Kate Sproston Design

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


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Spring Fair 2019

Well what an amazing trade show to start the year. It is only our second Spring Fair but with each year it gets a little easier and less daunting. We are able to take things in our stride a bit more, and enjoy meeting lots of new stockists and compare notes with fellow designers and business owners. Therefore I thought it might be fun to do a little round up of this years show, and things that we spotted.

Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers by Kate Sproston Design were Highly Commended in GOTY Award 2019

Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers with our Highly Commended Trophy.

Our big news is that the Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers won Highly Commended in the Festive & Occasional Gift category in the Gift of the Year Award 2019. We were thrilled to attend the award ceremony and receive a trophy which now has pride of place in the studio.

Gift of the Year 2019 Winners and Runners Up Group Photo

All the winners and runners up having their photo taken on stage at the award ceremony. Spot a smiley Kate at the back!

I also got to have my picture taken on stage with all the winners and runners up. You can just spot me at the back looking pretty pleased with myself!

Kate Sproston Design stand set up before, during and after completion at Spring Fair trade show 2019.

The before, during and after shots of the stand build.

Set up took place over two days, with the stand wallpapering done on Friday evening in the gloom, and the shelving and display finished on Saturday morning. The hall is always freezing during set up with all the doors open for unloading. We work in our coats as fast as possible to keep warm. The change in atmosphere is always amazing, from a dark and echoing hall during set up, to a bright and bustling fair once the doors open to visitors on Sunday morning.

We had fabulous stand neighbors as always. Some we knew from last year and others we got to know over the duration of the show. (You really do get to know each other very well especially when you are stood next to each other for five days straight and there is a lull in foot traffic!)

Ceramics by Tragear Pottery

The beautiful ceramics by our stand neighbors Tregear Pottery.

We met Neil from Tregear Pottery for the first time and fell in love with his work. The creation process for each piece is fascinating, although I won’t give away any trade secrets! In particular the seal designs really caught my eye as the shapes were so simple, yet conveyed so much character in their form.

Botanical trend spotted at Spring Fair 2019

One of the fantastic stands that caught our eye, complete with ceramic animal heads.

As always there are a real mix of companies at the show, from large multi national businesses, to independants like us. Some of the largest strands had huge room set ups with the botanic trend still as popular as ever. I couldn’t help but spot the fantastic animal heads on this company’s stand, the name of which I have unfortunately forgotten!

Needless to say we have returned from the show exhausted but buzzing with ideas. We have lots of leads to follow up, and new designs to start as well as a few orders to fulfill! I hope you enjoyed a little bit of the behind the scenes of our time at Spring Fair, and if you have any questions please feel free to ask.

Kate x

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Woodland Crackers Finalist in Gift of the Year Award 2019

Just before Christmas we entered two of our products into the Giftware Association’s Gift of the Year Award 2019. After being shortlisted last year with our Rabbit Egg Cosy, we were delighted to be shortlisted again this year in two categories. Firstly our Embroidered Dog Christmas Stockings in the Pet Gift category, whilst our Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers were shortlisted in the Festive and Occasional Gift category.

Embroidered Dog Christmas Stockings by Kate Sproston Design

Our Embroidered Dog Christmas Stockings Shortlisted in the Pet Gift category in the Gift of the Year Award 2019.

With over 1,100 entries, it is safe to say we were absolutely delighted to have gotten this far, and after making up product samples, we sent them off for the live judging day to be viewed by a panel of industry experts. Having been judged on several elements including design, innovation, originality, quality of manufacture and WOW factor, it was with much excitement that we read the email a few days later telling us that our crackers had made it through to the final. This means that they have been either highly commended or have won the category.

Woodland Christmas Crackers in Gift Box by Kate Sproston Design

Complete set of six Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers in gift box.

The award ceremony will be held on Sunday 3rd February after the first day of Spring Fair at the NEC, Birmingham. We are over the moon to have been considered for such a prestigious award and will be keeping everything crossed for the final. Now we are off to celebrate with a big cup of tea!

Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers by Kate Sproston Design

Our Woodland Reusable Christmas Crackers are finalists in the Festive & Occasional Gift category in the Gift of the Year Award 2019.

 


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A Post Christmas Trip to London

So the new year has arrived and after a very busy Christmas (in fact our busiest so far) we headed back to work. Not before I took a little trip to London with my mum to catch the tail end of what the shops had to offer in the way of festive goodies. There never seems to be time to indulge before the big day, as we are so busy making and packing orders. So although I was late to the party, it was a great chance to get some inspiration for next year (nuts I know) and maybe pick up a bargain.

coach windows

Stuffed party animals window display at the Coach store, Regent Street, London, Jan 2019.

Having arrived on Regent Street long before the shops even opened, it gave me a chance to do a bit of window shopping. The display in Coach was absolutely fantastic and comprised of stuffed animals and a huge T-Rex wearing a party hat and ruff! I particularly liked the frogs who had lots of personality.

liberty london

Left: Liberty store front, London. Top Right: Doing Goods wool animal rugs as found in Liberty. Bottom Right: Mice lights as found in Liberty.

We popped into Liberty (I say popped but we actually spent over an hour and a half in there!) and found some fantastic pieces including some little mice figurines holding lights, and faux animal rugs which would look fantastic in a kids room. I also love the haberdashery and the beautiful rug section that always reminds me of the pages of National Geographic magazine.

anthropology windows

Paper sculptures in Anthropology shop window, Regent Street, London, Jan 2019.

Next we visited Anthropologie, who always have something a little different to offer. Their windows were amazing, with a fantastic fox and badger paper collage sculptures on display. By this time I can see a trend emerging with animals constantly drawing my eye.

Mum & I discovered the brand Mackenzie-Child, in Fortnum & Mason, who we had never seen before, and now we both want to buy floral teapots with passementerie tassels. Not too practical but they looked stunning and would certainly brighten up the kitchen.

cheese fondue and teapot

Left: Cheese fondue at Somerset House, London. Right: Enamel Teapot by Mackenzie-Childs as found in Fortnum & Mason.

By this time lunch was definitely called for. We stopped at Somerset House and indulged in cheese fondue, with new potatoes, soda bread, lettuce and cornichons (little gherkins). It is something I had never eaten before, except for a not too tasty homemade attempt a few years ago, and I really wanted to try the real thing. It was fab apart from the little pickled gherkin things!

covent garden & petersham nursery

Left: Mirror balls and giant mistletoe at Covent Garden. Right: Inside Petersham Nurseries, Covent Garden.

Lastly we had a wonder around Covent Garden under the mirror balls and mistletoe, and listened to the opera. Popping into Petersham Nurseries on the way back to the tube. All in all we had a fantastic day and I have returned with lots of inspiration. Now I just need to find time to execute all these new ideas!


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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.