In this Meet the Maker Q&A, we chatted to Hannah of Hannah Jane Designs, a greetings card illustration artist offering cards and gifts, and Rhian and Lucy of Saint & Green, a small-batch fragrance business.
Read on to find out about these fantastic small businesses and hear from them on sustainability, shopping small and what’s to come next in 2021!
Pedddle: Tell us a little bit about you, your business and how it came to be!
Hannah Jane Designs: I started Hannah Jane Designs Co, like so many others, during the first lockdown in 2020. Earlier that year I had taken a big jump to go self employed and freelance, after working over 15 years as a lead graphic designer for different product development companies across the country. Then covid happened and my long term freelance contract was cancelled with immediate effect. After franticly searching for other job opportunities, only to find that during the uncertainty, no-one was hiring, I decided to put my own creative out there and see what happened. I had always planned to produce my own products one day, but necessity definitely gave me the push I needed. I started small and bought a printer and a box of card and designed some cute lockdown themed greeting cards. After years of experience, it was now time to use my digital illustration skills for my own brand, which at first was so daunting. But, after success from my Etsy shop, I expanded my product range and started doing markets, which I absolutely love!
Saint & Green: We’re Rhian and Lucy, creators of Saint & Green. We create beautifully scented soy wax candles, melts and reed diffusers. When we met over six years ago, we soon realised we shared the same ideals and work ethic and often talked about starting our own business. We knew from the start we wanted to make plant based, eco-friendly candles that were both kind to the environment and helped to promote a feeling of wellbeing and happiness. But it wasn’t until early in 2020 that we finally decided the time was right, and Saint & Green was born!
Pedddle: What is most important to you in the process of making your products, and running a small business?
Saint & Green: We are both passionate about home fragrances so we spend a lot of time blending different scents and combinations until we are happy with the end result and then introduce them to our customers. Sustainability is incredibly important to us, so we use natural ingredients to make our products which are not only planet friendly but also vegan, pet-friendly and our packaging is fully reusable and recyclable. We also source and buy all of our ingredients from the UK to cut down our carbon footprint.
Hannah Jane Designs: It was really important to me to have a cute and happy brand which was gender neutral, inclusive and super positive. I always want to design products that make people smile, and that’s something I go by during my design process; if it doesn’t make me smile, it’s not quite right yet. I also wanted to be as eco-conscious as possible, all the card I use is FSC approved and made in the UK along with as many other products I can source locally. I try to be plastic-free where possible and as paperless as can be (whilst producing greeting cards!), so I process orders digitally, and only print the address label. I also use the waste area on a print sheet to fit my business cards on – waste not want not!
Pedddle: Have you been out to in-person markets since restrictions have lifted?
Hannah Jane Designs: I absolutely love attending markets. It really gives me chance to not only connect with customers but with other traders. I work by myself in a studio all week, so it really gives me opportunity to network, get my brand out there but most importantly have a fun day out and support other independent businesses. It also gives me the motivation to always be thinking of new products, I like to show something new at each market I trade at and it really gives me the drive to always be thinking what’s next, which is so important.
Saint & Green: We have sold at a few markets now – our first was the Village Pop-Up, back in July, organised by the wonderful Robyn. We’ve loved being a part of the market community and have met some lovely people along the way. It’s been such a great experience for us getting out, and for first time, we could interact with our customers face to face and listen to their needs.
Pedddle: Why do you think it’s so beneficial to shop from small businesses?
Saint & Green: By supporting a small business, you’re also supporting the local community, supporting someone’s dream or simply helping to pay their bills! In most cases, smaller businesses may have a shorter manufacturer-to-consumer journey, meaning there is more transparency in ingredients, materials, and the source of the products you buy. Smaller businesses often have the means to manufacture and source locally and ethically because of smaller quantities. You may pay more for these goods versus similar items at chain retailers, but you’re paying for the peace of mind that comes with ethical and sustainable production. There’s not much we can’t find on the high street but there’s nothing like the kind of interesting selection that a local, smaller business will have in stock.
Hannah Jane Designs: By supporting a small business, you are helping the environment as most of the products are handmade, sourced locally and doesn’t have the carbon footprint as those that are mass produced.
You’re also helping artists and creatives realising their dreams. I know after working with some incredibly talented designers in my teams over the years, when you’re employed by a company the artwork you produce isn’t yours. You definitely get a buzz from seeing it on a shop shelf, but you can never really take ownership for it. When you have your name on a product, it’s a completely different feeling. Especially as you get that direct feedback from your customers at the market. When you buy from a small business, you really are making their day!
Pedddle: In what ways did you have to adapt to changes in running a small business and selling during the pandemic?
Hannah Jane Designs: I think the main thing is that you have to be agile. Being super adaptable to an ever changing market is key to success.
Saint & Green: We actually set up our business as the pandemic started! We had to rely on social media to create awareness of our brand and also rely on selling our products online and via virtual markets. We now know that when it comes to selling candles and reed diffusers, customers like to smell them before committing to buy so we have brushed up on our descriptive skills! This is where selling at markets has really helped us too. We’ve also learned that candles and melts are very popular during the colder months while our reed diffusers have sold brilliantly throughout the year!
Pedddle: Thanks for chatting to us! What’s next in 2021 for you?
Saint & Green: We have a few events lined up in the run up to Christmas. We will be featured in John Lewis, Welwyn Garden City for a week in September, followed by two pop-up shops in Wheathampsted in October and December and we have also booked quite a few Christmas markets. We are super happy to be involved in so many different events and look forward to each and every one of them. At the moment we are working on our Autumn and Christmas ranges and can’t even express how excited we are for both our customers and ourselves! We will be busy bees this season, which is exactly how we like it!
Hannah Jane Designs: I’m working on my own website which will be live for the start of next year. Lots of new products including a super cute Christmas woodland range which I’m so excited to share with you, and of course lots of markets leading up to Christmas.