Friday, 13 June 2014

Friday Finds - Louise Lockhart - The Printed Peanut


I noticed the inventive work of The Printed Peanut - a.k.a Louise Lockhart when browsing through Notonthehighstreet.com where we both have shops. I was struck by her wonderful hand drawn style,and the inventiveness of her products. Even though she has been in business for less than a year she has been featured in The Guardian Gift Guide at Christmas and has recently collaborated with textile designer Donna Wilson..more on that later! She is a whirlwind....


© Louise Lockhart

When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental? Tell us your story of how you came to be!

I am an illustrator based in sunny Yorkshire, England. I graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2009, where I studied Visual Communication. I create my designs by drawing, printing, cutting and finding collage material and textures, then I compile them using a computer. I've always made unusual versions of the party game pass the parcel for as long as I can remember. I had a few pop up shops at Christmas after I left art school and I would sell my parcels and other handmade things. I realised there was a market for more original party games and accessories. I've done a lot of traveling and lived in Canada last year where I worked in a beautiful stationery shop called Paper-Ya. I was surrounded by illustrated products by independent artists and designers and thought I can do this too. I began by setting up a screen printing workshop in my bathroom and printing wrapping paper for my parcels. I worked long hours, fueled on peanut butter sandwiches and so The Printed Peanut was born.


© Louise Lockhart


Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn?

I still feel very much at the start of my business journey. I'm learning all the time. They don't teach you much about selling your work when you're at art school! It's a real balancing act and I feel like I'm only just starting to get the hang of juggling designing, making and selling. I recently accepted that I can't possibly make all of these products as well as design them and I paid for a professional screen printer to do some t-shirts for me. It felt amazing! I think you need a lot of patience and concentrate on one product at a time and market it as much as you can. I'm not naturally patient and beat myself up if I don't design a new thing every day!



© Louise Lockhart



Do you do your business part time or full time? 

I've never really been in one place long enough to do it full time, and since getting back from Canada in October 2013, I thought I'm going to have to do this full time now, I can't put half of my energy into making lattes for other artists as they sit in the cafe where I work. I haven't got a regular wage coming in, but it's amazing how much I've developed my style since I've started doing it all the time. It's like anything, whether you're an athlete or a dancer, you have to do it full time or you'll lose the ability.

Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why?  

I would like to keep growing, if only so I can collaborate with more people! My dream is to have The Printed Peanut as a shop selling unique printed products from a range of talented designers.


© Louise Lockhart

If this is your full time job do you mind saying what your approximate turnover is annually (before costs and expenses)?

I literally have no idea! I haven't done it for a full year yet and I haven't got a business brain. Hand-to-mouth living!

Where do you sell your work? 

I sell my work in my own online shop theprintedpeanut.co.uk, as well as on other great sites such as notonthehighstreet and thelostlanes. I have my things in selected little shops around Britain and beyond  too. You can't beat a real shop where you can walk in and touch the products. I like having pop-up shops and I'm having one as part of the Tour de France Grand Depart in a few weeks time, as the race is coming through Hebden Bridge, the little town where I live.

Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is?

Online selling is ideal as you keep much more of the retail price (shops can take up to 56%) but it's difficult to create traffic to your site. The best time for me was last Christmas as my parcels were featured in The Guardian's online gift guide. I did a huge Christmas fair in London last year but I found it a bit disappointing. Everything's a gamble in this business!


© Louise Lockhart

Have you had publicity in national magazines? If so how did you approach them?

Not really, I emailed a lot around November last year to tell them about my parcels in time for Christmas, but they said they had finished their Christmas editorials in August! better get my Christmas head on soon actually. ..

Who do you think your typical customer is?

Definitely women, of all ages, but mainly in their 40s plus. I think that must be the main buying age group in this recession! They make the world go round.

(We do,we do)))

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I probably have the best job in the world 'Louise Lockhart: Professional Pass the Parcel Maker'. My parcels are a constant in my life, but I love creating new things. I like the stage where you're in the middle of a design, when I know what I'm trying to achieve. I get very frustrated when I'm starting a new project. I just have to hold out until I have a little Eureka moment. It happens with every single project I do, so I just wait for it now. I love getting something fresh from the printers and seeing it complete for the first time.


© Louise Lockhart

Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today?

If I could go back and give myself some advice i'd say 'stay away from sewing' and 'you don't have to make everything yourself'. I knew I couldn't get going properly until I was settled somewhere for more than 8 months without going off on a road trip or something.

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

It depends what is I'm doing. Last month I had 6 weeks to get my first solo show together, which was a great excuse to work like mad and to get a great collection. I'm always working towards something new. I'll never stop until I've illustrated every known surface on planet Earth. I've just completed a 300 foot high drawing on a hillside, so that goal is getting closer!

Do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of your business? For example, bookkeeper, accountant, packers? If you do how did you find people who were the right fit for you?

Apart from sending my things to the printers, I do everything myself. I often think that one day I'd love an accountant. I can't bear that side of things.


© Louise Lockhart

Could you describe where you work? Are you alone most of the day or with others? Do you feel that they way it is now is the best fit for you? Do you see that changing?

I've just bought an old mill that I'm going to change into a home/studio, hopefully. That is going to be a long-term project and at the moment I work on a desk in my parent's house. They are artists and have loads of studio space and materials and inspiration lying around which is great. I love working with other people and my dream is to have a bustling studio where I can bounce ideas off other people. I've recently collaborated with the wonderful Donna Wilson, where I made a Pass the Parcel inspired by her knitted creatures. She's my role model really and I'd love to have a business and a studio like hers. That's my aim.

Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with? If not how do you find you best make decisions about your business?

I probably need to start thinking with more of a 'business' head on. I just enjoy creating things that I would like to buy and hope that other people might too. I run everything past my mum at the moment. She is very good at telling me when something's not quite right. I also email my old boss at the stationery store in Canada. She knows what folk want to buy and how best to display things.

© Louise Lockhart

What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?

I get up when I naturally wake up as I love my dreams too much to disturb them. Then I work all day long, usually at my desk but i often cycle into town to post things or buy bits. I don't stop until I go to sleep around 11, I even make wire drawings in front of the TV. I need to learn how to stop, especially at weekends as every couple of months I just burn out and lie horizontal for 3 days watching black and white films. My dream would be to sit gazing out onto an incredible view, drawing in a little sketchbook, surrounded by creative people, all working together on a big project.


© Louise Lockhart

Anything else you want to add… tips or plans or ambitions or even special offers to my blog readers?

I'd love to collaborate with any like-minded people out there and create a range for the home. Natalie Lété, the French designer, is an inspiration. She's turned her drawings into rugs, toys, fabric and scarves and I'd love to do the same. 


© Louise Lockhart

Finally please tell us where we can buy your work or find out more about you:

You can buy The Printed Peanut's products online at www.theprintedpeanut.co.uk

For a sneaky peek into the Peanut factory follow me on twitter @printedpeanut and like my Facebook page www.facebook.com/theprintedpeanut

See my inspiration on my blog louiselockhartlikes.blogspot.com 
and on my Pinterest www.pinterest.com/louiselockhart/

© Louise Lockhart

Thank you so much Louise, I've no doubt at all that you will achieve whatever you set out to do. Fantastic... I'd love to see your parents work too..








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