Leanne Pollard has turned her travels into an interiors business. MAXINE GORDON meets the York businesswoman behind Hattie Lloyd designer wallpaper

LEANNE Pollard often has a "Hattie Lloyd" moment. It happens when she sees something that will inspire her to create a new design for her upmarket wallpaper range, Hattie Lloyd.

Those moments can happen anytime, anywhere – but often occur when she is on her travels, which is why her business slogan is: "Wanderlust Wallpaper – bringing the world into your home".

One such example is her Earth's Reflections collection. On the wall, all you can see is a repeat of a rectangle, lined by parallel white stripes, and filled with shades of blue and indigo. It's very striking – hypnotic almost – as the colours merge into each other in a tie-dye-like effect.

Leanne explained where the image came from. "I went to Thailand last September and was on Koh Samui island when a storm came in. I took a photo and the colours in the image of the islands, the sea, the cloud and the storm coming in were like those in an oil painting."

That was a "Hattie Lloyd" moment – and she knew the image would make it into a wallpaper.

"I have had it printed on a beautiful textured linen-style paper. It is very luxurious," said Leanne.

Translating a holiday snap into a top-of-the-range wallpaper was labour-intensive, but also highly creative, explained Leanne. She uses Photoshop, the digital image editing program, to create a graphic design from the photo that will work as a repeat print, then hires an outside specialist to make the wallpaper. Most of her designs are small-batch limited editions, and she often makes a print in several colour-ways to create a collection.

Happily, those "Hattie Lloyd" moments occur regularly enough to provide Leanne with ample designs for her luxury wallpaper business which she runs from York.

But first things first. What is the story behind the name?

Leanne said she wanted to call her business something that sounded more "creative".

"Why did so many other people get all the good names, the interesting names, the creative names, like Phoenix, Jewel or Zsa Zsa Gabor, and not sensible names like Leanne Pollard?" she said.

When her friend Nia named her daughter Hattie, Leanne loved it and decided to use it as her business name. She added Lloyd, and was content that she now had a more memorable name for her interiors business.

There was one hitch. "People always call me Hattie now then apologise when they find out my name is Leanne!"

The memorable name matches the memorable wallpaper, which definitely packs a punch.

She said: "Some of my stuff is out there! That's my USP. Not everyone is going to love it because it can be very bright. You have to be quite interiors brave to go for it!"

And she's not wrong. One design, London's Calling, features a large red telephone box, festooned with colourful flowers. "The telephone box is iconic and I love seeing how people have converted them since the invention of the mobile," said Leanne. "London's Calling was inspired by a gorgeous floral phone box in Durham. I loved adding the tropical element to something so British and turned the boxes into tropical bird aviaries. At first I had palms as the background but replaced them with daisies linked into metal chains for an urban feel."

Closer to home, a bee observed in the garden at Goddards House in York, the former home of the Terry family, has been turned into her Bee Bloom range.

"I was taking pictures of all the gorgeous flowers there last May and was observing the tulips in the garden over a glass of Prosecco," said Leanne, setting the scene. "The bees were out, diving in and out of the flowers, and I started sketching them."

Back home, she worked on the sketch; turning the bees' wings into flowers and changing the tulips into roses.

Leanne, who used to work in advertising and is largely self-taught, has learned through trial and error which designs work best as wallpaper. "I am moving away from doing small designs. Small designs work best on a feature wall or in an enclosed space such as a utility room, or between shelves and alcoves."

A big print, she said, was more versatile and can make more of a statement.

People are also moving away from putting wallpaper on a single feature wall and deciding to paper the entire room.

"People are so much braver with wallpaper," she said. "They might trial something first and when everyone says how much they love the wallpaper in their toilet, it gives them more confidence to keep going – and they never look back!"

Buying a Hattie Lloyd design is not that dissimilar to buying a piece of art. Leanne only has 12 rolls printed of each design at a time,with each one costing from £59 to £123.

Alongside each roll of wallpaper bought, Leanne sends out a personal note to customers telling the story behind the design, sharing those "Hattie Lloyd" moments. "I also send them the pictures that led to the inspiration," she added.

Looking ahead, Leanne, who turns 40 this year, wants to launch new designs and work with more retailers. She would also like to branch out into new interiors products, such as creating lampshades.

And her top tip for changing up the look of a room? Be authentic – and have courage.

She said: "I rebel against trends. If you have something you like then build the room around that. Start with an object, something that really stands out. It has to be something that makes you go 'wow!'. If you want change, you have to be super brave."

Find out more at hattielloyd.com