Hoptastic Highlights: Year 1

Hello all,

As promised, here’s a wee post outlining a bunch of key moments that stand out for me from my first year of running Frog & Pencil.

HIGHLIGHT 1: WEBSITE & PESKY SEO

Ooooh boy, the website was a labour of love! I’ve spoken about it previously and I’m so proud of what Lewie & I achieved with our site; I still think it looks great today. Completing frogandpencil.com really meant that I could officially launch this little business of mine. With a year under my belt now, I have a better understanding of what I offer and create and in turn this shines a light on what my website now needs to provide. This means that there are some changes in the pipeline to make it clearer and more accessible for me to update; a big challenge for my tech guy as he’ll be putting together a swish CMS (content management system).

Hand in hand with the website is Frog & Pencil’s SEO ranking. This area is such a minefield for us, not to mention a proper headache! We read up A LOT on how to improve it and after dedicating so much time and energy into this beast, we’re seeing results. From being non-existent on google for months, we’re now on the first page for a bunch of key words. The one we’re delighted with right now is ‘ Wedding Stationery Norwich’ as we’re third in the list, wooohooo! A big ole thank you to Lew for his persistence on this one and as importantly, thank you to my Froggy Friends who link to me from their sites as a recommended supplier, it genuinely helps and I appreciate it.

The evolution of Frog & Pencil's website.

The evolution of Frog & Pencil’s website.

HIGHLIGHT 2: HELLO HIPPO COMMISSION

My first ever commission pinged into my inbox a few days after I launched. I still remember vividly jumping up and down in the lounge, exhilarated that someone wanted MY designs (and the fact that the contact form worked on the site)! It was a gem of a commission and right up my street. This couple were looking for a sweet way to announce their first pregnancy to friends and family and thought that a Frog & Pencil card featuring a Hippo Family would be a great way to do it. I loved creating this cute design and super proud that it was my first real commission. Baby was due in August, so congratulations on your new bundle and I hope you’re all enjoying family life.

hippo-family-setup

HIGHLIGHT 3: ABI & ROB

Another jump around the lounge and do a hoppy dance moment was inspired by the brilliant Abi & Rob. I met these two at A Most Curious Wedding Fair and they wanted me to create all their wedding stationery. Now, I can’t say too much at the moment as I’m still working on this commission…I promise you though, it’s going to be a cracker!

This is such a highlight for me not only because they’re my first wedding invite couple but more so in that these guys really understand what Frog & Pencil is about. This shows that there are people out there who want more quirky and personal choices, there is a place for Frog & Pencil.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these guys. What I really like about Abi & Rob is that they truly want to support small local businesses where they can when it comes to their big day and I praise that. It’s been a pleasure creating their wedding stationery and I can’t wait to show off their final invitation, it’s a beaut! For now you’ll have to make do with their awesome Save the Date.

Abi & Rob's Wedding Save our Date

Abi & Rob’s Wedding Save our Date

HIGHLIGHT 4: MEXICANA MADNESS

I simply cannot write a highlights post without mentioning the ‘phabulous’ collaboration I was a part of back in June. The Mexicana inspired photo shoot was such a wonderful day where I met awesome people and I’m thrilled that friendships have grown from it. I learnt a lot on that shoot, it was a real eye opener.

It was a brilliant experience to work with like-minded suppliers who have embraced the Frog & Pencil vibe. I can still remember this bundle of energy (Bigphatphotos Janie) coming towards me at the Wensum Valley Wedding Fair exclaiming how she’d seen my work online and thought I’d be perfect for this idea of hers. From that little meeting, Diego & Frida were born.

I’m all for encouraging collaborations between suppliers. It’s a fantastic way for work to develop, to push traditions and to make ace contacts in the industry. I’m always pointing couples in the direction of these guys. I know they produce creative and amazing work and most importantly, you can trust them to deliver on your special day. I look forward to more bonkers photo shoots in the future.

Mexicana Photo shoot - image credit:Bigphatphotos

Mexicana Photo shoot – image credit:Bigphatphotos

HIGHLIGHT 5: THE INDUSTRY

This ties in nicely with the collaboration highlight. I wrote in my last post how I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the Wedding Industry and how accepting it has been. I never expected to know so many wonderful local businesses after a year, the networking is starting to flourish. I honestly feel like a part of the gang and not such a newbie anymore and that means so much to me; I feel accepted. We simply didn’t know how Frog & Pencil would be perceived in the industry, it was a huge grey area but we’ve been welcomed, supported and encouraged. It feels amazing to know that in Norfolk there’s a change in the air, it’s not all about tradition.

 

HIGHLIGHT 6: OXNEAD WEDDING SHOW

I believe that exhibiting at Oxnead was a turning point for Frog & Pencil. It may have been the fact that we had some experience under our belts, or that we’d evaluated and made a new plan or that we had a whole new wedding fair set up but somewhere in that beautiful venue I found a new confidence. Perhaps it’s a combination of all the above and starting to feel accepted but I came away from that show buzzing and super positive about the future. Off the back of it I’ve had enquiries, a wedding invitation commission (to be unveiled soon!) and a handful of bridesmaid card orders. From this point, it started to feel like we’d landed on the right lily pad.

Final Frog & Pencil set up for the Oxnead Wedding Show.

Frog & Pencil’s stall at the Oxnead Wedding Show is ready to go!

HIGHLIGHT 7: EDP BRIDE WEDDING AWARDS

Holy guacamole, what a year! And the ‘water lily’ on the top was discovering that I’d made it as a finalist in the EDP Bride Wedding Awards. I was over the moon to be in this position and the pride that I felt was overwhelming. A finalist for Best Wedding Stationery Provider isn’t too shabby after being in the business just under a year. I might not have come home with an award but I am very honoured to have even been considered. And just think, I almost chickened out…it’s amazing what you can achieve when you believe and love what you do.

Frog & Pencil celebrating at the EDP Bride Wedding Awards.

Frog & Pencil celebrating at the EDP Bride Wedding Awards. Finalist for Best Wedding Stationery Provider.

HIGHLIGHT 8: SIMPLY BELIEVE

When I think back over the last 365 or so days of living and breathing Frog & Pencil, the main thing that strikes me is how I’ve evolved. I studied Illustration at University and after three pretty awful years I came away not knowing my style, who I was as an artist and I didn’t want anything to do with it. I can safely say, it left me at an all time low. I don’t know how I managed to graduate and I still get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I walk past the Art School…and I left six years ago.

Today, I’ve fallen in love with what I do. I’m passionate about what I create and I believe in what I do. I believe in me. It’s taken a while, I’m almost 33 but I’m so lucky to have found my inner Frog. I’m growing in confidence every day and I can see it evolve in my work. I feel privileged and I’m delighted that I can create work that makes people smile. How could that not be a highlight!?!

believe

Simply believe.

This year has been wonderful and after a week of being poorly/injured, tonight we’re finally going to celebrate this milestone.

Wishing you all a great weekend and I’ll be posting more Frog & Pencil goodness in the coming week.

‘Til then lovelies, chin chin!

Cx

Hoppy Birthday Frog & Pencil!

Hello lovelies,

Today marks Frog & Pencil’s first birthday. A whole year since we launched the website and headed out on this crazy adventure with little expectation but with a shed load of passion and grit. I never anticipated to have had such a wonderful year.

I don’t quite know where to begin. I’ve been sat here, in front of this glowing laptop for a while now thinking about Frog & Pencil’s journey and it’s hard for me not to become emotional. I’m simply bursting with pride with how far this business has come in 365 days.

Frog & Pencil went live from scratch. I didn’t have any commissions set up or any particular direction to set off on. I kinda fumbled along promoting my business, working out future steps as I hopped along. Looking back, I genuinely feel lucky that I managed to grab some spots at wedding fairs early on. I thought I had missed the Spring fairs boat but thanks to the incredible duo Dalia and Tim at Norfolk Brides, they gave me a shot. I believe that showcasing my stationery wares at their show last March was a key moment for getting on the Norfolk Wedding Industry map. It may not have generated direct business but being there introduced me to other suppliers and I’m happy to say those relationships have blossomed. So, I want to say a HUGE thank you to the Norfolk Brides Team. I think you guys are awesome and I truly appreciate all your support and advice this year. I hope to work more with you over the years as I think you’re a positive force in the business.

I wasn’t nervous about delving into self employment but I did have a few reservations about other suppliers within the industry. For some reason I had envisioned the wedding business to be ultra competitive and for want of a better word, a tad bitchy. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The people I’ve met and connected with are a wonderfully supportive bunch. Frog & Pencil has been welcomed with open arms and by the end of my final wedding fair in November, I genuinely felt like a part of the gang. To me, this is a big deal. I’ve banded together with like-minded creative people who are passionate, have a drive to deliver and encourage collaboration between fellow small businesses. I’m so fortunate to be a part of this scene.

It thrills me to see so many women led businesses cheering on the successes of other women. At a time where it can be easier to tear people down, it’s incredibly positive to be surrounded by these kick ass women! Additionally, I’m heartened by those that are managing to juggle their business with nurturing a family. To me you are (and all Mums) superwomen and it gives me hope for Frog & Pencil’s future when a cub or two may be on the cards. You lot know who you are, so thank you for inspiring me daily.

Running Frog & Pencil certainly hasn’t been easy. There have been moments where lulls lasted weeks with very little interest and it felt like I was in a crappy rut. Knowing my personality, I take a lot of this to heart. However, I’m an upbeat person too and I won’t be beaten easily. I’m learning that being productive keeps things moving, even when it feels horribly slow. Along with reflecting and evaluating my progress, it all helps me to keep on hoppin’.

This will sound awfully cliché but right now, after all this time of never quite fitting in, I feel like I’m in the right place, doing the right thing. I feel complete. I bloomin’ love what I do and it frustrates me that I took so long to realise my own potential, all I needed was some self belief.

It’s funny, when I think back to when I was much younger, as a teenager it was my aim in life to find a career I loved that would make me happy. What that actually was, I didn’t have a clue. For nearly twenty years, this is what I was searching for. I also met Lewie when we were eighteen, so we’ve been together a long time and I constantly fought the thought of marriage. It simply wasn’t a priority. I needed to find that career first. After eleven years together, Lewie proposed and I delightedly said YES. I still hadn’t found ‘the one’ career wise, but I was enjoying Festival work and there was no doubt in my mind about my Bear, he was/is my everything. Getting engaged triggered the concept of Frog & Pencil and it nurtured the confidence and self belief I needed to take the plunge. I guess what I’m trying to say is that saying ‘yes’ to something new can open wonderful adventures. I was blinkered for so long and I often wonder where Frog & Pencil might have been today had I realised what I am capable of sooner. So, if things aren’t quite going to plan, change it up a bit as you never know what’s around that corner, you could discover and realise you’re pretty awesome and are capable of anything; just get out of your own way.

This year has been a beautiful whirlwind and ended on such a high, as a finalist at the EDP Bride Wedding Awards. Simply put, I’m as proud as punch. This year is looking like a cracker too as I have some excellent commissions in the pipeline and I can’t wait to share them over the coming months.

There are so many highlights from the first year but I feel they deserve their own post, look out for it over the next week or so.

That leaves me with a few thank you’s before I sign off. Firstly, a big thank you to the industry and suppliers who have embraced Frog & Pencil. The support and advice I’ve received warms my heart and I am happy to call many of you friends. Your creativity inspires and challenges me to make more exciting illustrations, so thank you for keeping me on my Froggy toes. You guys are my frickin’ rock stars!

To my lovely couples, be it a bespoke commission or a bridesmaid card purchase, thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting a small, independent business. I honestly do a little happy dance every time a new couple is confirmed. It is a pleasure to get to know you and to create stationery that reflects your personalities and also offer an insight into your big day. Remember to always be unashamedly yourselves when it comes to your wedding.

To my treasured friends and family, thank you for all the belief, support, encouragement, words of wisdom, hugs, for every share, like, recommendation and for the laughter. The love in my life is overwhelming and I’m truly blessed. You guys are always there and that means the world. A special mention to Lewie’s folks for their unconditional generosity and to my Dad (a rival to Lew as number 1 fan) for his love, support and for encouraging the potential. I love you all, mwah! xxx

One final and special thank you is for my partner in crime & hubby, Lewie. Without you Frog & Pencil just wouldn’t be possible. You could see what I couldn’t all those years ago, so thank you for you unwavering belief, love and the daily support. Thank you for being the best ‘tech guy’ around and for being just as much as a perfectionist as I am…website v2 is going to be awesome! Thank you for being my wedding fair sidekick and for hashing out all the tiny details with me. To me you are the greatest Bear in the land and I’m one lucky, lucky, lucky Frog. Here’s to our future, I love you millions. xxx

All that’s left to say is what a hell of a year and I’ve loved every moment. It’s time to celebrate, eat cake and probably cry a smidge more (happy tears of course!). Most importantly, I’m excited to get back to my commissions and create more illustrated loveliness.

Best hop to it & hustle!

Thanks for sticking by me,

Love Cx

P.S – I’m happy to report that after a year I can easily use the correct spelling of ‘stationery’…well, almost! x

Hoppy First Birthday Frog & Pencil!

Celebrating Frog & Pencil’s first birthday. Hop Hop Hooray!

 

Table-scape setting from Mexican Photoshoot - credit bigphatphotos

Diego & Frida; A Mexicana Photo Shoot!

Hello there!

I am stoked that I can finally reveal and share our Mexicana photo shoot. Today’s post is rather a long one and absolutely packed to the rafters full of lovely imagery, so I suggest you grab yourself a cuppa or a nice G&T and settle down for a blog feast.

Not long after launching Frog & Pencil, whilst at my first wedding fair, I was approached by the wonderful whirlwind that is Janie from Bigphatphotos. It was all a bit of a flurry but I managed to grasp that she had these brilliant plans for a Mexican, Frida Kahlo styled photo shoot, that was going to be big, bold, colourful and on an alpaca farm. She’d seen my work online and thought my stationery would be perfect and would I be interested in collaborating? Hell. Yes!

Later that month at A Most Curious Wedding Fair, I met two other collaborators who were also the fellow visionaries. The Cake Lady, Emma from Buns of Fun and The Florist, Sharon from Flower30. After seeing their gorgeous stalls, I was super excited to be working with these three amazing and creative women.

I’ll be honest, being new and never having collaborated before I was bloody nervous. So much talent was within this team and I didn’t want to let anyone down. To ease those nerves I met with Janie one morning to talk about the shoot and a few hours later I came away full of inspiration. I realised there really wasn’t any brief or any rules for me, it was simply an opportunity to showcase my work within a theme; so no need to worry.

We shared a Pinterest board that was jam-packed with ideas and I decided that this would be an ideal time to create my first stationery collection which would feature alpacas; from that moment Diego and Frida were born.

I wanted my designs to be colourful, luscious with flora and fauna and have elements of tribal detailing. Overall, the pieces consisted of a Save our Date, Invitation, Map and an RSVP. Additionally, I made ‘on the day’ stationery too which included a Table Plan, Name Cards, Table Numbers and a Menu. Everything is cohesive but not repetitive and I’m very happy with the final results. I especially LOVE my alpaca characters, the Bride & Groom are gorgeous…they really are the heart and soul of this collection.

Before I knew it, the day of the shoot arrived. I awoke to beautiful weather and was buzzed to get going. I picked up our lovely models Amy & Jake and together we travelled to College Farm. On arrival the models headed off to hair & makeup and I made myself useful by helping to build a beautiful tipi. We decorated it with crepe paper streamers and flowers in hot colours and above it, we constructed a curtain with what felt like millions of hanging ribbons. It was looking pretty, I couldn’t wait to get shooting.

With the tipi ready we moved onto setting up the table-scape. This was placed in such a special location. Within the grounds there is a long natural grassy aisle that sits through the middle of a large watery pond. A stunning spot for a wedding breakfast. Everyone brought along ‘bits and bobs’ that had a Mexican vibe and I was staggered at how well the pieces matched. My big lesson from the shoot is that styling is actually pretty hard! You can be super creative but you certainly need a good eye to make a space come to life. I revelled in watching how it all came together and took lots of mental notes for the future.

Shooting began and everything revolved around these two main locations. Janie & Dave were our ace photographers and they were particularly entertaining to watch; I believe their differing skills brought out the best of each other. I especially enjoyed seeing how they work and organise their shots. The models looked great and I fell head over heels for all the floral detailing. I had serious crown envy and was crushing hard on the blooms!!! The nails too were a lovely touch, in particular Jake’s; Laura did a great job of keeping the masculinity on point. The little star of the day had to be our flower girl model, Savannah. She totally rocked the pom poms while echoing a mini Frida Kahlo; adorable!

Alongside the main model shots, Janie & Dave captured the details too. As I’ve mentioned, Sharon’s flowers were incredible and super tropical. She is one talented florist, I never knew you could be so inventive with flowers. Emma’s cakes looked stunning. She arrived with 5 iced cakes and then the decorating took place within the kitchen of College Farm. She is a wizard! It was such fun to watch her transform the sponges into modern designs with a Mexicana twist. They also tasted delicious…a nice little perk of the day! The Horse Box came along and pitched up in the grounds and I think they fitted in brilliantly with the theme of the shoot. A second perk, we were able to eat everything they made and holy moly it’s gooooooood! I’m still drooling over their seared skirt steak flatbread with their zingy fresh sides; I can’t wait to find them at another local event and indulge some more!

Finally, not forgetting my stationery! I had a range of shots within the tipi, settled upon one of the bouquets which I thought looked splendid, the flowers complimented my work well. Alongside that, Dave snapped a few close-ups with an exotic bird of paradise which also enhanced my designs happily. I think my favourite shots though are those on the table-scape. The menu and name cards blended in perfectly and I think everything within that setting looked sumptuous!

Ok, ok, I hear you! I promised a plethora of imagery, so I’ll pipe down now and let you enjoy these galleries so you can see for yourselves what an epic day we all had.

First up, introducing the Diego & Frida stationery collection. All the photographs in this gallery are credited to the very talented Janie & Dave of Bigphatphotos:

Next up, some behind the scenes action courtesy of moi…

Finally, a handful of my favourite shots from the day, again all of these are credited to Bigphatphotos.

Wowzers! Aren’t they just brilliant!

I was honoured to be a part of this collaboration and I had a tremendous time. Everyone was so friendly and I was made to feel really welcomed by all. I should also mention our gracious host Katharine of College Farm, she was just fantastic; thank you for having us. Your home is a delight, perfect for a wedding and if the grounds don’t swing it for potential couples then Brian the alpaca most certainly will; what a charmer!

An extra huge thank you goes to the brains behind this experience, Janie. I truly appreciate you bringing me aboard this brilliantly bonkers ship, I loved every moment and congratulations on your beautiful shoot!

Big news! We made it into County Wedding Magazines ‘Your East Anglian Wedding’ with a glossy three page spread and we even snagged the front page (gooo Janie)! Frog & Pencil also had a fab little mention in the Brides Bulletin page under the ‘Editor Loves’ section which was just lovely. You can pick yourself up a copy online or locally in WHSmith.

A TEAM CROAK OUT…

Bigphatphotos: Janie & Dave are a fab duo and as you can see from above are damn talented. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer give these guys a look.

Buns of Fun: Emma is awesome and a total whiz when it comes to beautiful bakes. Give her a call if you’re in need of a cake, you won’t be disappointed.

Flower30: Sharon is lovely and a genius when it comes to flowers. Be it traditional or a chic modern arrangement, she’s your florist!

College Farm: Beautiful venue for a wedding and it’s a place where you can truly make it yours. Give Katharine a call, she’d love to hear from you.

The Horse Box: Georgia & Steve whip up some of the tastiest street food I’ve sampled in years. A great, fresh alternative for you wedding or special occasion…I hear that their sausage rolls are legendary!

The Beauty Hobo: Laura was our nail artist and they looked stylish and current. Give her a call to give your fingers and toes a fancy treat!

Lanoi Makeup Artist: Lanoi did an incredible job with the make up on this shoot, the models look was tribal but contemporary! Looking for a make over, Lanoi’s your gal!

Arcadia Hairdressers Norwich: Hannah transformed our models hair for this shoot and in particular did a great job with our little Frida. Contact her about your wedding hair today!

Elle Harris:  Elle was the styling assistant on the shoot and she helped created a modern mexican look. If you’re looking for some styling advice (or a model), give her a call.

Models: Amy Bevan & Jakey Richardson – these two were lovely and really professional. It was a long day for everyone but they kept up their energy and enabled Bigphatphotos to capture loads of amazing shots. If you’re in need of a model, check them out.

Mexicana Photoshoot Crew! Credit Bigphatphotos

Mexicana Photoshoot Crew! Credit Bigphatphotos

Overall, what an incredible experience and amazing exposure for Frog & Pencil, it’s a day I’ll always treasure. I do hope to be part of another collaboration again in the near future and learn more from other talented folk.

A final note before I part. I am truly encouraged to see so many successful, creative and entrepreneurial women locally in this industry. It was a pleasure to work alongside you and amazing to study from you. In an environment that could be catty and competitive, these women ooze support, inspiration and love; you gals are awesome. Deep from my Froggy heart, gracias you beautiful GirlBosses!

‘Til next time,

Cx