Article by Lisa Todd
It’s always to get inspiration from others who have reinvented their lives and careers midlife. Lisa shares her own midlife reinvention story when an accident forced her to change her life.
This Spring Lisa Todd launched her new floral textiles collection Boho Naïve, from Lisa Todd Designs at www.lisatodddesigns.com. This is the culmination of a journey that has been both physically and mentally challenging.
After suffering a devastating life changing accident in 2003, I was diagnosed with Cervical Dystonia, a rare disease that affects just 18 000 people in the UK. This is a debilitating painful neuromuscular condition and its effects meant that I had to give up my lovely, sociable and active profession as an interior designer, and had to completely rethink my life life as I knew it.
I missed my old career
Not only did I miss my old career terribly, but I had to also find something new that I could physically manage. This took a long time, but started when my old passion for painting was reignited at a local art class. From there I discovered an online course in surface pattern design. Through this I became part of an international textile and print community, which has been a big supporter of the launch of www.lisatodddesigns.com. We are a supportive group of women at all stages of life and career paths.
It hasn’t been straight forward. My first attempt at printing was tea towels and it became clear that the intricacies of colour balance, fabric choice and print quality would be a steep learning curve. Producing a range from the kitchen table with limited resources was definitely a challenge! But seeing the first fabric samples with my name on the selvedge was a huge thrill. And a memorable moment was when a woman walked into a pop-up shop and bought all eight of my cushions on display.
Socially, Dystonia is very isolating so you become very self sufficient by necessity. It’s difficult to meet new friends, but the friends and family I have, have been hugely supportive. My sister paid for the first term of surface pattern course and my mentor Dr Emma Neuburg has guided me through the complicated textile process, tutoring mainly by phone apart from one meeting. My greatest support has come from my mum Thelma, my husband Jeremy and my daughter Olivia. Olivia was seven when I had the accident and is now about to start university studying art!
All along I’ve been inspired by people and brands like Cath Kidston, The Designers Guild and Orla Kiely. Seeing my cushions on display in Fenwicks has been a big boost, but I still have plans to keep developing expanding and selling an inspiring range, creating an instantly recognisable brand and bring joy to contemporary and traditional homes and Interiors .