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With its industrial heritage shaping both the landscape and people, the Midlands sits at the heart of the country and is a powerful influence on everyone who lives and works there.


EASY access to anywhere both in the UK and worldwide is a great advantage to the Midlands – but that doesn’t mean people want to escape, far from it as they love living in the region. “It’s great to be back in the friendly Midlands,” said


EASY t h b th i th UK d


The Writing Bureau’s Jo Brierley, who studied craft and textile design in both Leicester and Coventry, and has just moved to rural Lincolnshire with her husband’s work. “I now live and run The Writing Bureau from the middle of a large outdoor education centre for children, Caythorpe Court. This gives me plenty of inspiration for my designs as I’m surrounded by 1,000 children every week who come here to have the holiday of a lifetime! “Being surrounded by so much fun and laughter is having a massive impact on my new artwork. It means I’m never short of inspiration and am currently working on new homeware products and card designs.” The area really can get under your skin as Dean Morris found out when he moved to Wolverhampton to study art and design and, despite the Brutalist architecture of the university, never managed to leave. Food is another great reason for enjoying being in the middle of Britain, as 7Gems’ Sachin Vasani explained: “After all the travelling I can come back and have the best Indian food in the UK – it’s the most rewarding aspect of being in Leicester. I’d say Leicester certainly has some best Indian restaurants by far! “Being located in the Midlands also means we’re not too far from other key cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bradford, etc. This means we can easily be somewhere within in a couple of hours, visiting customers in person, providing that face-to-face customer service a lot of retailers appreciate.” Dyson Design Cards are also based in Leicester and MD Helen Dyson said: “We have an eclectic collection of upmarket images created with artists and photographers, often in partnership with visitor attractions across the UK, so being in Leicester is ideal because of its central location. “It also means we’re well connected with the city’s wealth of design and print expertise, which is a fantastic resource to have on your doorstep for the production of cards and point of sale materials.” Photographs of birds and buildings from her home town help Corrina Rothwell, of the eponymous illustration studio, create her humorous cards and she said: “Living in Nottingham is great because it really is


42 www.greetingstoday.co.uk


A Week, added: “The Midlands is a great place to have our business as a calendar production specialist. Centrally-located and with great transport links, we are able to provide a superior service to our customers across the country from our Midlands-base.” Robin Hood’s favourite town is home to Nottingham


Trent University which has a good reputation for art and design, something The Art File are keen to take advantage of. Sales and marketing executive James Mace said: “The city has a constant infl ux of young and bright new talent, which is perfect for publishing companies such as ourselves.”


Alice Boston, founder of Alice Palace, added:


bang in the centre. It means that I can easily travel to places like London and Manchester on the train to do shows or visit prospective stockists.” It’s all about location and family for Amy Thorpe, of


Ryland Studios, who said: “I grew up on the farm in rural Lincolnshire that I now work from. Although I’ve moved away from the family home to a nearby town to live, I love working in the peaceful setting. “I take a lot of inspiration from the world around me so basing my company in Lincolnshire was obvious. Property is cheap in here, I can be at Kings Cross on the train in an hour if I need to visit London, and pretty much everything else is central for me. “But most importantly, it’s where my family is. I like walking down the street and knowing everyone, it gives you a feeling of security and a sense of community that I may well have lost if I’d left Lincolnshire.” It’s a similar feeling for Laura Sherratt, who set up her studio after completing a surface pattern design degree at her local University of Staffordshire in Stoke on Trent. “I had a desperate lust to design for industry but loved my home in the Staffordshire moorlands but, with very few opportunities nearby, that made me take the plunge to set up Laura Sherratt Designs. “We’ve expanded and have now moved into a brand-new countryside Barn Studio and expanded our family of employees. “It’s perfect, our studio is just outside of Leek, meaning we get to drive through farms and fi elds on the way to work, which is certainly a stress-free journey through picturesque countryside.” Nigel Green of calendar print specialist Eight Days


“We love living and working in the Midlands because we’re right in the hustle and bustle of the busy market town of Evesham, but within minutes we can be in the beautiful countryside and many of our designs are inspired by the great outdoors.” “I love designing patterns,” said Liona Baldwin, of new publisher Fox & Lark, “being based in a rural location is super inspiring and much of the outdoors creeps into my artwork, even the vibrant colours I use are often found somewhere in the view from the studio or sparked by an observation in nature. “I’m lucky to be based in Derbyshire, here and the city of Derby have a long history of supporting and promoting creative industries. There are many brilliant support networks, incubators, free business training providers and opportunities for funding.” Sabina and Ivo Kovacheva run Sabivo Design from their Leicester home, and Sabina said: “Leicester’s geographical location makes it a fast and easy commutable distance to the retailers I talk to in major cities London, Birmingham, Nottingham etc. “Leicester in particular is a creative hub and has


strong links with the fashion and media industries, which is great for networking and rejuvenating the design spirit. “Easy communication – smartphones, Skype, social media etc – means establishing relationships nowadays doesn’t necessarily require the traditional one-to- one meeting although I do love meeting people. “To summarise, the Midlands allows me to live local and think global,” Sabina added – and that’s what business is all about these days, folks.


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