Wow, on the 14th of February m&h is officially 9 years old!
9 years ago, whilst we were both working for other companies, we decided to make m&h official and register our little business.
We were both a little disillusioned with our 'proper jobs' so decided to channel our creative energies into something we could do 5-9, sort of using it as a form of therapy! (5-9 was a little ambitious for Hepsie as she had a 7-month-old and a 4-year-old so she grabbed hours when she could).
Hepsie spent many nights rocking a baby to sleep in a buggy with her foot whilst building our first website and Martha turned her spare room into a print studio, hand printing all our tea towels!
Our first designs were sooo different to the m&h you find now, we had yet to find our confidence with colour, but animals have always featured.
We made ourselves an Etsy and Folksy store and Martha would sell at Spitalfields Market all whilst working our 9-5 jobs. (Thank goodness our photography skills & market displays have improved since then)!
Then crunch time hit and we were both made redundant within 6 months of each other. Martha packed her bags and moved back north to her home city of Sheffield and we both decided this was a now or never moment with the business, we chose now.
We used some of our redundancy money to fund new designs and products launching our infamous Sprout design and signature Magpie designs, which are both still part of the m&h collection.
Martha spent more time on our photography and we started to increase our social media awareness.
We were accepted on to Not on The High Street and attended our first trade show as an exhibitor!
Over 9 years we've grown our business from a few cards and tea towels to cards, gift wrap, notebooks, tea towels, aprons, mugs, babywear, nursery decor, prints, pencil cases, upholstery fabric, lampshades, cushions, coasters & placemats in over 18 designs. All of which are proudly made in the UK, something we have always been championing.
We've exhibited at many tradeshows, designed a Christmas card for the then Deputy Prime Minister, illustrated the Bosh 'How To Live Vegan' book, collaborated with The British Skin Foundation and were one of the first small businesses to work with John Lewis on their 'Made In Yorkshire' project.
It's not all been plain sailing, our cashflow is the equivalent to our businesses over tired toddler, constantly having tantrums but there are glimmers of calm, showing us why we do what we do (which is sometimes hard to deal with on the months when you have to pay your suppliers rather than yourself). There are always the niggling questions of 'is this the right thing to be doing, we should be busier, why hasn't this design sold'? Along with the hurdles of running a small business also comes the autonomy of time, being able to pick your children up from school, looking after poorly relatives without having to beg your boss for time off, having a cheeky early finish on a Friday, finding the amazing community of creatives around the UK that use Instagram for their virtual tea break natter and of course being able to do what you love.
Thank you so much for supporting us on our m&h journey so far and we hope you'll come along for the ride to see where the next 9 years take us!
M & H x
* Don't forget to enter our Instagram birthday competition, hop over to IG here (winner announced 14th February 2020).