We sat down with Emma, maker and owner of Dear Emma Stationery, a Herefordshire-based wedding stationery business making beautiful, luxury wedding invites, save the date cards, table plans and much more. She talks to us about how her business was founded, where she gets her creative inspiration and what’s next for Dear Emma Stationery.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how your business started?
I have worked in the wedding industry for more than 15 years! Mainly in Events & Sales positions and at some of the most prestigious venues in the UK. I knew that being in this industry I was in the right place, when what was an initial hobby, turned into a small business.
I have always loved drawing since I was little. You could always find me sat drawing a cartoon or making some new craft piece from a range of materials. Following school, I trained at the Hereford College for Art & Design so have always had an interest and passion for fine art and crafts.
Following the birth of my daughter in 2019, I returned to work in 2020 on a part-time basis but setting up my stationery business as a side job. Sadly, during covid I was made redundant and that’s when Dear Emma really started.
It was a case of now or never, and I started offering occasion cards, traditional keepsake gifts and spent the time setting up a portfolio of work ready for when the wedding restrictions lifted. I managed to carry my business for the first 12 months by promoting myself through social mediaand joining a wedding Suppliers Group which was set up during the pandemic. The group was a complete godsend as I could get to know other suppliers, talk about my business, and also know that we were all going through the same – trying to survive.
How has Dear Emma Stationery evolved since it first began?
Since initially starting up my business, I have seen it grow from practically nothing when Weddings were non-existent working from the box room of my 3-bedroom home at the time.
As I started to get busier, we started to run out of space and knew I needed more of a working area, not only to produce the stationery but to organise orders which has been completed and were ready for being dispatched. We then moved house in 2021, 6 weeks before my second daughter was born.
I now have a large working office where I can produce a range of stationery from save the dates, invitations and larger on the day supplies such as table plans and signage.
I also have an online shop, as well as an Etsy store, which means clients can order their stationery direct via my website. My online products are pre-designed which can be personalised to suit but it means it is a great way to view a lot of the work I have previously created.
From starting during, what probably was the most harrowing time for the hospitality industry, I have been fortunate enough to be able to watch my business grow from strength to strength.
What advice would you give to people who are afraid of quitting their day jobs to pursue their dreams?
I am a true believer that somethings happen for a reason. Making that jump is huge! It’s scary! It’s hard work! The competition can be massive, but if you don’t or at least try, how will you ever know if it will work?
I thought about setting my own stationery business since I made some of my own supplies for my Wedding in 2017. I spent months thinking, could I make it work? Where can I work from? How will I ever get it up and running – what if I fail?
But if you love what you do, and the end result gives you a sense of pride then why not share your work with the rest of the world.
There will always be something to go back to, whether it be a change of career but at least you can tell yourself you tried instead or wondering what if.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from the couple themselves. I am a people’s person; I love the personal touches so talking to my couples means I can really discover what their wedding is about. Majority of my work is handmade using a range of materials, in particular the invitations. I love watching a design come together – knowing I have made someone’s vision become reality.
As a previous Sales & Events Manager, I have seen more than 1,000 weddings over the years including different cultures and themes, ranging from the traditional to the wonderful and wacky.
My background and experience puts me in a great position to know what works well and what you couldn’t live without on your wedding Day.
Talk us through the process behind creating the perfect design?
Having a mood board is a great way to get a feel for your style of wedding. You might think that stationery can be designed just based on a wedding colour or theme, but I always think your chosen Venue sets the initial scene, from a rustic barn to a contemporary manor house – this always gives me a good idea of the style of wedding you are planning.
I like to have an initial discussion with the couple, get a feel for their likes and dislikes, look at previous designs and then build up their bespoke stationery.
I feel it is important to really get the invitations right – after all this is the first snippet your guests have into the look of your wedding Day. So, it has to be perfect!
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Seeing my business through covid was hard – setting up a wedding business with no couples to sell to and figuring out a way to get my business known was a case of thinking outside of the box and being in a strong position ready for when the wedding Industry boomed again!
But my biggest challenge for me is getting that work and family life balance right. With two small children and running a small business from home, you can sometimes feel like you are juggling more than you can hold. That being said, it does mean I have the flexibility to be here for them whilst they are so young.
Do you have a favourite design style or current trend?
It is hard to have a set favourite, as the majority of my work is bespoke and styled to the specific wedding. However, I do really love the classic colour palettes, navy and blush pink, gold and ivory as well as some of the more striking and bold colours that really stand out!
I love the simplistic styles – black font on white backgrounds are elegant but classy and extremely versatile.
What’s next for you and your business?
I would love to have a show room – a place where couples can come for a relaxed chat, offload those wedding worries and enjoy some time getting those ideas onto paper.
I also have a very exciting year ahead, including awards and working on some beautiful weddings later into the year.