By Kate Marsden
Love a bit of hand lettering but don’t know where to begin? Rebecca of Betty Etiquette teaches modern calligraphy and brush lettering as well as applying these techniques to her beautiful products. Read on to find out more about her business and her thoughts about shopping small…
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
I'm Rebecca and along with my husband David I run Betty Etiquette. Betty Etiquette is a stationery brand and design studio based in South East London. Launched in 2014, we design our own stationery range and work on bespoke wedding, events and promotional projects. Everything starts with good old fashioned pen on paper, I am a big fan of hand-lettering and use modern calligraphy in all my designs. A big pleasure and privilege of mine is to be able to have the opportunity to share my love of lettering by teaching modern calligraphy and brush lettering workshops around the UK.
I can usually be found in my dungarees with ink all up my arm and an emergency biscuit tucked in one of my pockets.
What does a typical day involve?
Days start with packing up orders from the previous day and a large cup of coffee. If we have bespoke or personalised orders I start these first and then move on to our wholesale and online orders. Once I've had my daily bit of banter with the man at the post office I settle down to emails and new design work. At the moment I'm working on and new range of Mother's Day cards and some lettering visuals for a new Cabaret night in London. I love how different each project is and the interesting and inspiring people I get to work with.
Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
My studio and workspace is currently in my flat in London. It's a little room with great light in the mornings but we are busting out of it and I am currently sitting between precarious piles of orders and envelopes. We hope to be in a new studio space by next year which would be fantastic but I will have to get used to not wearing my pyjamas to work!
When I'm not working, a dream day would involve some kind of cream tea, a National Trust house with lavish interiors and a sketch book.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?
I've seen a sharp rise in the amount of large corporations plagiarising small independent designer's work. It's so sad to see major brands not having any integrity and imagination to find great ways to actually collaborate with artists and makers instead of simply ripping off their work. This kind of mass production without any respect for the creative process is offering consumers great designs but with no understanding of the work and skill that goes into their making. Small designer makers have to find new innovative ways to reach their markets, promoting the provenance and quality of their work. With little or no marketing budgets, this takes time out of already very busy days.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
I've learnt a lot over the past few years, achieved some major goals and made some stupendous mistakes. It has been an amazing adventure so far and I'm really grateful to be doing something I love even if some days it feels like I should just retrain as a travel agent (they get nice job perks right?). In the next few years I hope to extend the ranges we have, collaborate with people who inspire me and push my learning and do lots more teaching in my workshops.
Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?
Whatever you're making ... get it out there. Don't worry if it is not quite the right blue, if you'd imagined the packaging in a different way or the table cloth you have for the craft market is a little bit too short. Just get your fabulous things you make out there. Book a stall at a local craft market, set up an Etsy shop or send a sample to your favourite store. Your customers will tell you everything about your products you need to know, ask them questions and try to see the answers as learning, not criticism. You'll see if the blue was too blue or the packaging works or not by what they buy. And celebrate your small wins. When you're not working in a big team it can be easy to forget to take time to celebrate your achievements. Even if it is just taking yourself out for a coffee and slice of damn fine cake, make sure you remember to take time to celebrate along the way.
Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.
We love Honeybourne's, they are local stockists to us and have been a fantastic supporter of our business as it has grown. Hannah has a great eye and knows her community of customers really well.
Kettle's Yard - I grew up near Cambridge and this gallery has always been a place of inspiration and joy. Their support of designers and artists is embedded in the very walls.
Hero in Stockbridge is championing creativity through their events programme. I love teaching workshops there and I'm inspired by Laura, managing a great business and her family.
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
Yes, it's a great way of reminding people to source things from small businesses and not just click straight away on Amazon. It's so easy to do, but can mean the difference between make or break for a small business.
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
We rely on wholesale orders from small independent shops and our online sales to keep us going. We need people to be thinking about their shopping in a more sustainable way and heading to their local shops and searching out individual designers to support.
Where did you hear about the campaign and which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently? What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
I found out about the campaign through Sarah Hamilton's twitter feed a year or so ago. It really chimed with me and I have shared it on all our social media platforms. We've displayed the flyer at our market stall last Christmas and we'll be doing so again this year and taking to customers about it.
I think we can all support the movement in small ways by thinking locally and more creatively when we purchase. You could order a birthday cake from your local cake designer not a supermarket, or commission a local artist to make something truly meaningful as a gift this Christmas.