Over the last few weeks we conducted a series of case studies with clients who bring ethical, localised manufacturing to the forefront of their businesses. This week we speak to Yve from the English Stamp Company, which was founded out of a small workshop in Dorset in 1992. Yve talks about the company’s commitment to sustainability, including a company run allotment!
Can you tell me a bit about the English Stamp Company, and where the idea to build a business around a creative studio came from?
The company was first founded back in 1992, so we’re in our 26th year now. Sasha and John, the owners of the company had been to India, and had seen all the block printing that was being made over there. They thought that it looked really cool and wanted to see if they could do a similar sort of thing for home décor- walls, fabric and things like that. They set the business up from home to start with and then branched out to a garage, then to an office.
26 years later here we are, still making stamps but more so for stationary and businesses now. Though recently our company has started moving back to making stamps for fabrics and walls again. For example, if you have a blank painted wall you can use our stamp with paint or with ink to stamp a design onto the wall – one of our clients has put gold bees all up her staircase and along her hallway, they look incredible. In the early days, Sasha and John were featured in home and garden magazines and country living and things like that, and they stamped out an alcove in the living room and put an arm-chair with cushion covers that they’d stamped designs on and had it sat in the corner for a photo shoot.
I was really amazed by your company’s ethics, all the information on your website about sustainability and how being ethical and locally manufactured is really important to you. Could you talk a bit about that?
From day one, Sasha and John have both been very conscious of the effect that the company has on the environment. When you’re manufacturing you’re always going to have an impact- it’s been something that they’ve looked at from day one, which was quite ahead of the game really. Since we are in a based in a very rural location they were able to plant a lot of trees, and over the years we’ve developed a business to use less and less energy. We’ve made changes wherever we can; the light bulbs have all been swapped for energy efficiency, we are heated here by a wood-burning stove, and because of all the trees they’ve planted we are able to source that ourselves.
Our packaging is completely recyclable – that’s where we came to find your boxes actually, because we didn’t want to use any plastic for our packaging, and we use shredded paper to fill it. We’ve just recently switched to compostable plastic envelopes that go on the front of our packaging to put the invoices and address on. Apart from the plastic casing of the ink pads that we sell, we are plastic free which is great. The handles that we put on our stamps are all sourced from a sustainable, UK forest as well which makes a real difference. Sasha is very into her gardening and growing and they’ve passed that onto their daughter who runs our little allotment out at the back of the office, which is really nice! The staff have potatoes, leeks and garlic and all sorts of things growing in the allotment, which we can help ourselves to and take home or use for lunch.
That’s really inspiring! Can you tell me what you are most proud of and what’s the next chapter in your story?
I think the next step is a continuation from stretching out towards businesses in order to make their logos – there’s a lot of those business stamps and office stamps that are very quick to use but there’s also a lot of waste in that product. It’s really great to know that businesses are choosing to work with us and use something more ethically and sustainably produced.
Also, keeping up with trends has got to be something that we’re very proud of. From switching from being very interiors and business based, we’re now hitting the wedding market very hard, and successfully as well which is great! It’s such a nice touch for brides and grooms to be able to put their own personality on their wedding stationary. We can design that for them here – if they’ve got something completely bespoke, for example initials, then they can use that for the rest of their lives. We frequently get panicking brides or grooms phoning up because something vital has been left off from their wedding stationary – and we can generally match the font that they have printed with so that they can stamp a little insert in, which changes the wedding stationary completely.
Stamping is so versatile, and I think going forward it’s just making sure that we keep up with that. Our in-house team is very creative, and we’re lucky that when we come up with an idea we can have it made and photographed within 24 hours really, which is very unsual for businesses I think.
Yes it is, what about your business do you think allows you to do that?
I think it’s a very fluid sort of business here, so if we come up with an idea there’s no stopping at making it happen. It’s discussed within the whole team and there’s no kind of hierarchy that brings it down. It’s a family business and it’s grown very naturally. It’s able to evolve very naturally as well which makes everybody here feel welcome to contribute.
Your Experience With Stitched Boxes
What features do you love most about Stitchedboxes?
They’re so simple and we really love that, it suits our branding perfectly. Also the quality – we’ve literally given you millimetre dimensions and you’ve made something that fits. We measured out two stamps that we wanted to fit in the box and you guys made the box to a perfect measurement, and I think that bespoke quality teamed with the fact that it’s so no frills is perfect. There’s no waste in it, it does what it needs to do, it looks great, they’re really sturdy, and the flexibility of what you can create to suit our needs is perfect.
Would you recommend us to other businesses?