About Me and Design Rocks!

My photo
Hello and welcome. Here's a bit about me: I've spent my childhood and a lot of my life traveling. Places, colour and pattern are my biggest inspiration. I've surfed & lived in a tent in Cornwall. Sketched my way round Morocco. Designed from an antique textile archive in Manhattan (dream job!). Styled and written for an interiors magazine on the sleepy island of Malta. Now I live in Manchester, UK, where I run Design Rocks greetings cards. Whilst in Manhattan I amassed a large collection of vintage textiles. These were used as inspiration for my first card range, Vintage Rocks! We sell wholesale so if you'd like a brochure visit the website or get in touch. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Merry Christmas and Countdown to Top Drawer

Phew! It's been a long old slog getting everything ready for Top Drawer Spring but I'm on the home run and looking forward to the show. My new cards and ranges are ready, more importantly, I'm ready! After too much turkey and xmas movies I'm ready to kick start the biz in the New Year and meet lots of lovely new retailers I can lavish my attention on.

New plans for next year will include a new website, more new products and ranges and lots more, I'm really excited about my business plans. And for those of you who don't know yet, baby number 3 will be coming along in June. It will certainly be an eventful and busy year but my legendry energy and enthusiasm should see me through!

I'd like to wish all my wonderful customers a very happy Christmas and a fun filled New Year. Lets get this show on the road!

Monday, 16 November 2009


Here's a new design from my latest collection. I love the way he looks like he's just popping in to shot! It's very exciting as I have a total of 36 new designs to add to my existing range. So a total collection of 54 designs, all ready for Top Drawer in Jan. YAY!

I'll have childrens birthday numbers up to 8, lots of new occasions and a range of 12 messageless cards, (i think we call them notecards in the trade?). The notecards will be 100% eco, recycled and totally biodegradable, the inks will be vegetable based. I say start as you mean to go on and make your business as green as you can.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Autumn is upon us...

Now I remember why I painted my garden gate hot pink all those years ago! Every October I have an autumn treat with these beautiful leaves.

I've just invested in a giant and very gorgeous red Le Creuset casserole pot so i can cook up some autumn flavours. Just right for hot casseroles to warm your cockles on dark autumn evenings. The added bonus is the house is full of cosy cooking smells whilst I work. If any of you have some good slow cooking recipes - let me have them, I can't wait to get cooking!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Craft Cafe a roaring success!

Yay and triple yay! I sold a ton of cards at the craft cafe, held at the Northern Tennis Club in West Didsbury. the morning was quiet but then it got really busy and my stationery was flying out.

I know I say it every time but it's such a confidence boost when I get such incredible feedback from customers and seeing their first reaction when they look. It makes me feel on top of the world to know that I can create products that make people happy and want to buy!!!!
And just the boost i need before Top Drawer.

I also road tested some new designs (will reveal all soon) and they also went down a storm. A little range of autumnal mini cards, I'll take some pics and get them on the blog as soon as I get a min.

Here are some little freebie gift tags for you to down load and print on to card. They look lovely with hot pink or orange ribbon.


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

I'm in love with...

...these cute little boats and lanterns by Jurianne Matter. Her paperwork is available on notonthehighstreet.com. What's not to love, the colours, pattern, styling and vintage maps to boot!

This weekend, right after the crafters meet up at the design centre cafe, I'm going apple picking! The idea is that volunteers (me) pick excess fruit from garden trees and take them to people who need them such as refuges and hostels. I absolutely LOVE helping people so this is a win win situation, plus I get to spend an afternoon climbing trees - yay!

Here's something appley to celebrate:
Apple broaches by Kat Boon Design - very autumnal!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Top Drawer Eye Candy

I won't bore you with the details of my tedious journey, when I eventually got to Olympia it was well worth it. I was pleased that all the products there were fantastic - high end, quality, design led stuff.

At first I felt a bit daunted at the competition, I loved cards by Nella, the square card co, here are some pics, haven't got time to link them all yet - just comment if you want to know more.

My absolute fave of the show was a danish company called house doctor. I could fill my entire house with their catalogue! Here are a few pics but you can download the catalogue online.

One thing'f for sure I need to pull my design socks up and get cracking! No more blogging distraction for today - bye x

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Didsbury Art Festival...

Quick bit of news: the Didsbury Art Festival is running from the 26th of September to the 3rd of October. There's loads of great stuff going on. Check out the website for the full programme.

I have a stall at the Festival Craft Cafe at the Northern Lawn Tennis Club, on SUN 27th 10am - 4pm.

There's a £1 entrance fee, there's cakes & a bbq on the lawn, live classical music and quality crafts (including my own goodies!). It all sounds lovely so get there if you can.

Friday, 11 September 2009

off to London Town...

This Sunday will be my recce for TOP DRAWER! It's the autumn show on at the mo. I need to get a feel for my competitors, the set up, market, etc before I exhibit myself in Jan.

I love day trips to London, apart from getting lost, sweaty & slightly claustrophobic on the tube and so on. When I was a wee nipper of a designer, many moons ago, I remember being reduced to tears of exasperation trying to find some random location in central Londres. I sat on my porfolio and heartily cried somewhere in Hackney.

Now I'm a true city girl, it's a total treat for my senses and always gives me a design buzz.

Will have a market/trend report for you on Monday (written on the train with a long coffee and lots of pics, I'll also be sketching and scribbling!)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Bike of my dreams..

My posts are like buses, nothing for a week then 3 at once.

I just had to add this bike, I keep meeting it by chance. It keeps popping up in various different places to say hello. It always makes me smile, I LURVE the winged mudguards ad the happy grass green and cream paintwork.

Today I was making the most of the sunshine by cycling to the Barbikan for a fat piece of cheese cake (calorie neutral). I just locked up my bike when along it came! I met it's owner and she was lovely too. She has a shop in the Manchester Craft Centre selling perspex jewelry and furniture, studio 3 I think.

It's so nice I might have to honor it's vintage lines by turning it into a li'l ol' design!

I know it's barely September...

...but us card designers do our Xmas selling as early as June! It's hard to think about Christmas designs when you're sunning yourself with a long cocktail.

I sold my Xmas cards as singles last year, I thought I'd offer them as a pack this year - here's the new packaging.

The packs and singles will be on sale in my shops from this evening if you want to have a little shop. I'll also be doing mini stationary sets which will make nice stocking fillers or mini gifts for friends. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

I heart cassettes...

Remember the clunk and whir of stopping and fast forwarding cassettes? I'm showing my age when I say I used to listen to Bananarama (who are apparently releasing another album!) and write down the garbled lyrics so I could learn them. My sister even learnt the dance routines!

I'd forgotten about the variety of colours and hand written scribble. And you always knew your boyfriend loved you if he made you a mix tape - my husband used to!

Check out these beauties...hmmm, I feel a design coming on....

Monday, 31 August 2009

Back to school - YAY!

I've got that back to school feeling - yay! After getting my head around the end of summer, I can't wait to get stuck into designing ranges, business, selling & growth for my little business. My new mantra: Create, enjoy, have fun & sell!

I have some new stationery (any excuse) my pens and pencils, a tidy(ish) desk and my new shoes - I'm ready to roll and all excited about preparing for Top Drawer London in January.

My exercise books sell really well but I just found this french exercise book complete with exercises inside from Etsy shop Petit Vintage. She has gorgeous Gallic goodies so have a nose if you get chance.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

I feel a little autumn shop coming on...

Rather than grumbling about my canceled camping trip this weekend (rain stopped play), I decided to enjoy the autumnal weather by going for a country walk and a big pub lunch. It's blinking freezing!!! But the upside is, I don't have to wait for the first leaf to fall before I hit the shops.

I'm already sporting a cute pair of grey slouchy ankle boots instead of my standard issue gladiators. I've planned a few autumn outfits and some disco eyelashes to help me grieve over the loss of summer.

I love the changing of the seasons - I get a massive design hit from all the new patterns and textures in both the shops and great outdoors. I've been designing my new collection so I'm like a sponge at the moment. I'm thinking about checks, autumn colours, berries, tweed, preppy styles and I love this red satchel. I organised a jumble sale a couple of weekends ago and amongst my vintage bargains (first picks) I got an old leather satchel - it's so cool!

I brought a pair of leopard print tights this week and they now feature on one of my new card designs! Well, that's my excuse for buying them - hmmmm, I wonder if that makes them tax deductible??

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The height of bloggy laziness...

I'd love to say I've been busy on a Mauritian Beach guzzling cocktails, but alas no...I've been working my little butsky off the last 2 weeks on things that are too tedious to talk about. So apologies for my absence this week.

Down to the nice stuff - here's my Little Vintage Dresser of Joy - after all those plans I had of painting and papering it, I put it in place and it was just perfect as it was, and too good to paint.

So embracing full granny chic I adorned it with all my little nik-naks (ornaments not crisps) and I just love it! It's so nice to see all my Other- half's childhood books on display. I wanted to show you the gorgeous illustrations.

Storage should be good on the eye and not always about capacity and a place to shove stuff.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Little Vintage Dresser of Joy..

I picked this little beauty up off ebay today! I've been having a massive sort out, and needed a nice storage/display cabinet for the boudoir. I had a moment of madness and just bought it - it was one of those gut reaction things.

Just think...you pay £100 for a solid wood vintage darling like this but if you bought new you'd have a super flimsy, rattly bit of rubbish. It's a win win - quality craftsmanship, environmentally sound and something I'll still have when I'm 90 as it won't date!

It looks a little Ye Olde Inn at the mo but I have big plans for it. I'm going to paint it a nice grungy neutral then wallpaper the back of the display shelves in a fab wall paper, or I'll paint a nice pattern or illustration to work with the displayed items. I love natural shades with patterns and colours that pop. A bit like my cards I guess. I'll show you the after when it's done.

Friday, 24 July 2009

A little gift to you all...

Hmm, I've had such a nice day I'm feeling in a generous mood! Here's a little book label for you to print and keep, if you print them 8 up they'll fit snugly on a sheet of A4. Either print them on to a sticky label sheet or just plain paper and stick them on with good old pritt stick.

Now you can get busy with a cute book labeling project and pretend you're back at school.

Enjoy, but remember people: this is for personal use only....and have a good weekend. Yay!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Happy Harrogate!

My God, people in the greetings card industry are SO lovely. I went to check out Harrogate Home and Gift to get an idea of trade fair set ups and a fresh feel for the market, before I take the plunge in Jan at Top Drawer. I chatted to a few of my competitors and I couldn't believe how friendly they were.

My two best show pals were: Iain from Hello! Lucky, here's their stuff. I've always loved the Letterpress stylie and these guys are definately one of the best so there was much scribbling and chin stroking whilst talking to my mini mentor Iain.

My other mini mentor/verbal sponsor is the lovely Alison from Aliroo. Not only is she always so generous with her time and knowledge, she does all this with a 10 week old baby in tow!

I think what I like the most is that these great people have the same outlook as me. I love helping people and sharing what I've learnt, I'm not guarded or defensive (or naive!). Supporting people on the way up is a two way street.

I believe there's a market out there big enough to support all these diverse companies so the best thing we can do is to support each other to make British design the strongest in the global marketplace. And I believe it is. Right. I'll get down off my soap box now.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

China Town colour blast!

We went for the legendary Thai buffet in Pacific (go starving - there's a lot to fit in). After wards I had a mooch over to the mental craft shop in China town, it certainly blows out the cobwebs with the bright colours and mega kitsch merchandise! These are my colour inspiration pics from the Chinese Craft market.

I had to buy a lantern for the garden. I bought tons one year and hung them along the washing line for a bbq, only trouble was it was windy so I popped in to the kitchen to get some bbq fodder, when I returned the whole lot was on fire! A bit of a fire hazard with candles inside but they do look pretty.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


I'm putting on my heels and I'm off for a summery drink and an Indi film at the cornerhouse. I can get my fix of hustle and bustle down Oxford street.

Yay for a bit of fun!

On days like these...

...when the kids are driving me mad, the house is a tip etc etc, I dream of packing a suitcase and traveling back in time to my old job in The Big Apple. Sigh, I walked past this button every day. I used to get up pootle to work walking alongside huge skyscrapers, grab a cup of joe en route and take in the blue skies , abusive New Yorkers, and lovely hustle and bustle - it really made me feel ALIVE!

Weekends I used to spend rollerblading around Central Park, checking out the weekly roller disco. I'd look a bit of a sad div doing that round Old Trafford! but I think I need to inject a bit of glamour back in my life, it's all got a bit kitchen sink drama.

I can't afford a trip to NYC so I'll have to have a think and come up with some glamorous ideas. Help me have a think about cheap/free glamour??

I'm thinking, a gallery, some shopping, a night out, haircut, new make up?? HELP

One day, my ambition is for my business to be successful enough to be able to do the stationary show at Surtex, NY. Then I have a legitimate excuse to go! Watch this space (although you'll have a long wait!)

Answers on a postcard please.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Studio Blitz!

It's time.... to clear The Room Of Doom as it's become known. I'm taking a break from a massive studio blitz. I can't stop sneezing from all the dust - I hope nobody knocks on the door, I look like I've got swine flu. This isn't actually my studio but I like looking at it as it makes me feel much better to know that there are people with worse work spaces than mine out there.

Isn't this cute? I found it at the bottom of my samples box (one of many!) It's a 60's floral. Maybe it's the sun but I'm really into acid yellows as an accent colour with muted shades of lilac or bone at the moment.

Annoying interruptions of my Studio Blitz:

1. Jehovah's witnesses (sorry but it's really annoying) Thanks for sharing the word but no thanks. Plus I've sussed you now - I can spot the long black silhouette and briefcase through the glass door

2. Sales calls. After spending 10 rings searching through my crap for the phone only to find it's a chirpy recorded message from 'Susan' telling me I need more credit cards. I don't.

3. Hunger. All that sorting and chucking means I have to keep stopping to refuel.

4.Calls from lovely family members who have no idea of the massive task I've just taken on and that I could die under a landslide of my own rubbish if I stop to chat, however tempting.

5. Finally a nice distraction: Blogging. We'll a girl's got to take a rest and survey her explosion in a paper factory of a studio!

Oh Wow! I just looked back at my studio and it's no longer The Room Of Doom! Yay, I'm nearly there and won't it be lovely to know where everything is??? Is every creative person messy or is it just lack of time/space etc? Let me know!