This week we caught up with Martha & Hepsie. The sisters run their homeware business from their respective home towns which means a long distance working relationship between Sheffield and Devon. We've been speaking to the pair about how they make their business work whilst living so far apart and also what they're looking forward to as they'll be exhibiting at Pulse next month.
The Great British Exchange: With each of you living at opposite ends of the country how do you manage the long distance working relationship? Do you notice any significant differences in regards to each other’s locations in regards to opportunities for your business and resources?
Martha and Hepsie: The internet is a wonderful thing! Other than not physically being in the same room we share all our business documents online, we both have samples and we phone each other a lot! We’ve found that Sheffield has a lot more opportunities for direct customer interaction through pop up shops and markets, but we found our warehouse in Devon, so both locations have great resources.
The Great British Exchange: You are already stocked in a number of independent retailers. What do you think are the biggest challenges for businesses making and producing in the UK in regards to wholesale relationships? Are there any independent retailers who you would really like to work with/collaborate with?
Martha and Hepsie: Establishing yourself in the market place is key, there are maverick retailers who actively seek new talent and these are great to help build your reputation within the trade, but it does take time for retailers to trust your brand and make the investment in you. Having all our products made in the UK is great for us in regards to lead times, quality and of course being able to build relationships with our manufacturers with the ease of setting up meetings.
We’d love to see our designs in iconic shops such as The Conran Store and Liberty. Thinking outside the box we’d also like to team up with a boutique hotel or a well-known chef to design interiors expanding the exposure of Martha and Hepsie outside the retail environment so customers can see our products in action!
The Great British Exchange: You’re going to be exhibiting at Pulse next month. What are you looking forward to at the show and how do you go about preparing for trade exhibitions?
Martha and Hepsie: Seeing each other, retailers and fellow designers as well as launching new designs and products! We start working on our new collection for the following year as soon as we’ve exhibited at Pulse by gathering all the feedback and listing ideas, everything gets whittled down and focussed designing happens in January/February to get samples and photography ready for May.
The Great British Exchange: Following Pulse you’re taking space with us at Harrogate Home and Gift where you will be part of The Great British Exchange’s stand. What encouraged you to take the space with us and how would you describe working with The Great British Exchange?
Martha and Hepsie: As with many designers ‘Sales’ isn’t our strong point , we identified that we needed to get help with this and The Great British Exchange is perfect for us. Working with The Great British Exchange means that we can focus on what we can do well , safe in the knowledge that ‘Martha and Hepsie’ is being represented by a company that champions British made, who has a great USP and experience when knocking on retailers doors.
Trade Shows are vital to designers like us however being the size we are, we simply don’t have the time or resources to attend more than one, so to be represented by The Great British Exchange at Harrogate is exactly what we need. It means ‘Martha and Hepsie’ gets more exposure without distracting us from the day to day running of the business.
The Great British Exchange: Your work features a variety of mother-nature’s creatures and looking over your work new characters are always being added to the collection. What tends to be the inspiration behind your characters and which designs prove most popular?
Martha and Hepsie: Our brand strapline is – designs inspired by life, who we are and a little bit of laughter…! We’re both quite confident, a little cheeky and love to laugh! So our designs are bold in pattern and colour and have characterful narratives to go with them, so customers can understand our creative thinking!
Our Mischievous Magpie has always done well but recently our Puffin Billy and Penguin Party designs have been vying for the most popular spot!
The Great British Exchange: Have you any new designs or projects coming up that you can share with us?
Martha and Hepsie: We’re launching 3 new designs at Pulse – Tally the Tabby Cat, Margo the Flamingo and Hettie the Hedgehog. We’re also launching our ‘Positive Vibes Only’ print collection to trade.
What do you like to read?... Are there any social media accounts, print titles or online media that you would recommend or simply enjoy catching up with?
Martha: My husband and I bought our house 3 years ago as a complete ‘doer upper’. It’s an ongoing project and there are always DIY tasks on the to do list. I always seem to be drawn to lovely interior design blogs such as Decor8 and Design Sponge for inspiration . A Beautiful Mess blog is also a favourite creative feast for the eyes.
We'll be visiting Martha and Hepsie at Pulse in a few weeks time and we're really excited to meet with other British producers there. If you're visiting, whether exhibiting, buying or even just doing some research and you'd like to know more about what we do, don't hesitate to get in touch.
As always you can keep up with our news on our social media pages and be sure to look out on email for our new Lookbook and Newsletter.