We Are Scamp Blog
It'll be Reyt - Summer holiday ideas in Yorkshire on a budget July 24 2017, 0 Comments
Well the Summer holidays are almost upon us and I find myself with three children ranging from age 5 to 10 that need entertained. I love the Summer holidays and the lazing around in pyjamas and not rushing out the door for the school run but I like to be prepared with some activities up my sleeve so as to make the most of our time together. But the holidays can become quite costly with 3 children so I have been looking for things to do that don't cost the earth.
Here is my round up on places to go in and around Yorkshire on a budget. Let's hope the weather stays fine because everything I have chosen is outdoors which is where I tend to find that things are cheaper than if you are constantly taking kids to themed places. As they say in Yorkshire "It'll be reyt" so here's hoping it is.
1. Always, always top of my list of places to go is RHS Harlow Carr. This place never bores me or the kids. Every half term or holiday there is something to get involved with and this Summer is no exception. It's the 75th anniversary of Enid Blyton's very first Famous Five book 'Five on a Treasure Island' and they have a whole host of 'have a go' workshops to celebrate. There are lots of places you can picnic in and around the garden both undercover and out in the open. We have a secret sneaky spot we like to picnic at where the bench overlooks a little pond so we can check out the pond life and watch the birds scurrying around in the bushes too. Should you wish to splash a bit more cash you can sample the delights of the Betty's Cafe Tearoom. There is one at the entrance where you can sit down inside or head on into the gardens and you will find a more relaxed tea house with bench seating. Here you can get delicious ice cream - yum!
The cost for a family of 2 adults plus 2 children is £28 excl Gift Aid with the option of adding on an additional child at £4.65. I love this place so much I have actually paid for a yearly membership so we all get in for free (I definitely get my money's worth)
2. If we continue to get some of the beautiful weather we have had recently then a trip to the Ilkley Lido is not to be missed. You can spend the whole day hanging out at the pool and chilling on the sun loungers so well worth the 20 quid you will part with for a day in the sun. You can take non-alcoholic drinks and a picnic here to keep the costs down and they even provide picnic benches.
Adult swim (16+) £7.30 and £3.70 per child. Total £18.40 for me and 3 kids
3. Third on my list of places to go this holidays is the Ingleton Waterfall Trail. This is something we have never done before but I think all 3 children are now up to the challenge of walking the 4.3 miles circular walk. The trail is well-defined but not pushchair or wheelchair friendly and you need to allow between 2.5 and 4 hours to complete the walk depending on fitness. There is lots of free parking but there is an admission cost for the trail which is set at £15.00 for 2 adults and up to 3 children. Again, a picnic will be brought but there are cafe facilities available if you don't want to carry any food with you
4. Another favourite place of mine in the holidays is The Hepworth Gallery where it is FREE entry and there is also free family fun every day throughout the Summer holidays. In the past we have taken part in making little pictures with a wet felting technique and have created sculptures out of clay. There is always lots of help on hand and we have never had to wait too long to take part. There are also explore and draw stations around the gallery where you can borrow drawing materials to create your own artworks and a fabulous play park for the kids to have a run around in. There is, of course, a picnic area.
5.The Scamp family also love the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. This is a place that never fails to keep the kids occupied for a few hours and as a bonus we can take the dog here too. It's always lots of fun finding the sculptures dotted throughout the grounds and running free through the fields. There are loads of family friendly events you can attend (some cost £3 per child or adult and some are free).The free ones are generally drop in throughout the day so no need to book. So much exploring to be done.
There ends the We Are Scamp round up of activities to do in the holidays that don't cost the earth. As you can probably gather I don't like shelling out at all the cafes so one way I find that you can really keep costs down is to bring a picnic.
** M is for Mia ** July 19 2017, 0 Comments
#smallbizatoz is back this week and we are now half way through the alphabet at the letter M. So this takes us nicely to another of the Scamp minis - this time it's Mia. She is my middle daughter. I probably need say nothing more than that. I don't know if you buy into the middle child thing or not but I am also a middle child and I do buy into it and she is a classic one of us. The END!
She is kind. She is helpful. She is independent. She is feisty. She is happy to not conform. She is brave. In fact she is very much everything our sweatshirt says and embraces life to the max mainly with a great big beautiful smile on her face. When she is not practising martial arts kicks she is flip flapping all round the house doing cartwheels, splits and round offs.
Here are a few questions I asked her so you can get to know her a little bit better
1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A black belt in karate
2. If you had 3 wishes what would they be?
I wish I could be a black belt in karate
I wish I could go climbing more often
I will leave my other wish for someone else to use
3. Who are your three best role models?
Mummy, daddy and the teachers in my life (this mainly means her lovely school teacher and teaching assistant this year and her martial arts teachers - can you see a pattern here!)
4. What's the hardest thing about being a child?
Being the middle sister (I hear you Mia!!)
5. If you could change one law what would it be?
That chocolate didn't have to be so expensive
So there you have it life according to Mia. But let's not forget M is also for mischievous and she is certainly all of that. Massive love for this awesome middle kid who brightens up our every day.
** Top 5 teacher gift ideas for the end of term ** July 05 2017, 0 Comments
Whaaaaat, how did it get to be July. That means only one thing that it is almost the end of term for the English schools. Most of our Scottish friends are probably already now having pyjama days and enjoying the lazy mornings - well for the first few days of the holidays at least!
Are you a parent that buys for your kids teachers and wonder what to get? Well looky here we have done all the hard work for you and have collated a list of teacher gifts that your kids teacher would love to own.
First up are these super cool grammar pencils from Newton and the Apple. It's always important to know your yours from your you'res don't you think.
second up we have chosen this personalised mug which oozes character for those coffee and tea drinking teachers from A Few Home Truths. There are lots of ways to personalise this mug to make it look as much like your teacher as possible change the skin tone add a beard and alter the hair style amongst other things.
Next, is one of our own. What better way to say thanks to your teacher than this superpower teacher tote bag. This thank you teacher gift not only looks pretty cool but is practical too. They can fill it up with marking or wine - let them decide!
What about this wooden personalised pencil case from Mirrorin on Not on the High Street. I remember these retro style pencil cases when I was a child - do you? I am pretty sure that they would go down well as a great thank you gift for a teacher.
The final gift on our list has to be our personalised wooden flower. This is our best selling thank you teacher gift which can now be purchased with the glass vase you see pictured making it a complete gift to give to your kids teacher at the end of term.
Now we need a card to go with these gifts to say thank you. This one from wink-design is really sweet and says it as it is.
We wish all those hard working teachers a happy and relaxing holiday.
** L is for Laser Cutting ** June 28 2017, 0 Comments
It's back. #smallbizatoz is here again with the letter L. There really was no other choice for this letter but to use it to tell you a little more about our life with the laser cutter.
I am not very good at dates so I can’t actually remember when we invested in ours but it has been one of the best things we have done since beginning We Are Scamp.
Having hand stitched pretty much every single item we originally used to make we realised that if we were going to grow and scale our business that we would have to take a slight change in direction. We soon realised we were we going to have to increase our speed of production. I was introduced to the laser cutter whilst screen printing our baby grows at the workshop that I used. This is where my laser cutting relationship began. I paid by the hour to hire it which was rather stressful as if things didn't go to plan - which was often the case in the early days of use - I could literally see the pound signs stacking up.
The first product I made on the laser cutter was our original Christmas angel decoration.
For a few weeks this was the only thing we made as we hadn’t sussed out how to use Illustrator properly and to create that one vector file literally took me forever!!
Over a number of months I gradually became more confident at using the machine and also creating the artwork. As I created more and more products and sales increased it got to the point where renting the machine by the hour was no longer the sensible thing to do.
I did some research around laser cutters and decided, in the end, to go for the version I had been using in the workshop. Originally it was set up in my freezing cold garage and I panicked every time I switched it on in case something broke or I did something wrong and messed it all up. It’s a big piece of kit and the most money we had invested in our business so to say I was a little paranoid about it was an understatement. The machine has moved around a little since then. Next it was in our spare bedroom and now it has a home in my new studio space.
There is pretty much a constant hum in the background of the laser working it’s way through all our orders. I still occasionally stop in my tracks and watch it rastering or etching. It really is pretty cool how it transforms a vector image on a screen to a 3 dimensional object.
Currently we are whizzing through our thank you teacher gift orders
But my real favourite thing to make at the moment is our new wooden personalised family tree. I think this makes a beautiful keepsake for so many special occasions. I have made these for special birthdays, grand parents celebrating new grandchildren and significant wedding anniversaries. Shhhh, don’t tell my mum but she is getting one for her imminent special birthday with 7 birds on it representing each grand child.
A Wee Bit of Wonderful - LittleLily June 20 2017, 0 Comments
Our Wee Bit of Wonderful blog series is back this week with another great little Indie Business owner who works in the baby market (but with added extra treats for mums too!). It's a great pleasure to introduce you to Gemma from LittleLily ... take it away!
I am Gemma Kerr owner of LittleLily. Based in Berkshire, LittleLily specialises in "Small Luxuries for Busy Mums".
At LittleLily we believe that Mums deserve beautiful things as well as
Baby. We specialise in Stylish Teething Jewellery that is Beautiful for Mama and soothing and tactile for Bubba alongside Gorgeous Headbands in modern prints for Baby, Big sister and Mama and lot's of beautiful gifts for New or expectant Mums.
I have worked in the Luxury Fashion industry for 8 years, since finishing my Fashion degree. Most recently for Jenny Packham, focusing on Bridal I was constantly surrounded with beautiful, sparkly things. But after the birth of my second child, I decieded that I wanted to stop the daily commute and spend more time at home with my babies, and so LittleLily began.
I am a sucker for beautiful jewellery, mainly chunky costume jewellery but as my little cherubs got stronger and stronger my necklaces were going down like flies. Then I discovered the benefits of teething jewellery. I found that they were a perfect distraction to keep babies entertained and a perfect soother for teething gums. You can also put them in the fridge for especially bad days! When my eldest child’s
teething was at it’s worst I really struggled to find anything that I liked, particularly UK based. I wanted modern and trendy pieces that made me feel like me again (not just Mummy). Since then LittleLily has evolved into a one stop shop for Mum and Baby, specialising in beautiful, modern pieces for Mum, Baby or Big Sister.
* K is for Kids * June 14 2017, 0 Comments
As we see them develop and their interests changing over time they have inspired us to create new products to keep up with them and their friends. The latest product being our ‘Here Come the Kids’ children's sweatshirt range which have been a huge hit with the tweenage community, both girls and boys. Our best selling age ranges have been 7-8 years and 9-11. We originally called this range the 'Here come the Girls' range because we were passionate about our girls having a strong voice and positive self esteem. However, after launching and receiving loads of amazing comments about our range, we also had a few people ask why they were just for girls. We had a rethink and decided that, yep we want our girls to grow up with positive attitudes, but don't we want that for our boys too? Hell yeah!
So the 'Here come the Kids' range is here to stay.
We like to think that we are helping our younger generation to grow up with a strong sense of themselves and who they are. We want our kids to be fierce and we want them to be mighty and we definitely want our young female generation to stand up and say I am smart, I am strong and I am a girl and be proud of that fact but we also want our boys to stand up and say I can and I will. Look at the most recent turn out at the polling station and the effect the younger generation had on the result. These kids sweats are great positive messages for both boys and girls and we are very much in love with them and looking at our customer reviews you are too
"Bought this for my 12yr old who was very impressed that I had got her something "so cool"!! Great to see clothes for older girls that both child and mum love! Great quality and apparently very comfy too."
* Shhhhhh * There are a few other products in the pipeline related to these popular sweatshirts which are top secret at the moment but all will be revealed in time. Patience, patience!!
I'm A Grampa, What's Your Superpower? June 13 2017, 0 Comments
Given that it is getting so close to Father's Day we thought as well as giving love (and some gift ideas) for all the dads out there we need to celebrate those amazing granddads too! Scamp has created our very own 'I'm a Grandpa, What's Your Superpower?' pennant flag. We invited an extra special guest blogger to write a post for us today ... none other than daddy Scamp himself (dad to Stacey and I!) and Grampa extraordinaire to all seven of the Scampettes!. We thought it would be nice to ask him what he enjoys about being a grampa ... and here's what he said!
'Being a grampa keeps you in touch with the younger generation. It’s a privilege and an opportunity to share their endless enthusiasm and energy. It’s a challenge which stretches your boundaries as you are jolted out of your comfort zone. Watching them grow and develop individually is a great tonic. The very thought that you can influence them in some way or other is quite a responsibility. On a lighter side they enjoy nonsense, fun, games and hopefully my company as I regress back to my youth. Interacting with each child differently according to their personalities and interests helps develop a lasting bond. Just being with them and enjoying their company is very satisfying. Pat and I are extremely fortunate in that our daughters and husbands actively encourage grandparent involvement. The real test is keeping the kids enthusiastically onside showing pleasure at seeing us - after all what have we done to deserve them??'
*J is for Jonah* May 31 2017, 0 Comments
Jonah rocking his Scamp kids sweatshirt (and trying to look fierce!)
He is nine years old and is a quirky, funny, happy, thoughtful, curious, kind and insightful wee man with an irrepressible zest for life and a huge love of knowledge. Ask him anything about animals and he will quote you back a Steve Backshall or David Attenborough fact that he's learned over the last few years! I'm often surprised (and delighted!) at how much he does know! He's my animal loving, homework hating, adventuring, beatboxing, you tube watching (yes, he's one of those kids who loves watching others playing computer games online ... what?!!) favourite boy with a huge capacity for giving out kisses on demand.
I got him to answer a few question so you can gain a little insight into the life of Jonah.
1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Ummmmm, errrrrrr, hmmmmm (lots of thinking at this point!) .... I want to be an architect or a naturalist.
2. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
Hypnotism so if I didn't want something to happen I could just hypnotise them and say 'no, this won't happen and this will'!
3. What’s the hardest thing about being a child?
You're smaller than everyone and you don't get to take part in things that some other people do.
4. What’s the funniest thing you've ever seen?
I like 'You've Been Framed' and funny dog videos on You Tube
5. If you had three wishes, what would they be?
To have 600 billion wishes, that everyone agreed with everyone and that you can go on adventures instead of going to school.
So there you have it. J is for Jonah. Biggest love to him and long may the fun and happy days continue.
* A wee bit of Wonderful with The Old Market printing Co * May 24 2017, 0 Comments
Hooray it's another Wee Bit of Wonderful blog post today. We caught up with the lovely Charlotte and Jonny from The Old Market Printing Co. They produce the most exquisite wedding stationery which makes me just want to get married all over again! I first met them when they lived in Leeds. Jonny screen printed all our baby grows for us and Charlotte was always there to touch up our artwork :-) It's lovely to be back in touch with them and seeing their new business grow.
Hello, we are the Old Market printing Co a small print and design studio in Bristol run by husband and wife team Charlotte and Jonny. We specialise in screen-printed Wedding Stationery (also know as silk-screen printing) all of our stationery is lovingly designed and printed by hand. This traditional print technique allows us to create unique products of the highest quality, not to mention the specialist inks we can use such as metallics and neons!
The Old Market Printing Co came about after we designed and printed our own wedding invites, we got great feedback from our guests and friends started to ask us to create their wedding stationery for them. Charlotte is a hand-lettering artist by trade and Jonny has been a successful screen-printer for many years now, so it made perfect sense to team up together and make it official!
(Charlotte here!) I am a total Instagram and Pinterest addict! I love how you have so much access to such a wide variety of inspiration. Our design process always begins with a mood board, whether it is for an in-house collection or a bespoke design. I love working closely with our couples and finding out all about what they have planned for the big day. Once we have a mood board in place to set the scene I then get sketching. I’ll also work closely with Jonny to bounce ideas around about how we can use the screen-print technique to create something really special and individual.
So there we have it. The old Market Printing Co. Absolutely beautiful wedding stationery and we can vouch for total attention to detail.
* I is for Innes * May 17 2017, 0 Comments
We are powering on through the alphabet and on our #smallbizatoz we have now reached I. This was an easy one to fulfill for us. I is for Innes.
Innes is the youngest member of team Scamp and looks something like this.
He is 5 and a half years old and is the most mummy loving, mummy cuddling, super hero daft boy around. I love him to pieces. He started life as a little chunk - weighing in at 11lbs 6oz - quite a spectacle at the maternity unit. He fitted into his new born Scamp baby grow for all of about 3 minutes!! He is no longer a chunk but one of the tallest in his class. He is a lego lover, TV goggler and loves to shoot his Nerf gun at unsuspecting plastic superhero figures.
I got him to answer a few question so you can gain a little insight into the life of Innes.
1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be Hulk
2. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
I would like to fly because I will be able to go super fast
3. What’s the hardest thing about being a child?
Because my big sister is mean to me
4. What’s the funniest thing you've ever seen?
My Grampa is funny
5. If you had three wishes, what would they be?
I wish I could be a super hero, I wish I had superpowers, I wish I had a cape
So there you have it. I is for Innes. Big love to him and his superhero world.
*H is for Heat Press* May 10 2017, 0 Comments
Look what we can do with our lovely (H is for) Heat Press!!
Now that may not sound the most exciting of titles but buying the heat press in 2016 has been the biggest game changer in Scamp's business since we got our laser cutter ... how we love our bits of studio kit! We've now had a year of working out what new products we can design and make and have a cool collection of personalised baby wear and kids sweatshirts that we are able to create using it. Yay!
And new this year is that we've started designing some cool little gift bags, wedding favours and a small range of tote bag ... starting with our Teacher Superpower one. :)
I'm even a little bit partial to teaching the littlest Scampettes (in this case my nieces!) how they can create their own designs and pop them onto sweatshirts or other products too. We had some school holiday fun recently with my sister and kids ... Maeve is a bit of an Octanauts lover (can you tell by her choice of design!) so she could become one of the underwater gang!
And not to be outdone, my own eldest Scampette had a 'heat press' birthday party recently (well she and her friends designed and I heat pressed to be more precise!) ... I'd collected lots of scrap vinyl and printed out designs and stencils for her friends to use to create their wearable masterpieces.. An amazing array of sweatshirts and pencil cases were produced by Ava and her friends at the end of the afternoon.
* G is for Great Britain * May 03 2017, 0 Comments
#smallbizatoz is back this week with the letter G giving you more insight into what we do and how we tick. So G is for Great Britain.
Something we are very proud of at Scamp studios is the fact that all our products are designed and finished in the UK and 90% of them are manufactured here too. Very quickly into the business process we decided it was important for us to try to retain as much of the manufacturing process in Great Britain as was possible. Our blank baby grows, sleepsuits and children’s pyjamas are all made by a small factory in England.
Scamp are delighted to work with U.K suppliers and businesses for a number of reasons. It gives us the benefit of building up a better relationship with the business as we can visit them in person and discuss things face to face. Our last visit resulted in a couple of new products being created specifically for us that we are currently working on to add to our range. Watch this space! Not only this but we know our products are not mass produced and the overall ecological footprint of our business is less.
Each one of our products has our Scamp label stitched into the neck which proudly states on the reverse of the label that we are ‘made in U.K’. Our baby wear is all made from 100% cotton and is super soft to the touch with nickel free poppers for easy changing and of course they are machine washable and can be put in the tumble drier without any problems.
Once the blank products are received by us we then turn them into personalised new baby gifts for you in our studio based in North London. Keep the great in Great Britain. Buy local, buy British.
Don’t forget until midnight on Friday 5th May we have our Scamp Spring Clean sale on with up to 40% off lots of our products.
Don’t forget until midnight on Friday 5th May we have our Scamp Spring Clean sale on with up to 40% off lots of our products.
* Scamp Spring Clean * April 28 2017, 0 Comments
It's that time of year again. Time for a Spring clean. I am not sure what it is that makes you (well make that me) want to conform to this notion of Spring cleaning around this time of year but it really is a thing for me. The lighter mornings and longer days and the glimpses of sunshine must do it. The cupboards are emptied and finally the out of date packets get chucked in the bin. The wardrobes are scoured and cleared out of winter woolies and things outgrown are taken to the charity shop. It feels good, it feels like a fresh start.
And why am I telling you all of this? Well we have decided to just this at Scamp Studios and have a Spring Clean. We are making way for some exciting new personalised children's clothes and need to create some space.
There are screen printed baby grows which make lovely baby shower gifts or gifts for new baby so feel free to stock pile and have them ready to produce when the time arises. We are also selling stock of our generic wooden wall pennants that make a really lovely new home decoration or to mark a special occasion. How about Let The Adventure Begin for a graduation gift or a 21st birthday present. Possibilities for these are fairly endless. And we will also be offering our popular personalised pyjamas in the sale too. Woohoo, loads of bargains to be had so please make us feel a little less OCD and join in with our Scamp Spring Sale by clickety clicking right here to enjoy some real bargains.
A Wee Bit of Wonderful - Lala and Bea April 26 2017, 0 Comments
*A Wee Bit of Wonderful - Bookishly* April 12 2017, 0 Comments
We can't wait to let you learn all about our latest Wee Bit of Wonderful designer/maker. As avid readers we couldn't help but be drawn to the lovely work of Louise and Team Bookishly ... it's a fascinating read learning how her business has evolved over the last 8 years!
Hey! I’m Louise Verity from Bookishly. We’re a literary gift company based in Northamptonshire. We design and create a number of products, the majority of which are inspired by all things bookish - with a touch of geek thrown in for good measure. Bookishly’s motto is a quote from writer J.M Barrie: ‘Always try to be little kinder than is necessary.’
Bookishly first started in 2009 as Wall Envy Art. It all began with an antique dictionary and my grandfather’s set of water colours. I used to hand ink our signature book page prints in my spare bedroom, and sell a handful a week. As time progressed, both my team and product range did too. Eight years later, our framed book page prints are still an integral part of our brand, but the business is driven by a number of other products too. The two most significant of which are our monthly book club subscriptions and our personalised star chart prints.
Bookishly couldn’t have expanded without the input of our amazing team. My design skills are limited, so having the input of a real designer meant we could do so much more! Our subscriptions are now basically a business of their own, so organising and fulfilling them is a major undertaking. We are now a team of 12, including designers, a marketing wiz, and the super heroes that keep the orders going out the door.
We find inspiration in all sorts of places, some maybe a little more surprising than others... words, of course, are a huge inspiration. As Albus Dumbledore once said, they are our most ‘inexhaustible source of magic’. Our customers and their stories inspire us too, we love that our star chart prints have played such a special part in the lives of so many. On a personal level my small creative business friends are constantly an inspiration. By sharing our successes and challenges we have been able to support each other so much.
Going forward, we’re constantly working on new designs and products that our customers will love. It’s still just as exciting planning for what’s to come as it was eight years ago! We’re working on our new Bookishly Crate, which is a monthly box of bookish goodies themed around a different book each time. Creating new products for a monthly regular release is quite a challenge but we’re up for it!
*F is for Fairs* April 05 2017, 0 Comments
In our continued quest to bring you a bit of background to all the little elements that make up Scamp we couldn't get to the letter F without mentioning Fairs. This is a photo of me at our first ever fair in Primrose Hill, London. It was June 2010, Scamp (Baby Gifts as it was then) had only just begun, we made all our products either by hand stitching or machine sewing and although it was creative and fun it was quite the labour of love! There were personalised pictures, super soft blankets, elephant mobiles, hair bands, cards, cushions and bunting in a riot of colours and styles! I had my little helper with me (who is now 11!) and we sold a grand total of £85 worth of products. I was very proud ... first time I'd ever done anything like that and really had no expectations of what people might buy from us but it felt like a good day.
Fairs and markets have been a big part of Scamp's development over the years. We've travelled all around London and Yorkshire to take part in them and met so many lovely designer makers through doing them all. We've recently moved beyond just having an occasional market stall and some of the designers I've met along the way have also become my co-pop up shop 'owners' for a week at a time over the last year!
We no longer hunt out lots of fairs all around London but tend to pick and choose a few that have been tried and tested for us. We are much busier online than the days when we began so it can become quite difficult to do regular events as they are pretty time consuming to plan, organise and prepare for and take up precious weekend days. We also have a lot less stock that we can sell there and then these days now that we are more focused on personalised gifts. These days we tend to concentrate almost exclusively on markets around Christmas time finding they work best for us - including taking up a stand at Olympia for a week at the Spirit of Christmas fair but we do manage the odd one or two events scattered throughout the year.
Writing this post and seeing these photos makes me realise how how our range and styles have evolved and developed since the Primrose Hill Fair Days! Here are some pictures of recent fairs ... spot the difference!
Etsy London Local Christmas Fair in Crouch End 2016
Scamp's stand at Spirit of Christmas in 2016
Pop Up shop at Craft Central in March 2017
*A Wee Bit of Wonderful - Bread & Jam* March 22 2017, 0 Comments
In our continued quest to share some more 'wee bits of wonderful' with you we are so happy to be able to introduce you to two of our favourite designer maker friends. The wonderful Jame & Catherine who run Bread & Jam and create the happiest and jolliest products we know!
We are Catherine & Jamie Douglas, the couple behind Bread & Jam. We are a small giftware company based on the border between Cumbria and Northumberland in the wild and beautiful North Pennines. We have a range of personalised and non personalised products which have a distinct happy tone and everything we do is intended to leave a smile on the recipients face when they receive our work, spreading happiness one product at a time.
Jamie has a background in design and graduated from De Montfort University after studying furniture design and Catherine is the brains of the company and has a business and banking background, also graduating from De Montfort. We met at uni and settled locally to raise our two girls. Jamie started a commercial interior design agency and has worked with some of the most recognisable brands in the UK and on an international basis.
The agency traded for 8 years until it folded in the economic crash in 2008. It was a very tough time for both of us and our young family but despite the turmoil we still knew we wanted to work for ourselves, it didn’t leave any lasting damage to our determination to make something work for us. It was Catherine’s suggestion that we worked together and within a month of that seed being planted we had formed the company, produced the branding and website and bought our first batch of notebooks which we could apply our designs to. We started out hand printing note cards, notebooks, and pencil cases, we made our own printing blocks and we started screen printing, all from our dining table.
Some of our earlier products were designed to give to one another to cheer each other up, others were to perk up other family members and we had very little money so we ended up making most of the gifts we gave. So you could say the backbone, the essence of the business was about adding some cheer into the lives of those who received our products but this has evolved into all aspects of people’s lives not just unhappy moments. We’re fortunate enough to be involved in the most intimate and heart warming areas of people’s lives. This includes birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, kids leaving home for the first time, proposals of marriage and many more joyous moments, we’re very privileged.
We get our inspiration from lots of sources, it’s all around us, our kids, our friends, our peers and of course there are swathes of blogs and magazines and social media. It doesn’t have to be related to what we do but it does generally have to come from a really positive perspective, motivational or simply a good feeling. Being able to translate these influences into something “Bread & Jam” is the key, we have a tone of voice for the company and this is pretty sacred and protected at all costs.
As the company has grown we have had to reassess how “hands on” we are with the production as we have had to employ people to fulfil orders. We are currently looking at how we can grow further at the same time as keeping the soul of the business intact and making sure we still get our hands dirty, it’s a fine balance and one we constantly wrestle with. We are happy to make the first batches and samples the way we would like them and then pass that knowledge down the line to the people we employ.
We’re currently working on new designs for 2018, focussing mainly on more stationery and a brand new fabric line. We’re also working to explore new untapped areas for us including weddings and more things for kids. We’ve just had our best ever year and we intend to build on this without losing the original ethos and soul we started the company with.
* I am a Girl * March 17 2017, 0 Comments
Scamp began when our children were very little (one not even born). We struggled to find brightly coloured unisex baby wear so we created our own. Now our children are getting older we have decided to add to our personalised baby grow collections and start producing sweatshirts for kids aged 3 up to 10.
These are not just any old sweatshirts. They are made from 85% organic cotton and all the processes involved to get to the end result use sustainable methods. We are super excited that the first range we are launching is a range of empowering sweatshirts for girls.
The inspiration behind this range, as always, started with our very own family. Three out of five of our little Scamps are girls and sadly it remains evident in so much of our world that girls and women are still judged on their looks rather than their attributes. This is worrying and makes me sad and cross in equal measures. Don't get me wrong it was the same when we were growing up and we managed to negotiate our way through the judgements and self doubt but it seems somehow more prevalent due to the influence of social media, which was not around in our day, (thank goodness). Everyone looks perfect on their Instagram feed, they eat the perfect balanced meals and their selfies are literally spotless. Of course, as adults, we know a lot of this is staged and photo shopped beauty in magazines is everywhere but for tween/teenagers this is what a lot aspire to.
Our new range of Go Girl sweats are made to show our girls, your girls, every girl that there is more to them than looks and beauty. My girls are physically strong, they can boulder to the top of climbing walls like monkey spiders and they can do pull ups on a pull up bar many more times than I can but we need all our girls to be mentally strong and confident; allow them all to believe in themselves and believe they can achieve anything. Let's tell all our girls they are pretty bloody awesome not just pretty.
* E is for Early Days * March 15 2017, 0 Comments
So the #smallbizatoz alphabet keeps moving on and now we are at the letter E. Seems to make sense to go back to the Early days of Scamp for this. When we first started we were called Scamp Baby Gifts, selling mainly new baby gifts and gifts for christenings. We literally made every single product by hand. A real labour of love that we thoroughly enjoyed doing at the time but if you added all the hours it took to produce anything we most definitely were not making money out of these products!
We sourced fabrics, cut, stitched, mounted and personalised each product, bubble wrapped, lovingly wrote everything by hand and posted these off to quite a number of customers! It was these products that got us to the attention of notonthehighstreet and we were invited to join their platform in it's reasonably early days. Something that has been a big factor in growing the business to the size it is now so we have a lot to thank those early products for!
Letting these products go a few years ago felt a big thing to do - they were the beginning, they sold, were popular and looked pretty - but we knew how long they took to make and we knew that we couldn't sustain a business only selling them so it became obvious it was was time to move on. We didn't let go completely though! We kept some of the original stitched picture ideas and turned them into screen prints. For a couple of years our Hootie McTootie the Owl baby grow was the most popular design we sold. Initially, we screen printed these ourselves but soon realised we were much better placed creating the designs but getting others to actually print the finished product.
Although Scamp as it is today has moved quite far from the original concept for the business those early products definitely shaped us. The lessons we learned from creating them, how we ran the business, the value we put on making products, the level of quality we expect of everything we now design and sell all stem from those early products and early days ... without them, we'd be nothing!
* A Wee Bit of Wonderful * - Bec Gilray March 08 2017, 0 Comments
This week our 'a wee bit of wonderful' features the very lovely girl boss behind Do You Punctuate? The home of original, cheeky greetings cards and prints. Here she is to tell us her story.
Hello I’m Bec Gilray and recently I’ve become a big cheese. Not quite sure what flavour yet but I’m the CEO of Do You Punctuate and we’re a print to demand greetings card publisher (but we also make gifts and prints too).
We’re based in Yorkshire, in a little town north of Leeds synonymous with traditional printing presses known as the Wharfedale. Originally DYP was a letterpress print shop but we liked digital so much we swapped metal for LED digital printing and never looked back. (Though we still have our old girl called Mabel, she sits proudly in our dining room!)
Our cards are very cheeky, rude and funny. What makes them the best though is our amazing customers who request personalisation. We work with them to bring to life their ideas and we love that we can do that. We connect people’s stories from around the world and though it’s a card, it speaks more words than you would realise.
DYP was born out of my MA research question and my passion for printing and typography. I love the structure of typography and grids but I also used to be scared of colour!
When I finished my MA I knew I needed a job that fitted around my young family and at the time caring responsibilities for my mum. Initially I planned on trying to find a design job as a junior but soon realised that wasn’t possible, so in a left field idea I bought a little tiny printing press called an Adana 8x5 and I didn’t look back.
Very quickly I had a small letterpress print shop and several printing presses, and too much work! Though I loved letterpress I found it limiting and expensive, particularly for customers because my presses were driven by pedal power and not electric; this meant that prices were quite high due to the cotton paper and time involved.
As the business grew, my love for this traditional printing method waned and I knew that I had to change before I fell out of love with it completely.
Around this time, I experimented with several digital printers, various stock and found that I came into being a card publisher a bit by accident. I had very high expectations for paper, having worked with cotton and so sourced excellent stock that was made in Yorkshire. As we have grown, I’ve employed more people and invested in a professional beast of a printer. It made our production go up from 1 cards every 1 minute 30 seconds to 20 cards a minute!
Though I initially didn’t start a business to become a business woman, as we continue to grow I love the challenge and the ways in which to tackle running an online business. I know we are disruptive because we sell directly to our customers and have bypassed the traditional route to the retail market. This means we can maintain a personal touch without compromising quality.
Language is my inspiration. I love combinations of odd words and I love listening to people’s phrases, accents and dialects. I also listen to a lot of audiobooks and Gothic horror, with Victorian language, is a brilliant source of inspiration. I love a good solid justified piece of text! Strong graphical lines and black are where I feel safe but it’s very easy to stay there. When I first started designing the cards I was frightened to use colour because it was an unknown and I was probably being too puritan by trying to keep the typefaces woodblock style and black! I learnt that the best way to change though is to push yourself out of your comfort zone so I started incorporating bright primary colours. In my previous work, colour features and you can see how I experimented, but always had the limitations of the press and the print runs holding me back. When we changed to digital it was like being a kid in a sweet shop and I became overwhelmed with the choices available!
The people who inspire me the most are our customers though. It sounds contrite but actually when you hear their stories, the ideas just pop in my head and 99% of the time I know exactly what style of card they need, with what colours to fit the story they’re trying to tell. Haha! Maybe that’s my super power? Who knows?
* D is for Duo * March 01 2017, 0 Comments
* D is for Duo *
It’s #smallbizatoz time again. This is a time for you to get to see behind the scenes of Scamp. Who we are, what we love, what gets us up in the morning and why we do what we do.
D is for duo. This was an easy one. There are two of us. Two sisters in fact. Jennifer is the eldest and me (Stacey) the younger of the two although we do have a third younger sister who chose not be involved on our venture to bring our personalised baby gifts into the world! The photo below is of Jennifer and I at Christmas time last year in one of our happy places - back home in Dumfries at a beautiful beach called Rockliffe.
So what to tell you about me. I am 42, married to Robin for 10 years, actually very nearly 11 year and have 3 (mostly) lovely kids and one big soppy dog. I started my working life as a Physiotherapist working in the NHS but the strain on the NHS took it’s toll on my love for the job. I started to think of other things I could do to replace my Physio income and low and behold Scamp was born (albeit in a rather different form to how it is now, but that is for another blog post!). I left the NHS job to work privately and juggled this, kids and building Scamp until September last year when I took the plunge and decided to work full time in the business.
Things that make me tick. Hmmmm I actually think I might be a bit of a work-a-holic. This is only because I am hugely passionate about what we create and trying to make Scamp a success. My husband is constantly telling me to switch off the computer and relax!
So the things I like to do when I am not working or thinking about work. Obviously number one is mucking around with my kids - dancing, singing, crafting, lego building and playing board games (a secret passion of mine from childhood). I enjoy the outdoors - walking the dog or taking the kids on a jaunt or a bike ride. In a past life I did a lot of hiking up hills and mountains but expectations have lowered to walking round reservoirs since having the kids!
I have a huge love of modern calligraphy and typography. I always remember my Grampa having lovely, neat writing, particularly his capital letters, and maybe this sparked something off in me. When i was just 14 I did traditional Calligraphy with a bunch of adults in a community hall and I absolutely loved it despite being the youngest by at least 30 years. Last year I picked up this hobby again but went to learn about modern calligraphy at Quill in London. I am hooked. Sadly, I don’t practice as much as I should to become brilliant but it’s hard to beat beautiful writing in my eyes. You can read more about my calligraphy exploits on the blog here.
I also love going to my local studio gym – Fitbarre. This is 100% me time. It feels indulgent but for too long there has been little or no me time and I am now rectifying this and enjoying every sweaty minute of it! As Victoria, the owner of Fitbarre says, if you don’t look after yourself then it will all fall apart. I totally agree. There have been times throughout our Scamp journey I really have felt I was holding on by a thread. But we are still here to tell the tale.
Over to Jennifer.
So, hello, it's Jennifer now, the elder Scamp sister (well, by 15 months!) so you can do the maths to tell how old I am! I've been married to a fellow Scot, Mark, for nearly 13 years and we've got 11 year old Ava and nearly 9 year old Jonah and last month we welcomed a new (fur!) baby into the family as well. 3 month old puppy Alba joined us in February and it's been nearly identical to having a real baby - lots of tiredness and cleaning up wee and poo! But pretty joyful the rest of the time!
I started my work life in rubber ... the Gates Rubber Co to be precise! I was in the marketing department for both Hunter Welly Boots and Tredaire Underlay for the first two years of my career as I was sponsored through university by them. Once the excitement of rubber wore off (VERY quickly!) I headed overseas to work as a marketing consultant in Pakistan - one of my favourite experiences ever! If we ever meet up ask me about the Karakoram mountains and I will wistfully tell you tales of my time there! Moving swiftly through various fundraising charity jobs in London when I came back from my travels and then into a career at the BBC. Again, staying international, as I worked in a creative team for BBC World News (the BBC's international channel). A great job but a difficult one to make work and keep challenging me once I opted for part time hours after my babies arrived!
My Scamp story really started after that ... with my marketing background I chatted to Stacey about the idea of me working with her to put together a small business that would keep us both challenged, interested. learning and working. Marketing is now only one of many aspects of the business I'm involved in but, alongside design, remains one of my favourite parts of my job!
What else do I like doing? I love exploring and travelling. Pre kids travelling to far flung places was a big passion but post kids is not quite so easy or regular! Last year we had a true trip of a lifetime taking them to Kenya to visit friends of mine who lived in Nairobi and in a national park and we've visited family and friends in Thailand with them as well. I want to give them opportunities to see people and places that are very different from their London lives and experiences they will never forget.
Now we are with dog I see more UK based adventures happening. I want to explore more of Scotland - despite being born and brought up there there are lots of places I've yet to visit. Highlands and islands in particular take my fancy. I'm also keen to discover more of the English countryside so we can take a bit of time out of London as well as time in! We've already got a weekend on the Norfolk coast pencilled in soon!
I've always loved the water but over the past couple of years I've been regularly swimming (through all seasons) outdoors in lidos, rivers, lakes and Hampstead Ponds with a group of friends. A very cathartic and energising way to exercise. I'm a real wild swimming convert now!
I love the cinema, love theatre (don't go nearly enough) and love exploring what London has to offer when I get a chance. A recent discovery is E17 (not the group from the 90s but Walthamstow!). Visiting the William Morris Gallery and God's Own Junkyard helped occupy a very happy Friday a few weeks ago.
Lastly, well, I'm sure I could go on and on about plenty other things I like but this seems a good (and fitting!) point to stop. I love and am inspired a lot by creativity, design and art - be it interior design, product design, being with friends who design, shopping from designer/makers I admire, visiting exhibitions of artists whose work I love. It feels like I'm now working in what I really love and something that keeps inspiring me and though it's not always easy, the decision to have our own business has easily been the best work decision I've ever made!
* C is for Challenge * February 22 2017, 0 Comments
Here we are again with our #smallbizatoz just trying to give you a little more insight into Scamp and where we have come from and what makes us tick.
Now this could be a very, very long blog post as much of setting up Scamp and growing the business has been a challenge but I will keep it reigned in I promise!
Jennifer has a marketing background and used to work for the BBC before starting Scamp so there was quite a lot of business knowledge from that but in my former life I was a Physiotherapist and, although there were many skills involved in that, I didn’t really know anything about setting up a business.
When you start your own creative business you initially think it’s all about being at home with the kids and making lots of beautiful items to send to others! However, it quickly dawns on you that there are a whole heap of other things you need to do in order to make your business a success!
We thought that in this blog post we could share with you some of the Challenges we’ve had to face as we’ve grown the business (and show you you’re not alone when it comes to things not being quite as straightforward as you might originally think!)
Where to start though?
Websites (which platform to use , how do you upload anything, what’s SEO, how do we write engaging copy for our products, how do we get people to find our website in the first place – waaaahhhh)
Accounts (what’s a spreadsheet, how do we keep all those receipts neat and tidy, VAT registration, how do I not fall asleep at the thought of all of this but how do we even have a business if we have no idea of incoming money and expenditure?) – luckily for me I was a pretty poor Maths student at school and therefore Jennifer has taken on the accounts side of the business. Phew
Social Media– another minefield - how do we keep up to date with what all our customers are doing? Snapchat (yack) Facebook (it took me about 3 years before I opened a FB account), instagram, Pinterest, blogging, Linked in, Twitter (please hear my voice fade out as I list off all these endless amounts of chores). I have just taken a fabulous 21 day social media course with www.slsocial.co.uk which has really helped us to be more organised with social media rather than just winging it on a daily basis! I would high;y recommend it.
Photography – how do we make our products look beautiful - when people see them in the flesh we know they love them – they buy them and they come back again. We get a lot of repeat customers which is fabulous but how do we portray the quality of them online. How do we show our customers with pictures that they want to buy the product and come back for more. Hours and hours have been spent trying to get the right light, the right props and finally the right shot.
Wholesale (what does that even mean, should we have a catalogue of products, should we spend lots of money on a trade show, should we even do wholesale?)
All of the above and much, much more, that I haven’t mentioned, have been a challenge and a big massive learning curve over the last 6 years. But the biggest challenge of all has been time (or lack of!). With 5 kids between us and the youngest one only starting school 4 months ago Scamp has been run predominantly on a part-time basis. It has been built up over time and fitted in with all the other things that come with family life – school runs, homework, fun times, changing nappies, play dates, after school activities yada yada yada. This has often meant working at very odd hours in the 24 hours that make up a day. Two Christmases ago I was laser cutting in my garage until 1 in the morning and then going to bed only to get up about four hours later to make up all the products ready for dispatch and then going off to be a Physiotherapist for the day!
We have been very lucky to have gained some business mentors along the way who have helped us see the wood from the trees when it has come to analysing figures, reviewing the year gone by and setting targets for business growth. We are very grateful to each of them who have helped us train our brains into a more business like approach and really helped Scamp develop, evolve and grow into the business it now is and that Jennifer and I are really proud of.
A Wee Bit of Wonderful - Lizzy Chambers February 15 2017, 0 Comments
We so happy to be sharing a week long pop up shop from 6th March with the lovely Lizzy Chambers and Samantha Morris. You can find us at Craft Central 33-35 St John's Square, London EC1M 4DS from 6th - 12th March.
This week we thought it would be a really good idea to have 'a wee bit of wonderful' featuring one of the lovely designers that will be in the shop with us. Here is the very talented Lizzy - maker of gorgeous jewellery.
Hello my name is Elizabeth Chambers and my trading name is Lizzy Chambers. I create keepsake jewellery inspired by nature and nostalgia. I am based in Wembley in North West London where I have a studio and a garden where I grow some of my flowers for my jewellery.
I specialise in using British grown flowers that either come from my garden or a British farm, which are dried and preserved.
I originally graduated in Law but art/design and plants were my true passion. I took evening classes and poured through many a book, where I self-taught myself how to grown and look after plants and my passion for art shone through with my love for colour.
After having children it felt right to have a change and I started Lizzy Chambers. Here time spent in the garden with the children and their love for creating inspired me to put the two together. After picking flowers and seeds I wanted something to keep that little memory alive, the glass was perfect for my keepsake jewellery.
Five years later the garden and my collection has changed and grown. I now have private clients that want me to dry their wedding flowers through to keepsakes that they want to treasure and pass to their children. I also work with some beautiful boutique shops and museums.
My inspiration for my collections comes from things that we used to love as children, the simple things, the walk in the park blowing the dandelion seeds, the buttons that Gran always had, the small bits and pieces that Grandpa used to keep in his little metal tin, the old sand egg timer, watching the grains of sand pass through. All these little memories that mean something to us personally.
As a child I always used to pick the flowers from the garden and try and keep them, now I have found a way to keep these. From time to time I still get flowers from my mum’s garden to add to the collection and these ones are always the first to sell out. I suppose mum’s flowers have always been special.
You can find Lizzy on social media at:
* A is for Ava * February 08 2017, 2 Comments
Well our social media plans for 2017 started off a little bit topsy turvy due to not quite kicking off our #smallbizatoz on the first week of January as planned so we began with B rather than A. Oops! We are now about to rectify this faux pas. Our aim with these posts is to give you all a little more insight into our business, where we have come from and what we (Jennifer and Stacey) and Scamp are all about.
So today drum roll everyone please .... we are jumping back to A and going to introduce you to the oldest Scampette Ava.
Ava is 11, a Sagittarian and is Jennifer’s eldest child but she also carries the medal for being the oldest one of the five mini scamps that we have between us. In order to let Ava introduce herself to you she answered 10 questions for us and here they are along with her answers.1. What’s the funniest thing you've ever seen?I like watching stupid pet videos2. If you had three wishes, what would they be?To have infinite wishes, to have a good job and to have dogs and a horse3. What are the best and worst things about mum and dad?Dad is normally playing on pokemon go but he is really fun when you go outside and do go ape or play outside. Mum is normally on her phone so when you are talking to her she forgets what you say because she is doing something on it although she is good fun all the time when she isn’t on the phone.4. Can you name one thing that scares you?Dentists giving injections5. What do you do when you’re scared to make it less scary?Fall asleep6. What’s the nicest thing a friend has ever done for you?Made me happy when I’m sad7. Would you rather give up TV, chocolate or friends?TV8. Who are your three best role models?Family, family and family9. Which five words describe you best?creative, nice, arty, dog-lover and skiing-lover10. If you could time-travel, where and when would you go?I would go back to the 1980’s to see what mum and dad did when they were younger
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