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S/S, 14—16 January 2018 | Olympia London

| A/W, 9—11 September 2018

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'Creativity takes courage'

01-Dec-2017

Petra Boase

Top Drawer’s Paper Awards sees a return at S/S17 in January. We caught up with past winner Petra Boase to find out what winning the award meant to her.

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

For the last 18 years I have had my own publishing company. Primarily we do greeting cards, but we also do a small gift range. I guess you could describe us as greeting card publishers with a hand-finished twist. We use different printing techniques that don’t really cater to the mass market. We see ourselves as an intimate, creative company rather than a brand with global ambitions.

How did it all begin?

My background is textile design. I used to work as a freelance stylist and writer and then decided to do my own range of products. I took the leap and booked a trade stand and the rest is sort of history, really. I remember back then you expected miracles from the first trade show. Now we know that you have to look at the long term. You have to stand up and be seen at these events. And it’s still the case today. You just have to keep going.

Why did you get involved in the Paper Awards?

I come from a very uncorporate background. I created all my brand by just learning on the job, which has been really tough sometimes. I really liked the whole image of the Paper Awards and what it was trying to do for independent publishers and illustrators like myself. So I decided to apply for it.

When you’ve been in the industry for as long as I have you realise a lot has changed. It’s a very different market place now with lots of talent and competition. The Paper Awards and the show are great platforms for emerging talents. I think it’s a really exciting arena.

What did winning the award mean to you?

It feels even more special after all this time. For some of the established buyers you might be old news and for some of the new ones you might not be as hip as some of the youngsters. So, it’s nice to be recognised and get a little bit of a boost as a veteran of the trade show. What was really nice was that the cards we entered were using our lithographic printer, which we invested in heavily a year ago. It was a really nice confirmation that our investment was paying off. While anyone can go out and buy this printer – believe me it’s really difficult to operate, but it’s worth it.

Any effect can be created by digital technology, but the fact that we come up with these designs through physical creativity is pretty satisfying. We really believe there is a great value in handmade designs. In this game you’ve got to keep inventing, but for us it’s also about playing it financially safe too. To quote Henri Matisse: “Creativity takes courage.” I think that’s so true. When you roll out to a trade show you might think it’s a great idea, but who knows what the audience is going to think.

What are your plans for next year?

I think the struggle for small businesses is always finding that development time and space for innovation. Keeping it colourful is our mantra and feeding the customers with new concepts and ideas. We are a small but profitable business. That’s what’s really important to me. We still very much enjoy what we’re doing, but its’ a business, not a hobby.

Petra Boase

Petra Boase

Petra boase

Petra Boase Denim Jacket

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    Top Drawer is the UK's leading retail trade event for creative lifestyle buyers,
    showcasing a curated edit of 1500 brands to top international retailers.