Meet the maker – Gilly Nicolson




When I’m working, I usually get up at 5am. I’ll walk the dogs once it gets light, then I’ll work or home-school our two boys, depending on whose turn it is. With two entrepreneurs in the house, my husband and I often continue working into the evening. I work most days, though I like to have a longer walk on Fridays, perhaps with a friend (when we’re allowed to).

I’ve always wanted to run my own business – I remember being 13 and sketching ideas for how I wanted my shop to look. I needed to try out a few different ideas before landing on something that I felt would work and that I was passionate about.

In my 20s, all I wanted to do was explore the world. I saw that decade as a real adventure. After a business degree at university in Glasgow, I spent a year teaching English in Japan. It was fascinating, and a great experience. After Japan, I worked in marketing in London for a few years. I enjoyed it but I still had itchy feet. I went travelling again, this time to New Zealand, where I ended up working for a small business that produced bespoke bedlinen. We would talk our customers through the options, laying out their chosen sheeting colour and then trying out different ribbon colour combinations until they had exactly as they wanted. I loved seeing the pleasure they got when they’d made their choice from a wide selection of colours. It inspired me. So, when I eventually felt the pull to return back home to Scotland, I set about putting my own business together. We now sell customised bedlinen, bedding and towels through interior designers and direct to our customers.

Corded Stitch bedding, from £50, Gilly Nicolson

I’d always wanted to open a shop but, with customers all over the country, it actually works really well for us to be online. The world has changed so much, especially in the past year, that developing our online service has been our focus recently. We want people to experience our simple and easy process as they create and order from the comfort of their own home. A lot of our interior designer clients are in London and the south-east and I don’t think many realise we’re based in Edinburgh. This might be because I’m often in London (or at least I used to be!), so meeting to discuss a project was always easy. I loved being able to hop on a plane early in the morning but still be back in time to read my children a bedtime story. During lockdown, Zoom calls have opened up a global market for us now too – so I can live in a place I love but work all over the world. We’ve provided bedlinen for famous sports personalities and international royalty; I’d like to hope we could be granted a royal warrant one day.

We have an unrivalled colour library that allows people to customise their bedlinen from a choice of more that 400 different corded stitch colours, 60 ribbon colours and eight pure cotton sheeting colours, with more to be added soon. Our towels can also be customised and we’re adding new colourways this year, as well as increasing the product options that can be customised. 

Achieving better balance is my aim. It was tricky in 2020, and 2021 looks similar so far. But I’m attempting to find a little more time in the day for myself. I enjoy running, for instance, which is so much more than just exercise. I’ve also taken up playing the piano and am testing my family’s patience with a piece by Ludovico Einaudi that I’m learning. The best therapy, though, is catching up with family and friends – I guess we’ll just need to wait a little longer for that.

The possibilities for customisation are almost endless, with over 400 different colours to choose from

Looking for more Meet the maker pieces? Check them out here

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