Archive: October 2015

A Look Behind the Scenes of DecorqueCards

An ‘Inspiring Indies’ Interview with DecorqueCards.

For our latest ‘Inspiring Independents’ interview we caught up with Lesley R. Stevens, founder of DecorqueCards and recent guest blogger for the Piccadilly Lane blog, with her fabulous feature on Scrapbooking.

Specialising in handmade cards, Lesley has a built an extensive selection of unique and beautiful cards for every occasion recognising the importance of sending and receiving real greeting cards, DecorqueCards offer original designs that are a world away from their mass produced rivals.

So without further ado grab a cuppa and read more about this inspiring indie business.

What inspired you to start DecorqueCards and when did you begin?

Designing greetings cards has always been an area I have wanted to develop, even going back to when I was a Textile Designer for fashion. After launching my main brand, Decorque in September 2012 it was quickly evident that my greeting cards range was a bestseller; both online and at craft events where I was selling directly to the public. DecorqueCards was launched online at the end of May 2015.

What can you tell us about your independent business?

This business is run from my home in Oxfordshire and is multi-channel being both on and offline. The products are all British-designed and made. In addition to our successful online shops, we also sell our Decorque home accessories range alongside DecorqueCards at fairs and shows around the country. The business is really a joint family affair! Although other members all have full-time jobs, they help with the essential aspects of running and managing the company.

What sets you apart from your corporate contemporaries?

I believe that my designs are uniquely different in that the design range is extremely extensive and eclectic. Although you may recognize my hand, I am not limited to any set theme or media. This is demonstrated by a single design containing elements of hand-drawn and painted, coupled with the use of Illustrator and Photoshop images.

What is your role in the business? 

I am the founder and Managing Director and my role incorporates design, administration, fulfilment and shipping. Additionally, I have become an active blogger to help promote the business.

What are your favourite things about your job and running an Independent business?

I greatly enjoy creating new designs and actually going out and meeting customers; it gives me a great thrill to have people choose and buy something that I have created. Being an independent business enables me to showcase my own products.

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

Yes, as a family-founded brand we have a range of unique talents that contribute towards the success of the business. I am the only person working full-time at DecorqueCards; all other family members freely give their time and services to support me in this venture.

My daughter Harriet is qualified graphic designer and works in fashion retail as creative head for a leading high street ladies’ brand. Her input into the design and consistent look and feel of our online and offline presence is vital.

Her husband Aaron runs his own successful company – Evergreen SEO Ltd – that manages and promotes our online presence.

My husband Chris is an eCommerce logistics specialist and therefore helps with strategy and the corporate side of the business. He also enjoys supporting me at fairs and shows around the country.

Here at Piccadilly Lane we believe that independent businesses offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. Do you agree?

Yes I agree totally, as every design is created uniquely by me and I oversee and manage the quality of everything produced. An example of the personal touch is that every order sent by me includes a hand-written note of thanks.

Your handmade cards have become a best selling part of your collection. Can you tell us why they are so special?

Every aspect of a card, from the imagination, creativity, construction and final embellishments is performed by myself. Very few items are bought in, and those that are include glass gems, bows and the like.

Customer comments at our last show in York really sum up why they think our products are special: “Wonderful to see something different”, “I never expected to find such beautiful cards”, “Wow, now this is colour!” and “These cards are just too beautiful to send”. In fact, many customers decide to buy the cards to frame.

You create both handmade and digitally-printed greetings cards? 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?

Yes, the product range incorporates both digitally printed and handmade greetings cards. The digitally printed cards are the main basis of the online business as these are produced and sold in volume as required. The handmade cards are a brilliant option in extending the range, creating cards for numerous, specific occasions with a personal touch. An example is that one design can easily be adapted by just changing the personalisation to suit the customer’s exact request.

My inspiration for this area of design stems from the fact that, unlike for fashion design, I am not restricted by either season or colour. The door is open for me to create anything I wish.

The collection will continually be extended as the greetings card industry grows larger every year with an ever-increasing demand for subjects and occasions to cover.

Your products feature incredibly authentic and meticulous artwork. What can you tell us about the process of creating these designs?

The best way of explaining how the designs are created is to use an example of one of my original printed cards; the Lazy Leopard Single Card. As with many of the cards in the collection, they are developed from ideas initially created for products on The centerpiece of this card is the beautiful lazy leopard, whose image has been drawn by hand, then Illustrator, and then cut in Photoshop from a rose and leopard skin print design I created for a cork placemat. The natural colour and texture of cork is used extensively in my card designs; here it is used in this design on the arching tree trunk and in the grasses below. Authenticity is reflected by the use of the soft buttery roses and the fresh green leaves which all exist in my own garden and which are taken from my personal photographic collection. All these main elements are selected, cut and brought together to form this design in Photoshop.

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

I use photography to capture detail in flora and fauna; I also use my extensive collection of fashion textile designs to bring in pattern where needed. If I cannot find an image then I draw and paint one myself!

Unlike most designers, I do not concentrate on one single medium. I use hand-drawn, Photoshop and Illustrator where they work best and most effectively.

The handcrafted cards also bring in the hands-on craft element of hand-cutting, sticking, embellishing and personalisation to produce a unique product.

Every individual part of a design is perfected before being assembled into a composition. Using the visual qualities of hand-painted and the technical capabilities of shade, opacity and colour bring out the intricate detail of design.

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

I believe that people should shop from DecorqueCards if they are seeking a unique, design-led product that can also be personalised in many instances.

If customers like nature, the natural world and colour and pattern, then my mix of the tropical with the quintessentially-British will appeal to them.

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

As an independent business, I have complete control over my design and products. This includes knowing precisely the source of the materials and being able to support other local businesses and enterprises such as craft fairs, charities and good causes.

If customers wish to support local industries and prefer British-made products then they can be more confident that the products they buy are authentically produced. We ought to celebrate British design talent.

Customers are also more likely to receive a friendly, personal service from a small family-run business.

What is your favourite independent business and why?

There is no one independent business that I could single out, but I am the type of person that avoids the general high street preferring to give my custom to small, independent businesses. This could range from the specialist cheese shop to the smaller gift, antique and fashion outlets in a market town like Burford, as they offer more unique products and excellent customer service.

Thank you Lesley. 

Now you’ve read the interview why not take a look at the collection and visit their website.

Posted by Charlotte 8:00 19/10/15
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