‘Let nature be your teacher’ exhorts Wordsworth and there is no doubt that we can learn all we need to know about beauty from the sea, the sky, flora and fauna. But – sadly – contemplating daffodils is an impractical career choice. Textile designer Clarissa Hulse may possess a poet’s love of the great outdoors but she combines it with practical business acumen and reaps the benefits of both.

In the delicate, carefully traced lines of her botanical prints you can see that Clarissa spends plenty of time absorbed in the structure of leaf, stem and stamen. ‘I draw most of my inspiration from the countryside, where I walk, take photographs and collect interesting specimens,’ she explains. It’s also clear that translating her observations onto textiles comes naturally to her, while the ease with which she blends and matches colour is the hallmark of a Hulse design.

These are not small accomplishments but nor are they completely unique. Every year at the graduate shows there are students whose draughtsmanship is exemplary and whose colour sense is eye catching. So what was it that propelled Clarissa Hulse away from the pack? What qualities transformed her from talented student into a British textile brand with 20 years experience and an international following?

‘I definitely have a head for business and a creative side,’ she admits. ‘Both are essential – even if it does create tension. From my creativity I get job satisfaction but also a need for perfection – I sometimes wonder if it slows me down. If I had a pure business brain would I be a millionaire by now?’ High standards also have a role to play in her success. From the moment she began commercial production, Clarissa has insisted on the most beautiful fabrics, preferring to use tiny amounts of fine silk than masses of a less expensive substitute…

To read this article by Beth Smith in full, order your digital copy of Selvedge issue 57 here.

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