Take a Closer Look at Applemint Designs
Say hello to …
Jess Williams from Applemint Designs.
Tell us a little about yourself and your company?
I’m a graphic/pattern designer and illustrator. I divide my time between working as a freelance designer, creating patterns and illustrations for licensing and running my stationery and gifts business – Applemint Designs.
Describe your typical working day …
Hectic! I’m naturally quite organised but I find it quite tricky juggling the different areas of the business and knowing what to prioritise. When I’m in the studio I usually start work quite early – around 8 – 8.30am. If it’s nice I’ll go for a walk first (or run if I’m feeling energetic) – I often get my best ideas while out and about as my mind tends to wander. Then I eat breakfast at my desk while browsing a few blogs and checking Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. After that I’ll make a to-do list of jobs for the day and get down to some work. I usually have the radio on in the background as it can feel a bit quiet but the day flies by and apart from a quick lunch break I usually work until about 5 when everyone gets home. After we’ve eaten I often end up putting a few more hours in – the evenings are usually when I sort out any Not on the High Street orders ready for my husband to drop off at the Post Office the next day, or if I’m feeling inspired I’ll work on some new designs. After years of working purely from home I’m now getting out and about a bit more so a couple of days a week I’ll be seeing clients or if I’m lucky doing some research/shopping which is definitely one of the more fun aspects of the job.
What is the best thing about your job?
I love being able to do something I enjoy for a living and seeing designs I’ve created in the shops or people’s homes is still really exciting. I’ve always been grateful that I can do my job around my family even if that has meant working some very unsociable hours at times.
Do you use any specialist techniques?
As a traditional graphic designer the tools of my trade have always been a sketchbook and pen, my Mac, and a Pantone swatch book. But recently I’ve gone back to basics a bit and have been experimenting with things I haven’t used since art college – watercolours, collage and freehand embroidery to name a few. It’s something I’d like to do more of – I’d love to learn more about hand printing for example but there never seem to be quite enough hours in the day.
What would you like to do next?
I’d like to see a significant part of my income coming from the illustration/pattern side and from my stationery and gift ranges. At the moment it’s the graphics work that brings in the most money but it’s not where I see my future so I need to build things up in the other areas, maybe by increasing my product range, by licensing some of my designs or by joining an agency.
What tip would you give to someone starting their own business?
Make sure you’re doing something you really enjoy because you’ll be spending a LOT of time on it and if you don’t love it you will end up resenting that. And get your finances straight from the beginning – it makes things so much less complicated in the long run. If you are not good with figures (like me) a decent accountant is a great investment – obviously they aren’t cheap but they free up your time to get on with doing what you’re good at.
Your Products …
What is your personal favourite product in your collection?
I really loved designing my ‘Cup of Tea’ themed notecards – they’re a product I’d definitely use (despite my love of gadgets I don’t think you can beat a hand written message) and combine attractive designs with a bit of humour.
What are the most popular products in your range?
I was given a set of vintage-style milk bottles last Christmas and I loved them so much I thought other people would too. I created my ‘Message in a Bottle’ range and it’s been really successful – I’ve done Valentines, Mother’s Day, Easter and am now gearing up for Father’s Day. I think people like the idea of something a bit different and the nicely designed label, message etc make it a bit more special than something you could do yourself at home.
My ‘Vintage Luggage Tag’ new baby prints are also really popular – they make a nice gift and are a bit less twee than a lot of the new baby products that are available.
Are you working on any new products?
I’ve just finished working on my Father’s Day range. As well as a selection of the vintage bottles I’ve also got some framed prints and I’m really pleased with how my cards turned out. I’m hoping to get these stocked in some local shops as well as selling them online and am crossing my fingers they’ll go down well.
What products do you want to introduce in the next year?
I’d love to get involved in the wedding industry although I realise it’s a crowded market. I’ve got a fair bit of experience in branding and designing the look and feel for a wedding feels very much along the same lines; I’m confident I could come up with designs that would appeal to couples looking for something unusual. I’d like to try my hand at other social stationery as well – party invitations, new home cards and so on – but I know it’s not a good idea to try and do everything so I need to plan a bit more before going off in yet another direction.
Your Inspiration …
What inspired you to start your business?
A desire to create pretty things and share them with other people. Things that look nice and make me happy – I’m quite shallow!
What inspires your products?
I tend to draw what I like myself but obviously I try to keep up with what’s popular and on trend as well. I’ve always had a soft spot for old children’s books – I’ve got quite a collection – and although I can’t draw nearly as well as many of the illustrators, that sort of thing is often in the back of my mind when I’m working.
What other card & gift designers do you admire?
I find Orla Kiely very inspiring as a designer – her book ‘Pattern’ was a fascinating read. Caroline Gardner’s work is always great – really varied while still obviously ‘her’. I think it’s a real challenge to keep your work interesting but still recognisable as your brand and both of those designers do that really well. I also like Rifle Paper Co and the Australian stationery company Kikki K.
What business figures / brands inspire your business?
I’m more inspired by friends and family than big names – people who are doing something they enjoy and making a success of it, even if only in a small way.
Thank you Jess!
Visit the Applemint Designs website now to see Jess’s collection.