Kate Sproston Design

Behind the scenes at Kate Sproston Design, making beautifully embroidered textiles for the home.


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Egg Cosy Easter Gifts

Making an Easter Keepsake with our Embroidered Rabbit Egg Cosy by Kate Sproston Design.

Gathering all the tools and materials needed to make our little Easter gift.

The evenings are getting lighter, the weather is getting warmer and there are signs of new life everywhere you look. Spring is well and truly on it’s way,  and so too is one of our favourite times of year (and not just because of all the chocolate eggs).

Handwriting tags to add to Easter keepsakes.

Handwriting tags for each of the special recipients.

With lots of little ones around, some of which are a bit too young to eat huge chocolate eggs, Kate wanted to create a little Easter keep sake for them to enjoy in the years to come. Not to mention hopefully encourage them to eat their dippy eggs and soldiers when they get a bit older.

Adding a bow the the Easter gifts made from Kate Sproston Design Embroidered Rabbit Egg Cosies.

Adding a bow and tag to the hold the cellophane in place.

Using a length of ribbon and a handwritten name tag, Kate has wrapped one of our embroidered rabbit egg cosies, complete with an egg cup, (and a little chocolate egg for the older children) in a sheet of cellophane ready to be delivered by the Easter bunny.

Embroidered rabbit egg cosies as Easter keepsake gifts by Kate Sproston Design.

All the little rabbits ready to be sent to their new homes.

Now all that remains to do is wait until Easter weekend to send the special gift. I hope they like them as much as we do. Now is there a spare chocolate egg anywhere?!

Embroidered rabbit egg cosies as Easter keepsake gifts by Kate Sproston Design.

In the bag and ready to go!

If you would like some more information about or Rabbit Egg Cosies please visit www.katesprostondesign.com or comment below.

Happy Easter Everyone!

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Behind the Scenes at Spring Fair 2018

Well we have returned from Spring Fair at the NEC in Birmingham and what a week it has been! We met lots of new faces, including visitors and fellow exhibitors, and thought we would share a little bit about our time at the fair and the work that goes into attending a trade show.

Preparation starts months in advance, photographing products, creating price lists, writing press releases and compiling press packs. We plan the stand layout, paint shelving, buy wallpaper and fill out lots of forms for the organizers. Not the most exciting jobs in the World but they have to be done nonetheless!

Preparing Press Packs for Spring Fair 2018

Making press packs (out of scrap fabric!), embroidered with a little taste of our Rabbit & Otter collection.

Several months before the fair we were also lucky enough to have our Cotton Embroidered Rabbit Napkins featured in the Little Black Book. This is the catalogue of exhibitors that will be present, and is sent out to all the registered visitors a few weeks before the fair opens. There are several trend taster pages throughout, just like the ‘Country Charm’ page on which we were included.

The Spring Fair Little Black Book Featuring our Cotton Embroidered Rabbit Napkins.

The Spring Fair Little Black Book featuring our Cotton Embroidered Rabbit Napkins.

Once set up day rolls around, it is time to pack up the van with samples, furniture, tools and some lunch (it’s a long day) and make our way to the exhibition hall. Unloading can be a bit hectic at times, but with a sack truck and a strong helper we got everything we needed into our stand space and could commence wallpapering.

Setting up the Stand at Spring Fair

My brother was my helper for the day, setting up the stand at Spring Fair. He is an ace at matching wallpaper and putting up shelves in freezing conditions.

With all the samples in place, we could add a few finishing touches. These included our shortlisted Gift of the Year entry, and our inclusion in the Great British Trail sign, to inform visitors we are a British brand and everything we make is done so in the UK.

Unfortunately our little rabbit egg cosy didn’t make the final cut this year, but we had a great response from lots of visitors who recognized our entry. If you would like to know a little bit more about our entry into the Gift of the Year Awards, please take a look at our previous post.

Finishing touches on our Spring Fair Stand

Adding the finishing touches to our stand, including our shortlisted Gift of the Year entry and inclusion in the Great British Trail.

The last job of the day was to delivery our press packs to the press office. It took 20 minutes to walk there and back from our stand, which gives you some idea of just how large the show is! There are 12 halls in total with lots of the visitors we spoke to spending several days at the show.

All Set up At Spring Fair 2018

All set up and ready to go, and my neighbors and view from my stand.

Visitors ranged from independent gift shop owners, buyers for large department stores, online retailers, agents, and those on research trips for potential new businesses to name but a few. The show was a great opportunity to create contacts, and chat to existing and potential new stockists. It is also a chance to network and learn from other exhibitors which is invaluable.

Well we hoped you enjoyed seeing a little of what goes into attending a trade show, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

 


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Rabbit Egg Cosy Shortlisted for the Gift of the Year Award 2018

Just before Christmas we were very excited to hear that our new Embroidered Rabbit Egg Cosy had been shortlisted for the Gift of the Year Award 2018 in the Design & Craft Category. This category consists of products that are designed and made in smaller studios with the personal touch.

Embroidered Rabbit Egg Cosy by Kate Sproston Design shortlisted for the Gift of the Year Award Design & Craft category 2018.

Our Shortlisted Embroidered Rabbit Egg Cosy

This meant that as soon as we returned to the studio after our Christmas break we had to make and send three special samples of our cosy to be viewed by the panel of judges.

Digitally embroidering the rabbit design ready to make the egg cosy samples.

Digitally embroidering the rabbit design ready to make the egg cosy samples.

Running for over 40 years the Gift of the Year Awards aims to find the most original and innovatively designed products that could be given as gifts. Our cosy will be judged on several criteria including the WOW factor, quality of manufacture, and customer appeal. Just reading the long list makes our palms sweaty!

Embroidered rabbit egg cosies by Kate Sproston Design embroidered and ready to be sewn together.

Three little rabbits embroidered and cut out, ready to be stitched into egg cosies.

Based on the judges scores, one overall winner will be chosen from each category, with two or three products being highly commended. We are incredibly honoured just to be shortlisted and will be keeping everything crossed when the winners are announced after the awards ceremony at Spring Fair on Sunday 4th February.

Embroidered Rabbit Egg Cosies by Kate Sproston Design packaged to be sent for judging.

Egg cosies complete, labeled and ready to post.

 


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Filming Our First Video

We have been very busy over the last couple of weeks, not only attending the Handmade Fair but also trying to shoot a short instructional video on how to fill our reusable Christmas crackers. In between sending orders and making stock,  we have been rearranging props, furniture and my living room in general to capture the best shots possible. It’s something we have never tried before which proved quite challenging. Luckily I was able to call upon the expertise of my good friend Felicity, who had some great tips and advice, plus an endless supply of patience. The whole experience also highlighted the fact that my Brummie accent is quite a bit stronger than I originally suspected; luckily there was no need to hear me talk on this occasion!

Shooting out video in my living room

Christmas comes to my living room in the middle of Summer!

The video includes a demonstration on how to fill our crackers, and some lovely gift ideas for all the family. Since their launch we have enjoyed chatting to customers who have used our crackers to send some extra special surprises which we have also included in the film.

Photoshoot props

We had great fun raiding my neighbors silverware and whiskey collection for props!

You can check out the video below or follow this link to view on YouTube. We hope you enjoy and if you have any comments or suggestions of what you would put in our crackers we would love to hear from you.


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New Dachshund Napkins

We have been enjoying some incredibly hot weather recently, which meant that none of us wanted to get anywhere near the iron to press and pack a nice big order for devotedtodachshunds.co.uk. After a bit of a reshuffle to find the coolest spot in the studio, we got cracking and they have been sent on their way.

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Wire haired dachshunds looking smart in their red ribbon and bow tie.

Boxed Napkins and Folding

Newly embroidered and ready to be folded with our super technical napkin folding board!

Following on from the success of the dachshund Christmas crackers, we have been asked to create some large napkins. Each set of two napkins is beautifully embroidered with a Mr. & Mrs. Dachshund. The boys are embroidered sporting a smart red bow tie and the girls an elegant ribbon tied in a bow. There are four designs available, including the black and tan, red and new wire haired and long haired dachshunds.

Finished Napkins Small

All the napkins rolled and ready to go.

Complete Dachshund Napkin Collection Small

All four new designs shown in ivory cotton and natural linen versions.

We are really pleased with the final outcome and we can’t wait to hear what the customers at devotedtodachshunds.co.uk think. In the meantime we are off to celebrate with an ice lolly!


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The Origins of the Christmas Cracker

When we designed and created our first reusable Christmas crackers back in 2012, we never realised how quintessentially British they were. It was only upon talking to buyers in Europe that we were told they are not recognised as much of a traditional part of the festive season outside of the UK. This got us to wondering how the Christmas cracker came to be, and lead us to discover this quaint little bit of British history.

Tom Smith's Christmas Crackers Catalogue front cover

Tom Smith’s Christmas Crackers full of ‘Mirth, Wit and Fun’, 1910-11 catalogue front cover. (Image from Tom Smith’s Christmas Crackers An Illustrated History by Peter Kimpton, 2004).

Back in the mid 1800’s, a seller of confectionery and ornamental icing named Tom Smith, was inspired to sell single sweets wrapped in paper after a trip to Paris. He noticed that these paper wrapped sweets, or bonbons, were very popular with the Parisians and decided to introduce the idea to his customers who visited his London shop. The new sweets were a great success, with Tom’s addition of love tokens and verses inside the wrapper. They soon became a sure fire hit, especially with young men and women.

Unfortunately after the Christmas period sales slumped, and Tom began to ponder the problem of how to increase their popularity. According to legend, it was whilst throwing a log onto the fire that Tom heard the “pop” or “crack” sound of the wood starting to burn, and came up with the idea of adding a bang to his paper sweets. To accommodate the bang, the packaging would have to be enlarged, with a small gift and paper hat added along the way, the cracker we recognise today was born.

Tom Smith's box of Victory Christmas Crackers

‘Victory Crackers’ bordered with Union Jack flags and featuring the armed forces. (Image from Tom Smith’s Christmas Crackers An Illustrated History by Peter Kimpton, 2004).

The new improved bonbons soon became known as ‘Cosaques’, supposedly after the crack noise a Cossack’s whip was meant to make. This was later dropped, and they soon became know as crackers. The Tom Smith name would go on to become synonymous with Christmas, and the company would continue producing crackers and decorations for the next 150 years, even supplying the Royal Family.

Tom Smith's Suffragette Crackerettes and Golliwog Crackers

Left: ‘Suffragette Crackerettes’ featuring a ‘Vote for Tom Smith’ slogan, 1910-11. Right: Tom Smith’s ‘Golliwog Crackers’, 1910-11. (Both images from Tom Smith’s Christmas Crackers An Illustrated History by Peter Kimpton, 2004).

Hundreds of boxes of crackers were designed and produced over the course of the company’s lifetime, many of which reflected the political and economic climate of the day. Boxes included ‘Suffragette Crackerettes’, ‘Golliwog Crackers’ and ‘Victory Crackers’ from the First World War. Crackers for spinsters, bachelors and married couples were also available, the contents of which we can only guess!

Even though our embroidered Reusable Crackers do not contain the classic snap, we are still pretty pleased to be part of a British Christmas tradition. And ever the romantics, we love to hear all about the special messages and gifts our customers fill our crackers with.

Monogrammed Cracker from the Kate Sproston Design Scandi Collection

Monogrammed Cracker from our Scandi Collection.

All images taken from ‘Tom Smith’s Christmas Crackers An Illustrated History’ by Peter Kimpton. Published by Tempus, 2004.


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Country Living Fair People’s Choice Exhibitor Award 2015

We are very excited to announce that one of our products has been shortlisted for the Country Living Fair People’s Choice Exhibitor Award 2015!

Woodland Christmas Crackers in Gift Box by Kate Sproston Design

Complete set of Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers in our new gift box.

The organizers at the Country Living Christmas Fair asked all exhibitors to tell them about their favorite product. We entered our Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers and have been lucky enough to be selected for the shortlist.

Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers by Kate Sproston Design

Wreath, mistletoe and pine tree reusable Christmas crackers.

All the shortlisted products will be on display at the front of the London show, and visitors will be able to vote for their favorite. Every voter will also be in with the chance of winning the People’s Choice Hamper containing every single item on the list.

banner_london_15_exhibsThe fair takes place at the Business Design Center, Islington between the 11th – 15th November 2015. You can find us on stand MF19, so why not pop by and say “hello” and don’t forget to vote!

We will be keeping our fingers crossed so wish us luck!

P.S. We will also be giving away four free tickets to the London show in the next few days, so if you haven’t got yours yet, watch this space to be in with a chance to win.