With so much competition in the stationery market, architect, artist, and designer Sarah Kate Smith stops by to tell us how she comes up with unique ideas for design and print for her notonthehighstreet.com store, Sarah Kate.
We just can’t get enough of your Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed Kit—where did you get the idea from?
When we were little, my sister and I used to make my Mum breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. We would decorate the tray with our drawings, put a little vase with some flowers in it, and put our homemade Mother’s Day cards on it so she could open them whilst having breakfast in bed. So that’s where the idea for the Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed Kit came from; a ready-made version of a family tradition that we started all those years ago.
Do you find that it’s a popular product for you at this time of year (compared to something like a greeting card)? Why do you think that is?
It’s a really popular product, I think it’s probably because the concept of treating Mum to breakfast in bed is just that little bit more thoughtful than a card alone, and then there’s the extra effort that goes into actually making your Mum breakfast and the idea of pampering her too.
A lot of men seem to buy the product, so I think it’s probably Dads buying it on behalf of their young children so that they can all do something really lovely together for Mummy on Mother’s Day.
Your NOTHS store is filled with really unique ways for people to enjoy print and design; how do you get inspiration for the products you’re going to create?
I’m ever so slightly addicted to Pinterest, so that’s probably where I head for my daily dose of inspiration! I also find that quite often, one product design idea naturally leads to another. For example, the Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed kit is just the first in what I hope will be a whole range of Breakfast in Bed Kits which I hope to be launching later in the year.
Do you ever do any product research on an idea once you’ve settled on it?
Like most creatives, I’m forever coming up with new ideas and researching them, but in terms of market research I think that’s a bit more difficult when you sell online, so, for me, it’s usually just a case of launching the product and seeing how it goes.
I’ve seen a lot of fellow creatives use their social media platforms to get feedback on their new product ideas and do market research; Facebook and Instagram seem particularly effective for this kind of conversation. It’s not something I do at present, but I’m hoping to improve my social media engagement this year and branch out into a few other platforms, so it’s definitely something I’ll be trying out in future.
How important do you think it is for creatives such as yourself to be thinking outside the box with regard to the different ways their skills can be used?
There’s a lot of creative people out there, and the internet and online shopping has made it so easy for artists and other creatives to set up shop online so of course it’s important to think outside the box, and find new avenues to explore and ways to express yourself. I think experimenting, having fun and exploring new ideas is an important part of the creative process.
Which is your favourite print product to be versatile with? How many ways have you used this product in your own store?
The printed.com products I used most are probably the greeting cards and postcards. I sell greeting card collection packs with my pen and ink illustrations on, and then there’s the menu card and the little Mother’s Day card that are included in the Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed Kit. I use the printed.com postcard prints as a contents card in the back of each of my card collection packs, and as door hanger cards which come with the Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed Kit.
What advice would you give to a fellow creative looking to experiment with print this Mother’s Day?
I think one of the important things to remember is that not everyone is creative. It sounds silly, but I think that sometimes we, as creative people, take it for granted that we can come up with these ideas or make something look attractive with relative ease.
The Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed kit is a good example of this, I’m sure that there are plenty of other people that have a similar family tradition with regards to making their Mum breakfast in Bed on Mother’s Day, but not everyone (a busy Dad with young children for example) has the time, creativity, materials or equipment readily-available to pull it all together. So simply by combining printed products you can create something that is convenient to purchase, easy for the customer to put together and ultimately makes Mum feel special.