Meet the Maker: Sarah and Maude letterpress business

Meet the Maker: Sarah and Maude

One of my favourite brands that I work with is Sarah and Maude. Sarah was the first designer to approach me directly about working together and I'm so glad that she did! There's something so special about letterpress and how each and every product is a little bit different. 

You'll have spied Sarah's wonderful cards, coasters and tote bags over the Christmas period but I'm delighted that we're now stocking designs that are suitable all year round. With cards, gifts tags and more, make sure you take a peek at the collection.

I thought it was about time that Sarah and I had a catch up, so pop the kettle on and put your feet up... Make it to the end and you might even find a discount code to treat yourself to some of Sarah's goodies!

Sarah and Maude You're Purrfect Cat Card

Can you tell us the story behind Sarah and Maude?

It’s been a bit of a journey to get to this point! Back in 2012, after almost a decade of working in design agencies (and an unexpected job loss) I made the decision to start my own business, combining my love of design with my passion for print. 

In the early days I ran my business from my dining table, working on design projects that covered everything from logos to websites, and printing a small range of gocco screen-printed paper goods. But that changed in 2014 when I moved back to the UK after five years in Canada, created a small (but perfectly formed) studio space in our little house, and Maude arrived. 

So who is Maude? She's my antique print press! She may be old (105 years and counting) but she's an absolute workhorse when it comes to printing my designs, so it seemed only fair to share the love when renaming the studio shortly after her arrival! Together we print bright and colourful letterpress goodies, from greeting cards and art prints, to business cards and wedding stationery. 

Sarah and Maude Letterpress Studio in Birmingham
How do you find working with Maude?

Although Maude is an antique printing press she’s a delight to work with, and she’s surprisingly low maintenance, only needing a bit of oil and machine grease every now and then to keep her running smoothly. She’s an antique press so every print session can throw up different mechanical or technical issues, but that’s all part of the fun of printing!

Letterpress itself is a centuries old printing technique so it is a time-consuming process. Paper is fed into the press by hand, one sheet at at a time, with each colour mixed by hand and printed one at a time. I love the whole process and it’s so satisfying to see a finished print come off the press when just a few days or weeks ago it was a scribble in my sketchbook. And the lovely thing about letterpress is that no two prints are ever exactly the same, with each having subtle differences that make it a truly one-of-a-kind piece.

Sarah and Maude Letterpress Victorian Press

Do you have a favourite design?

I think that changes every time I print something new! But at the moment I actually have two favourites, the You’re Purrfect and Have a Beary Happy Birthday cards. Super cute animals with little pops of colour, they’re so much fun to print!

Sarah and Maude Letterpress Have a Beary Happy Birthday Card

Where do you find your inspiration?

I generally find inspiration in everyday life, so it could be a word, a phrase, a pretty colour palette, absolutely anything. But wherever the inspiration comes from, I always aim to turn it into something bright, colourful, and fun.

How do you make sure that your studio is an inspiring place to work?

My studio is actually split into two spaces in our home: a lovely light south-facing room upstairs where I have a desk and do all of my designing, and a slightly chillier room downstairs where I do my printing. They’re very different spaces but I try to keep them inspiring by keeping things tidy and organised, with everything I need close at hand. The decor is quite minimal but I do love a pop of colour, lots of books, and a few pretty things here and there. Oh and there’s always music playing (I’m a BBC 6 Music fan). And I can’t forget my lovely dog, Willow, she’s great company and a fantastic studio buddy.

Sarah and Maude Letterpress Design Birmingham
How have you found running your own creative business?

I love that every day is different. In an average week I can be designing a logo for a small business owner one day, drawing bears wearing party hats for a greeting card the next day, and printing wedding invites the day after that. And not forgetting that on the hottest summer days I can be printing Christmas cards, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that!

What’s been the most challenging thing about it?

I think it’s probably been the number of hats that I have to wear running a small business on my own – on any given day I can be designer, printer, photographer, PR, shopkeeper, bookkeeper, accountant, admin, the list goes on. It really is a challenge, and being totally honest I’m still trying to find the balance after five years!

Sarah and Maude Letterpress Printing Ink
Do you have any favourite creative businesses?

There are so many! Naturally I have a huge soft spot for lovely stationery, so some of my favourites are super talented design and print studios who really inspired me when I was getting started – Parrott Design Studio and The Paper Cub who are both in the USA, and The Hunter Press and Prickle Press who are based here in the UK.

If you had one top tip for someone kick-starting their own creative business, what would it be?

Never ever compare your work or business to others! In the early days I couldn’t help but compare my work and my business to others I admired and they always seemed more organised and more successful, and instead of inspiring me it made me feel terrible. The solution? Don’t do it. Be confident and believe in yourself, and know that you are exactly where you’re meant to be at this precise moment.

So, what’s next for Sarah and Maude?

Lots of designing and printing! At the moment I’m working on my Spring/Summer 2017 collection so there’ll be lots of fun new designs launching over the coming months. Also, one of my goals has been to run little print workshops, so I’m hoping 2017 is the year that I’m able to start doing that. Fingers crossed!

Sarah and Maude Letterpress Design Studio Birmingham

Before you go, your own lovely products aside, what’s your favourite product on The Treasured?

I’m terrible at making decisions, and there’s so much choice… but I do love the Black and White Crystals Cushion with Neon Pink Piping by Sparrow and Wolf. A lovely geometric design with a pop of neon, plus it’d be perfect for relaxing on the sofa with a cuppa after a long day of printing!

Treat yourself to something from Sarah and Maude's collection now.