called his office and said ‘is Paul there? It’s Jo’,” she revealed. “They put me straight through I couldn’t believe it usually there are loads of people you have to get through.“I told him about my work and designs and he invited me to his office.”
Jo went on to produce knitwear for the designer for three or four years under her own name, in that time she also got to work with Liberty, Harvey Nichols and doing collections for Takashimaya in New York and Tokyo.She said: “My business just grew and grew. “And then I had kids and decided to focus more locally so I could spend time with my family.”
Through Jo Cranston Textiles Jo sells scarves, gloves, cushions and blankets using merino wool.“People ask why I use wool but it is biodegradable, sustainable and renewable,” she explained.“I use English and Scottish mills who source it from South America where they know how the sheep have been looked after and can source where they have come from. That is really important to me that it is ethically produced.”
Everything is hand made and hand finished by Jo in her studio at Hove’s Cross Street Studios. She’s originally from Eastbourne. Jo uses a domestic knitting machine which is hand worked and she makes the items in batches.
The current collections include On the Road and Clouds, both of which are unisex ranges.“I only launched Clouds this year but I love the pop of colour,” she said.“Most people wear dark coats so a scarf can add a bit of colour.”
Over the next couple of weekends Jo will be taking part in the Artist Open Houses, something she has done for a number of years.
She said: “I love being able to meet customers face to face. I get a lot of bespoke orders this way and returning customers from people who have met me.“It has a nice community feel to it. You spend so much time on your own in your studio that it is a nice opportunity to meet up with other people and talk about things like running your own business.”
For the bespoke orders sometimes Jo is asked to create something from scratch or people want her designs in different colours or a cushion to match their curtains at home.
Jo’s designs are currently in Charleston, Ditchling Museum, and she’s in the permanent collection in Hove Museum. She studied Fashion and Textiles at Brighton University and went on to work in New York for a knitwear company.
When she came back she started her own business.“It was in 1992 during the recession and I applied for jobs but there just wasn’t anything,” she said.
Jo’s work will be showcased at Brighton and Hove’s Artist Open Houses on December 1-2 and 8-9. You can see her work at Milton House at 72 Clyde Road Brighton, and Art Across The Line, at 13 Addison Rd, Hove.
She will also be taking part in the farmers and makers fair on Saturday, December 1 at Architectural Plants in Pulborough, visit architecturalplants.comFor more information visit www.jocranston.co.uk and for Artist Open Houses, visit aoh.org.uk You can also find details of what Jo is up to by following her profile on Instagram - @jocranstontextiles