Today we’re taking you all the way to Australia to meet Janet from Fox and Fallow! Her bright designs and style reflect her surroundings in Brisbane. Janet shares her schedule for creating new product collections, how she brings each new product to life from design through production, and how her team helps to get it all done and shipped out each day. Take it away, Janet! —Megan Soh
From Janet: My background is in graphic design and art direction but after spending 10 years in design studios and advertising I felt like I needed a bit of a change. I really wanted to build my own brand after so many years of building other people’s brands. I fell in love with weddings after designing our own wedding stationery and signs and in 2013 we began creating wedding stationery and signs for couples as a side project. After about a year and a half I really wanted to reach a wider audience and create products of my own. So in 2015 we jumped right into the deep end and we launched our brand at the National Stationery Show in New York in 2015 and haven’t looked back!
We’re located in sunny Brisbane, Australia. It’s a fabulous city, the people are laid back, the food and bars are great and we’ve got more sunshine than we can handle! Our style is bright, fun, intricate and we love foil, so most of our paper goods are offset printed and foil stamped. I like to design in collections, releasing 3-4 collections per year, each with a totally different theme and style. This keeps things fresh and interesting and allows us to keep evolving our style each year.
Our studio is part office, part warehouse. All the design work, invoicing etc. gets done in the office and orders and products are checked, assembled, packaged and shipped out of the warehouse.We make a wide range of paper goods including greeting cards, gift wrap, flat notes, gift tags, prints, journals, notebooks, notepads and calendars.
We also make clipboard packs which are a really fun gift item and we make the clipboards in house, which involves sourcing the wood from a local supplier, laser cutting and engraving them, sanding, riveting and shrink wrapping the whole pack together.
We take care of the design, quality checking, packaging and assembly but leave the printing to our local and offshore printers. We make most of our products locally in Brisbane or Sydney, but a few products we had to get manufactured offshore to make sure the price points work for our customers.
I usually start with a double espresso and an attempt to clean out my inbox (which rarely happens)! We’ll get any orders from the previous day and ones that have come in overnight to the team to pick and pack so they’re shipped out ASAP. We try to wrap this up by 2pm so they’re ready to be collected by our couriers. After the orders are done for the day the team often keeps working on quality checking, assembling and packaging products and anything else that needs doing before finishing up around 5pm. If we’ve got a big order to get out, it’s all hands on deck and we’ll do some pretty big hours to get it out in time, but it’s great we can be flexible and have our team take product home to package – which works great! No one wants to be working late in the office right?
I’ll usually grab another coffee and get started on artwork, product sourcing, bill-paying and general day-to-day business things. Darrell and I are both night owls, so we usually work pretty late. I wish my days were filled with painting and making new products, but as I’m sure all creative business owners know, the creative part is a tiny sliver of the running-a-small-biz pie.
I start each collection with a bunch of random thoughts in a notepad file on the computer and on my phone, then I’ll scour Pinterest, Google or books for snippets to create a mood board. I like having the inspiration and colours for each collection all nutted out on a mood board so I can show Darrell and get his thoughts. Once we’re happy with the direction it’s a matter of more research, sketching, scanning, detailed ink sketches, painting, scanning, colouring and refining and deep-etching each element in Photoshop.
I like painting all artwork as separate components so I can change the colours easily in Photoshop and change the size if needed. If I’m working on custom typography I’ll usually start with sketches and then use a brush pen and ink before I scan each word and vectorize them in Illustrator. I composite all artwork in InDesign and send it off to print for the proofing stage. Once we’ve checked and approved the proofs we wait for the finished goods to arrive.
This is the most fun part of what we do and it’s so rewarding when we see our retailers and customers loving our products. We love doing trade shows and pop up events as you really get to see people’s reactions to your products – it’s super valuable having that face-to-face contact. We love it when we meet people who are discovering us for the first time – it makes all the hard work so worthwhile!
All photos by Fox & Fallow.
Want to be featured in the Behind the Stationery column? Reach out to Megan at megan [at] ohsobeautifulpaper [dot] com for more details.