Tea & Chat with PhotoFairytales

Wednesday November 30, 2016

Hello! Great to have you here, the kettle’s just boiled – what would you like to drink?

Ooh, tea please as you’re asking! On chilly days I drink gallons of the stuff, although I’m a nightmare for letting it sit on my desk to go cold! I’ve brought biscuits to dunk so we’re all set…

So, tell us a bit about yourself and your business

I’m Sarah and I’m a married mum running my business, PhotoFairytales, from our home in Norfolk. I’ve moved around quite a bit over the years, but Norfolk has been our home for the last 20 years now – it’s a beautiful part of the world, with some gorgeous countryside and miles of beaches. I think the area often gives me inspiration for new designs too. I set up PhotoFairytales way back in 2009 just as my daughter was starting full time school and I still feel just as passionate about it as I did on day one. I design and create personalised gifts and keepsakes for all occasions, and I always strive to offer something unusual and unique. I feel very strongly that excellent customer service is a major factor when selling online too, and I work really hard to offer my customers ‘bend over backwards’ type service.

What inspired you to start your creative business? How did it all begin?

Before becoming a mum I had worked in various industries – theatre marketing, publishing, copywriting and graphic design. After my daughter was born I was a stay at home mum, but I always knew that I wanted to return to work once she had started school. So, during the year or so before school began, I was constantly day dreaming and thinking about what I wanted to do. I wanted a job that could be flexible, fulfilling, but most of all I wanted something that meant I could use my creativity too. And slowly but surely, the concept of PhotoFairytales came about (baby number 2!).

How has your business changed and developed since it started?

In the early days, the business was built purely around my Fantasy Portraits. Heavily influenced by having a little girl who loved all things girly, pink, and princess themed, it was very easy to embrace that and incorporate it into the business. My daughter Amy has often given me inspiration for new ideas – she has a super critical eye, and always speaks her mind! The Portraits are still a major part of the business, but it has now grown considerably to include many other items too and means that I’m now offering a much wider choice of items for all ages and occasions. When the business first started I worked from our dining table on an ancient laptop (that would regularly overheat!) – in fact, when I think back to those days I can’t imagine how I managed! Every night I would have to clear away the table and it quite quickly became evident that I needed to be a lot more organised if I wanted to be truly productive (I even had to run upstairs every time I wanted to print something!). It couldn’t go on, so we reorganised the house and I took over the tiny spare room and set up a proper home office for myself.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs and product range?

Inspiration comes from so many different places, it could be simply a glimpse of a certain colour, the shape of a line, the turn of a new typeface, a phrase I hear someone use (I heard the phrase ‘posh totty’ this week, and that keeps spinning around my head – I have a feeling I’ll be drawing some inspiration for something new from that!)… I have a huge (and growing daily) folder on my desk where I jot down ideas and rough scribbles and doodles for future ideas. My mind is constantly searching for the next, new design – I’m a serial imaginer (is that a word? You know what I mean!), and I find it impossible to switch off that creative side of my nature. We live in a small market town, and right on the doorstep we have the wild Norfolk countryside, historical city of Norwich, and beautiful seaside and beaches – and I know that these are factors that inspire me too.

What are you working on at the moment? Anything new coming up to your on-line shop?

have lots of new projects simmering away – brand new prints, some new Fantasy Portraits, additions to my existing ranges... I’m also working on some ideas for a new range of mug designs.

So, where does all this takes place? What’s your workspace like?

We moved home just over a year ago, and I’m still working from home but my new office is much larger and better organised with a lovely 8’ long desk – and this spring it’s going to have a make over (when I can make up my mind about colours)! The walls are very plain, just boring old magnolia paint and I’m itching to put my stamp on it. The desk is dominated by the huge printer (known affectionately as ‘The Lump’), and I have a massive computer monitor on the wall which really helps me to work closely on projects. I try very hard to keep PhotoFairytales contained in the office and not allow it to creep into the house. Much as I love my work, I think its important to be able to shut the door at the end of the day or at the weekend, and not let it intrude into family life.

What do you like most about running your own handmade business?

Oh that’s easy – the fact that the business is mine and I have total freedom to run it in the way I want to. I can decide its future, I have total autonomy on new ideas, I get to make the call. But on a day to day level, it’s the fact that it completely fulfils my creative side – plus I really enjoy the interaction with my customers. I’m quite strict about the hours I work – I always work during the day to set office-type hours, and although I work from home I make sure I’m not distracted and I’m lucky that I find it easy to stay focussed. I can’t imagine doing anything else now, and it’s joyous to sit down at my desk in the morning and feel motivated every day.

What are your hopes, plans or ambitions for the future?

For those people that haven’t yet discovered PhotoFairytales to find me and say, “ooh look at that, I like that a lot – X will love it!” And then afterwards for them to say, “great service, great product, I’ll be back!”. Because, quite frankly, I couldn’t ask for anything more!

Thank you so much for talking to us, Sarah!

*You can visit PhotoFairytales shop on WowThankYou here*