Jo Clarke from Toasted Crumpet made her PG Live debut this year and had a fantastic show; taking in a whopping six of the coveted special tickets: two Sunshine Retas Tickets, two Silver Retas Tickets and two Greats Tickets (pictured above). PGBuzz caught up with the talented designer.
Tell us a little about your art and how you got started?
All of our designs are inspired by the things that I do with our two young boys. We spend a lot of time exploring parks and woodlands in and around Surrey, so the majority of the designs feature the best of British nature. My love of the British Countryside stems from a rural upbringing on my parents farm in the Midlands and it’s great that I now have a chance to enjoy it again with the boys.
Before I launched Toasted Crumpet, I spent 12 years working as a Chartered accountant in financial services for one of the big accountancy firms in London. I absolutely loved working in the City; however running my own business was something that always appealed. After painting a few pictures for friends whilst on maternity leave, I decided that it was the perfect time to bite the bullet and start my own business.
When did you realise you could commercialise your talents? What is unique about your product?
I’m not sure if there was ever a light bulb moment, but having previously worked in a fast paced high-pressure career, this gave me the confidence to believe that with enough hard work I could start my own business and make money from a skill that I loved doing.
In terms of how unique our products are, we understand the strength of animal imagery across the sector and our contemporary designs, with a clean and crisp approach to watercolour, produce an eye-catching look that differentiates us from our peers.
How and when did you first enter the commercial world?
During the first year we began our venture with fine art prints and greetings cards selling direct to retail via our website and by attending local shows and markets. After receiving lots of amazing feedback we quickly expanded into other homewares.
Our leap into trade began within our first year after gaining an account with the National Trust. Within 18 months after starting the business, we officially launched to trade at Spring Fair in 2016.
This was your first time at PG Live, how did the show go?
We had a fantastic debut show at PG Live meeting lots of lovely retailers, agents and exhibitors. The amount of support we received from the show organisers and other exhibitors (both during and in months leading up to the show) was second to none and I could not recommend the show highly enough for anyone publishing in the industry, especially those starting up. It is a lovely size (not too big!) which means retailers can walk around and see everyone. And we really noticed how much all of the retailers enjoyed visiting the show too. The event has opened up so many new doors for us and we are already looking forward to returning next year!
We launched three new ranges: Eucalyptus & Feathers, Country Gent and Picture perfect as well as an extension to our Beauty and the Bees collection. Our new English-made giftwrap and boxed notecards also went down really well at the show.