International Women’s Day: Lorna’s love for design, colour and pattern
Lorna Haigh is Director of Creative & Marketing at Alternative Flooring, the first flooring only brand to be nominated as a CoolBrand for its approach to style and innovation. Lorna loves design and colour and her job is all about changing the way people feel about flooring – including bringing pattern back!
What gets you up in the morning?
Elsie, my gorgeous labradoodle, followed by a quick yomp across the fields with her in the morning. It clears the head and sets me up for the day. Mental wellbeing and the outdoors is so important - it gives me creative space and an opportunity to think things through before I get to the office.
How did you start in the industry?
I was born just down the road from Kidderminster, well known in the UK as ‘carpet kingdom’. My joining the industry was fated from a young age - when I was 18 a friend of mine offered me holiday work in a carpet shop, and during my gap year before university, I sold carpet cleaning services door to door. Hard work but a wonderful insight into sales and I looked at lots of carpet!
Fast forward another 15 years, after working in London in Marketing, a friend who was going back to Canada suggested that I apply for her part-time sales & marketing role at a local company called Alternative Flooring. Wanting to keep my hand in, the role looked like it would work with my then young family so I took it and have never looked back!
What do you love most about your job?
My job has evolved over the years. Marketing is ever-changing and embracing new technology and new initiatives keeps the job fresh and exciting. But what I love most is the people I work with, both inside and outside the company.
We’re a small dedicated team at Alternative Flooring, with a real family atmosphere. Because of this, we can make things happen - there isn’t lots of red tape and bureaucracy to deal with when we need to change things and I love that. With a great team of professionals, we can react, innovate and bring exciting new products and initiatives to market quickly. This has allowed me to work with talented designers like Margo Selby, Ben Pentreath, Ashley Hicks and recently with Divine Savages and Ella Doran.
Are there any particular challenges of being a woman in the industry?
I don’t look at it that way. There are as many business challenges for men as for women.
What I do enjoy however is working collaboratively, which I think women are especially good at - bringing different skills together as a team and making great things happen. Working with Ella Doran and Amanda Peach from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in creating the Waterlake runner was groundbreaking, collaborative and fun! Check out Ella’s film - it is inspirational!
Any particular highlights of your career?
Bringing a little bit of pattern back to the floor! We launched Quirky patterned carpet to the flooring industry when patterned carpet was considered old fashioned and I was told it would never work. The collaboration with Liberty Fabrics is one which makes me especially proud - who would have thought that those iconic Liberty patterns would be re-imagined for the floor? I get so much joy looking at our Instagram feed where people have showcased their home, thrilled with their new carpet purchase. It really makes my heart sing!
If you could give one piece of advice to people starting in the industry, what would it be?
Be yourself. And if you really believe something can work, go for it. People always prefer to say yes rather than no, so ASK, you never know what will happen!
Find your nearest Alternative Flooring stockist at https://www.britishwool.org.uk/where-to-buy-wool