Luxury stationery designer Katie Leamon first popped up on my Instagram radar 2 years ago. I loved her designs, prompting me to purchase a pack of her Christmas cards with the 12 Days of Christmas theme. When they arrived I was impressed by the quality, which more than justified the reasonable price I had paid.
Supporting small or local businesses is a message that has become somewhat louder over the past few years. Whilst Katie is not exactly local to me here in Paris, looking to the U.K. for Christmas cards was a logical choice for me. The French are not as big on cards for special occasions, although independent brands such as Papier Tigre are clearly looking to change that!
Family is at the heart of Katie's business: whilst she spends most of her time working from a London studio, her mum and sister run the production warehouse in Essex. Once a week they'll get together to catch up over a nice lunch, review samples, and discuss upcoming projets. After welcoming baby Baloo this past May, Katie has learnt how to juggle running a business with a little one and credits her family and partner for their constant support .
Given that I plan to buy my Christmas cards from Katie for the rest of my living days, I thought it would be great to have a chat with her about running her own business and her design inspirations, as well as finding out a few fun facts that we can't find online! Enjoy getting to know Katie a little better below...
Did you choose a creative career or did it happen by accident? Having always wanted to work in design my career choice was clear to me early on, which I am very grateful for. Although I didn't always plan on starting my own business so that was a pleasant surprise!
What led you to start your own stationery business? Once I started my design career, it became clear that I had strong ideas about what I wanted to achieve and that I needed more control over the whole process. As a huge stationery fiend, it made sense to build my own stationery brand, allowing it to evolve organically in its own time.
Your favourite part of the creative process? Definitely seeing my ideas come to life! I get an amazing feeling of achievement when the first sample arrives on the doorstep and it's exactly how I imagined. It's also lovely to experience customers' reactions first hand when they use our product.
Could you talk us through the inspiration behind your beautiful Christmas collection? It's a mix of creative ideas - namely Christmas woodlands and English heritage - with rich but simple colours for a modern spin on classic traditions. I combined illustration and typography to create a collection that is both tangible and sleek.
Could you talk us through the production process? I start with a concept / creative idea before defining a clear vision of what I'd like to achieve. Then it's a matter of working backwards from sketch to digital editing before arriving at the sample stage!
Your creative inspirations? I admire other stationery brands such as Rifle Paper Co and Moglea, both U.S. based, because they are great business models with fresh ideas. In terms of design inspiration, I tend to be drawn to architecture, British heritage and Scandinavian design.
Best piece of career advice you've been given? Do one thing every day that scares you. This can be applied to life in general, not just work, but when you run your own business the two tend to overlap!
Proudest career moment? There are two: the opening of our first production studio and being chosen on Liberty open call day (2011) to be stocked in their prestigious store.
LIFE OUTSIDE OF THE STUDIO
Something about you that people don't know? I love Will Varley's music (a British folk singer) and am at one of my happiest at Glastonbury festival!
How do you switch off from work? By hanging out at home with Ruairi (Katie's partner) & baby Baloo or going for a long walk followed by a pub lunch.
Last book / magazine you read? "The Light Between Oceans" - it made me cry so much!
Favourite tipple? Ooh too hard - it's toss up between a gin and tonic or a red wine in the winter!
Favourite thing about Christmas? Being surrounded by family, playing games and eating lots of lovely food.
Dream holiday destination? Taking a camper van around the British coast.
Favorite thing about where you live / work? We recently moved to Tottenham, which is a diverse and emerging area of London. It's great to discover a new area. The design studio in Hackney has got the most amazing windows with incredibly natural light. In fact, both our house and studio space have the most beautiful natural wooden floors, which I love!
All images kindly provided by Katie Leamon. Please do not publish / distribute without seeking the owner's permission first.