Kate Sproston Design

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


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March Meet the Maker 2019 in Review

As some of you may know, throughout March I have been taking part in March Meet the Maker; a month long challenge made up of daily prompts created by designer Joanne Hawker. Even though I have taken part in previous years, I have especially enjoyed 2019’s challenge and thought I would do a little summery with some of the highlights.

Kate Sproston Design March Meet the Maker Prompt Sheet

My March Meet the Maker prompt sheet complete with scribbles, dog ears and pin holes! I didn’t stick to every note in the end but I did finish the challenge.

It is quite a commitment to keep up with the daily prompts and I take my hat off the all the businesses that managed it. I must admit that there were a few days that I fell behind (normally at the weekend) but each day it was great to see the variety of posts from across the board. It was a brilliant opportunity to share a little of what goes into running Kate Sproston Design, how it all started and a great way of looking back over what has been achieved so far.

University degree show project by Kate Sproston Design

Left: One of the first embroideries I ever completed, a cross stitch mouse kit. My mum then made it into a coaster and it is in my parents house to this day. Centre and Right: An original drawing and the embroidered corset I made for my university final major project.

My favourite prompt had to be ‘Less Glam Side’ especially as it is really easy to forget that the super curated Instagram world is not reality. It is nice to know that I am not the only one that can be found working amongst boxes and paperwork, with a carpet covered in thread! Parts of running a business can be mentally and physically exhausting, that is why it is so important to enjoy the wins.

Kate Sproston Design setting up for Country Living Christmas Fair, London.

Setting up for Country Living Christmas Fair, London. I bit of the less glam side of running a small business. Note the KitKats, coffee and baby wipes on the floor!

Another great outcome of the challenge is how it highlights what goes into designing, creating and finally bringing a product to market. The hours and indeed years it has taken a designer to hone their skills to make a beautiful product look effortlessly made. It helps us appreciate each others talents and it also gives us the opportunity to share some tips and advice with other designers, and maybe help each other avoid some serious pitfalls like impostor syndrome.

Kate Sproston Design French bulldog embroidery from original sketches to digital file.

French bulldog design from original sketches to digital embroidery file.

The customer feedback prompt really made me stop and think over all the lovely comments I have received over the years. It is easy to remember when something has gone wrong, and we always remember the negative comments over the good. This prompt meant I spent some time looking over our website and Etsy reviews to remind myself that there are some truly appreciative customers out there that really get what we do! Thank you to everyone who has sent us a little email with their comments, or shared a lovely story behind a purchase.

Sleeping Otter Mum & Pup Cushion by Kate Sproston Design

One of the reviews for our Sleeping Otter Mum & Pup cushion. “Whilst I know the cushion is a little on the pricey side it is completely worth it. I bought this item for my sister to celebrate the birth of her first baby, and her reaction was absolutely priceless. Beautiful design, lovely quality.”

On a personal note the challenge has made me realise that I can only go at my own pace and that’s okay. There are lots of fantastic businesses out their that seem to be growing at a brilliant rate which is an amazing achievement, but I should celebrate how far Kate Sproston Design has come and know that if I set my mind to it I will grow too in my own time. I am very lucky to be able to do what I do and share it with some very kind customers, and fellow designers along the way.

Kate Sproston Design swing tag.

One of the posts that was all about the business name. It got a lot of lovely comments which got a little lump in my throat!

If you would like to take a look at some of the other businesses that took part in the challenge, simply search #marchmeetthemaker on Instagram. I have added links to a few of my favourite accounts below.

@joannehawker – is an illustrator and the creator of March Meet the Maker. Her feed has a beautiful pastel pallet and is full of her illustrations, paper goods and pins.

@madebylottieday – Lottie produces screen printed textiles from her original drawings. Each product is printed in her studio in Norfolk and has a rustic country feel.

@papiopress – Zanna and Harry are the duo that make up Papio Press. They have the most fantastic products and their IG account is full of their intricate illustrations.

@mendyourhead – Vinegar and Brown Paper is the business behind this IG account, and was founded by Andy Poplar. He creates etched glass products with a vintage feel and inspiring messages.

I hope you enjoyed my little round up/summery and would love to hear any comments you might have below.

Have a lovely weekend,

Kate x

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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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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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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.