Ellis & Co client case study: Toots Design

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Life can be tricky, but it can also be magical…

Step forward illustrator, author and animator Lorna Gibson owner of Toots Design.

Lorna creates illustrations, stories and animations which aren’t afraid to address difficult topics like fear and bereavement alongside the uplifting moments of everyday magic.

Due to the comforting nature in which they are written, Lorna’s stories are now being used by bereavement charities including Grief Encounter and 2Wish Upon a Star, as well as mental health workers and ICU departments, something which she is very proud of.

“I started illustrating for my own personal development, posting my work online in 2017 which eventually grew into full time business in 2020” said Lorna. 

Lorna’s illustrations proved hugely popular and soon enough she was bringing the characters in those illustrations into story books and then finally to life, with her first ever animation – Mr Bear’s Christmas.

“That’s been the biggest challenge I have set myself so far,” said Lorna.

“I made Mr Bear’s Christmas last year, it took me six months from story board to completion.

“It was a number of firsts for me, working with a range of software’s including Photoshop and Premier Pro (an editing software), as well as building a set, it was a labour of love.”

Along with negotiating through unknown software and building a brand new set, the dream of creating the animation would have been costly if Lorna hadn’t done it herself.

“Creating the characters in the animation including Mr Bear, Mr Badger and Mouse was going to be expensive, costing over £300 per character,” said Lorna.

“During a trip to the Chester Wool Company, one of the team said that I could make the characters myself, of course I laughed as I’d never tried needlefelt work before.

“A few days later I arrived home to a surprise in the post, a needlefelt kit sent by Chester Wool, so I gave it a go!

“I taught myself quite quickly and within a month I had created all my characters and the set.

“I don’t think I’d have tried doing it myself without that chance conversation and I’m so pleased I did,” she added.

As with the majority of businesses across the globe, Lorna has had challenges to overcomeworking during the pandemic.

But Lorna did admit that lockdown did have its positives, allowing her more time to reflect and also write four new books; The Tales of Mr Bear (three stories within one), Just As You Are (uplifting stories, dealing with emotions), Love Never Dies (a book about dealing with bereavement) and Monsters (a book about not holding in worries and fears).

“I wrote the book Love Never Dies for children dealing with bereavement, but it’s been well received with adults too,” said Lorna.

“I’m so proud that it’s being used by charities and other health care professionals.”

Along with other creatives, Lorna doesn’t have a ‘typical working day’, breaking her week down between creative tasks and non-creative tasks including admin and marketing.

“Unfortunately I seem to have less time for the creative side of things than I would like!” said Lorna.

“The most satisfying part of my job is still most definitely being my own boss, which allows me to have an idea and bring it into fruition.

“To see a blank page develop into a finished project is such a lovely feeling.”

Not only did Chester Wool Company introduce Lorna to the world of needle felt, but also to new accountants – Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers.

“I wanted to change to accountants who could help me with Xero, Chester Wool told me about their accountants and how good they were, so I gave them a call,” said Lorna.

“The team have been so helpful, it was so nice to have a conversation with people who were incredibly patient.

“It’s lovely to be listened to and asked about my needs and to be given correct advice.

“I have already recommended them.”

For further information about Toots Design click here.

Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, Chester & Wrexham - 01244 343504, info@ellis-uk.com