Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
Last week I introduced you the brand Katie Leamon – make sure to check it out. Today I want to introduce you to the soul behind the brand: Katie Leamon. I promise you once you know about Katie you’ll love her products even more. I don’t know how you feel but I always want to know the story behind a brand. Luckily, with smaller brands it’s much easier to get behind the scenes.
A few weeks ago, I went to Katie Leamon’s studio in the heart of London (see images below). It’s a small office but it was taken care of beautifully. There’s not only Katie herself but also her boyfriend and Georgia supporting the business. When I was at the studio I noticed a lot of details in the room, e.g. a few vintage items. I was imagining to work in an environment like that. I probably wouldn’t know where to put all my creativity.
So in order to get to know her a little more I asked Katie a few questions. I really loved her answers. She’s truly a creative and inspiring person.
1. What’s your background & how did you come up with your brand Katie Leamon?
The brand developed out of a desire to design exactly what I wanted, a lifetime love of stationery and paper product and wanting to work for myself. I studied textile design at University in Loughborough and then went on to work for a small independent fashion label. This taught me a lot about running a small business, the highs, the lows and how hard it can be to make it work. This made me want to do my own thing. I felt like I was working so hard for something but had no direction and ownership of it.
I left to do my own thing without really knowing what that would be. Once I had a few months back in the thick of designing and illustrating, I started to develop an identity and a feel that I then homed in on and built the brand off. I was working for about 8 months before I did any stationery and cards but as soon as I did, it became so obvious this is what I should have been doing all along. Following the success of my first collection of cards at the Liberty Open Call day I had found what I loved doing and continued to build a collection of things I loved and hoped others would too.
2. What inspires you?
I find this a difficult question as I think we are all constantly inspired without consciousness. I find architecture and building work inspiring, especially old buildings with lots of weathered patterns. I love the intricacy of fine bone china, and the patterns on them. I love rummaging a flea market and finding lots of vintage paraphernalia with old typography on it too.
3. Can you give Found Some Paper readers 3 tips on how to run a successful business?
Don’t be afraid to make a decision, even if it’s the wrong one, at least you’re trying something. You need to take risks and make wrong decisions to know the difference in making the right ones.
Stay true to your brand. It can be incredibly tempting to change direction when you personally like a new style, or colour palette, but make sure it’s still on brand. Having a tight brand identity I think is really important – that goes right across the business. From the emails you send, you & your staff’s manner, the product you sell, the packaging you use, the service you provide.
Be original – If like me you are predominantly a wholesale brand, your key buyers in the big shops want to see originality and new newness. You need to be on to them with new designs and ideas all the time to keep progressing. The ideas also need to be original, it’s a very tough market and there will always be people who copy along the line, but try to stay ahead of the game and on the next thing to show you can be original.
When I was about to leave the studio Katie offered me to take some samples of her products. You can imagine that I couldn’t say no! But of course I thought about you as well. I chose the below marbled notebook and luckily got a second one which I’m giving away below. Yay!
Which product is your favourite?