There’s been a little break over the summer with my monthly ‘behind the scenes’ interviews having had the big Birthday Giveway (Candice Wren Pashmina) in August and my Etsy shop launch in September. So I’m delighted to be back by introducing you the talented lady behind The Little Posey Print Company, whose work I came across at the first Etsy UK Wedding Event in London back in May. Portsmouth-based illustrator and designer, Claire Lefevre, set up her own design and print studio Design@No.11 in 2010 that offered branding and identity services which she took on as a full-time job in 2011. Shortly after that, and stemming from her own DIY experiences of her wedding, The Little Posy Print Company was established to specialise in personalised bespoke wedding stationery and accessories. I have to say this lady is truly inspirational – not only was I ‘WOWed’ by her creations but for the brave decision she made to turn her passion into a full-time business and for her honest approach to juggling life, work and family is all very admirable. It’s not easy – there’s definitely a lot of hard graft and sacrifices behind having your own business especially with a family to look out for but if you’re heart and soul is in it and you can somehow strike a healthy balance between work and family, that’s definitely a good start to a viable business and Claire shows us exactly that! Well, here’s what Claire had to say and you’ll see what I mean!
1.Tell us a little about yourself and what made you decide into becoming an illustrator? Ever since I was little I’ve always been a bit arty, I think it’s the only thing I’ve ever really been ok at (by the age of 7 my butterfly drawings were the envy of all my friends and I was pretty proud of myself for that!) but I don’t think I assumed I would be able to make a proper living of it. It’s all a bit boring really,
2. How did you come about setting up Little Posy Print? And what is the story behind the name? I think I’ve always wanted to design for weddings, it’s such a lovely and creative and exciting time in your life and I really enjoyed DIYing my own wedding so as a bit of a distraction from my other design work I started quietly working on a small collection of designs in the hope that someone would like them and luckily for me they have so far. The name reflects my style really, a lot of my work is quite heavily influenced by floral motifs and nature in generally plus weddings are all about pretty and to be quite honest, I just like the way it sounds. I played around with trying to get the boy’s names in there but Jack and Oscar don’t really work… hopefully they will know one day that it was all started to keep their tummies full, their toybox overflowing and their Mummy happy!
3. What five words best describe you and your style of work? Folksy, organic, pretty, a little bit quirky, colourful
4. I absolutely ADORE your illustrations having had a nosey at a few at Etsy’s first UK showcase and browsing through more on your lovely website ;) What’s the main source of inspiration behind your illustrations? Does it mainly come from the brides and grooms you work for? Or do you set a theme from which your clients can then pick from? Thank you! *blushes and beams* My inspiration comes from anywhere really, from photos in magazines (my studio wall is plastered with things I’ve torn out of all kinds of places) to things I see out and about. I am very inspired by colour palettes, and patterns. I have a bit of an obsession with anything a bit folksy at the moment, hearts, arrows, chevron or Aztec/tribal patterns and florals are what get me all excited and really make me geek out. When I am working on a bespoke design for my couples I absolutely love to find out all about their wedding plans and try to really get a good sense of how the day is going to pan out so that the design has more of a feeling then a theme. I love this part of the job and it makes me want to do it all over again myself. My brides and grooms really inspire me to make something extra special and really personal for them and I love creating something really individual for every couple I work with.
5. How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? When I am designing I don’t really have a set process. A lot of designers will sketch and plan things before they start working on them but to be honest my work just kind of develops from a spark of an idea and a nice big cup of tea. When I have an idea and I feel nice and creative I will usually put an evening aside when the kids are in bed and Hubby is at work and just enjoy being creative. Having such a busy little business and dealing with the day-to-day things like emails, admin etc I think my fave bit is when I get to just create something for the pure enjoyment, with no deadline and no perimeters and hope that someone somewhere likes it. That and the tea and biscuits/cakes that fuel my creative juices!
6. How long would it normally take to create your final product; from inception to completion? How long is a piece of string? It really depends on how detailed the brief is and how complicated the artwork is… sorry, that’s a useless answer!
7. Is there any craft/art medium besides illustration that you haven’t tried but want to? And why? I would love to learn to knit because I think it’s cute but I just never seem to have the time and I know if I taught myself then I’d want to do it all the time and I’d never get any work done!
8. Would you say it’s been difficult breaking through into what is a booming and competitive creative industry? If so, what are the kind of challenges you faced? It has taken a while for me to get to the point where I am, about a year, and I am nowhere near where I really want to be yet! I spent quite a lot of time researching the industry and deciding where I wanted to place myself in the market because it is a BIG market. I developed my first collection while at the same time as trying to keep up with my business branding design work so that I was still bringing pennies in so it was quite slow going on top of being a mummy as well, but I took the time to try and just make some connections with other designers in the industry and make some lovely friends who have given me some really fab advice on things. I think the challenges are trying to stay fresh and one step ahead of the game in terms of trends and also aiming your product at the right kind of bride. It definitely hasn’t happened over night but so far it’s been worth the hard work!
9. I admire how you juggle both family life and work. What would be your ‘top three tips‘ for like-minded individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this creative field? Eeek, I’m not sure I manage to juggle family life and work all the time haha! There are times when everything seems to be piling up, the emails, the washing, the mess in the playroom, just everything. What I try and do when that happens is take a deep breath, give my boys a big cuddle, and then have a cup of tea and make myself a list and a little plan for the next few days/week. Lists and plans are fabulous things, even if they invariably go out of the window when Oscar has an attack of the terrible twos, Jack suddenly lets me know he has homework due tomorrow and I get new enquiries in at the same time. But they give me a bit of clarity and make things seem not so overwhelming. I think my top three tips would be : 1) Make lists and always put something at the top of the list that you have already done, that way you can cross it off straight away and you feel super productive. 2) Remember why you started a home run business in the first place… to be at home. Yes you will have to work your little bum off and there are times when I’m still working at 1 am but don’t forget to enjoy the lovely times with your family and then come back to your work feeling refreshed, creative and inspired. Don’t hole up in your office/studio 24/7: Working from home can be quite lonely, it’s very easy to sit in your pjs and never leave the house and get sucked into a vacuum of uncreativity and you end up getting nothing done, and anything you do produce is invariably a bit crap and not your best work. Everyone goes through it and when it happens the best thing to do it go out, leave the computer/paintbrushes/pencils whatever at home and go and go and find some inspiration or creative ammo somewhere else. DON’T FEEL GUILTY IF YOU AREN’T WORKING ALL DAY EVERY DAY. You need to feed that creativity and seeing new and exciting things is the best way to do that.
10. What would you say is the best part of your business? And is this a full-time 9-5 business or something you run on the side? The best part of it is being able to work with some lovely couples to give them exactly what they want for their special day, I love hearing about all their plans, all the excitement that goes into the planning and all the special personal touches that makes it all about them. I really try to reflect that in my work as much as I can. It is definitely a full-time job, which starts in the morning as soon as I wake up, checking emails on my phone while making breakfasts/school lunches and then once the oldest one is off to school it’s back to the computer for a bit to do some work before playtime with my little one. Once he’s all worn out I have a few more hours of properly getting some designing done before 3.15 rolls around and it’s time to pick the big one up. Then it’s Mummy time for a bit, if it’s nice we go to the park, do the dinner, bath, bed routine and then once they are all tucked up in bed I am back at it in the evening answering more emails, doing more designing and sometimes if I’m being a bit naughty, a bit of light Pinterest-ing for inspiration.
11. Of your current range of work, what ‘piece’ or ‘collection’ would you pick out as your favourite? I think it’s either my ‘Petals and Stripes’ collection, which is very popular, or my Victorian Floral because it is a twist on quite classic invites with it’s sharp acid colours and quirky font combinations.
12. When you’re not in a design mode, what else do you enjoy doing? I love just enjoying life really, spending time with my family and friends, having a seaside adventures with the hubby and our boys and just finding inspiration in having fun. When I can
13. What are your favourite bedside book/s or blog/s at the moment? I am a total Pinterest addict so it’s normally a quick flick through that before bed. I love reading but I try to keep books for holidays otherwise I would never get any work done. Once I’m into a book that I can’t put down I lose myself for days and that is not good for business… so best not to put the temptation in my way!
15. Are there any illustrators, artists, designer-makers out there that you find inspirational or you think are ones to keep an eye out for – if so, who? I absolutely love the look and feel of Katie Daisy’s work, it’s absolutely beautiful and has so much energy to itI would love to have the talent and patience that she does to create such gorgeous things. Someone who has been a massive inspiration to me is the lovely Angie from Artwork by Angie. Like me she started out doing graphic design for small businesses and then her business evolved to cover other bits. Her style is so recognisable and gorgeous and fun and her range of greeting cards, wrapping paper and illustration prints are just amazing. She has been lovely whenever I have needed a little bit of help or reassurance or just needed to ask the opinion of a fellow designer. I would eventually love to be able to be able to offer cards, gift wrap etc, but that may be a while off.. World domination one step at a time!
16. What would we expect from Little Posy Print in the future? And can we find your work at any craft + design events this year? Oooh there are lots of things I’d love to do, it’s just finding the time! I’d love to branch out into everyday (but still a bit special) stationery items for my shops. I could spend thousands of pounds on pretty notebooks, writing paper and organisational tools so I’d love to include something like that in my range soon… watch this space! In the meantime, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter or on Etsy!
Claire – you’re a super hero and your journey to where you are now is inspirational and somewhat reassuring to those in similar boats or stewing of setting up on their own. There’s a lot of things you’ve mentioned that certainley resonate with my own views and feelings about venutring into the the unknown, that is, starting your own business. Thanks again for sparing us some of your time to give us a glimpse into what goes behind Little Posy Print Company and for sharing such great advice. I look forward to seeing many more of your exciting creations! xx