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?