“I still remember the feeling I had when I received my first order after touching down from a long weekend in Barcelona with my girlfriend (now wife) Danielle. Switching my phone on and receiving a notification saying I’d received my first sale. That buzzing feeling I’ll never forget.”
Ben Treanor, NSS 2017 Exhibitor and founder of Old English Company
I started Old English Company in 2013. Initially it began as a hobby whilst I was working in London at Waterstones’ HQ as the head designer/illustrator. I’ve always admired the large stationery brands and my end goal was to work for myself one day. But when I worked on a project to design a range of stationery for Waterstones, it was this which sparked a new-born passion for designing stationery and homeware.
After work, I took to designing my own cards as a ‘side project’, setting up my Etsy store. I initially aimed to design just a few hand-lettered cards and prints with a stylish, modern-English look to them. I felt over the moon when I realised people actually liked my designs and I started getting orders through.
The cards continued to sell, so I then created a few art prints. From there, it grew. I began designing other products, such as tea towel and aprons. The demand for my stuff got greater, with stockists approaching me for a range of products. A year on and it had turned into a bigger thing. I realised it was time to leave the day job and pursue the ‘side-project’ full-time.
I feel exceptionally fortunate to be doing what I love. I still remember the feeling I had when I received my first order after touching down from a long weekend in Barcelona with my girlfriend (now wife) Danielle. Switching my phone on and receiving a notification saying I’d received my first sale. That buzzing feeling I’ll never forget.
Today, Old English Co. creates an array of stylish prints, stationery and homeware, and is continuing to see promising growth. We have taken on more staff and relocated from London to new studios in the picturesque town of Stamford in Lincolnshire, my hometown. The art is in the unique simplicity of our designs. By combining illustration and hand-lettered typography, we aim to create chic products that people will love and share.
My wife, Danielle, who comes from a marketing and PR background, also joined the business recently and together we’ve been doing lots of trade shows – which is a really important part of the business. Not only do we love attending the shows and meeting other brand owners and designers, meeting the buyers and stockists is crucial for brand development to ensure you’re putting your brand out there in front of the right people.
My advice to anyone else wanting to set up their own stationery brand is just go for it! You can always do what I did and start it as a side-line whilst working your day job until you feel you’re in a position to jump feet first into the world of stationery. You’ll never look back, it was hands down one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.