We’ve been working with Sophie Kerr, designer and founder of homeware brand Perky, for almost six months and her fun, colourful and beautifully drawn designs are proving extremely popular with our retailers and our social media audiences.
We wanted to find out a little bit more about Sophie and her business so we caught up with her and quizzed her about how Perky came to be and how she develops her ideas into gorgeous products.
The Great British Exchange: The start of your business seems to have happened organically, since starting the business in 2015 how has the business developed? And have there been any surprises along the way?
Sophie: Well initially the plan was to just sell prints of cartoons I drew in my spare time but when my last graphic design contract ended I had a lot of time to spend on the company and the range just grew and now the main focus of the business is the fine bone china range. The biggest surprise was probably being featured in Red Magazine!
The Great British Exchange: All of your products are manufactured in the UK. How was the process of finding manufacturers to work with and what advice if any, can you share with designers looking to manufacture in the UK?
Sophie: The best advice I can give is always insist on samples. If someone is unwilling to offer a sample service be very wary! Also it’s always best to go to an area with a historic link to the industry you’re looking to enter (e.g. all Perky’s fine bone china is manufactured in Stoke-On-Trent), it might be more expensive but the expertise, advice and contacts are always worth it.
The Great British Exchange: The Charlotte Daisy Print is the latest print in your current collection. Are there any new designs in the pipeline or new lines being added that we can look forward to?
Sophie: I’m always working on new drawings, there are two new design ideas for birds but we’re still negotiating so we don’t know where they will be available or when yet! However I’ll be starting to work on the new collection for next year and a few Christmas items within the next month and I can never resist showing a sneak preview!
The Great British Exchange: When designing new prints where do you look for inspiration and how do you decide which designs to take forward and develop into products? Can you talk us through your design process?
Sophie: In all honesty the design process is very improvised! So currently the main collection is called ‘Classy Birds’, I always draw and colour the animal completely and then the little quirks (jewellery, beards, neon signs etc.) come afterwards. The first drawing I did for Perky was the flamingo and I just thought he looked so haughty it was like looking at Queen Victoria, hence the crown and earrings and then the theme just developed! In terms of putting the designs on to the products I manufacture I’m really lucky as I’ve managed to find manufacturers that work very digitally so I can literally prepare everything to the point that my manufacturers just have to press print and I know what I’ll get!
The Great British Exchange: What do you think British made products can offer retailers that other products made abroad can’t?
Sophie: I would say the best thing we can offer is flexibility and quality. When we get feedback from any of our retailers we can act on it within a matter of weeks rather than months and we know the manufacturers we work with are the best in the business and located in areas where they have practised their craft for generations.
The Great British Exchange: How would you describe working with The Great British Exchange?
Sophie: Working with the Great British Exchange has been really hassle free and a positive experience. The team are really lovely and supportive, always give me a call with any news and it’s nice to know there’s someone supporting for us in the North!
The Great British Exchange: Which social media accounts do you enjoy keeping up with and are there any blogs or press titles that you would recommend as sources of inspiration or support for businesses like yours?
I follow Liberty a lot because they’re bird lovers too! I love Little Big Bell’s Instagram feed, she always has the prettiest coloured photos. I also follow a lot of jewellery pages to give me ideas for jewels. I like to follow other small businesses too Posh Girl Prints makes the cutest stationery, Small Wild Shop is definitely worth looking up and Eef Lillemor makes adorable interior and children’s products- just a shame they aren’t British!
The Great British Exchange: Can you describe your workspace in one sentence?
Sophie: My dining table!
We can’t wait to see what Sophie will be bringing us for Christmas and her next collection will no doubt go down a storm so make sure, if you’re a retailer, you keep checking back with us to see what we have to offer you. You can keep up to date with our news on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
We’re always looking for great stories on British made products, retailers and anything generally connected to making/selling fantastic British products. If you have something you’d like to share then don’t hesitate to get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org