As a child, Anna Schmidt had always loved colour, texture and fabrics. She remembers telling her father that she longed to be a fashion designer and the concern on his face as he imagined his daughter struggling to make a name for herself in such a tough industry. This probably wasn’t helped when she failed her AS Level in Textiles.
Not one to be deterred, Anna persisted and joined Winchester School of Art to study Fashion & Textiles, where she found a real passion for textiles, quickly dropping the fashion side of the course to focus purely on textiles for interiors. At her degree show Anna was hired by Tigerprint London to design cards and gift wrap for some of the UK’s biggest highstreet retailers.
In 1999 Anna started designing bedlinen and soft furnishing for Delbanco Meyer. She stayed there for 5 years before taking a role as Design Director for Faupel Home Furnishings where she met “the dream team”, Paul Starbuck and Barry Drennan who both later joined her at ALSO Home.
In 2008, just as the recession hit, Anna’s vision and desire to create her own brand came to the forefront. She had travelled the world for work and saw a gap in the market for stylish homewares that were uniquely made by artisans from the countries she had visited. As the credit crunch took many businesses, Anna Leisa Schmidt Originals (A.L.S.O Home) was born. Anna kept going with the business and started working with some of the largest retailers in the UK, creating and producing their Own Label ranges for them. The team expanded with Paul joining and with their joint knowledge, experience and passion, ALSO Home grew.
Anna has not had an easy time of it, starting a business in the recession came with it’s own set of challenges but Anna also found herself becoming a single mother when her son was just 11 weeks old. Not wanting to give up on the business, she would travel with her child around the world to meet with clients and spend hours caring for her son while watching artisans at work. Her passion and drive kept her going in this turbulent time in her life but she admits finding the elusive work-life balance has always been a challenge.
Despite working with great names and household brands, Anna’s original vision for her business never left her. In 2015 she decided to create her own branded products and the ALSO Home brand was relaunched with a new e-commerce site. The “Dream Team” reformed with Barry Drennan joining Anna and opening the brand up to wholesale. Within 20 months stockists had grown from 6 to 160 in the UK and Europe.
With an ever expanding range of soft washed linen and cotton bed linen, cushions, bedspreads and throws – the range builds on it’s successes season after season.