Homegirl London pays homage to Lonetree Luxury Stationery. The Lonetree business was started up by two paper loving sisters who are known for creating beautiful, intelligent and unique designs. Since launching in 2011, they now have some fifteen collections under their belts which are all very distinct with their own colour palette. Although each collection has its own unique identity, they all come together and unite with a sense of belonging. Their work features everything from tree trunks, bonsai trees, flora, shells, coastal scenes, black boards with chalk writing and much more. There’s also a series featuring a little man called Stanley which they found in a toy box (he’s not real of course). These designs can be found on stationery notepads, gift wrap, greeting cards, blank cards, art prints and more recently cotton fabric. I caught up with the sisters to find out more about Lonetree Luxury Stationery.
Selection of Products from Geometrics in Nature Collection
Meet the Lonetree Luxury Stationery Company Owners
The company owners are sisters Emma Bensalem and Sara Hall who grew up in Yorkshire. Emma tells me about her background – “I studied Architecture at Edinburgh University and graduated in 2002. I then worked for a practice that specialised in Conservation Architecture until Lonetree began.” Sara also studied at Edinburgh but took a completely different path, she tells me – “I took a Zoology degree. I then made a sideways move into cheese buying at a company in London. I know it’s a bit random but I am now a walking encyclopedia for stinky cheese!”
Sara Hall and Emma Bensalem
When Sara relocated from London back to Yorkshire, it presented an opportunity to get their joint venture off the ground. They explain – “We are born and bred Yorkshire girls, who married Yorkshire men and although we both lived away for a while (Sara in London and Emma in Edinburgh) a move back seemed inevitable. We now live about fifteen minutes away from each other, sandwiched between York and the North York Moors and work from a converted hayloft of an old stable block. We call it “our bothy”! It’s just the two of us running the studio but we do have a great team of packers to help dispatch the orders. Oh and of course Bertie, the wire dachshund, a critical member of the team!”
Peacock Blank Card from Stamp Collection
The sisters explain their ambitions to become business owners – “We had always wanted to work together but never quite had the right circumstances. Now with four small children, both living in Yorkshire and a shared love of paper and design we got our chance!” Emma adds – “I was really keen to set up a creative business, where I could design for myself. I’m a real stationery addict so a business in this direction was the perfect choice.” Sara continues – “We’re both inspired by our parents who have always run their own company. It was probably their example that gave us the confidence to take the jump to go it alone. So we pooled our savings and took a small bank loan that allowed us to exhibit at our first trade show in London. That was back in October 2011 and since then we have never looked back.”
Gift Wrap from Geometrics in Nature
Emma explains where the business name of Lonetree stems from. “One of my favourite places is a cold and rather damp corner of North Yorkshire where a beautiful little tree stands on its own, in the middle of the moors. It is warped by the wind so that all the branches are pushed out on one side and I named it “my lone tree”. We hope that our stationery is unique and beautiful and I felt that the tree represented this really well.”
Blank Cards from Nature in the Round Collection
Their roles within the business seemed obvious to them. As Emma is from an architectural background she took on the role of Creative Director and is responsible for the designing, photography and social media. Sara is the Operations Director and she admits –“I’m a self-confessed spread sheet geek and so I look after all our suppliers and customers and the accounts side.” They have managed to balance home, work and childcare so they really do have the dream life in the country. Emma admits – “The secret to our happy office is starting off every morning with a cup of coffee, chatting through the daily tasks and catching up on a bit of sisterly gossip!”
View the Lonetree Luxury Stationery Collections
Emma describes their design style as ‘Chameleon’ because her aim is to create unique and intelligent designs which are diverse. She elaborates – “We have over fifteen collections and within each have created blank cards, gift wrap, art prints and stationery notebooks, always on heavy matt paper stock so it is all very good quality. We create a colour palette for each new collection and whilst they are all very different, they sit together with a sense of belonging. We do however admit to having a particular addiction to blue!”
Stationery Notebooks from Geometrics in Nature Collection
Being rural girls much of their inspiration comes from nature like the Flora range which is particularly stunning with the use of an amazing colour palette to capture floral silhouettes.
Flo Green Blank Card from Flora Collection
They also feature the more exotic side of nature with their beautiful bonsai tree imagery.
Pack of Five Cards from Bonsai Collection
It’s not all about nature, they tell me – “We like play on our love for all that is nostalgic and curious. We hope that we reinterpret what we see around us into beautiful and modern designs like a school chalk board or a vintage toy. Elsewhere we might write out words for greeting cards like our Pen It range which is all about free flow writing with an appropriate illustration to support the words. Or our Stamp cards which show a simple picture to illustrate a saying like ‘Tying the Knot’ for weddings. Luckily we are pretty typical ‘Creatives’ in that we are always keen to move onto our next design idea and so our sketchbooks and ‘ideas bank’ keeps filling up even when we are working on a specific collection!”
Tying the Knot Wedding Card from Stamp Collection
With so many collections on offer, Emma and Sara have picked out four to showcase. Geometrics in Nature: This is actually their latest collection which they launched at Tent London this September. It is also an introduction of fabric for the first time which is 100% Panama Cotton in 5 colour ways.
Cotton Fabric from Geometrics in Nature Collection
Emma tells me – “We have created a series of digitally interpreted images using shells, logs, bales, pineapples and fossils to evolve a series of illustrations, printed in the context of geometrics. The five way colour palette for this is blue, orange, yellow, grey and green. It is the simplicity in colour and complexity of the natural patterns that make a clean and yet intricate collection. The range includes cards, gift wrap, prints, notebooks and fabric.”
Blank Cards from Geometrics in Nature Collection
Pattern: Emma says – “This collection is inspired by a love of surface pattern design and illustration. Pattern is a collection of hand drawn block pattern illustrations printed in a palette of modern pastels, producing a fresh and design led range for every occasion, including a Christmas and Valentines series.”
Selection of Greeting Cards from Pattern Collection
Stanley: Emma tells me – “The inspiration behind this collection is a little lead man (we have affectionately called Stanley) whom we found in a dusty old box of 1920 toys. This collection is a look at a day-in-life of this little chap – to create a card collection of twelve wonderfully quirky and comic scenes!”
Selection of Blank Cards from Stanley Collection
Blackboard: Emma explains – “Blackboard is all about the old classroom chalkboard. This vintage, preppy range of cards uses bright colours and simple messages to appeal to all lovers of modern nostalgia. It was great fun to create and we hope that they bring a smile to those that receive one!”
Selection of Greeting Cards from Blackboard Collection
Their work has been influenced by many creative people and movements. They elaborate – “Whilst we like to think that we are ‘rowing our own design boat’ it would be untrue to say that others have not both informed and inspired us. The list of all those that have inspired us would be too long but if forced to pick out a few we would credit the entire Bauhaus movement; artists such as Rachel Whiteread and Andy Goldsworthy, the children’s illustrator Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr Seuss fame) and all round living legends such as David Bowie and our Dad, as being creative independent thinkers.”
Buy the Lonetree Luxury Stationery Products
If you love these designs you can buy online from www.lonetree.co.uk and they can also ship overseas. To give you an idea about price points Greeting Cards and Blank Cards are £2.50 each, Gift Wrap is £2 a sheet, Stationery Notebooks are £2.90 each and Art Prints are £14 each. In terms of quality, they use heavy gsm FSC accredited matt paper stock, produced by 100% wind power. All their suppliers are UK based and their printer is a carbon neutral company that diverts 99% of their dry waste from landfill.
The sisters have just launched a Design Hub where many of their collections will sit alongside brand new designs within a portfolio (see the Portfolio section on the website). These designs can then be licensed by customers to use on other products, from ceramics and textiles to prints and stationery. They also offer an independent design service to companies looking for product packaging and brand design work.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Lonetree. Thanks: Emma Bensalem and Sara Hall.