Launching at Top Drawer S/S17 at London Olympia

Only a few months after deciding to set up Penguin Ink I had my heart set on launching my brand at Top Drawer London. I visited the A/W show and found not only that it was a great show but that the exhibitors were all so friendly and full of advice for a budding stationery designer. I spoke to the lovely ladies from Miss Magpie Spy who gave me great advice at the show and after.

I spoke to my stockists as I grew and finally decided to take the plunge at Top Drawer S/S17 this January. I made this decision three days after having my gorgeous baby boy Oliver my second child, some people get a touch of the baby blues I clearly get a drop of the crazies.

However, my very supportive husband and I set the count down, whilst coping from going from one to two,  about planning for our first show. Coming from being a professional graphic designer I have designed stands before but not alongside 13 new card designs, handouts, order sheets and raising two children. Christmas really helped! I sent the card designs off to The Logan Press on the 3rd January and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, Jay (husband) made me gorgeous little shelves, made up cupboards and printed off a to scale plan we’d designed. Last minute jobs included a postcard (great for showing people the beautiful texture and thickness of the print and paper), an order sheet and mounting my newest print.

A few days before the show the cards arrived and as usual they were better than I’d hoped especially the flamingo and the toucan designs as the colours both worked really well.

Flamingo and toucan


My parents arrived to take care of Florence our beautiful daughter and she was delighted to see them.

Very quickly the day had arrived, and we left Bristol forgetting the breast milk in the freezer but luckily nothing else! Later that morning we hit a small snag, Oliver wasn’t allowed on site for set up! So we (Oliver and I) sat in a greek coffee shop around the corner from Olympia, receiving photographic updates from Jason, as he brought our design to life. Again faithful family came to the rescue in the form of my wonderful and London based sister. Hannah came and looked after Oliver taking him to the Design Museum (yes a 8 weeks old he’s already getting to know the business). I was so excited to get to work on putting up my beautiful vinyls provided by Hobs lined in with a laser.

One by one I got them up, it took a lot longer than I thought it would. They looked fantastic and really professional. We tidied up, thanked my sister wholeheartedly, and got a takeaway curry delivered to our little rental just around the corner. Rachel our third member arrived later that evening bearing beautiful cupcakes from a Bristol friends Hen do.


Rachel a great Bristol friend, is also a Graphic Designer and I met whilst studying Graphic Design at Bristol UWE. Before I signed up to do Top Drawer I asked Rach to come on board as without her it just wasn’t going to be possible. Other than being great company, Rach has great sales and marketing experience and was a true asset to the team. The following morning after a good nights sleep (Thanks Oliver for choosing then to sleep through the night!) we set off to check all was well and put up the last vinyl (big Penguins in Love) and open for trading.

We were Both excited and nervous. Rach asked me what were my KPI’s. I sheepishly responded “I just want people to come and say nice things about my cards and get a few new stockists.” I was quickly told this wasn’t good enough, we needed a solid goal. I then admitted that I’d be happy with 10 orders amazed by 30.

We had our first order within 20 minutes of the show opening, and had met that target of 10 by the end of the day! I couldn’t believe it! We went back to the appartment to celebrate for fizz and a beautiful Roast Chicken dinner cooked by Jay. He was a star,  all day he had been looking around (research), feeding us and delivering Oliver when he was hungry.

After three days, lots of visitors and lots of orders we sat down to enjoy a celebratory meal. All targets hit and we’d survived our first show.

We even managed to grab a snap of designer, printer and paper merchant (Fedrigoni) sales all together on the last day.

After Top Drawer we’ve been packing cards like nobodies business, with plenty of help from friends and family. All orders are now packed, with new coming in all the time. The website is also finished with my next job being better photography. It was crazy but we did it! Come and see us next January S/S18 stand T35.