Q and A with Sarah Hough
Sarah Hough works out of her studio in The Piddle Valley, Dorset, designing and producing eco-friendly contemporary paper goods, inspired by everything from friends to fashion, and all the other good things in life. Sarah uses 100% recycled paper for her products and talks to FiveGoMad about why that is important for her.
I always enjoy receiving letters and handwritten notes from family and friends. With other forms of communication increasing, I wanted to do my bit for keeping the art of the handwritten note alive. I like the idea of creating ‘throwaway’ art which has a short shelf life before being popped in the recycling bin.
Any tips for people starting their own business?
Listen to others but trust your instincts. It’s your business and dream, if you don’t believe in it or aren’t 100% committed to decisions you take, why should your customers believe in you.
I admire businesses who clearly communicate their core values and stick to them. Also, get some sleep! My business started when I had a two year old and a newborn baby. Two years later I had a third. This combined with working mostly in the evenings once they’d gone to bed, made it difficult to be objective, retain clarity of vision and stop myself yawning!
How did you get involved with fivegomad?
FiveGoMad got in touch with me, I was impressed with the style and values of the site and couldn’t wait to be a part of it.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve really enjoyed exploring some coastal designs and I am playing around with some related ideas. Also more florals and new products. I don’t want to say too much, often I have an idea that morphs into something quite different as I work, I like to get a new product completely right before I let it loose!
What methods and techniques do you use ?
Usually I sketch away with pencil, pen and ink. Once I’m happy with a rough idea, I simplify lines and perhaps add some watercolour, before scanning it into my trusty Apple Mac and finishing it off in Photoshop.
What inspires your designs?
Oooh, this is a tricky one. I’ve always wanted to keep a diary, I’ve discovered I’m a much more visual person, so I’ve done it in pictures. I can look at my designs and remember exactly how I felt at that time, friends I was influenced by, what was going on in my life and music I was listening to., It’s the best type of diary, no-one will ever be able to reveal the secret or embarrassing bits, only I will ever know those! I guess a mixture of friends, fashion, textiles, gardens, countryside and the fun in life!.
Does your location and environment reflect in your work?
Definitely. I live in the Piddle Valley in Dorset and spend a lot of time out in the countryside or down by the sea. When out and about something might catch my eye or give me an idea. I stash it away in my mind until a rainy day comes along, then I make a cup of tea and get sketching.
Your collections have some great names, where do they come from?
They're named after places I love or have been important to me. For example my collection Swyre Head. This was the place my husband proposed to me in Dorset, one wet and wild October evening. My husband’s favourite design is Beetledrive, I named the collection that contains this design after that wonderful evening.
What type of paper do you use?
Always good quality recycled paper.
Are your products made in the UK?
Absolutely, I am proud of living in the UK and of all the people living here who make the UK the great country it is. I want to do my little bit to support British manufacturing, maybe it would be cheaper elsewhere, but I believe it is possible to make a reasonable living (without being greedy), producing quality British products , surely that’s good for the environment too.
Are your products environmentally responsible?
Frankly, I think it would be irresponsible of me to encourage people to send cards/letters and buy paper products if I wasn’t making a big effort to be as environmentally responsible as possible. All of my print is produced within 30 miles of my workshop where we hand-finish the products, mostly with natural jute twine which can then be used in your garden.
The notecards come in a biodegradable translucent pocket, made in the UK. All the paper I print on is recycled. We collect and use old newspapers to protect the products in the parcels we send out. I’m also lucky enough to be able to cycle to work, dropping the children off at school with their bikes on the way to my studio five miles away.
I like the cupcake notecard design. Are you a foodie?
Well, I do love delicious food, but it doesn’t have to be fancy. I’m into simple, hearty and healthy meals using good fresh ingredients, obviously the more local, the better. Although I have to admit sometimes when I’m feeling a little weary, a couple of rounds of hot buttered toast and a big mug of tea usually does the trick!
I came up with the cupcake design when thinking about some great friends of ours who have five gorgeous daughters. Their brilliant mum Kate is always baking the most delicious cakes, biscuits, flapjacks and brownies and these cheerful cupcakes remind me of them.
What's your favourite cafe/restaurant?
Rosa’s Café, actually, it’s fictional. Sometimes, to liven up family supper times, we pretend we’re in a café which has become fondly known as Rosa’s Café! We have some excellent trainee waiters/waitress and an apprentice wine waiter! Otherwise, a full English on a Saturday morning in Bridport at Café Bean followed by a mooch through the market stalls.
What's next up for Sarah Hough?
Honing my designs and extending my product range, but I constantly refer to a quotation from William Morris “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. So, I’ve got my work cut out!