Meet the Maker: An Interview with Letters H&C

I am a sucker for a good, personalised print and it certainly is a competitive business out there. I am fortunate enough to have been recommended a number of print businesses by fellow makers and loyal customers which definitely saves time from scrolling through the hundreds and thousands of pages of prints online! One such business was Letters H&C and Sophie was able to create some fantastic personalised pieces for my craft fair signage that exceeded all of my expectations. I just know she can find the perfect print for you too!

1. Tell us a little about you and your business.

Hey! I’m Sophie owner of Letters H&C. I’m 24 and I live in a lovely little village in beautiful West Yorkshire. I’ll let you know how my small business started, I’m sure a few of you can relate, cue sob story! I was sat one afternoon on the sofa just exhausted. I worked long, demanding hours as a full time nurse; I had a baby and a 2 year old that took up my entire energy. I sat and thought about what I could do to enable me to reduce my hours at work and spend more time with my family, but not compromise on my income. I also wanted something that I could escape to that was just mine. I’d always had an eye for crafts and loved handmade treasures; my house was full of personalised goods from other businesses. I thought I could give it a try and see how far I could take it. I soon changed departments at work and that enabled me to reduce my hours. I had all sorts of ideas of what my small business would be and I couldn’t wait to get started.

2. What inspired your business name?

Seriously, naming my very own business was so much harder than naming my children! It took weeks of coming up with a name, and then discovering that it had already been used. It was infuriating. But then it just came to me one night. I knew I was doing this to spend more time with my family so it felt right to name it after them. I named my business Letters H&C, after Harriet & Charlie.

3. How did you first discover your passion for your craft?

As soon as I began researching crafts, I kept coming back to the idea of being a print designer. I went and bought a load of different cards and I set to work creating some designs. It was addictive. I printed my designs and showed them to my family. Once I was confident that they were good enough to take further, I set up a Facebook page and advertised it mostly to my work colleagues. They all thought my designs were fab and I started taking orders! I loved it. I loved every minute of getting a brief, designing it, printing it and seeing the look on their faces when I handed them their designs. I was eager to take it even further.

4. How long has your business been running?

I have been up & running for just over a year now. I still work part time at the day job but I spend the majority of my time working on Letters H&C. It fits so well into our lives now. We have set up a brilliant routine and we are all much happier as a family. I wouldn’t look back and I’m so excited to see where I’ll be in another year.

5. What inspires your creations?

I get a lot of inspiration from my customers. They usually come to me with a rough design idea, and I set to work. Sometimes, I nail it first time and the customer is like “Yes! That’s perfect!”. Other times we spend a few days going over the designs, changing colours or fonts until it is perfect. I would never send a print until the customer was 100% happy with it. I also get a lot of inspiration from everyday life. I love interior design and follow a lot of renovation accounts on Instagram. I usually see a room or colour scheme that someone has gone for and think, “ooh; I’ve had a fab idea for a print that would look amazing for that room!”.

6. What is your proudest achievement to date?

I have a few achievements that I’m proud of. Firstly, I have a 100% 5* rating on Etsy which just blows my mind and I aim to keep up to. I’ve also set up my very own website and I am now a seller on Amazon Handmade! My first year has gone from strength to strength and I’m going to work so hard to keep going in that direction.

7. What is the biggest lesson you have learned?

Ok, I probably shouldn’t admit this one but… Don’t compare yourself to others. Especially in the early months I would look to other print companies and wonder why they were so perfect, why they were getting sales and I wasn’t and why their prints were utterly amazing and mine were just ok. I got so upset and down and wanted to pack it all in (that sounds utterly ridiculous, I know). So I had a serious word with myself and now I don’t look at other print businesses, I steer clear. I’ve unfollowed other printers from Instagram and I don’t look at other peoples print work on Etsy or social media platforms. Not because their work isn’t fabulous (because believe me, it is!), but because I am so harsh on myself and will pick fault in me and my designs. I know this is probably the worst thing I could do as a business owner but it’s helped me so far. I focus completely on building my brand and my business to the best it can be, and I don’t have time for picking fault or second guessing my ability as a print designer. I should support other printers and we should bounce of each other but, in all honestly it fills me with pure dread that I would go back and loose the love I have for my small business.

8. What is your favourite make?

I love all of the designs I’ve made, I know that sounds so cheesy but I do. I think if I didn’t, it would reflect in my work and my customers wouldn’t love them either. I take pride in everything that I make and obsess over it until its perfect. I really enjoy making the ‘First we had each other, then we had.., now we have everything’ print. I have one of these above my bed and I could stare at it for hours. Mostly thinking about what we did/spoke about in the 5 years before we had children! I also love the ‘Our first home’ print. This is one of my most popular prints ever and I love how excited home owners/first time buyers are when they come to me. It’s a privilege to create something that they can display in their home, that will enable them to remember the date/address of such a big achievement in their lives. It’s a wonderful feeling, and I can’t wait to create one for our forever home.

9. What is the best feedback you have received?

My feedback is brilliant (that sounds really big headed but it is true) and I enjoy reading through the comments of such happy customers. I’ve had people come back to me and say they cried (with happiness!) when they saw their prints. That just blows my mind. Others have given prints as gifts for their loved ones and they’ve adored them! But mostly, the best feedback someone can give is another order. I know that might sound really daft but it means that they found their first experience so good, the print such high quality, the delivery time so efficient, that they order again and again. I have lots of regular customers and that seriously means the world to me.

10. Is there anything you regret?

Not doing this sooner. I wish I’d have set up business a long time ago. I love what I do.

11. What are your goals for the future?

I aim to continue to produce brilliant prints that my customers love. There are so many other print businesses out there that produce such high quality prints, as well as big brands that produce prints at a fraction of the price of mine, it’s a tough competition. I’d also love to do it full time. I’d love to be successful enough to stop the day job and work completely for myself.

12. What is the best part of being a maker?

That it gives me flexibility to be around my children, take them to school, play with them, comfort them, see them progress. I missed out so much when they were babies because I worked constantly. I also love meeting new customers and making something truly special for them. I’ve made some wonderful friendships with other makers and my customers are all fabulous.

13. What is your least favourite job to do?

Ordering stock. Waiting for stock to come. Putting stock away. Man it’s tedious, but so so important. It takes such a long time but, obviously, without the stock there is no final product. I hate admin as well. I put it off and make it into such a hard job when I finally do sit down to do it. If I kept up to it weekly, or monthly then I wouldn’t be in such a mess. I find it hard to believe that I’m this unorganised. In all other parts of my life, I have to be, and usually am super organised. It baffles me.

14. What advice would you give your old self?

Be brave. I used to wait a long time to see how things would pan out before I would try something. I suppose it was because I am afraid to waste money. But, for example, I knew that I could improve the quality of my prints if I bought a better printer, but I put it off for so long. That sounds so crazy. Also, I wanted to offer A3 prints for such a long time but was so scared that no one would buy them and I’d be left with a load of pointless card. But both have worked out brilliantly for me!

15. What advice would you give other makers?

Be patient. Its tough setting up the business, building social media platforms, setting up websites and advertising your products. Eventually though, you will get the sales, you will get returning customers, you will get recommendations which will drive more sales, word of mouth will happen and eventually you’ll go to a fair and people will say “oh I follow you on Instagram and I love your prints”, and you’ll just freak out and do a happy dance inside without trying to look like a complete idiot. You’ll get there, be patient.

To find out more about Sophie and to see more of her fab work, follow her here:

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