In-conversation with Whinnie Williams

Ever wondered how to start, and grow a business?  Here, Whinnie shares what prompted her to launch Poodle & Blonde, where she finds inspiration and what she loves most about working with business partner and best friend Kierra

"I’ve learnt that running a business together with Kierra requires really open communication and being able to confront potentially difficult situations head on is essential."

How did you get started? What did you feel was missing from the interiors market?

Growing up as a shy kid, I quickly developed a love for drawing, painting and crafts and it’s always been my sanctuary. Creating is in everything I do and when I bought my first house, I finally had a real canvas to realise my interiors style.

Having started a degree in set design, I felt really excited to bring that discipline alive at home. I was looking to create a retro feel, and while I tracked down real vintage wallpaper, I couldn’t source enough rolls and anything new felt tacky and  "obviously" retro. More and more I kept thinking of creating my own prints – designs that felt nostalgic but in modern colours, chic and playful.  

Tell us about the journey.  What did you do first?

Really simply, I started painting.  The first print I created was Food Babies because I wanted a chinoiserie pattern but with a sense of humour. I made the stork birds carry my favourite takeaways instead of a new-born baby.  I love the idea that all of our prints have a story and a unique twist.  

whinnie williams' bathroom in poodle & blonde food babies wallpaper
Whinnie's Margate bathroom featuring Food Babies wallpaper in Blossom
How do you design your collections? Where do you draw inspiration from?

Initially the design process starts by being drawn to things and objects which intrigue me, then I'll start to obsessively research and collect as much as I can.  Last year I became fascinated with cowgirl and horse inspired memorabilia – anything and everything from vintage fashion and ornaments to sketches and paintings.  This became the starting point and inspiration for our Appaloosa collection which incorporates so many different elements meaning it works in a variety of rooms.  I also find old films, exhibitions and travelling an amazing source of  inspiration whenever I want to dive into one of my style hunches. 

What’s been your favourite Poodle & Blonde Collection to create and why?

I have a soft spot for our Wyndham Collection.  It was the first time Kierra and I worked together. The result was a complete merge of both of us, in terms of it being creative and commercial.  Before Kierra, I’d never had a business partner and so it was great to work together on this collection.

What makes Poodle & Blonde unique?

From the beginning, we believed there was a gap in the interiors market, and our mission is to establish Poodle & Blonde as the leading retro and mid-century inspired interiors brand.   One really special aspect is that everything is designed in-house and each new collection is inspired by a strong storytelling narrative.  We love to make things feel nostalgic yet new, creating future vintage pieces that will last and be loved for a lifetime. 

What’s been your biggest learn / success? 

I’ve learnt that running a business together with Kierra requires really open communication and being able to confront potentially difficult situations head on is essential.  We’re brilliant at sharing how we feel and that makes me really proud. We’ve been best friends and business partners for four years and we’re still having so much fun together.  I’m also super proud of the incredible collaborations we’ve done too. 

whinnie and kierra co-founders of poodle & blonde
Behind the scenes with Whinnie & Kierra on the Appaloosa collection shoot, with X the pony.
Looking ahead, what are you most excited about? What’s next? Can you give is a sneak peek?   

We’re just about to launch a new collection which is quite different for us in that it’s slightly more neutral and designed to work alone, and alongside our statement prints that embrace large scale pattern and print.  We refer to the new designs as the side plates to the main dish. All of the designs feel chic, super sleek and sexy. 

Finally, what do you love most about working with Kierra?

I love her sudden singing outburst and dance moves, plus her really focused work ethic.  I’m often the one with high energy and am laser focused whenever I have an important task to get done, but in Kierra I have met my match.  We’re a pair of whirlwinds!

We have enjoyed working together over the years and have some big plans for the next stage in our journey, so excited to share more!


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