Homegirl London pays homage to Nancy & Betty Studio. An independent stationery design brand created by Hannah Bidmead in January 2009. Her work is clean, bold and graphic, featuring repeated patterns and iconic subjects like retro typewriters and Polaroid cameras.
Hannah is dedicated to making first-class products using quality materials; FSC or recycled card and paper and only use vegetable-based inks in her printing. Everything is made in Great Britain and all the cards are assembled in-house. She designs everything from cards, sticky tape, wrapping paper, gift tags, notebooks, calendars and office supplies. I caught up with Hannah to find out more …
Q: Why call the company Nancy & Betty Studio?
A: The Nancy & Betty Studio are actually named after my grandma, Nancy and her twin sister, Betty. Nancy and Betty were models for Pear’s soap in the 1930s – they were beautiful!
Q: Tell me about your design background.
A: I studied Fine Art at Kent Institute of Art & Design (now UCCA). I specialised in photography and printing, like letterpress and screen printing. My first job was a photographer for Venture – it was more sales-driven than anticipated and I wanted more time and scope for creativity. I took the plunge to start my own company, I’ve always wanted to do it and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Q: Why set up your business?
A: I’ve been a stationery and paper geek since I was 10 years old. I wanted to use my degree, creativity and entrepreneurial side for myself. Being able to design the products from start to finish, designing a trade show stand, the website, etc is something I could only do with my own company.
Nancy & Betty Studio Polaroid Notebook £3.50
Q: Where are you based and why?
A: The studio/showroom and packing ‘shed’ is based in Chartham, a beautiful village just outside Canterbury in Kent. We used to live in Canterbury city centre for 10 years (until this summer), it was full of culture and very convenient, but the change is amazing – and so quiet! The studio is attached to our house – a red brick Victorian property with 12 foot high ceilings.
Nancy & Betty Studio Gift Tags, £3.50 for 5
Q: How many people work at your company?
A: As Creative Director, I do all that the role entails (and oversight of the whole company). There are three more added to the team who pack goods and pick orders – they’re wonderful! Other jobs like building a website are outsourced – if it’s not your skillset, it’s better to get a job well done by a professional!
Q: Describe your design style.
A: I like clean, simple, bold graphics and colours. I’m drawn to copper foiling right now!
Nancy & Betty Ace Studio Writing Box Set £13.95
Q: Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?
A: Recent trips to Copenhagen and Norway have been a big influence recently. I’ve been visiting Norway for years. The Scandinavians are so effortlessly cool and really hospitable and welcoming. Fashion and typography are also key influences.
Nancy & Betty Studio Ladybird Card £2.75
Q: Tell me about your collections.
A: The main lines are cards and wrapping paper. But we also sell gift tags, sticky tape, crackers, calendars, pencil cases, journals and prints. All the paper used is lovingly picked for its quality. I also like whimsical messages and puns – something that makes someone smile. The collection gets added to when new designs are released and some designs go into retirement, the best-sellers remain!
Nancy & Betty Studio Wrapping Paper £7.95 for 5 sheets
Q: What’s your fascination with bright colours?
A: This comes back to the Scandinavian influences. Designers like Marimekko do this so well. I’m always drawn to bright colours and finishes (like copper and gold foiling). I love unexpected colour combinations too. Hopefully, it makes people stop and smile.
Nancy & Betty Studio Mix Tape Sticky Tape £5.95
Q: Which creative person/company do you admire and why?
A: Sir James Dyson. He had such faith in his inventions in the beginning. I love his whole approach and attitude to design, business and innovation. He changed the landscape of domestic appliances and made them absolutely brilliant.
Q: What’s the best thing about owning your own business?
A: I’ve had the privilege of meeting some great people in this industry, who have become friends. It’s also very satisfying to be my own boss, which can also be hard work!
Q: What one piece of advice would you pass on to someone wanting to set up their own business?
A: Research, research and make your own brand and style coherent and stand out. Have big goals, dream big and aim high. Outsource things you’re not so good at, like getting a website built professionally, I designed it and had it built by the experts, it was far quicker and easier to do that. And have fun but just know that’s it also crazy hard work!
Q: What new and exciting things have you got planned?
A: I’m planning Christmas 2014 and some other new lines now for launching in January 2014. I’m also planning brand new products to launch at Top Drawer Autumn 2014. I’m really excited about next year, working with new stockists and hopefully having a pop-up shop or two.
In terms of prices; cards are £2.75 each, a box set of eight cards is £13.95 and wrapping paper is £1.60 a sheet. You can buy the full collection at Nancy and Betty.
Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Nancy & Betty Studio, special thanks to Hannah Bidmead.