Interview with stationery designer Michelle Evans

Read how a love of handwritten correspondence inspired stationery designer Michelle Evans to launch her home-based business Roxwell Press.

What’s your career background?

Following a career as a scenic painter, and later as a graphic designer, in 2014 I set up a stationery company called Roxwell Press.

One of the main drivers to start the company was a desire to help preserve the art of the handwritten correspondence. I wanted to create a collection of greeting cards that would inspire friends and loved ones to connect with one another.

I also love weddings, and recently introduced a new wedding stationery range which will be developed over the coming year.

What inspired you to start your business?

I love painting, and wanted to have a business centred around it. I also enjoy working with other people, and know that while happy in my own company, working with other creatives and that sense of community it brings is also really important.

Starting a business was an idea that evolved from these things. I’d like to build a company that feels like a creative community.

How did you go from idea to launch?

The first business step involved lots of research into stationery companies and products available on the market, then reducing my hours at work, from full time to part time.

In this extra time at home I tried out my own stationery designs and did small design projects for friends such as branding or invitations. I was lucky enough to be in a position to leave my job in 2014, and focus on the business, then launched the company online in November that year.

What challenges have you faced running a business from home?

Running a business from home is a great way to avoid the costly overheads of studio space, but it can be a challenge to finding that balance between work and home life.

I need space to create, store tools and products but also wanted our home to feel relaxing and uncluttered. So I created a definition between home and work life in a few ways.

Firstly, by defining my work space, somewhere that doesn’t need tidying away, so I could really make it my own. I have a small painting studio which has a huge pin board full of inspirations: fonts, wallpaper swatches, people. Looking at this daily helps to spark creative thought and acts as a trigger that I’m now at work.

I also work on a mac in the corner of our spare room, and have created a little nook with inspiring books, pictures and objects that help put my mind into designing mode. I keep the desk clear which helps focus while working but also makes it easy to transform the room into a welcoming place for guests, by putting away the keyboard and adding a little posy of flowers.

It’s also important to keep things tidied away in designated areas, and where possible hiding things away in drawers and cupboards.

The printer is not a particularly attractive thing so it’s kept in a cupboard and plugged in when needed. Envelopes, packaging and postal items are kept in a drawer under the spare bed, and all creative papers, paints and photography things re kept in a chest in my studio.

Keeping the space as clear as possible gives the mind freedom to think and feel relaxed. It also helps the space still feel like homely, calming environment. Being very tidy with other business/life priorities doesn’t always work, but I keep it in mind as a goal and it’s certainly helped define work/home life.

For products shots, I have the advantage of a ready made lifestyle setting! So I create mini studio settings in various parts of our home, using painted boards on the floor for flat lay photos, or creating a marbling workshop scene on our kitchen table.

How do you structure your working day?

A daily routine is really important. I keep fairly standard hours, starting around 9:30-10am and finishing at 6:30-7pm, with a break at lunchtime, where I make lunch and listen to the radio or read to take my mind off work for a while.

I find exercise first thing in the morning keeps me focussed throughout the day, so will start the morning with a short meditation followed by a walk, cycle ride or swim. Movement gets the brain moving and going outside feels like I’ve left the house to go to work.

At the end of the day, I tidy the desk and leave the workspace looking neat. This little ritual signifies the end of the work day, and helps give that feeling that I’m now in relax mode. My husband and I always have dinner by candlelight too, it adds a feeling of calm and disconnect from the working day, bringing a new feeling to the evening.

What’s your proudest moment so far?

I’m a huge fan of Oh Comely magazine, and a recent issue featured a theme of letter writing, a subject close to my heart. So I made an illustration to celebrate the issue and sent it to the magazine.

The editor loved the illustration, and fast forward to the next issue when the illustration was printed, on it’s own page, in the new issue of magazine. I was over the moon!

You can find out more about Michelle’s work on her website.