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2 Dec 2020

Meet the Makers: Jo Murray from Sonsie Face Ltd

Written by Jo Murray
A lady with short fair hair sits in a warehouse-type area. A clothing rail with t-shirts on hangers stands behind her.
Jo Murray, Co-owner of Sonsie Face Ltd
The Trust’s Meet the Maker series is proudly sponsored by Naked Wines, where the world’s best independent winemakers make their best wines.

The Trust is proud to support talented makers and craftspeople from across Scotland, by selling their products in our physical and online shops. This time, we meet Jo Murray from Sonsie Face Ltd.

Hello! I’m Jo, co-owner of a business called Sonsie Face Ltd. We specialise in printing and embroidering clothing, which we supply to customers all over Scotland.

In 2017 my partner Derick and I decided that, with three decades of experience between us in garment decoration, production and sales, the time was right to take the bull by the horns and set up on our own. We took on a unit close to our home on the south side of Edinburgh and started from there.

From the outset we decided the focus for our own range of t-shirts, hoodies and hats should be on creating designs that were different to what was already on offer in a very competitive marketplace. For inspiration we looked to Scotland’s history, culture, wildlife and broad array of historic and outdoor attractions. Our Highland cow logo has proven to be very popular and now plays a major part in our own collection.

Alongside our own stock range, we also create bespoke designs for customers such as the National Trust for Scotland. These can come about through requests to produce an existing design, or collaborations to create new designs based on a theme. Over the last four years we’ve carved a niche for ourselves by making personalised products easily accessible, giving our customers the opportunity to offer their own unique designs.

To produce our designs we use a variety of processes including screen, heat-seal, sublimation and direct-to-garment printing, as well as embroidery. The method we use depends on a variety of factors: the fabric to be ‘decorated’, the quantity of garments involved, the size of the design, the number of colours in the design, and the purpose of the garment. Things are changing in the world of garment printing and new technology is allowing us to produce bespoke clothing collections for clients, with surprisingly small minimum quantities.

As the need to protect the environment becomes increasingly important, we’re now using organic garments and water-based inks in our printing processes wherever possible. We’ve also changed our approach to packaging – when packaging is needed, we use recycled/recyclable products at every opportunity.

What is your favourite thing about running your own business?

Getting our own business off the ground has been incredibly hard work but hugely satisfying. The best thing for us has been the sense of achievement – it sounds like a cliché I know, but it’s true when people say ‘you get out what you put in’. When I think back to starting out four years ago, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come.

What has been your proudest moment so far?

Driving home one evening and spotting one of our neighbours in her garden wearing one of our t-shirts, which she’d bought on a trip up north ... and last year one of our staff sent a message from Dubai Airport to say he’d been sitting on a plane next to a lady wearing one of our celtic design t-shirts. We get a huge buzz from seeing people wearing our garments!

What is your favourite National Trust for Scotland place?

The obvious answer here should be Robert Burns Birthplace Museum – because without Rabbie Burns, we probably wouldn’t have our business name! However, Derick loves the mountains so it’s Torridon for him, and I love Scotland’s beaches so for me it’s Iona.

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How did you start working with the Trust?

We did a presentation in the Trust’s Head Office towards the end of our first full year in business and, although we didn’t have much to show at the time, our future plans sparked an interest. By the time of the trade show the following January, we had developed our thoughts and the Trust very kindly visited our stand to discuss the potential in more depth. It was perfect timing for us both. We were in the process of establishing a new approach to design, labelling and packaging, and the Trust were looking to freshen their bespoke offering around the main sites.

What’s your favourite product that you supply, and what was the inspiration behind creating it?

My personal favourite is a ladies t-shirt design, which we created last year for Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. I love the design itself that includes a rose printed in pink rose gold, along with the text ‘A Red Red Rose’ from the song. It combines modern fashion with tradition.

What do you love about Scotland?

Everything ... except the rain and the midgies! We wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Explore the Trust’s range of Sonsie Face products

Naked Wines is proud to support the National Trust for Scotland’s Meet the Maker series. Enjoy 12 delicious bottles handcrafted by some of the world’s best independent winemakers for just £80 saving over £56. Even better, Naked Wines will donate 20% of proceeds back to the Trust for every case purchased.

Snap up your exclusive case from our friends at Naked Wines.


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