Stationery time again on the blog! You know me and my obsession with stationery and design! This time it’s Hollyhock Lane stealing my heart away. Julie Annis, who owns the company, designs suites more like book covers than your traditional wedding stationery styles. Think bold colours and larger than life illustrations, think ‘I might frame this save the date card’, and you’re there. Your invitations and save the dates are likely to be displayed pride of place on your guests’ mantelpieces or walls for life! I asked Julie some questions about her business and her interests, and about the inspiration behind her designs. I love to know these things about wedding suppliers who really stand apart from the crowd.
Oh, and at the end of the post, you can find out how to get yourself a discount on your wedding stationery from Hollyhock Lane – lucky ducks! The hard part, I guarantee, will be choosing between the ranges!
WOW: What made you decide to set up Hollyhock Lane?
Jullie: Quite by chance and not plan; I’ve always been self-employed, running my own business. When I graduated from art college back in 2002 with a fine art degree, I realised I wasn’t going to make much money from painting, so I quite naively went into business with a friend who had done a computer science degree. You can do that without much thought when you’re only 22, have no kids and no mortgage. Together, we started a web design company in Edinburgh that we managed to keep going for several years (in fact it’s still going strong) before I moved South and then carried on as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator in my own right. However, when I got pregnant in 2012 with our first daughter, I decided to streamline my graphic design activities into something more creative, flexible and family friendly, and that’s when I launched Hollyhock Lane.
WOW: What inspires your designs?
My starting point is to think as if I was the bride and think about what I’d like for my wedding if my wedding was themed around a certain thing. For example, my Hazy Woodland collection
, which is also my best selling range, was based on my own wedding. We had a woodland wedding in Sussex, and I wanted something that reflected that. I’ve since found that many people want a woodland themed wedding, even if they don’t get married in a forest. This design seems to really resonate with the feeling of having an outdoorsy and adventurous wedding.
In many ways I’ve found that I don’t always relate to the über girly side of weddings, so I like to think about designs that aren’t so typically girly and ‘pretty, pretty,’ and are maybe a bit more unique for the creative bride whose wedding is cut from a different cloth.
WOW: Do you have a favourite range?
WOW: Which illustrators and artists do you admire?
It’s difficult not to deny the lure of Pinterest inspiration, and there are a few designers out there who I’ll always keep an eye on, particularly some of the independent American stationery studios, such as Lady Fingers Letterpress
, Small Adventure
and Ferme a Papier
However, now that I’m reading children’s books to my now two year old, I love getting inspiration from kids’ book illustrators. My current favourite is an illustrator called Yasmeen Imail, who did a charming book called Specs for Rex
. I also have a penchant for car boot sales, so I very much feel pleased with myself if I find some half decent vintage kids’ books, and the illustrations in these are pretty much always inspiring.
WOW: Do you have any business tips for other entrepreneurs?
Julie: Business tips… hmm, I’m definitely learning as I go. I’m trying to put good systems in place as much as possible. I’m not one for changing things around too much once I’ve got a system in place, but that’s just silly. When you’re working on your own, and your time is limited, you need to streamline activities as much as possible, and that might mean taking time to find a better way to do things. I’m trying to teach myself the importance of finding the best app for the job and doing away with long winded, roundabout tasks that double your time spent doing them. It doesn’t come naturally, but I’m trying.
WOW: What’s next for Hollyhock Lane?
Julie: Being a mum and a business owner can be a wrestling match of ambition and withdrawing from business growth to prioritise little people. I would love to bring out a range of greetings cards, personal stationery and wrapping papers, but I’m currently pregnant with number two and will probably have to put some of this ambition on the back burner for now. So, my current goal is to get even better at doing wedding stationery and to slowly grow my business allowing for a few little pauses (like when new babies are born) along the way. I love creating new designs and sadly don’t always get to do this because of admin pressures and keeping on top of current client orders. So, I’m hoping with my new streamlined systems in place, 2015 might be a year of handling lots more new business as well as taking time to create new designs and concepts.
WOW: Do you find yourself constantly doodling?
Julie: Sadly not… lack of time. But, I’m always doodling design ideas in my head!
WOW: Tell us the story behind your company name.
Julie: The house before our current house was a beautiful old 17th Century chocolate box cottage we rented off an old estate, which the same family had been running for hundreds of years. The cottage was called ‘Yew Tree Cottage’ and it was on ‘Water Lane’. My city friends remarked longingly at the poetic address, and it got me thinking how a beautiful place name can sound so beguiling. I liked the sound of ‘Hollyhock,’ so that’s how it came about. It’s fictional to me, but I did discover a Hollyhock Lane last week when we were holidaying in the Cotswolds. A fitting place to find my company’s namesake!
You can find Hollyhock Lane at: website // Instagram // Pinterest // Twitter // Facebook
Julie has very kindly given Way Out Wedding readers a 10% discount on all orders over £150 using the code ‘WAYOUT10’ at checkout. The offer is available until April 12th, 2015, so hurry, hurry!