It’s been an extremely busy year for the inspirational mother and daughter team behind Dorset-based fabric company, Meg Morton.

Not only have Maggie Baxter and Vicky Clappison launched a raft of stunning new designs and accessories, their business has expanded beyond recognition – all while contending with a life-changing operation.

“For several years, Vicky’s health had been failing and we knew that the only solution would be a kidney transplant,” Maggie confides.

“When my husband, Rob, was found to be the best match, he didn’t think twice about donating one of his kidneys to our daughter. As a result, Vicky has been given a completely new lease of life, and our online business is going from strength to strength.”

Maggie and Vicky’s shared passion for colour, pattern and texture stems from a long heritage of Scottish textile designers and manufacturers, including their ancestor, Alexander Morton. Having launched in 1867, Alexander Morton & Co grew rapidly, supplying textiles to major outlets across the UK, such as Liberty’s.

“I’ve always been obsessed with fabric and colour,” says Maggie. “My late mother, Meg, was a home economics teacher, wonderful homemaker and an exquisite seamstress, while my father, Reg Needham, was a textile technologist.

“I grew up surrounded by reams of beautiful fabrics and embroidered linens. I vividly remember my mother patiently making lampshades, curtains and clothes with painstaking attention to detail, while I dabbled in watercolour painting and various crafts.”

At the age of 13, Maggie’s creative streak went on hold for many years after her mother died.

“I changed tack and, because my other passion was animals, I ended up studying agriculture at college in Shropshire, where I met Rob.”

After the couple married and moved to a sheep farm in Somerset, Maggie began working in a branch of Laura Ashley where her love of design was reignited.

“I really enjoyed styling the shop windows and discovered so much about fabric, wallpaper and retail,” she says.

When Vicky was born in 1990, the family relocated to a small holding near Beaminster, west Dorset, where Maggie opened a shop selling home accessories.

“All of a sudden, I had an overwhelming desire to get my paintbrushes out and decorate homewares with designs inspired by the beautiful Dorset countryside,” Maggie says.

Having moved again, in 2009, Maggie opened a store in Shaftesbury, selling designer fabrics and homewares, and was later joined by talented photographer, Vicky.

“We named the business Meg Morton, as a tribute to my mother and our family heritage. Vicky and I found that we really loved working together,” says Maggie.

After expanding into bigger premises in order to add larger pieces of furniture to their range, the creative pair decided it was high time to launch their own Meg Morton range of fabrics.

“Our first design, Dragonfly, was inspired by a memorable rural walk in the Dorset countryside,” says Maggie.

Buoyed up by the response to this fabric, Maggie then hand-painted her pretty Hydrangea design.

“We were on a roll, and the feedback from customers was incredibly positive and encouraging,” says Maggie. “As well as selling our fabric, we also used it to make bespoke lampshades, which continue to be incredibly popular.”

Realising that Vicky’s health was deteriorating, and aware that the kidney transplant was imminent, in 2016, the pair decided to close the shop and take their business online.

“We had thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with our customers, but felt that this was a sensible decision since the operation was going to have a major impact on the whole family,” Maggie adds.

“Fortunately, our lovely Shaftesbury clients instantly supported us, and they’ve been joined by many others across the UK and, indeed, worldwide.”

As well as floral, coastal and nature-inspired designs referencing Dorset, Maggie and Vicky have added a collection influenced by their love of French brocantes.

“Many of our fabrics are named after local places we enjoy visiting, such as Thorncombe Fern, and Fontmell Pheasant. They are perfect for curtains, blinds and soft furnishings in both traditional and contemporary homes.”

After Maggie and Vicky exhibited at an interiors trade show during 2017, the business expanded rapidly.

“We were approached by numerous stockists who loved our fabrics and were also keen to sell our designs,” says Maggie. “This was a definite turning point for Meg Morton. We now have many stockists in the UK and America, but are always on the lookout for more.”

As well as selling fabric and lampshades, Meg Morton has branched into designer wallpaper, cushions and homewares, such as noticeboards and doorstops.

At the start of this year, Vicky and Rob were told by specialists at Southmead Hospital in Bristol that they ought to prepare for the transplant operation.

“It was frightening, but I knew that it had to be done,” says Vicky. “I was getting so tired, which was frustrating since I was incredibly keen to live a fuller life, and had so many ideas for plans to expand Meg Morton.”

The transplant was a success and, even while recuperating in hospital, Vicky began putting the final touches to two beautiful new designs; the pretty, geometric Chalbury and striking, artisanal Jhansi.

Since the operation, it’s been a case of full-speed ahead.

“Vicky’s definitely got her sparkly eyes and mojo back,” says Maggie. “Meg Morton has really taken off, with lots of new lines added, including a wonderful selection of beautiful bags, all made in our pretty fabrics, plus an array of lovely gifts such as notebooks, lavender hearts and fabric-covered French soaps.”

Meg Morton has just launched a charming new fabric, called Highcliffe, named after Highcliffe Castle, where Vicky married her husband, Richard.

As well as selling online, the pair have recently opened, by appointment, their studio near Shaftesbury.

“It has been an incredible journey and one that we’re still thoroughly enjoying,” says Maggie. “Following the transplant, it almost felt like I was meeting a new daughter. Vicky has much more energy these days.

“Sometimes, when we’re in the studio, making lampshades, designing fabrics or just laughing together, I think of mum and the precious times I spent with her. I reckon she’d be very proud of Meg Morton.”


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