How did the Purpose and Worth etc. first establish itself?
I’d worked for myself since leaving Art college and freelanced solidly as a graphic designer and illustrator before accepting the position of Creative Director at Bisqit Design in London, overseeing design comms for a broad range of global clients and managing and mentoring a small team of designers. After leaving my I CD role, I went back to freelancing and it was during the next five years of freelancing, that I started seriously planning the start-up my own business.
With Purpose & Worth etc, I have come full circle from my design beginnings. I went to art college pre-computers, so I had a traditional craft-based design education, using conventional tools to create—pens, pencils, boards, photography, paper, ink. This hands-on approach to design was one the reasons that I originally wanted to pursue design, but with the introduction of the Mac, the actual process of design changed, relying more heavily on computer based skills and programs. Ironically, developments in digital printing (small print runs, with high quality output on premium papers), have enabled me to launch and grow my business, something that would have been impossible within the limits of conventional printing techniques. I knew nothing about the business of stationery, production or the industry, but I muddled in and found a fantastically helpful and generous group of people in this small industry who patiently answered questions, offered advice and pointed me in the right direction. I launched my first range of Purpose & Worth etc cards at the Progressive Greetings trade show in London in 2010, and landed my first big stockist, Paperchase.
How do you think up new designs and ideas for projects?
I know it’s a cliché, but I carry a small notebook everywhere and jot down ideas, sketches and paste patterns, colours, bit of type and found, random bits into it for inspiration. I always try to interpret an idea in a ‘card range’—so that means imaging and designing a concept as a tool-kit that I can re-purpose through a complete range of card designs. For example, I designed my ‘Who’s counting’ range of birthday cards to easily expand to any birthday.
What key lessons have you learnt through mistakes made setting up the business?
Research, research, research, then just get down to it. I spent a good year (while I was freelancing), researching all the information I could about stationery, printing, pricing, packing and the industry. I went to trade shows, asked questions, joined the industry association and then carefully planned a trade show with lots of time to prepare and launch my first ranges. Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned, is that no matter how much you plan, mistakes happen…and often when and where you least expect them. So I try to be flexible, take a deep breath and find a solution. It’s amazing how helpful people can be when you’ve messed-up. I printed 1500 of the wrong card for a large stockist, but my printer immediately re-printed the order for me the next day and met my delivery date, saving the day and my relationship with my retailer. I lost all my profit on that job, but learned how important supplier relationships are—I sent my printer a very big box of chocolates and a thank you card too!
What has been your proudest moment in your career to date?
I still think the proudest moment was my first trade show and taking my first order. It’s a fantastic feeling to realise that your instincts we’re right, the hard work has paid off and customers seek you out because they love your products and want to stock them in their shops.
What is next for Purpose and Worth etc.?
I’m now expanding into wrapping papers to match my best selling ranges, and designing a premium range of cards which feature luxurious emboss and foiling printing techniques.