Archive: June 2015

A Look Behind the Scenes of Mrs L Cards

An ‘Inspiring Indies’ Interview with Mrs L Cards.

For this week’s ‘Inspiring Independents’ Interview we chatted to Carol Lewcock, founder of Mrs L Cards. Carol shared the inspiration behind her company and an insight into the creative community.

What inspired you to start Mrs L Cards? When did you begin?

mrs L cards initially began as a hobby. I am a trained graphic designer and wanted to do something slightly different to what I was doing in the 9-5 job. I wanted to produce something that pleased me rather than a client. I designed about 4 cards using the repetition of an image in different colours. I knew of Etsy from purchasing there myself and could see that I could showcase these designs with little initial outlay. I remember vividly listing the cards on a saturday and the following day 1 of the 4 had been bought by a girl in the US. I literally screamed with excitement. mrs L cards was born.

What can you tell us about your indie business? What sets you apart from your corporate contemporaries?

I think a possible difference is that there is a massive amount of passion behind my business. mrs L cards is my baby and each product is a part of me. I think I may be a bit of a perfectionist and this translates within mrs L cards. I want every item that leaves my studio to be perfect. I want every customer to feel like they have dealt with a real human being if they have queries and I want them to also realise that their custom is extremely important, because it is.

What’s your role in the business? What’s your favourite things about your job / running an indie business?

My role is that of professional juggler! Ultimately I am the designer but I am also an administrator, business planner, stock buyer,customer services etc. By far the best thing about running my business is that I am in control (most of the time) and I am doing it for me. I am the driving force. I remember hearing a quote

“When you work for someone else you are working on their dream, when you work for yourself you are working on your own dream”.

Are there other people in your business? What can you tell us about the rest of the team?

Yes, I have freelancers that help me, thankfully! My sister helps me 3 days a week with the day to day running, pretty much anything I throw at her she can do.
I have a freelance designer who I call upon when its gets super busy and my girl Friday who helps with all the background preparation to make order turnaround
quicker and easier.

Here at Piccadilly Lane, we believe that independents offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. Do you agree? How do you ensure this happens at Mrs L Cards?

I do agree yes. I believe small indies have to work harder to get seen. In order to do this we have to up our game and produce something that stands out from the crowd and something that is great quality with a corresponding price point. Personally I am always looking to develop products/lines where I can see gaps in the market. From a quality point of view I try always to use local companies or companies within the UK for supplies and services.

The North-East seems to have played an important role in the development of your business. Do you think there is strong support in the area for indie businesses like yours?

I think there is a tendency to believe that all creative talent is in London however I find there are pockets of unique creative people all across the UK. The North East is my home so it is where I feel safe and ultimately happy. I was lucky enough to win a North East based business award (Best Home Based Business) in 2013 and I think it is wonderful that these kinds of awards exist. They showcase and acknowledge great achievements for both women and for growing businesses.

You currently specialise in greeting cards and prints? What inspires you about this area of design? Do you plan to continue in this area or do you have plans to extend your collection?

The thing that I love about greetings cards is that they are a simple, relatively cheap way to show you care. In this world of screens and technology it is so lovely to see that something so “old school” can still mean so much. In fact I think given the modern world it seems to man more than ever before. I have plans to extend my current card ranges and also plans of how to develop these ranges into other products. However I think cards will always be at the heart of my company. My main aim of this year is to start offering my cards to trade customers.

Your products often feature bright colour palettes. What attracts you to using bold colours in your designs?

I adore colour, to me it brings happiness so I think I use such colours in the hope they give happiness to others. Colour brightens up any day!

Your collection shows great attention to detail and quality. What can you tell us about the craftsmanship involved?

As previously mentioned I am a trained graphic designer so typography and the good use of it is important to me. Good layout and an understanding of typography is what makes the difference between a graphic designer and someone who simply knows how to use a computer. Where my typography prints and cards are concerned this is paramount.

Why should people shop with you? What makes you different?

Feedback from previous customers shows me that many of my products offer something that they haven’t seen before. I think this is particularly true where my button range of cards and prints are concerned. The personalised birthday and anniversary cards and prints take the recipient on a trip down memory lane and I have had lots of lovely comments about these. To provoke a happy emotional response from customers is simply wonderful. It makes me very happy.

We LOVE independents and think more people should be supporting them. Why do you think people should shop with independent businesses like yours?

I think the main reason to support indies is to support the economy, the country and the future. Independents such as myself employ the services of other people and other business within the UK. Lots of indies are ethical thinkers and do their very best to buy/source locally or within the UK. There are so many creative people out there with so much to offer it would be such a shame not to be 100% behind them.

Last but not least, what’s your favourite independent business and why?

Newton and the Apple, Gemma (the owner)  has such a great USP of using inspiration from nature and science to develop some amazing products. I think the diversity of products Newton and the Applie offer is brilliant.

Thank You Carol!

You’ve read the interview, now check out the indie! Visit the Mrs L Cards website.

Posted by Charlotte 8:00 29/06/15
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A Look Behind the Scenes of Stuff of Dreams

An ‘Inspiring Indies’ Interview with Stuff of Dreams.

For this week’s ‘Inspiring Independents‘ interview we got an exclusive look behind the scenes of Stuff of Dreams and their unique collection of contemporary gifts and homeware. With an amazing collection that beautifully unites form, function and colour we wanted to know more about how this indie began and what inspires their product picks. Read on to find out what we discovered from Co-Owner Di Humphreys.

What inspired you to start Stuff of Dreams? When did you begin?

We started up in earnest just over 2 years ago with the aim of discovering a different creative outlet to the one we’d been used to … really a change of direction.

What can you tell us about your indie business? What sets you apart from your corporate contemporaries?

Form and function, the bold, vibrant colours of Africa, the clean, simple lines of Scandinavian design. Fine, often ingenious craftsmanship are our inspirations. Hopefully, these preoccupations come together in some of our unique products to set us apart from our corporate contemporaries

What’s your role in the business? What’s your favourite things about your job / running an indie business?

We are partners making joint artistic decisions. Productive collaboration when it works is always exciting. Martin obsesses about wood, shape and line and me about textiles, colour and pattern…how to photograph it all is a continual question.

Are there other people in your business? What can you tell us about the rest of the team?

We are small and family orientated, drafting in extra help when we need it. Our son contributes with his own photography and helps with running the site when he’s not studying. He and our daughter never hold back from telling us what they think!

Here at Piccadilly Lane, we believe that independents offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. Do you agree? How do you ensure this happens at Stuff of Dreams?

We do agree. We achieve this by sourcing products that are carefully crafted and often made by hand. In this country, we have a small team of makers that allows us quality control and attention to detail. We believe this is the only way to compete with the large corporates to make something a little different.

Your site offers both own brand designs and items from fellow designers and makers. What are the common themes or qualities that unite the two?

Style, simplicity, pattern and colour.

You currently specialise in contemporary homeware and gifts? What inspires you about this area of design? Do you plan to continue in this area or do you have plans to extend your collection?

Martin’s father was an architect and I trained as a fashion designer so contemporary design, new processes, materials and fine craftsmanship have always inspired us. The exposure over the last decade or so to global crafts and their application in a modern context continually fascinate. We would like to be using our own fabrics in our products, developing some simple but beautifully made furniture and provide a platform for up and coming designers … but it all takes time!

Your products are sourced from designers and makers all over the world. What do you look for in new designers?

Simplicity, always harder than it looks; an inspired combination of function and form and an element of fun too – the design world is sometimes prone to taking itself a little too seriously.

Your collection includes a lot of handmade items. What can you tell us about the craftsmanship involved?

They are generally people who have perfected their craft over many years and are still passionate about it. Clever, patient people!

Why should people shop with you? What makes you different?

Shopping with us hopefully makes people feel they are getting a unique product, well-designed. They have had to search for us but have hopefully found something a little bit different at the end.

We LOVE independents and think more people should be supporting them. Why do you think people should shop with independent businesses like yours?

To encourage makers and designers and respect their individual talents rather than mass-producing products that often exploit the crafter and harm the planet in the process. To invest in design and sustainability rather than the throwaway attitude some distributors encourage. Martin’s family have Eames chairs that look as good today as when they were released. Good design should be timeless and last.

Last but not least, what’s your favourite independent business and why?

Folklore, Future and Found, Darkroom and Soukha in Amsterdam.

Thank You Di!

You’ve read the interview, now check out the indie! Visit the Stuff of Dreams website.

Posted by Charlotte 8:00 22/06/15
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FREE Guide! Best of the Indie Web

Discover the Best of the Indie Web.

Constantly on a mission to find the best and brightest of the indie shopping scene we’ve recently updated our FREE guide to the ‘Best of the Indie Web’.

The new guide contains:

~ An A-Z of Indie Shops you should check out today.

~ Reasons to #ShopIndie from the independent sellers.

~ An ‘Indie Picks’ feature with retro designer extraordinaire Sue Lee.

~ A closer look at the Piccadilly Lane mission to support independent businesses.

Add your email below to be sent your FREE copy today.

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Curious why you should be interested in the Best of the Indie Web?

We love indie businesses. Simple as that.

We believe in supporting and celebrating independents.

We believe our towns and cities are at their best when filled with unique, indie shops.

We believe the internet is a more interesting place when you find independent websites.

But don’t just take it from us! Here’s a sneak peek into the guide, asking the people behind some amazing indie brands … why shop indie?

“By shopping with independents, people can ensure that they are buying high quality, innovative products which directly support the people who do the making. A lot of the time, you won’t see these sort of products on the shelves of high street stores; having something a little different is as good a reason as any!”

Ed Povey, Place in Print.

‘It’s down to the customer service and getting the personal touch. Independent companies can now offer the same easy online shopping experience as the bigger companies so why wouldn’t you want to order from a place where you can feel more than just a number.’

Julie Laukee, Lente Designs.

“I think independents are the way forward. They keep the economy moving and local communities thriving. For every penny I make online I take it into our local community by shopping in my own independent and local stores.”

Nat Rigby, Thrashion.

“Vive la difference!”

Valerie Carr, Valerie Valerie.

Like the sound of indies? Add your email now and get indie inspiration delivered straight to your inbox!

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Posted by Charlotte 8:00 19/06/15
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Colour Your Day Happy! FREE Colouring Pages for Adults

De-Stress & Get Creative with Free Colouring Pages for Adults.

As colouring-in books for adults top the bestsellers lists and the press acknowledge the power of colouring in to ease stress we’ve decided it’s time to bring a little colouring-in therapy to the Piccadilly Lane community. We’ve teamed up with indie favourite Valerie Valerie for an exclusive freebie … free colouring pages that you can print off and colour-in to release your inner creative.

Valerie Valerie’s chief designer Valerie Carr has created Jazzy Sunflowers, Foxy Lines & Hill of Houses as free printables. Known for her beautiful, intricate designs Valerie’s artwork is perfect for colouring.

Colouring in is a great way to unwind, de-stress and get creative.

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Indie Inspiration Delivered Direct
& your FREE copy of 'The Best of the Indie Web'.

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The ‘Colour Your Day Happy’ eBook contains 3 unique images ready to be coloured.

Why not join growing numbers of adults who are stepping away from computers and TV in favour of the childhood pursuit of colour.

Try the trend for today with our free colouring pages and see for yourself how a little time away from work, chores and modern gadgets can calm your senses and relax your mind.

While Valerie has designed these sheets for adults, we have to admit they’re great fun for kids too! What child won’t love adding a splash of red, yellow, blue and green to our Foxy friend!

The printables have been designed to fit a standard A4 printer, so you can print them off as many times as you wish for your own personal colouring happiness.

**Update. The free giveaway is now closed. We do however have an exciting update for colouring fans, so keep your eyes peeled or sign up to our VIP community above and be the first to hear.**

colour your day ebook

Like the look of the free colouring pages? See more from Valerie Valerie in the Piccadilly Lane directory.

Posted by Charlotte 8:00 17/06/15
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A Look Behind the Scenes of That Socks

An ‘Inspiring Indies’ Look Behind the Scenes of That Socks.

Today we’re taking a closer look at a delightful new sock company, with our sneak peek behind the scenes of That Socks.

Joseph Seager is the owner of That Socks, a boutique company which aims to brighten up boring feet!

Since launching in 2013, the company has developed a range of socks with awesome names, backstories & colours/designs that people love.

For this week’s ‘Inspiring Independents‘ interview we caught up with Joseph to find out more about the inspiration behind this cool indie brand.

What inspired you to start That Socks? When did you begin?

The inspiration behind That Socks was the fact I always wear odd socks. Many years ago I put my foot through a sock, was about to throw the pair out & stopped, questioning myself about why I was throwing the other perfectly fine sock out along with the torn one. From then on I never paired socks up, just having a drawer full of loose ones from which I grabbed two. After facing redundancy in 2012, setting up my social media business shortly after, I then joked that I could make a business about my odd fashion choice. I found a British supplier and That Socks was born in 2013.

What can you tell us about your indie business? What sets you apart from your corporate contemporaries?

It’s a personal experience with That Socks. I love interacting with customers online, at stalls I’ve held & Christmas events I’ve been to. Everyone seems to love the socks and comment on the designs, colours and quality. I enjoy keeping everything under one umbrella, I’ve been approached to be stocked but as it’s a brand I’ve created, I want to control what the brand says and provide a personal experience for all customers. 

What’s your role in the business? What’s your favourite things about your job / running an indie business?

I enjoy the freedom. I’m a family man with a young son and having been in a job previously which was long hours and big commutes, I enjoy taking the odd (!) afternoon off to play with my son and then making the time up when he’s in bed. Kids are only young for a short amount of time so rearranging work so I can spend time with my family is an important thing. I love every part of running That Socks, though I’d always appreciate someone carrying the boxes of socks around for me!

Are there other people in your business? What can you tell us about the rest of the team?

I’ve had my nieces help pack during the school holidays and my son walks with me to the post office on delivery days. Other than that, it’s just me.

Here at Piccadilly Lane, we believe that independents offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. Do you agree? How do you ensure this happens at That Socks?

I totally agree. Working with industry leaders allows me to offer a wider range of products whilst constantly giving the same quality. As Christmas is a busy time for That Socks, I’m currently looking ahead and planning what designs to bring out in time for that. As That Socks was born with me, if I like them, I’m hopeful my customers will too.

You’ve recently added some new designs to your collection. What can you tell us about them?

The most recent designs that I’ve added to the site are chunky stripes with side panel designs. I try and offer something new each time I develop a range and this range of four pairs give great colours and awesome backstories. I also added the first sequel to a pair of socks to the site with Circus Maximus: Empire. The original (Circus Maximus) sold out really quickly but I wanted to retain a little bit of exclusivity about that design so thought a part two would be a cool idea. I love film so think a trilogy will probably happen!

You currently specialise in “odd socks for odd folk”? What inspires you about this area of design? Do you plan to continue in this area or do you have plans to extend beyond the world of socks? 

I like having two things that work together but are different. Socks will continue but when I came up with the name That Socks, I knew that it contained the word Hats, so I’m currently looking at adding some colourful beanie hats to the range. Obviously they won’t be odd as a hat is one piece of material, but I’m hoping to unleash some groovy colour combinations, and maybe the occasional bobble!

Your colour palettes are inspired by weekend jaunts, macaroons and cocktails. Where will you be seeking inspiration next?

The colours and designs have always come first and then I name the pairs afterwards. I think the little stories behind the socks add something extra to the product which you don’t get in other shops. Everyday life inspires the names as the socks are for that very purpose.

Your collection shows great attention to detail and quality. What can you tell us about the materials and craftsmanship involved in the range?

Using 80% cotton and 20% nylon allows your feet to breathe which is perfect for the person on the move. I’m hoping that bamboo will be incorporated into the next range; it’s a beautifully soft material which I’m pretty sure people will adore. Watch this space!

Why should people shop with you? What makes you different?

A lot of companies just see socks as socks. That Socks see socks as a statement and put a lot of effort in behind the scenes to bring customers the best possible quality, designs and colours to make a statement. Your left foot and right foot aren’t the same, why have them wear the same socks? Don’t settle for boring socks when you can step out in style.

We LOVE independents and think more people should be supporting them. Why do you think people should shop with independent businesses like yours?

It’s special. Independent businesses care about their craft, they adore talking to customers and make time in their crazy-hectic days to do that because they appreciate people supporting them. You also get something totally different from the usual high street retailers.

Last but not least, what’s your favourite independent business and why?

Bean & Bud in Harrogate is my favourite coffee shop and independent business. They know their stuff and are so passionate about their product. If you love coffee, you need to visit them; you might find me in there enjoying a slow brew & a brownie!

Thank You Joseph!

You’ve read the interview. Now check out the Indie! Visit the website.

You can also see Joseph share more of his favourite indie businesses in Joseph’s Indie Picks.

Posted by Charlotte 8:00 15/06/15
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