We spoke to Bronwyn West, founder and creative designer behind Simply4You; a bespoke wedding stationery business that has compiled awards after just three years in the industry.
Bronwyn tells her account of how her business started, where she sources inspiration for her designs, how she made the difficult decision to leave her full time job, and how following her heart has led to her achieving more than she ever thought possible.
Tell Us a Little Bit About Yourself and How Your Business Started?
I’ve been a creative from a very young age, always making things, which continued into school and then later in college where I studied arts. My creativity was equally matched with computer skills, which is what led me into digital marketing and graphic design in my early career. I adore playing around with design and pushing the limits with new and unique ideas; they don’t always work out but when they do it’s wonderful to see others enjoy them.
I had been working my day job for a while, but something was missing. Possibly the fulfilment of joy that I just couldn’t quite obtain from that line of work. In 2016 I got engaged, but when it came to looking at invitations my partner and I couldn’t find anything we really loved. We wanted something different and fun as a huge part of our relationship is laughing and enjoying life. After a long search, we decided to make our own.
After our wedding in 2018 we were overwhelmed with comments about the invites and stationery, and I was asked if it was something I did professionally. At this point I had never thought about owning my own business, it always seemed like something that was too far out of reach, and I had no idea how to make it a reality.
A few months into our marriage I hit a lull. I would go to work, feel very little joy, then come home and long to be doing something more, to be creating again. So, I decided to start making invitations for family and friends as a bit of a hobby.
I wanted Simply4You to be a bespoke business because when it comes to weddings every element should be special. Often wedding stationery gets overlooked, but I wanted to make dream designs a reality. I really didn’t expect it to take off as it has done, but I am now working full time on the business, and I am loving every minute.
How Has Simply4You Evolved Since it First Began?
Simply4You was originally ‘Creative Designs by Bronnie’ in early 2019, which then became Simply4You in August 2019. Since then, I won my first wedding award, and I am in the finals again this year for best wedding stationer in the Midlands. This is something I never expected to achieve in my wildest dreams, let alone in the first few years.
Up until May 2022 I was juggling a full-time job alongside the business. I always hoped designing would be my sole focus, but the demand grew so quickly that last year I had to make the decision to leave my job and pursue creating full time. I’m so glad I followed my heart. It was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do, not so much in logistics but more from a personal, emotional side.
As I delved more into the business it became apparent that this was what I really wanted to do with my life. My confidence grew, and it was clear that I needed to make the decision to go for it. My husband and I made some adjustments, I reduced my hours at my job and it was tough for us. But the more time and attention I put into the business, the more it flourished, which is why I took the step to leave my job and focus entirely on the business.
What advice would you give to people who are afraid of quitting their day jobs to pursue their dreams?
Taking the leap is a huge step, but if you can get the confidence and courage to do it, dive into the unknown. It seems so scary, I was terrified- playing out all kinds of scenarios in my head. I was letting my worries and fears stop me from stepping out and achieving more, and it was taking away the joy of my dream. The unknown is of course a risk, but it’s where growth, progress and new ventures are found, so it is worth it. If you don’t try then you will never know what could have been; by having faith, believing in myself and my work, and by taking the leap, I have achieved far more than I ever thought possible.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
There are so many things that inspire design. I find that the best times for inspiration come when I’m relaxed (annoyingly for my husband this is usually at 2am).
I find nature to be of huge inspiration, not just in pattern but the colours too; they are so vast so it can help with new blends and colour combinations that aren’t obvious choices. The delicacy and natural beauty of nature really has a huge impact to capture attention.
People inspire me when I’m creating new designs. I try to design around the couple because every wedding is different, and people are so unique. It’s lovely being able to encompass their personalities into their stationery to make it personal, this is where the wow factor is found. Stationery is the first thing guests will see to give them insight into a wedding, but it’s also a way to tell them who you are as a couple, and I think this is a beautiful way to tell your story in its rawest form.
Talk us through the process behind creating the perfect design?
The first step is always sitting with the couple and talking about their wedding day. Usually when a couple looks at stationery, they have an idea in mind as to how their day is going to feel, the style they’re thinking, and what they want it to look like. This is a helpful starting point because from there I begin to think further than the invitation stage and look at how the design will fit into their day. For example, once the stationery is in the venue, or what it will look like next to their décor, on table plans and signage.
The next step before design is deciding on style. In the instance of an invitation decisions need to be made on whether it’s going to be a pocket fold, concertina, or vellum etc. This is because one design can look very different on various styles, so it’s important to nail down the practicality of the item and it’s use before designing. Even understanding the table plan is important; horseshoe layout table plans would need different designs to a traditional setup; therefore, I would alter the layout and design accordingly.
Once I’ve got a brief together of the requirements, colour scheme, style and theme for the day I begin designing. Sometimes I’ll look at décor trends for their style to get an idea of what kinds of foliage and florals to use, or if it’s a more minimalist wedding then the fonts need to be the star of the design, so I’ll carefully select the best options. When piecing it together I like to leave some space to let the elements breathe, you always need the information to be legible and not get lost among colours and assets, giving some space around text helps focus the eye onto certain parts of the design. However too much space can seem like something is missing. Balance is key which is why I add the details first, then design to fit around the text.
In most cases I design 3 options unless there’s a specific design that I have been shown. This is because initially it can be difficult to gauge exactly what the couple are looking for and it gives them alternative ideas that they may not have considered. Sometimes you don’t know what you want until you see it. However, too many options can cause confusion, especially if they’re not quite sure what they’re looking for. I like to use this opportunity to reverse colours, play with fonts and compare pastel vs bold. Usually after this they mix and match the ideas to create the perfect design, but quite often one of the designs is exactly what the couple want, which fills me with so much joy.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
The biggest challenge for me is confidence. When I first started, I would show my husband and family designs for affirmation before sending them to clients, wondering whether the designs were good enough. This faded as I became more experienced and as I dealt with more couples my confidence grew. Now I send the designs with confidence knowing they meet the brief.
Part of being a designer means that sometimes a design just isn’t quite what the client is looking for, and that’s okay. But these instances are a great way for me to learn and grow in my knowledge and skills. Winning my first award helped with my confidence hugely. Sometimes, (like everyone) I find myself comparing my work to others, but as my confidence has grown, I’ve realised that it’s the differences and uniqueness that sets businesses apart. I don’t need to conform to any boxes, and I certainly don’t need to be the same as other stationers, their work is amazing, and mine can shine too for different reasons. Believing in myself and celebrating my differences has transformed the way I view my work and has increased my confidence massively. This has led me to dare to be different, try new things and embrace a challenge.
Of course, positive reviews help. I love every single one that comes in, some even make me cry. When you put your heart and soul into something it means the world to get positive feedback. I’m so grateful to be able to work with such wonderful couples who really appreciate my work, to be able to add something special to the best day of their lives is an incredible honour.
Do you have a favourite design style or current trend?
There are so many wonderful trends right now and so many designs I adore, but I’d have to say that my personal favourite currently is the clean foliage look. Traditionally on stationery you’d either go the floral route or for a minimal text only style, but I love the fresh feel foliage brings. There are so many different leaves to use which means no two designs are identical. Copper is really popular at the moment, and it is just so visually pleasing.
There are so many designs I love (of course I’m bias) but I have to say a surprising stand out was the gold and red laser cut invitation. The idea of this was to keep it simple but give it layers so that it still had that wow factor. Originally I was considering a red trim instead of the gold but when I paired the gold shimmer sleeve with the gold metallic, it was almost like the sun shining and I thought it caught the eye much better without taking away from the design inside. By making the rsvp bolder in colour, there was enough of a contrast there.
I think this is a perfect example of making something classy with the ‘less is more’ approach. The print is very simple, a delicate pattern with fine lines, but putting it all together with the layers and finishing touches it’s just radiant.
What’s next for you and your business?
There is always something in the works. I am always working on new designs, but now I’m working on my own open days. Couples like to see and feel stationery. It’s a key part of the process, particularly when going bespoke, as couples need to assess the quality of the designs. As you can imagine this is tricky if you don’t have a physical shop. I showcase my designs at wedding shows, however there are so many other things to look at, couples only get a few minutes at the stand, and it can feel quite rushed and busy.
So, I am starting to plan open days where I will just be showcasing my stationery, it will be a relaxed atmosphere, couples can see a wider range of ideas and inspiration and it will give them chance to ask questions and get a real feel for what they’ll get when they work with me. It’s also lovely to meet them in person and get to know them as a couple.
The Simply4You website can be found here
The Simply4You Instagram can be found here