The Inside Scoop on Perkins & Morley
Today we’ve got a great behind the scenes look into a fabulous greeting & giftware brand, Perkins & Morley.
Like a lot of our industry interviews recently this is another business that I have been meaning to show off for months, so apologies for my tardiness to all of you reading and of course to Jill & Jan (aka Jill Perkins & Jan Morley), the talented duo behind this design-led brand.
For this closer look of Perkins and Morley we get a guided tour of the business and product range from Jill, so without further ado, let’s begin…
What inspired you to start Perkins & Morley?
We were living in the U.K, but working in the U.S. which involved lots of travelling, so we were looking for some way of making a living here. We both love sending greeting cards so six years ago we started designing and publishing a few ranges to test the market and it took off from there.
What can you tell us about your business?
We try to give really fantastic service. We’re small enough that we can attend to everything ourselves so if there are problems we understand and can immediately put them right. Sometimes customers like dealing with the artists and the owners of the business.
We are also able to do bespoke cards and gifts which some of our customers find very useful.
What’s your role & your favourite elements of the business?
I’m a partner in the business with Jan and we both do the designing which we love. We also both really enjoy exhibiting at trade shows. Jan runs P & M and I spend time visiting customers and finding new ones. I like the fact that every day is different and that we can try new ideas very easily.
What can you tell us about the rest of the team?
We’re very small in terms of people – other than me & Jan – everything else is outsourced. We use an excellent VA (virtual assistant) and have a great team of accountants.
We work with a great printing company who we have used since we started and they are always coming up with new ideas for products.
We work very closely with the company who makes our coasters, clocks & key rings – we are always coming up with new ideas together.
We are also enjoying working with a textile screen printing company who are also very keen to work together to come up with new ideas. That is the beauty of working with small companies in the UK – we all help each other.
We believe that independents offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. How do you ensure this happens with Perkins & Morley cards and gifts?
Well as we are the designers we make sure we offer unique cards and gifts. We’ve been designing together for years and are used to providing goods that will sell. Everything is made in Britain which makes it easier to keep an eye on quality. We use some amazing British manufacturers.
You recently exhibited at some of the industry’s Spring shows. Can you tell us about those? What was the reaction to your designs?
We always get a good reaction at the shows. Existing customers know that much of what we exhibit is new each season, and new customers often say that we have unusual designs. We work very hard to keep them fresh.
The Perkins & Morley Collection
Which of the Perkins & Morley collection are the current bestsellers? Why do you think they’re so popular?
Our Animal Ink and Collective Noun ranges continue to be amongst our best sellers and our Wild Wood range is fast catching up and our new Pulp range is doing very well now we have added a birthday to it.
Our Wild Wood range is quite different – it has a mix of watercolour animal illustrations with a background pattern – it suits home decor colours, the cushions are doing very well for that reason.
The Pulp range is just fun with a bit of wordplay in the form of puns to add to the mix and they make great birthday cards. We have recently added clocks to this range too which has just been featured in a prominent women’s magazine.
What are your personal favourite products in your current collection? Why do they stand out for you?
We are loving our new Sew N Sew range especially in the cushions – the designs are taken from Jill’s fabric collages and on the cushions, they look as if they have been appliquéd by hand. We have also put these designs on wooden brooches which are a new direction for us and they are starting to do very well.
Many of your cards and gifts feature the animal world. What inspires you about this area of design? Do you plan to continue in this area or can we expect to see other themes in the future?
We both love animals. One of the first conversations we had, when we met in college, was about the various animals we have owned and the ridiculous names we gave them! The woodland theme is still going strong and so are our general animal themes. We’ve been talking about what we’ll do next. Watch this space!
One of your most popular collections is the ‘Collective Noun’ range. What can you tell us about what inspired these designs and the reaction you’ve had to the collection?
The collective noun idea came out of the blue and we knew we’d hit on a winner. People love to debate on their authenticity. We don’t ever make them up and some of them have been known since Chaucer’s time. Coupled with Jan’s brilliant artwork they go from strength to strength.
Perkins & Morley cards and gifts use high-quality materials from carefully selected sources. What can you tell us about the craftsmanship involved in creating the range?
The coasters clocks and key rings are made by hand in a small family workshop in Worcester, and they care as much about quality as we do. Our mugs come from deepest Cornwall and another family business who check each mug themselves to ensure that the quality is top notch.
Our tea towels are made in North Yorkshire – they hand screen print and sew the edges giving a very high-quality finish.
Our cards are printed in the UK using a recycled card with a recycled paper envelope – it is very important to us that we are as eco-friendly as possible.
Buying from Perkins & Morley
Why should people shop with you? What makes you different?
Our design and our attention to detail. We see our customers as all important and try to make them feel that way.
We LOVE independents and think more people should be supporting them. Why do you think people should shop with independent businesses like yours?
If people want unusual gifts and cards they need to support independents like us. We respond to customer’s needs and make sure we don’t flood an area with our goods. This keeps our products fresh and interesting.
What can card & gift senders expect from Perkins & Morley in the coming months?
Oooh! Well, we have got all sorts of new designs that we are working on right now and some very exciting new product ideas which we are very excited about……can’t say too much yet as it is top secret but the ideas made me go all tingly anyway – which I always take as a good sign!!!!
You’ve read the interview, now it’s time to see a little more. Visit the Perkins & Morley website.