As this website grows, I meet more and more really lovely and like-minded people from all corners of the Web. The Internet is a great way of encountering the stylists, wedding dress suppliers, cake-makers and stationers whose wares and services are right up my street.
I recently wrote a guest post on the brilliant Retro Birds blog, and this is how I met Amelia of Noble Hound. Amelia left a comment on my post, and I went off for a mosey on her website. About two seconds later, I was going “ooooooh” at her pretty stationery. It’s all summery shades and cheerful images like owls, and bicycles with baskets. This sort of design really appeals to me because it’s so cheery and uplifting.
My favourite is the new Boho Bicycle range. It’s got bunting, aforementioned bicycle with the basket, pastel shades and a 1920s style font. Perfect for that relaxed, boho, hazy summertime wedding. The atmosphere of the day you’re being invited to attend is clearly communicated in the stationery: it all gels, which is what you want when letting guests know what to expect. Noble Hound’s Pinterest board dedicated to this range sums it up perfectly, as images do…
WOW: What made you decide to set up Noble Hound?
NH: My previous career was in marketing and design. Then in 2012, two friends got engaged and I was the proud owner of a big bump! My friends were both on the hunt for wedding stationery that fitted the bill in terms of design and budget, but couldn’t find anything that ticked both boxes. To cut a long story short, I ended up creating their wedding stationery, and I absolutely loved it. When my son Archie was born, I began ‘playing’ with creating more wedding stationery designs. Within a few months, I’d made my website, set up social media, booked to attend some wedding fairs… Noble Hound was born!
I’ve always wanted to own my own business, and since I was ‘little’, I’ve come up with lots of business ideas – some significantly better than others. At age five, for example, when my teacher asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I told her that I would own a sanctuary for moles, because my friend’s father got so annoyed at finding mole holes around his garden and I wouldn’t mind. Perhaps this wasn’t the finest plan, but I definitely knew I wanted to be my own boss and I’m so pleased that this dream is now coming true!
WOW: I actually love the idea of a wee mole sanctuary. Perhaps that could be a bestselling children’s book for you! So, what inspires your designs?
NH: I spend far too much time on Pinterest when I’m not designing! I sit amongst the ‘suits’ on trains looking at Pinterest boards from florists, wedding photographers, cake makers, wedding planners and wedding bloggers. Living in Oxfordshire, there’s a lot of local inspiration, too. The Old Pill Factory in Witney sells fabulous retro and vintage accessories and furniture, and I often pop in for design inspiration, and whether it’s an Annie Sloane paint colour on a dresser, or a rusty bicycle leaning against a wall, there’s always something for me to incorporate into my designs.
I have so many ideas for new collections, I just can’t wait to start designing them!
WOW: Do you have a favourite range?
NH: I have several favourites for different reasons! Country Bunting and Vintage Typographic were originally designed for my best friends, so they hold a special place in my heart, but I do have to admit that Boho Bicycle, which is the newest collection, is my current favourite! I think it’s the prettiest Noble Hound collection yet, and it reminds me of summer, even when the clouds are rolling overhead.
One of the things I love most about the collections is the ‘tailor made’ aspect. No item of stationery ever looks the same because the wording, colours and sizes are always created to match the couples’ wedding themes. A couple recently asked for me to illustrate their Jack Russell and pop him into the Boho Bicycle basket, while another asked for the Vintage Typographic collection to be created in mixed autumnal shades.
WOW: Jack Russell in the basket is such a sweet addition! Which illustrators inspire you?
NH: My inspiration comes more from graphic design, and anything from product packaging to signage at attractions can inspire me to get back to the studio and start designing!
WOW: I’m with you on graphic design. I love it. Is it hard managing a business with a toddler in tow? Any tips for the readers about how to manage this dynamic?
NH: Absolutely! But I have a little routine in place, which is hugely helpful. I use nap times and a couple of evening hours each day to get things done. Archie has made me become much more efficient in my working style! I know I have limited time, so I spend less of it procrastinating and more of it cracking on with the day’s work. My main tip would be to manage your own expectations while children are little and still tottering about, needing your constant attention. Noble Hound clients book into a design schedule, which confirms their space in my diary and ensures I never take on too many projects at once.
WOW: What’s next for Noble Hound?
NH: I have so many plans! I’m always spending time trying to spread the word about Noble Hound. I still feel it’s a small (but pretty) fish in an exceptionally big pond! Without the luxury of large marketing budgets, it’s a challenge, but it comes with the delight of meeting lovely people along the way, such as bloggers like you, Erin!
I want to build up the number of Noble Hound collections available, and, although I already offer my clients a choice of ‘finishing touches’, such as ribbon and twine, I want to show this online, too.
For the future, my absolute dream is to move out of the studio at the top of my cottage and set up a Noble Hound stationery boutique, where brides and grooms can enjoy the experience of choosing their stationery while discussing their requirements with me over a cup of tea in a beautiful environment. One day, maybe..!
WOW: Aw, thank you so much!! I agree about meeting lovely people along the way. I think that’s one of the benefits of being new in the business with no money, though: you strike up some genuinely friendly partnerships, and everyone’s in it together. Like the new year at school! So, how did you come up with the name of the company? Who is the eponymous noble hound?
NH: I don’t agree that a business name has to immediately communicate the type of products or services on offer, as this can be dull and limiting, but I do think it gives a business personality – it’s at the heart of a brand. I wanted my name to communicate that the company is approachable and friendly, yet elegant, with top-quality products. I have always owned dogs, so it felt natural to incorporate this into the name. However, mine have always been scruffy types who love to roll around on freshly mown grass, leaving trails of cuttings throughout the house! Dachshunds have always seemed to me to be the most elegant of breeds, looking like they belong to nobility, but, in my experience, are exceptionally friendly companions. I decided I would like to include one in my branding, and after lists of other variations, Noble Hound became my clear favourite and it stuck! The little dachshund you can see around the website is fondly known by all involved with Noble Hound as ‘Higgins’. It would be of no surprise to anyone if one day we adopted a real-life Higgins!
WOW: I absolutely love that idea about how a brand name doesn’t have to refer to its products or services. I hadn’t thought of that. It’s all in the connotations. I like that so much. Amelia, thank you ever so much for sharing all of that; I enjoyed it so, so much!