In conversation with: Katie Leamon

Katie Leamon


Katie Leamon

Est. 2011 - London, UK

"We stand for good, fair family morals. We want people to enjoy using our products, to relish in the quality and finishing touches and spread that joy through letter writing, scrap booking and journaling."
- Katie Leamon



We meet Katie Leamon who tells us all about her eponymous label, her love for stationery, and shares her key tips for self-confidence. 

Jeya Narrative: You started your eponymous brand back in 2011. What brought you to start your own business, how did it begin and how has it evolved since?

Katie Leamon: I wanted to work for myself and to do something I was proud of. I was working all hours for someone else and knew I had the dedication and work ethic to start out on my own and pave my own way. Initially I thought I would just freelance for other brands, slowly building a portfolio of designs, but as I began, I became aware quite quickly I wanted to see a design through to its finished product and be involved in all aspects of its development. I was just drawing all the time at first, then applying it to various surfaces. Cards and paper came very naturally, I have always love stationery so it was a very natural progression and one that was very accessible when you are starting out. The cards were picked up by a few high profile stores including Selfridges and Liberty and I continued to develop the range and grow the business organically.

 Katie Leamon (copyright Kitty Gale)Photo copyright: Kitty Gale (http://www.kittygale.co.uk/)

What inspired you to create a stationery business?

I love stationery and paper products…. Cards, wrap, notebooks, pencils and pencils, art materials, magazines etc etc…. it was a natural progression for me as a stationery addict! At the time, I also didn’t know of any other brands in the UK doing it on luxury papers and combining cool designs. It seemed to be very traditional and luxurious or cool graphics but not the best quality, and I felt I could bridge that gap.

 

What does your brand stand for? What do you seek to achieve?

We stand for good, fair family morals. As a family-led team alongside me, we really do pride ourselves on our customer service, quality and original design. I want people to feel that through every stage of their interactions with us. We want people to enjoy using our products, to relish in the quality and finishing touches and spread that joy through letter writing, scrap-booking and journaling.

Katie Leamon - stencils

Why is manufacturing in the UK important to you? 

The thing that is important to me is knowing where your product has come from, I want to ensure no one is being exploited at any stage. I worked in fair trade fashion before starting the business and I know how much exploitation can occur in some industries. I wanted to ensure that I could visit the factories easily enough and be able to support our local trade and businesses.

 Katie Leamon calligraphy

How do you manage hand-printing of all the cards?

We have two printers that have been in the business for years who know the presses better than me now! It was integral for us to keep the hand-printed element to our work so I made sure as we grew we just got another press, more stamps and more pairs of hands!

 

What advice would to give to somebody who wanted to start their own business?

Firstly, I think you have to be prepared to work hard. It never stops, which can be hard, especially now we have a little boy, so you need to be really self-motivated. Secondly, I think you need to be original. Find your identity, research your market and stay true to your values. 

Katie Leamon moodboard

What is your secret recipe for self-confidence?

I think confidence can vary so quickly and be so empowering and so isolating at the same time. You can feel like you have made a collection that just feels right and that embodies your principles, looks beautiful and just clicks, but then presenting it to buyers or even the team makes me feel vulnerable again. I think it's about embracing your vulnerability. I think we have built a business to be proud of, and the longer you go on the better you know the market and what sells, what your customer wants and looks to you for, so its easier to be confident in your decisions. 

 

How would you describe your personal style? And who has had the biggest influence on your style?

I guess I'm quite natural, I don’t like a lot of make up and I'm happiest in a nice pair of jeans or dungarees and a vintage sweatshirt.
I guess Ruairi, my boyfriend. He is actually really helpful with clothes and likes a similar look to me so we are always finding stuff for one another.

Katie Leamon | Moodboard Christmas 2018 

Lastly…

Place you call home: Where my family is.
A colour: Dusty pale pink
A movie or boop: To kill a mockingbird [Harper Lee].
A sound: Baloo’s [her son] laugh is my favourite sound but I also love music in the house. My favourite song at the moment is Ode to Billy Joe by Bobby Gentry.
A place: Glastonbury festival
Style icon(s): Not sure I have a style icon but there are loads of people I admire for their style …. I like a natural, casual look. Maybe Sienna Miller, Jenifer Lawrence, Cara Delevingne…. I just hope I end up with an eccentric style of Iris Aphel one day!
Moment of fame: I'm not sure what this means for me, as I'm not famous, but I had a cool moment in New York when we were in a café bar and someone was just sat there working away with one of our notebooks. I wanted to go up to her and say ‘I made that’ but I think she would have thought I was crazy!!
Go-to accessory to dress to impress: I'm not sure I often really ‘dress to impress’ but I do like a pair of nice shoes. Simple clothes then a pair of cool trainers, boots or brogues to finish the outfit off.
Most coveted item in your wardrobe: I have a wardrobe full of vintage finds, but I did get a pair of glitter covered Marc Jacobs brogues from Ruairi last year which are pretty fun.
Favourite tool to work with: Pen/pencil and paper
Favourite inspirational quote, or best piece of advice anybody ever gave you: Do one thing everyday that scares you.



Katie Leamon | Birthday card
Katie Leamon | Congratulations card
Katie Leamon | Happy birthday card
Katie Leamon | Tres cool card

 


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