New member: Shed on the Fell

Sarah McLean Photography

Tell us a bit more about your company

On the side of Longridge Fell in Lancashire’s stunning Ribble Valley there sits a shed…

This shed is my art studio and home to my business, Shed on the Fell. The ethos for Shed on the Fell was to embrace the beauty around me and to share it. My products aim to champion the best of British wildlife, flora and fauna, bringing the spirit of the fells into your home.

After gaining a degree at the Birmingham School of Jewellery my first love of drawing was rekindled when I returned to the North of England. My signature style emerged during winter evenings in front of the fire as my children slept. Deer, hares and robins were the first creatures to take shape. Christmas cards were handed out for family and friends.

Shed on the Fell began quietly with the creation of more greetings cards, then artworks, then blossomed into an array of images on cushions, ceramics, coasters, bags and latterly illustrations for Ribble Valley Gin Co.

Who is your audience?

Anybody who likes my products! Having said that I have found that people who value British wildlife and the great outdoors seem to have an affinity with my images. My work tends to attract predominantly (but not exclusively) female customers who want something a little unique or bespoke.

How long trading? History?

My first tentative steps back into creating again came during the late autumn and winter of 2016. Once the children were in bed I spent time developing a mixed media style, layering paper-cut collages over ink sketches. The business really took off in the following spring when I took part in the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate. It gave me a self-imposed deadline to find suitable suppliers, establish a website and work out a competitive price point for my products. Ultimately, I became much more business-like about the way the company was run. The BCTF was a great success and I gained my first licensing deal with Shruti (now part of Half Moon Bay), creating a Country Animals homeware collection that was sold nationwide. I continued to develop my artworks and built up a network of connections with some hugely supportive galleries throughout the UK. I have been fortunate to have a continuous flow of private commissions since this time, which is always nerve-wracking for me but ultimately very satisfying.

3 best words to describe company and your products

Elegant. Countryside. Images.

Where do you find inspiration?

I am lucky enough to live in a quiet gem of a place called the Ribble Valley where I am surrounded by gorgeous countryside. I like to go on walks with Seb, my trusty chocolate Labrador around my local area, which provides all the inspiration I need.

Do you use social media to promote your business? How has this landscape changed over the years and within the home and gift industry?

I have found that Facebook and Instagram in particular have been a wonderful platform to share my work, become part of a supportive community and also get work. I find that more people have contacted me through social media for licensing opportunities and commissions in the past year.

Do you do any advertising / PR?

Besides a few interviews in Lancashire Life and Live Ribble Valley Magazine, my business has had most of its success through trade shows, personally establishing relationships with galleries and shops, commissions and through social media. It seems to be working well for me at the moment but I would not disregard the idea of advertising in the future if I felt Shed on the Fell would see the benefit of it.

What do you wish had known at the start of the business that you know now?

Have faith in your own ability, trust your own judgement and never rely on Velcro to hang paintings at a trade show!

Is the economic climate improving or is it getting tougher to trade?

I think when Shed on the Fell started the economic climate was tough to begin with. Customers and buyers tend to be more discerning when there is less money around but equally there will always be space for strong ideas and good design to flourish. I hope that Shed on the Fell can inhabit that space and continue to grow in the future.

What do you see as being the biggest problem for giftware suppliers in the gift industry?

There is no doubt that when you are manufacturing products internationally, issues such as Brexit and the state of the British economy will impact upon your business. Hopefully, giftware suppliers can ride this wave of uncertainty and come out stronger over the next few years.

If we could help you with one aspect of your business what would that be?

I joined the GA to get business advice and the opportunity to forge links with businesses, enabling us to work together creating unique, bespoke images for their products.

What news do you have to share so we can celebrate your achievements in 2019?

I still get a buzz from seeing my designs or artwork in shops and galleries. This year has been very exciting as I see more Shed on the Fell products in shops throughout the country. The past few months have been really rewarding, working with Ribble Valley Gin Co to develop images for their new range of gins – look for them in your local supermarket! I’m currently working with a musician to create the artwork for a set of EPs which will be released next year.

What are you looking to achieve in 2019?

My main aim over the next twelve months is to further my career as a designer. I am looking to develop lasting relationships with businesses, helping them visualize their brand and offer exclusive image licenses to them. 

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