Awesome Notebook Journals BOGOFF

New year BOGOFF offer

To celebrate the new rebrand at Crayons HQ, I am offering a Buy One, Get One Free offer on the best selling ‘Be Awesome’ notebook journals.

These little A6 recycled notebooks come personalised and make a perfect gift the people in your life who love stationery, planning and making lists. They are also perfect for self-gifting.

So why not treat yourself and a friend?

Awesome Notebook Journals BOGOFF

Who Ate My Crayons Logos

New year, new re-brand

I am forever ranting on about how important it is to keep innovating and changing in terms of your branding and logo (see this page if you need a reminder about the process). So, in an attempt to practice what I preach, Crayons HQ has had a bit of a new year spring clean and re-vamp.

The new company name will be called ‘Who Ate My Cakes’
— just kidding, maybe.

Your logo is the first impression that you make on the public. It is the face of your business. Just as your own face can express your personality and provide insight into your unique characteristics, so can a well designed logo.


I’ve had my previous logo when I set up the company back in 2007 (I know, I don’t look young enough — right?) *ahem*. It had a slight tweak back in 2010 when I added a tiny little detail to the ‘O’. Since then it has been a case of not having the time to sit down and think about what I wanted and also a case of ‘well, if it isn’t broken, why fix it?’.

Towards the end of last year I have been working on quite a few branding projects for clients and that spurred me on to thinking about making changes to my own logo. As a typeface snob, you can imagine how difficult it has been for me to choose the ‘right’ font. I have always yearned for a retro vibe so I knew I wanted something curly and fun, but I also love the strong letterpress style and so in the end I opted for both!

You will see that new logo is a complete change to the formal structured logo of the past and while it is scary to make such a leap, it is also very exciting and liberating. The new logo represents not just a change in colours, but it also represents what I hope is my style and design ethos. Serious, with a splash of fun.

Now all I have to do is design matching stationery!

Who Ate My Crayons Logos

Letter to Santa Free Download

Letter to Santa – Free Download

Letter to Santa Free Download

Updated design for 2014!

By downloading this file you agree to the following terms:

You may use the file
For personal use ONLY.

You may not use the file
For pornographic, unlawful or other immoral purposes, for spreading hate or discrimination, or to defame or victimise other people, sociteties, cultures.
To endorse products and services if it depicts a person.
As part of a trademark, service mark or logo.
SELLING AND REDISTRIBUTION OF THE FILE AND ANY ASSOCIATED PARTS (INDIVIDUALLY OR ALONG WITH OTHER IMAGES) IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN!

Happy Christmas folks!

icon_downloadTo download the PDF, right-click on the link below and select ‘Save Link As’.
Who Ate My Crayons – Free Letter to Santa – December 2014 – PDF 370KB

ABRSM 2015 A2 Wall Planner

ABRSM 2015 Wall Planner – A2

I have designed an A2 wall planner for 2015 incorporating ABRSM entry deadlines and exam dates. Dates taken from the ABRSM website and correct as at 19 September 2014. Perfect for any music teacher, lecturer or student.

The planners are printed on 100gsm matt uncoated paper and can be personalised with a name. Normally priced at £12.95, they are currently on offer for £9.95 with FREE P&P if you order during September 2014.

Click on the image to order your planner and be ready for 2015!

ABRSM 2015 A2 Wall Planner

Lincolnshire School Holiday and Term Dates 2015 Wall Planner

Lincolnshire School Holiday and Term Dates – 2015 Planner

I have designed an A2 wall planner for 2015 incorporating State and Community school holiday and terms dates within Lincolnshire. Dates taken from Lincolnshire County Council website and correct as at 19 September 2014.

The planners are printed on 100gsm matt uncoated paper and can be personalised with a name. Normally priced at £12.95, they are currently on offer for £9.95 with FREE P&P if you order during September 2014.

Click on the image to order your planner and be ready for 2015!

Lincolnshire School Holiday and Term Dates 2015 Wall Planner

Simply Solids New Logo

Simply Solids – Logo Redesign and New Website

Simply Solids New Logo
Simply Solids New Logo
I was contacted by the lovely Justine last year to help her rework the logo for her new business venture – Simply Solids.

We both liked elements of previous logo, but the design did not lend itself well to being printed on stickers and marketing material. It was also a wide design which made it cumbersome when trying to incorporate it onto circular web badges, stickers and marketing design.

Simply Solids Old Logo
Simply Solids Old Logo
We both loved the bunting element (who doesn’t?) and so after a few tweaks we came up with the new logo. We choose a lovely unstructured typeface making it organic and still used lots of lovely bunting. We used a stronger colour palette and added in a ribbon swag to pull it all together. I am thrilled with the result. Simply lovely.

Following on with the new logo, I was asked to work on a brand new design for the website. Justine wanted to move her shop over to the create.net e-commerce platform and wanted a custom template for the new look business.

We went for a very clean modern feel using some bold contemporary fonts and implemented the pastel colours from the branding. I think it works really well and I hope that the website continues to grow and evolve with the business as it goes from strength to strength. It’s been a pleasure working with Justine on this project and I hope we get to work together again soon!

www.simplysolids.co.uk

Simply Solids Website
Simply Solids Website
wamc_jan13_promo_scb

Skull and Cross Buns

wamc_jan13_promo_scb So, can you guess what this website sells? You’ll never guess and that’s one of the best things about small independent businesses. This fabulous website is the brainchild of the very lovely and very talented Emily Fox. Emily sells hand carved stamps and designs, but not just any ordinary designs, some really fun animals, words, bunting and seasonal stamps. All lovingly hand carved by her fair hands!

I was asked by Emily to come up with a design for a website that matched her unique and quirky style. We had a great palette of pinks and greys to work with. Emily was keen to have a neutral website which allowed the products to shine through, but was also fun and not too serious.

I used a combination of washi tape patterns in the pale pink and we introduced a new fancy font to add some interest to the design along with a lovely duck blue colour to add some zing!

The website was designed using the fabulous create.net platform and I think the simplicity of the layout and the design really works and I am thrilled with the results. The new site has had such lovely feedback on the official Skull and Cross Buns facebook page. Go over ‘like’ immediately (please) and be sure to visit the website and get yourself some proper fabulous stamps.

website_template_skullcrossbuns

reba_end-of-lease

Why it’s important to support your independent local business

I have always been a believer in supporting local businesses and during the lead up to Christmas I made a conscious decision to shop local and indie whenever I could. Without our local trades and services we will end up with soulless, generic town and city centres.

It is with a sad heart that I greeted the news of the closure of one of Peterborough’s most loved independent retailers. Reba Boutique is owned by indie champion Rachel Parkin, one of the most dynamic and business savvy people I know. The closure was prompted by a number contributing factors, but the reason that struck most with me the most was the fact that it’s so tough for small independent businesses to survive today. It appears that not enough is being done by the Government and local authority to help support the smaller businesses. Lots of sound-bites and words, but just not enough action.

Since the announcement of the closure, the Reba team had been inundated with messages of support and sweet stories from people who have used or been a customer of Reba during its 19 years of trading. People have felt a real connection and fondness for this little boutique. What made it stand out from the crowd was the unique range of products and the amazing staff. I would challenge you to find the same level of relationship between a customer and a large high street chain.

Peterborough has lost a little gem and a little bit of its heart today. Goodbye Reba, it’s been fun knowing you.

P.S. The final trading day will be Saturday 11th January 2014. There are still some corking bargains to be had in the epic end of lease sale so be sure to pop in and show the girls some love.

You can read the official press release below.

reba_end-of-lease

End of an era

When I opened Reba way way back in 1994 As a young 24 year old I wanted to bring something different to the city. I fell in love with the building, its vaulted ceilings, stone walls and air of timelessness. My logic was, if you’re going to spend all day somewhere it should be somewhere beautiful. I’ve never regretted my choice.

Fast forward 19 years. While Reba has had many incarnations it has always offered something a bit different from the norm, either handmade, beautiful, quirky, or from a small label or company. I’m a firm believer in the “have nothing that you do not know to be beautiful or believe to be useful” adage.

Sadly, it’s the end of our time here in Peterborough, a city that has for the most part been kind to us and supported us with enthusiasm. For many people reading this, this really won’t register as important in the grand scheme of life and of course it’s not really up there with finding a cure for incurable diseases or anything so noble, but it is, in my estimation at least, the end of an era, and not just for my little shop.

It’s an embittered and embattled time for small independent retailers, rents are way out of line with the footfall that’s a daily reality on our high street, business rates are unbelievably high and all this against the backdrop of the highest internet usage in Europe means that it’s no longer reasonable for us to continue in Peterborough.

On a personal note, this saddens me, not only for the good people who’ve lost jobs at Reba through no fault of their own, many of whom have worked for me and together for years, building great relationships with each other and our customers. But also for the city. Not because I think we are irreplaceable, but because what we need more of on our high streets are independent shops and businesses that bring character to an area. The thought of a city filled with clone stores interchangeable with any high street in the country is to me, simply not appealing but it is the future we are looking into.

I’ve always believed that a great business comes from the heart. Sure money in the till is the final demarcation of success, but doing something well and with passion, professionalism and enthusiasm should be applauded – I worry for fledgling businesses trying to start in the city…. Where would you open to try out your business idea? If we don’t have spaces for these new businesses where will our young entrepreneurs go? Without that entrepreneurial spirit what will be the cost to the city in lost ideas, talent & youth?

So what has happened for us to finally call it a day after 19 years….? Well, the change in demographic of the city has had a huge impact. The work on Cathedral Square, while necessary to upgrade the city, took a massive toll on shoppers habits and then the never ending increase in parking charges… But the final nail in the coffin was the opening of the Peter Brotherhood retail park. Why would a customer pay to come into town to shop when they can pretty much get what they need out of town with free parking to boot?!

We’ve long been told that we can have it all. We’re the internet age, we can shop online and then visit an indie store, Garden Park, farmers market or thriving market town. Except of course we can’t! Or at least if these other sales avenues are going to exist outside of the traditional high street then rents and rates have to change and fast! Today, not tomorrow, that kind of fast.

Many of you reading this will have seen our campaign to promote independent retail in Peterborough through the launch of the indie retail map and local indie retailers. When I started this campaign early in 2013, I already knew that we would have to close, but I promised myself that if I was going to leave then I would leave with my head held high knowing that I had done everything in my power to challenge attitudes both in consumer’s minds and within the ranks of the authorities responsible for making many of the decisions detailed above.

So how do I feel about the closure of Reba today? If I’m truly honest, I feel as if I’ve failed. Logically I understand that 19 years can’t really be construed as a failure, but that is most certainly what it feels like. I understand that the odds were against us from the start…. But it still hurts.

As a wholesaler too, this story of mine isn’t just “my story” it’s being played out on High Streets up and down the country – We are in a time of change and it’s my belief that when the dust settles we’ll end up with a deeply divided system. Indie shops will, for the most part migrate to affluent pockets, market towns, community driven areas and out of the way places that can support them without crazy rent demands. Whilst our cities will become soulless clone towns that are interchangeable with every other high street in the UK.

While I might sound like a embittered doom merchant, that’s really not my intention. I’d merely like to point out that this is happening in front of our eyes. The opening of yet another betting shop in Bridge Street must surely be a wakeup call?

My vision for the city is for an aspirational centre, not because I’m a galloping snob, but because apart from it being pleasanter socially for each of us to live in a city like that, it also makes sound economic sense. Companies looking to relocate and bring their workforce with them will be looking at the amenities on offer… A vibrant city centre is high on their agenda. This is and always has been about so much more than simply “shopping”

I’d like to make it clear that I’m not “Peterborough bashing” I’m just reporting on things from my own little corner of the world. Peterborough has been good to us and in return we’ve tried to give something back. My vision was and remains to something different, to celebrate individualism, to offer choice and variety and fun…. It was not about purely making money, lest anyone confuse the two.

Facing our 20th year of trading, taking the decision to exit our lease has been a difficult and emotional one for all of us concerned. We would like to thank our staff, our suppliers and of course we’d like to thank the people of Peterborough and the surrounding areas, who have supported us for the past 19 years. We’ve had a blast and we’re so grateful to have been part of your lives. We wish you the very best.

Finally, I’d like to thank the local media who have always been very supportive of us and the council who listened to us. If you’re out and about shopping, please support the other indie retailers in the city.

We would like the farewell for Reba to be a celebration of our 19 year history, so if you are in the city centre before the 5th January please stop by to check out the sale, say goodbye and sign our picture!

For fun:

19 facts about Reba :

1. We opened in September 1994 – the no 1 then was Wet Wet Wet’s Love is all around.

2. In 19 years we’ve only had 6 managers.

3. We’ve employed some of the Reba girls from the age of 16 through to becoming parents (& beyond)

4. We’ve had 6 Reba babies.

5. The Reba building is a scheduled ancient monument (for those of you who’ve wondered why we don’t do anything about the steps 😉

6. When we opened I was told we were crazy and no business survived there…. As a retail location it’s not an easy one that’s for sure.

7. The girls have always sworn that there’s a ghost…. They call him Alan! To lay to rest a Peterborough myth I’ve never encountered him.

8. The Hangman’s Gaol door that used to hang in the museum was given back to us and is our stockroom door – complete with gruesome markings 😉

9. We’ve had one robbery! Who breaks into a gaol!?!

10. We are precisely xx feet under street level

11. The building has been a men’s clothing store, a Christian bookshop & a pharmacy (to my knowledge)

12. In 1994 the minimum wage didn’t exist (but hourly rates were around £2.50) today it is £6.31(for over 21 year olds)

13. In 1994 there were no websites & internet usage had just begun. Faxes were the order of the day! Oh and no-one had a mobile phone – Let’s take a second to remember that 😉

14. Our top selling item when we opened was the inimitable incense stick! In 2013 it’s scarves !

15.When we opened we were called Balagan, this is a Hebrew word meaning chaos ! We changed it and rebranded in 2006 to separate ourselves from our wholesale design business.

16. Reba started from a Saturday market stall (next to WH Smiths) and yes it was cold in winter 🙂

17. We’ve had a few celebrities through our door, all of whom we never thought to photograph

18. Our jewellery designs have been featured in Grazia, Heat and a host of
other fashion magazines.

19. We wanted to end on a grand finale, but we can’t begin to count the number of people who’ve given or received a Reba gift over the past 19 years… It has to number thousands and thousands….. Thank you to every one of you. You have made the ride enjoyable! Sometimes slightly bonkers, but deeply enjoyable !

Goodbye from Rachel & the Reba girls

template_dearsanta_free_2013

Dear Santa Letter – Free Download

template_dearsanta_free_2013

By downloading this file you agree to the following terms:

You may use the file
For personal use ONLY.

You may not use the file
For pornographic, unlawful or other immoral purposes, for spreading hate or discrimination, or to defame or victimise other people, sociteties, cultures.
To endorse products and services if it depicts a person.
As part of a trademark, service mark or logo.
SELLING AND REDISTRIBUTION OF THE FILE AND ANY ASSOCIATED PARTS (INDIVIDUALLY OR ALONG WITH OTHER IMAGES) IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN!

Happy Christmas folks!

icon_downloadTo download the PDF, right-click on the link below and select ‘Save Link As’.
Who Ate My Crayons – Free Letter to Santa – December 2013 – PDF 311KB

***UPDATE November 2016*** There’s also a 2016 version now available for FREE downloading.

carrotmuffins1

Carrot and Apple Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

carrotmuffins1This is a super easy recipe for moist and fluffy muffins. Takes around 10 minutes to prepare and 20-25 mins to bake.

Ingredients

175g brown muscovado sugar
100g wholemeal self-raising flour*
100g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp of cinnamon
zest 1 orange
2 eggs
150ml sunflower oil
3 medium sized carrots, grated
1 medium sized apple, grated with skin
*You can use a total of 200g of self-raising flour

Icing

I use the fool-proof recipe from The Pink Whisk, Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting.

Method

1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
2. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cases.
3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients sugar, flours, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, cinnamon and orange zest.
4. Whisk together the eggs and oil, then stir into the dry ingredients with the grated carrot and apple.
5. Divide the mixture between cases, I use an ice-cream scoop or measuring cup to ensure consistent levelled muffins.
6. Bake for 20-22 mins until a skewer poked in comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before icing.
7. Scoff!

carrotmuffins2