Mary Kilvert

By Kate Marsden

If you’re after inspiration, you need look no further than today’s post! Illustrator and Designer/Maker Mary Kilvert’s successful business includes her very own shop in Somerset. Read on for Mary’s thoughts on the Just A Card campaign, and a reminder of the need for tenacity and perseverance in our businesses…

Tell us a little about you. What do you do? 

I work as an illustrator and designer maker. After ten years working as an illustrator in London, I relocated and opened a shop in the beautiful town of Frome in Somerset, our shop has now been open for three and a half years. I work from the studio above my shop where I create illustrations and designs for homewares, gifts, prints and stationery. I now employ a small team who help me send out products to customers and we also stock shops in the UK and worldwide.

What does a typical day involve?

Now I am a mother a typical day involves looking after my little girl as well as working on the business. I usually go to the shop in the morning and have a meeting with Bek who helps us in the shop. We go through orders, stock management, shop display and marketing. Then the afternoons or evenings I dedicate to working on new designs or illustration commissions.

Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?

I have a studio above our shop with views out onto the beautiful old buildings and roof tops in Frome. I have a long desk area so that I can spread out, mood boards for inspiration, lots of shelves for my collection of books, art materials and various animal ornaments that I have made or collected. When I am not working I love to go for walks with my husband, daughter and dog Bertie in the beautiful countryside surrounding Frome.

What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?

Knowing where to focus your time can be a challenge for designer makers. We all need to make a living however with running your own business as a designer maker there are many demands on your time. Including designing, making, marketing, social media, trade shows, retail shows/markets, fulfilling orders, taking care of customers, updating websites, taking product photos etc…

What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?

I would love to keep developing new designs, extend the shop and offer workshops.

Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/ small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out? 

Perseverance. Keep going and have a clear vision for what you want. Surround yourself with positive people.

Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.

Frome has a wonderful collection of independent shops, I always love to explore the shops on Catherine Hill and Cheap Street. Hay on Wye in Herefordshire also has a great collection of independent shops and bookshops.

When I lived in London I loved to visit shops on Lambs Conduit Street like Persephone Books and Pentreath and HallI also loved to visit the shops on Columbia Road.

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?  

I came across Just A Card earlier this year and think it is a brilliant idea. It is a great supportive message for independent shops.

How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?

This campaign helps remind people that buying just a card is a great support for local independent shops and galleries.  One reason Frome thrives is that is has a lovely collection of independent shops which are supported by the local community. I have seen the logo appear in a few local shops recently on Catherine Hill.

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 would be very happy to have a card in the shop. We like to use all social media platforms especially Instagram and Facebook. It would be great for other independent shops and galleries to have Just A Card notices and cards on display, it is also something you can talk about to customers.