3 Suffolk stationery retailers on the importance of shopping local
- Credit: David Frostick
A handful of Suffolk suppliers and creators explain why you should support your local creatives more than ever right now, and why something that’s been made locally is just that bit more special.
A much-needed lift
Head to the seaside town of Southwold and there you will find Lift, an independent lifestyle shop with a huge focus on all things quirky and loveable.
Run by David Frostick, he set up his shop in 2017 after visiting Southwold and falling in love with the town. He has since become a champion of local designers and artists, stocking their work in his shop whenever he can.
“My passion has always been well-designed goods with function, and I wanted to bring some of that to Suffolk. I just love finding local designers, and being able to support new artists is always amazing.
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“So I opened Lift with a firm emphasis on fun and functional design. Stationery is a big part of our offering, and I always think stationery is the perfect gift, as it facilitates creativity and communication. You can never have too many notebooks or send too many cards.”
With the ongoing lockdown forcing people to stay indoors, David sees stationery as something therapeutic, and encourages people to get creative in order to lift their spirits during this time of uncertainty.
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“I think keeping busy and doing things with our hands has never been as important as it is at the moment.
“Taking some time away from our screens to do something physical is so crucial - be it writing, drawing, making a collage or just sending a nice card to a friend you’ve not seen for ages.”
While lockdown restrictions have unfortunately forced him to shut his physical shop for the time being, David, like many other independent businesses, is still running his shop online for the time being.
“It’s a great time to shop local and support your high street, even with our shops being closed. We’re still here, operating online and looking for ways to support our communities better. It's been a really tough year, but the local support has been incredible.
“It’s so tough out there for the multi-store shops, as well as the independents, and while Amazon may seem like the easy option, they’ll never offer the personal service that local businesses do,” he says.
The art of sending cards
Another local creative who has found joy in all that cards and stationery can bring is Danielle Wade. In 2010, she set up her own business, Polly’s Textiles, with an aim to make stationery that is ‘beautifully purposeful’.
A decade later, and things have gone from strength-to-strength for her, as she continues to embrace mixed media to create eye-catching cards made from her workshop in Ipswich.
“When I was at Suffolk College, I learnt the technique of free motion embroidery and was completely hooked - think of it as drawing with a sewing machine. So I created these small panels and began to sew them onto greeting cards. Each year, I would do a few new designs, and 10 years on I'm still creating and selling these cards,” she says.
While lockdown has meant people haven’t been able to see their nearest and dearest as they normally would, Danielle hopes that people begin to embrace the art of sending cards again.
“I think the power of a card should never be underestimated,” she adds. “If you're feeling low and someone sends you a card with their best wishes, it can really cheer you up. As all of my cards are handmade, they can be personalised – and I really like being able to deliver a personal touch.”
Danielle, who also studied Design Crafts at Lowestoft College, not only handmakes her crafts right here in Suffolk, but also draws inspiration from her surroundings, using nature to help create her cards and pencil cases. “I love to collect and draw flowers, seeds, pods, shells and pine cones. My son and husband help me to forage whenever we go for walks.”
As a number of Suffolk businesses struggle during this ongoing lockdown, Danielle believes it’s incredibly important for people to support their regional suppliers and makers, buying local wherever they can.
“I think after hearing feedback from my customers, they feel happier to support a local maker rather than buying from a printing factory that churns out generic cards all year round. Customers always tell me how familiar and warming they feel a personal, handmade touch from someone that lives in their community truly can be.”
For the past 30 years, one stationery retailer has been helping both local and national artists get the recognition they deserve by printing their Suffolk-based art on a variety of postcards and greeting cards.
Southwold’s Orwell Press Art Publishing was started in 1989 by Richard Webster under the name Orwell Press. The company originally specialised in producing greetings cards, prints and postcards depicting scenes of the local Suffolk coast, painted by the likes of Stanley Spencer, Philip Wilson Steer and J. M. W. Turner.
However, Richard passed away in 2011, and soon after, the business became Orwell Press Art Publishing under the ownership of James Peck and his family. “Since that time, our range of cards has grown from 50 images to over 200,” says James. “You could say we are a niche art greetings card business.”
To this day, the family now works with artists across the country, stocking their designs in a variety of galleries, museums and bookshops.
However, with lockdown forcing galleries and museums to shut for the foreseeable future, James hopes that people continue to support local makers and their work.
“There is no doubt that Covid has proved to be extremely challenging for both us and our wonderful customers. The need to work together exemplifies paving the way to a brighter future for our makers and creators.”