Ashley Sherrard / Pale press
To continue with our Mondays series we interview Ashley Sherrard, the amazing founder of Pale Press.
Rachele: Why don't you start by telling us how you first fell in love with calligraphy and how Pale Press started!
Ashley: I’ve had an interest in handwriting since I was a child. I’d write differently every day at school and try to develop new styles. A few years ago, not long after I had started practicing modern calligraphy, two friends of mine got married and I helped with their wedding stationery and signage. From that moment on, I quit my job in advertising to pursue calligraphy and stationery design as a full time career.
R: Very courageous! In those early days, when you just started working for yourself, what was your number one concern? And how has that changed today?
A: The first few months were really just a period of me testing whether Pale Press was something that had legs really! I had zero clue if it would work as a business and if anyone would ever employ me. Three years on, I feel incredibly lucky that clients do! My concerns are ever evolving and change on a weekly basis but you have to continue pushing forward. The positives always outweigh the concerns!
R: Once you realised Pale Press had real potential, how did you take it to the next level? What was the biggest challenge?
A: There have been, and still are, many aspects that I find challenging. Initially, it was things like figuring out how to use design programs and teaching myself a whole new set of skills. Sometimes it can be having an inferiority complex and feeling like a failure compared to businesses around you. I do believe that if it isn’t challenging and all comes very easily, then you’re not doing it right - most of my lessons and growth have come from mistakes and challenges. They’re an important part of business.
R: What is your number one marketing tool?
A: My number one marketing tool is Instagram, followed closely by word of mouth. I like using Instagram (although I need to be much better at it!) because my type of work is extremely visual. It’s easy to reach people and share images of your work at scale. Although, I’m in the midst of redesigning my website as well and I am working on building up my Pinterest presence in case Instagram disappears!
R: Given your incredibly busy schedule, how do you priotitise?
A: I always try to time block. At the beginning of each day, I look at what needs to be done and give each task a start and finish time. Obviously some jobs will have a tight deadline (often ‘On the Day’ stationery during wedding season or event based work) and so they will take priority. If I don’t schedule each thing, I end up flipping between different jobs and nothing gets done.
R: How do you keep stress at bay during busy times?
A: I’m good at giving myself weekends off unless there is an event or big deadline. As I work mostly by myself and live alone, I find it’s important to make time to see friends and family and get out from behind my desk. The past year I also made sure I read one book a month, I would say that is how I de-stress in the evening.
R: What is the number one piece of advice you would give to people who are starting their own business?
A: Always be active, even if you have no specific job there is plenty to do to expand your business. Marketing, connecting with clients, researching style and trends, searching for vendors…there is always something to do which thankfully never feels like work when you’re passionate and enjoy the craft.
R: What has been the most rewarding experience so far in establishing Pale Press?
A: The most rewarding experience of working for myself is to see how far I’ve come. I’m still a teeny tiny company but there are lots of moments that I’m proud of. Getting positive feedback from clients is the most brilliant and encouraging thing to receive! I also love that I’m able to travel and work from anywhere.
R: What's next for you and Pale Press?
A: This year I am launching a new website and six new wedding stationery collections. Couples will be able to choose one of the styles and work with me to customise it for their day. I’ve always worked solely on bespoke designs but am super excited to reach a much larger audience.
Firedrill Round with Ashley.
- If you had to describe Pale Press using three words, which would they be? Modern, clean, quality.
- Top 3 skincare products? Sunday Riley Good Genes and Tidal. La Roche Posay Zinc Spray.
- Top 3 items of clothing? A vintage leather jacket from Sydney. An array of coats (always as long as possible).
A soho home dressing gown that I basically live in.
- Most treasured item of jewelry? A silver locket with a beautiful ‘A’ engraved in calligraphy on the front and a photo of my parents inside.
- Favourite brunch place in London? Dishoom for their breakfast naan and Granger and Co for their sweetcorn fritters.
- Favourite scent? It changes but at the moment - Le Labo, Noir 29
- What's your earliest memory associated with a scent? My mum's perfume.
- Favourite travel destination? Ibiza
- Favourite in-London escape destination? My friends' houses!
- Favourite wedding invite you ever created? I love when the couple is adventurous with their print finish or paper type. Letterpress and handmade paper is one of my favourite combinations. Rachele - your blind letterpressed and hotfoiled invitations with a bespoke wax seal are definitely up there!
- Most exotic wedding or event you worked on? There were a few beautiful weddings in Italy this year. Does that count as exotic?!
- If you were not doing what you are doing right now, what alternative career would you have embarked on? I think perhaps a florist although I couldn’t do the early starts!
- What does luxury mean to you? What do you indulge on? Luxury to me is travel. That's by far my biggest indulgence.
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