Lucy & Rory’s Wedding Invitations.

Hello all,

Yippeee, I’m very excited to share one of my latest commissions with you all today; Lucy and Rory’s Wedding Invitations.

I met these two at the fab Oxnead Wedding Show and I remember us all having quite a good natter about their stationery. They contacted me a few weeks later looking for some personal invitations but with quite a quick turn around.

Lucy told me how much they both loved my portraits and asked if the illustration could feature their children too, rather than just her and Rory. I thought this was such a delightful idea to include them, it’s a whole family affair after all. They wished to personalise it further by incorporating their children’s names within the garland along with the words ‘love’ and ‘family’. It makes me so happy when couples put their own spin on a design, it truly makes it unique to them.

Overall, I created an invite for both day and evening guests and a cute RSVP card where they included a quirkily worded ‘yes’ or ‘no’ option for attending, certainly up Frog & Pencil’s street! Their package of wedding stationery goodness (including the original watercolour painting) was shipped over to them just before Christmas (what a lovely early chrimbo gift!) and it’s not too long now until their big day.

I thoroughly enjoyed creating these invitations and I get a kick out of all their personal details. I want to wish Lucy & Rory a wonderful wedding day with all their loved ones and here’s to a happy future together as Mr & Mrs.

If you would like something similar to Lucy & Rory for your lovely wedding day then hop of over to frogandpencil.com to discover more.  For all enquiries, e-mail me at hello@frogandpencil.com for a little chat about any of your papery needs; I look forward to hearing from you.

There’s a couple more post’s in the pipeline, so keep your eyes peeled for those. Until then, have a hoppin’ brilliant week.

Ciao for now,

Cx

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!

 

A Froggy Catch up…

Hello you lovelies.

Holy sprouts there’s only a few days left until Christmas, I don’t know about you guys but I can’t quite believe we’re in December let alone Chrimbo. The past six weeks have been pretty wonderful and I’ve been busy and working hard at Frog & Pencil HQ and doing the odd bit of work for SeaChange Arts. There are so many posts swirling around in my head and just not enough time to write them, hence the serious lack of content recently.

So, I’ve decided to write a catch up post to give you a brief overview of what’s been happening recently and we can start afresh in January. Bust out your mince pies, your favourite festive tipple and enjoy.

Where we left off….

Following from my last post I was preparing for The Most Unusual Wedding Fair at Godwick Great Barn. This is a brilliant wedding fair for the type of couple who’s looking for something a little different, a little boho, a little festival and a little unusual; this kinda fair is my bag. This years theme was ‘Wild Bohemia’ and I had so much fun getting my stall ready. I chose a colour palette of greens, grey, rich jewel tones and metallics with the idea of creating the feeling of an autumnal forest floor.

This involved buying reindeer moss, spraying pumpkins and munchkins (how adorable is a munchkin!) in copper, gold and cream and making tiny mushrooms out of clay. I also wanted to incorporate perspex into my signage seeing as this is a trend for 2017 and my hubby and I spent an evening making wooden holders to sit the signs in. (He loves it when he comes home and I mention that I’ve had an idea!) To top it off I recycled my newly acquired paper flower skills to make a new batch to fit my colour scheme. I think it looked pretty damn special, I loved it.

On the day the weather was TERRIBLE but that didn’t stop all our lovely couples from flooding over. Godwick was packed full of excellent suppliers and it was a great experience for me. I look forward to taking part again in the new year.

Frog & Pencil's Wedding Stationery stand at TMUWF

Frog & Pencil’s stand at The Most Unusual Wedding Fair 2016 at Godwick Great Barn

I took a week off in the middle of November to recharge after the wedding fair season and I was strict when it came to work. I unplugged, enjoyed time with Lewie in York and truly relaxed. It was just what I needed and I came back feeling energised.

During the wedding fairs I ran a competition for people to win a couples watercolour portrait. This was super popular and having chosen two lovely winners I created their illustrations. It felt so good to draw and paint again after so much prep for the fairs and I was happy with the final results…so were Holly and Chloe, phew!

At this time I picked up a brilliant commission for wedding invitations (woohooo!). L&R are getting married early spring next year and wanted something quickly. I remember chatting to them at the Oxnead Wedding Show and was very excited that they got in touch. They asked to have a family portrait with a personalised garland as their main illustration and an RSVP card. I love this illustration, I think it’s such a sweet idea to include their children on the invites too. These are still to be posted to guests so no sneak peeks for now…keep your eyes peeled.

I met the fabulous Lou from Lou Lou Loves Vintage at Oxnead too and she has commissioned me to create her a new business logo. It was great visiting her home and seeing her creative space and super helpful to generate ideas. This is a work in progress but in the new year it will be ready to unveil.

Networking has been wonderful for Frog & Pencil this year and I’ve met so many amazing, like-minded suppliers who inspire me. A brief chat on Instagram led to a tasty meeting with Philippa from The Little Party Company. She makes adorable and yummy favours, treats and styling for celebrations and she wants to collaborate with me. We have talked through some ideas but I’m raring to get stuck into this properly in the new year. I have a feeling this is going to be a cracking collaboration.

Speaking of collaboration I also created a card for Victoria at The Bottom Drawer Bridal (looking for your wedding dress gals, make an appointment; you’ll love it). She wanted to give her brides thank you cards at an upcoming event and instead of buying from a generic card store asked if I could make something. Time was pretty short, so I recycled an old illustration which was perfect and made for a cute card. I hope to work with Victoria again in the future, I adore her dresses.

This deserves its own post but my bridesmaid cards have also proven really popular and I’ve been delivering them all over the place. It’s encouraging because I want to make more pieces like these; small purchases which are easily printed and restocked. The new year will see the birth of a Frog & Pencil online shop, I can’t wait!

If you’re looking for a fun way to ask your favourite gal pals to be in your bride tribe, give them one of my postcards. £2.50 each and they come with an envelope, just email hello@frogandpencil.com to enquire.

Will your be my bridesmaid cards by Frog & Pencil

Frog & Pencil’s Will You Be My Bridesmaid? postcard selection.

I’ve been saving the BEST news till last…

After umming and urring over the EDP Bride Wedding Awards I decided to enter Frog & Pencil for Best Newcomer. Having been given an encouraging little nudge, I also put myself forward for Best Stationer. I had zero expectations but thought why not just give it a go and see, what do I have to lose?

To my delight I was shortlisted in both categories! This meant a judges visit for one award and I had to send a package for the other with example of my work. Then came the big news that floored me…I made it as a finalist for Best Wedding Stationery Provider.

I literally cried for about twenty minutes in front of my laptop re-reading the e-mail. I am over the moon and still in shock to be in the running. I’m also bloody proud of what I’ve achieved in these ten short months. The competition is tight but I’m just exited to be there and to experience the big event in January. There’s a fancy awards dinner where the winners will be announced. For me, it’s a night to enjoy seeing my hubby in a tux and to celebrate the wonderful talent that’s in this county.

The icing on the cake…

Yesterday I had a call from the EDP Bride Awards Team who were happy to inform me that Frog & Pencil has been shortlisted for a judges visit for the Wedding Innovation Award. Wow! This award is for businesses or individuals who bring new and innovative ideas to the industry that benefit and move the Norfolk wedding community forward. I’m simply honoured to be considered as I’ve worked so hard to develop and create alternative wedding stationery products for couples. For all those tough moments, it now truly feels like I did the right thing and I’m on the right path.

Keep those fingers crossed :).

This brings me to the end of my catch up post and as you can see it’s been a bit of a whirlwind…scrap that, this whole year has been a whirlwind. Starting out in February the year ahead of me was a blank sheet of paper waiting for an adventure to begin. It’s been difficult and it’s been glorious and those moments by far outshine the down days.

I’ve loved every commission I’ve worked on and thoroughly enjoyed meeting my awesome couples. Thank you for putting your wedding stationery trust in my hands. Business has been a slow burner but I’ve grabbed all the opportunities thrown at me to network and I have met incredibly talented people in this industry. There is an abundance of creativity in this beautiful county so thank you to those who inspire me to be better.

There’s still a few months to go until Frog & Pencil’s first birthday so I’ll save my highlights for then. I just want to say that it feels like everything is falling into place and I couldn’t have imagined to be ending 2016 on such a high. So, this is me signing off for the year. It’s been a pleasure blogging (when I get the chance) and I hope you still enjoy the content. Lots of ideas in the 2017 pipeline, so I hope you stick around.

Wishing you all a blooming fabulous Christmas and a bright new year. Here’s to a fresh sheet of paper and I can’t wait for Frog & Pencil’s 2017 adventure!

Lots of love,

Cx

Frog & Bear celebrating at Frog & Pencil's first christmas party,

Frog & Bear celebrating at Frog & Pencil’s first christmas party and wishing you all a very merry christmas! x

 

The Oxnead Wedding Show

Hello folks!

Holy guacamole it’s been a while since I last posted! Apologies for the white noise.

With glorious autumn in full swing, wedding show season returns and last Sunday saw Frog & Pencil exhibiting at our penultimate fair of the year, the Oxnead Wedding Show hosted by Norfolk Brides.

Even though I’ve truly enjoyed my previous fair experiences, I’ll be honest, up to this point, being a part of these hasn’t been as successful as we would have liked. In fact, it became a little disheartening. However, I knew that I was invested in two more before the end of the year and I really wanted to make the most of them. This began with the hubby and I having a really forthright chat about the fairs. We typed up a big list of what works well, what to scrap and what we can develop.

The first big issue we both sensed is that on a whole most people who visit my stand just don’t get it. Something isn’t connecting with them and that’s a huge problem. For example, at a previous fair, someone thought I hired out exotic birds…zilch to do with stationery. To rectify this, it was decided that we needed clear signage pointing out what I create and what’s on the table.

The second problem, which relates with the first, is the stand itself. Having been a part of three fairs with a similar set up it was time for a change. I wanted to bring in height, lots and lots of lovely height! With more work displayed around your eye line, it is much harder to walk past while trying to figure out why some Frog is there hiring out exotic birds! 😉 After a little bit of research, I settled on buying these gorgeous wooden crates to elevate my stand to the next level. They required the Frog & Pencil touch and with some sanding, priming, a lick of paint and a bit of love, they were perfect.

The third obstacle is me. I want to be more engaged with couples but I’m not a pushy person and I’ve always led by watching others body language. If they don’t look interested I don’t interrupt but if they do, then I’ll hop in. It’s extremely difficult for me to initiate the conversation and for it to be natural but I’m working on it. Thankfully that’s something Lewie is pretty damn brilliant at! This resulted in a new tactic, to be a more ‘persuasive’ and to have a few handy openers up my sleeve to experiment with.

Further to engaging with couples, I thought it would be beneficial to run a cracker of a competition. A chance to win an original Frog & Pencil watercolour couples portrait. Not only would this enable me with a talking point but additionally be a great way to capture some contacts for a mailing list.

Armed with new luscious props, a fresh approach and most importantly, fabulous designs, we were ready to tackle Oxnead!

Luckily we had the option to set up the day before which was certainly a life saver and helped keep those pesky nerves at bay. Especially so with a new set up, I was able to take my time to place each piece. The boxes were doing their job and height was achieved. My signs were clear and easy to read. The stationery looked fab taking centre stage (through this new set up phase I kept reminding myself that it’s all about how best to show off my work and make that shine) and the paper flowers I created were the cherry on the top. That afternoon I left as one happy frog, it was looking ace!

Sunday morning I was feeling great! With little left to do apart from the odd tweak, I could relax, have a coffee and get settled in my positive head space. I was determined to not be shy…and the whole day was AMAZING!

From 10am Oxnead Hall was buzzing. There was a great atmosphere and so many wonderful couples to talk to, in fact, it felt like I never stopped chatting. To me, something clicked, I found my fair swagger and enjoyed every moment. We received a lot of attention and my new bridesmaid cards were a hit with Brides. The competition was a winner too, I was delighted when I had my first sign up! The moment we had two the game was afoot, we had ourselves a legit competition! It finished with forty sign ups and I am over the moon.

I don’t know if the shift is down to a little more experience but I am positive that taking time to reflect and making some key changes gave us such a boost. It’s so important to look back and analyse and I’ll continue to do so with the whole of my business.

Oxnead was great for us and I even came home to some e-mails…that’s my first! I’m keeping everything crossed that we carry on moving in this wonderfully productive direction.

Norfolk Brides managed to pack Oxnead Hall to the rafters with amazing suppliers, including two of my favourites, Bigphatphotos & Buns of Fun – I’ve mentioned these guys in posts before, they’re awesomely talented & creative, so check them out! Here are a few new businesses that stood out for me on the day.

A SPECIAL CROAK OUT TO…

Lou Lou Loves Vintage Hire: Lou Lou Loves offers a unique wedding hire and styling service and I loved all of her items on the day. If you’re looking for rustic, vintage, boho, festival or retro goodies to adorn your wedding then contact Lou, she’s got loads of brilliant stuff and she’s lovely to boot!

Bottom Drawer Bridal: Brides to be, check out Bottom Drawer Bridal and prepare to swoon! I’ve been a big admirer of this business for a while and I was chuffed to finally meet Victoria. Her gowns are stunning (check out that floral number, LOVE it!) but what I like is that she offers something a little different too. Make an appointment and hop on over to her adorable shop to enjoy a beautiful bridal experience.

Little Horse Box: I’ve followed this company on social media as they transformed their Little Horse Box into a luxury mobile wine bar. It’s just gorgeous and perfect for weddings and special occasions…I especially would like to take part in their ‘pimp your prosecco’ offer! Liddy is super lovely and I have a feeling this is going to be popular! Give her a call to snag your date.

La Belle Flowers: These florals were just delightful and smelt amazing! I loved her little touches to detail, such as the blooms in the welly boot and the shotgun cartridge button-hole. If you’re looking for some gorgeous flowers, get in touch.

MS Provision: Mike creates beautiful storytelling films of your wedding day that are just wonderful. He’s also really friendly which makes you feel instantly at ease. If you’re looking to capture your day on film, give him a call.

La Belle Amour: This company offers a wedding styling and design service for couples and they also hire out props too. Kelly’s stand was beautiful. I loved the simplicity, natural and chic sophistication it offered. If this sounds like your big day, give her site a look.

Thanks for having us Norfolk Brides and I truly enjoyed chatting to all you lovely couples. Competition winner to be announced soon, so keep an eye out on my social media pages!

My final wedding fair of the year is coming up next weekend and it’s going to be a goodun’. Keep your eyes peeled for The Most Unusual Wedding Fair at Godwick Great Barn.

Until then you beauties!

Cx

Mr & Mrs Piggy Ready-to-Write Wedding Invitation

A Froggy Process

Hello there!

I hope you all had a wonderful bank holiday weekend and were able to grab a chance to enjoy the sunshine. I’m back at Frog & Pencil HQ after some time away and I’m feeling refreshed and ready to hop to it.

I’ve had this post stored in the depths of my brain for a while now and I finally have some current work to use to help illustrate my points and generally pretty the page up a bit. Occasionally I meet and speak with people who don’t quite realise how much time and effort goes into creating a new design and exactly what that entails. So, I’d like to share with you how I work, from initial idea through to final product; my Froggy process.

For the purpose of this post I’m going to use my new Mr & Mrs Piggy Design.

CONCEPT

Inspiration can strike at any point and I’m influenced by nature and the gorgeous colour combinations you can find all around us. I love hearing people’s stories and more often than not these turn on my creative lightbulb. If I’m working with a client, I listen to what they are envisaging, include personal touches and then sketch up some potential ideas for them to look through.

Lovely Kate contacted me via Facebook as she was looking for a wedding card for her brother-in-law and she desperately wanted something featuring pigs but couldn’t find one anywhere. I don’t usually create one-off cards however after talking with her for a while I started to picture what it could look like and I was getting quite excited about the prospect of it. I concluded that it would be a brilliant design for my next Ready-to-Write wedding invitation which I could then transform into a card for Kate (and others); a win win situation.

SKETCHING

Now, my sketches are really not the most beautiful drawings in the world but they do enable me to have what I like to call, a ‘brain dump’. I can splurge all my thoughts onto paper and tweak certain ideas before refining the good ones. It’s all about working up the right composition (including a garland with bespoke detailing), and some days are easier and quicker than others. It can either take me an hour or up to a day to get this right.

Thankfully with the pigs I already had quite a clear vision and it only required a few scribbles. With a final composition completed, I use my light box to reproduce this design onto good quality watercolour paper.

PAINTING WITH WATERCOLOUR

I love this bit…it is where I see my illustrations come to life! This is also usually the part where within a few brush strokes I decide I hate it! In almost every case I get this overwhelming feeling that it’s now utter rubbish. However, I have learnt to trust in my ability and believe that it will all come together.

When I begin to paint I already have in mind a rough sense of the colours I’ll be using for the main characters. Throughout my creative years and experimentation with style, I’ve had one constant, I’m a colourist. I love playing with different tones and making them pop.

Working with watercolour I find that you have to be patient and allow time for the paint to dry. I’m quite precise with my colours and I don’t want any unnecessary bleeds. So, with that in mind and depending on the level of detail within the design, painting my illustrations take at least six hours.

At this point, if I’m making something for a client, I will e-mail over a scanned image of the final piece so they can see how it’s progressing.

PHOTOSHOP

Ahh, my good friend Photoshop, how I have sworn at thee a million times. If we were a Facebook item our relationship status would read ‘it’s complicated’. I think it’s pretty amazing what you can do with this programme however my skills are limited but I manage fine and can navigate it with what I need to know…and youtube helps A LOT!

Additionally, I never ever want to lose the handmade touch in my work as that’s me, so I really only use Photoshop for a few things. Mainly, as a tool to tidy up my work once it’s scanned in. I always create a ‘clean’ file where I erase any pesky pixels and make sure the illustration edges are smooth; then the image can be transferred to any project with ease. Once I’ve created a Ready-to-Write wedding invitation for example, I can experiment with background colours, introduce text and brighten the illustration a smidge so that it’s print ready. This can be a bloomin’ lengthy process. To clean the image so it looks excellent digitally can take me around three hours…even more if there are lots of fiddly elements which makes me super cross-eyed. I’m sure there is a simpler option, drop me a line if you know one.

And let’s not forget my other pal InDesign, oh we do have fun! This is more of a publishing programme which is ideal for aligning and producing more text heavy design, such as the reverse of my Ready-to-Write wedding invitations. This can take me a while to work with, but I currently have a nice template in place where I can simply edit the typography; hurrah! As you can probably tell, I much prefer making the work over the digital delights.

This final design would then be sent over to my client to get their approval before it heads to my printer.

Clean file of Mr & Mrs Piggy Illustration

Clean digital file of Mr & Mrs Piggy illustration ready to be transformed into a Ready-to-Write Wedding Invitation.

PRINTING

Once I’ve had the nod from my lovely client, we are ready to print. I’ve been quite lucky and have found a local printer who’s reliable, quick and his prices are reasonable too…oh and of course the final result looks glorious! I always ask for a proof so that I can review the colours. If they’re a bit off, it’s back to my favourite friend Photoshop for a bit of tweaking. I will never send anything to a client or sell a product that I’m not 100% happy with, so this is a crucial part of the process. This too takes time. Thankfully we have a nice relationship and usually I can see a proof by the end of the day. After that, it’s around a 24 to 48 hour wait for the final prints depending on their work load.

PACKAGING & POSTAGE

With the invites hot off the press, it’s time to package and post. I like to include a handwritten thank you note and it’s finished off with a Frog & Pencil sticker before making a trip to the post office.

BUT IT DOESN’T END THERE…

Nope, the process continues on after a client has received their goodies. As a small business I need to keep up with my social media accounts and promote myself. Showing off recent work is key to drumming up new commissions. This includes taking good photographs of my illustrations and the final pieces in eye-catching and interesting compositions. We then revisit Photoshop for some more editing, cropping, resizing and brightening so they’re primed for the web. Be it for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, my Frog & Pencil Website or this blog, it’s all important work that takes up more of your time then you’d think.

And there you have it, my Froggy process. I regularly need to remind myself of this structure for when it comes to pricing up quotes as all of these fundamental parts need to be considered so that I don’t undersell myself. It’s tricky, but I love it and I’m getting there.

On a final note, if you’re interested in purchasing my new Mr & Mrs Piggy Ready-to-Write Wedding Invitations or Congratulations Wedding Card, get in touch and say hello, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Cx

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

Frog & Pencil outside Not On The High Street HQ after her Pitch!

Carpe Diem; My PitchUp2016 Experience.

Hello all.

Last Saturday the day finally arrived. With a tummy full of butterflies, my hubby and I were on an early train heading to London for PitchUp2016!

Throughout the previous two weeks, it felt like I lived and breathed this pitch.  I thoroughly researched, carefully chose my products to discuss and nailed down a good structure that would tell my story, show off my products and also touch upon what makes me unique and why I would appeal to a Not On The High Street (NOTHS) customer.

I was feeling pretty confident about my 10 minute pitch and my first run-through came in at 15 minutes…bugger! Even though I have a background in marketing, editing isn’t my strong point. Thank goodness for Lewie! He listened to my spiel and section by section helped me to trim the fat until we were running at just under 9 minutes; genius!

The day before, I was champing at the bit.  I’d successfully completed several rehearsals without glancing at my notes, found a pitch perfect dress and my bags were packed and good to go by early evening.  All I needed was a quality sleep. Hah, good luck Mrs! Sometimes, I hate my brain. I am prone to bouts of insomnia and it kicked in big time, I think I managed three hours and I was NOT a happy Frog!

Luckily, I’m a positive person, so I managed to shake off the rocky nights sleep and focus.  We made it to the train and settled in for the journey, however I couldn’t get rid of my sickly feeling.

We hopped into Richmond with an hour and a half to wait.  We found a nice quiet pub, bought two orange juices and lemonades and I nearly fell off my chair when a £10 note didn’t cover it…I’ve never made a drink last so long in my life. Nonetheless it gave me time to change, calm my nerves and go through it one last time.

At 1.45pm I topped up my lippy, popped on my heels and made my way to NOTHS House.

I was greeted by friendly receptionists and headed to the 3rd floor. The room was filled with experts and suppliers; the atmosphere was buzzing! Looking around, I felt super overdressed as most people were pretty casual. As I waited, I chatted to a lovely jewellery designer Ruby. It turns out we’d already spoken via my blog and twitter, what a sweet coincidence!

As my name was called, I took a deep breath and I was set to seize the moment.

On reflection, it was a positive experience although I’m not a partner…yet! A few minutes into my pitch I felt like I was over prepared, it seemed like my presentation was a bit unexpected. I didn’t even finish what I had planned to say or ask my questions. To sum it up, she loved my products. I showed her my Little Bespoke Book, Ready-to-Write, Portraits and my Alpaca collaboration pieces (still currently top-secret) to show them what a semi-bespoke collection could look like from Frog & Pencil.

Her feedback was great.  She really enjoyed my Little Bespoke Book, especially how personal it could be and hadn’t seen anything like it before. However, her concern, like mine, was the simple fact that it’s too Bespoke for their website to handle. She liked my use of colour, admired my illustrative designs and thought that I had a great eye for detail which was all a nice little confidence boost. She believed there is a gap in their market for Ready-to-Writes and would like to see me develop those further along with my semi-bespoke collections.

She liked my portraits and suggested I speak with the Home Team and proceeded to sign me up. Thankfully, I brought loads of examples of my work, including other portrait pieces. I chatted with the Home Team who liked my designs but they already have a partner who paints people in a similar style. They suggested I come up with new ideas for designs that include my personal elements but without the garland and then to e-mail those over. This is a tough one. I believe that the garlands I paint are essentially my signature.  I’ve spent years battling to find my style and now I have it, do I want to change it?  I don’t want to discount their helpful suggestion so It’s certainly a point I need to spend some serious time considering.

Overall it was an excellent experience and I’m happy I signed up. Not only to gain their advice but I discovered so much about my business in these last few weeks and that is invaluable.  It’s also always beneficial to push yourself and wander out of your comfort zone for a while. Alongside that, it’s exciting to know that they connected with my work and it’s something that could sell on their marketplace.

Be that as it may, I wish they had given a little more input into what those minutes would be like. All we had to work from was to sign up for a ten minute pitch, bring a maximum of five products to discuss and that they shouldn’t be too big.  It’s quite an open brief. I spent a lot of time working on this and I won’t lie, there were points where I stressed myself out so much I was quite emotional. It didn’t need to get that far. Essentially, it was a casual talk about what I do and I didn’t need to prepare as much as I had.

My advice to those who are going up to pitch is this. It’s a very relaxed environment and I would treat it like a chat. Know your products/business inside out and be prepared to maybe answer questions on why you’re unique and why you would appeal to a NOTHS customer. But I certainly wouldn’t have called it a ‘Pitch’, it obviously meant something different to me. Additionally, wear something that you’re comfortable in. Even though I felt pitch ready in my outfit, being so overdressed did make me feel a little self conscious…which is stupid right!? But it happens.

I truly appreciate the time and guidance. Like I said it’s an experience I’m pleased I went through and I picked up a lot which is always priceless.

I have to remember that I’m still a newbie and everything is a learning curve. My plan now is to work on my semi-bespoke ideas and create new Ready-to-Writes to present on my return. In the meantime, I have products made and waiting to sell, so I may set up an Etsy shop or apply to sell on Folksy; stick around and we’ll see where that leads.

Thank you to NOTHS for seeing me and if you’ve signed up for future events I wish you all the best of luck!

Until next time you lovely bunch,

Cx

Pitch Up 2016 Prep!

Hello all!

More exciting news from the Frog & Pencil camp! A little while ago I signed myself up for Not On The High Street’s (NOTHS) ‘Pitch Up 2016’. In a matter of weeks I will be travelling down to London and I have 10 minutes to pitch my Frog & Pencil stationery loveliness to discover if they’d like to partner up with me. Eeeeek, slightly pooping my pants!

Even though this is completely out of my comfort zone (that’s a good thing, right!?!) and I’m super nervous, I couldn’t turn the opportunity down. A few months back I was having a meeting with the awesome Norfolk Brides and we got chatting about F&P selling online which in turn led to NOTHS. We both didn’t quite know how you became one of their sellers but I had an inkling it was a curated marketplace and that you’d most likely have to apply online. No word of a lie, after that meeting I walked home and logged onto Twitter. The first tweet I spotted was NOTHS calling out for the next generation of suppliers and welcoming people to join ‘Pitch Up 2016’. Oh snap! It’s got to be fate! Moment later I seized the day and grabbed a spot.

Visions of Dragon’s Den keep flashing into my mind and I fear hearing the words “I’m out!” but having started preparing and researching for it this week I’m feeling a little calmer. It appears to be more like an informal chat, they will even listen to you if it’s only an idea at this stage, which I think is fantastic. I came across this little nugget during my digging and it has been brilliantly helpful. Not only the content, but the images they’ve included gives me a peace of mind that it’s going to be a more relaxed environment. At the end of the day, they want to hear about me, my story, how my business will fit in with them and their customers and what makes F&P special. I have to remind myself that the person who know Frog & Pencil best is of course moi. I believe in my work and I believe in me which I think is a bloomin’ good place to start.

I’m positive with how it’s going and next week I plan to nail down what I want to say about my chosen pieces of work. It would be incredible to be a partner with NOTHS as they support so many talented small creative businesses and it would be an amazing platform to sell Frog & Pencil goodies. Having watched some videos and read stories they also seem to have developed a great community of suppliers who are all like-minded and passionate…who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

So, I’m going to give it my best shot and enjoy the experience…and if I only come away with great advice, then I’ll be much richer for it.

I’ll keep you all posted and wish me luck in my prep!

Until next time you lovely lot,

Cx