Write on! Two stationery brands to take note of
These entrepreneurs used their passion for paper, design and functionality to create exquisite products that are a joy to use – and look at.
ALoveSupreme is a ‘collection of stationery and homeware that leaves a smile on your face’, say husband-and-wife team Leanne and Ryan Botha. After running their graphic design consultancy for 11 years, the pair wanted to move towards a platform that would allow them to sell products, rather than just their time. ‘We also wanted the creative freedom to design a brand and a range unrestricted by a client’s brief,’ Leanne explains. Both Leanne and Ryan studied graphic design in Cape Town – Leanne at The Red and Yellow School and Ryan at Ruth Prowse. He went on to work in advertising and design, working for BBDO Network, Virgin Drinks and Enron in the UK, while Leanne did a postgraduate course in Organisation and Management at UCT, worked in interior design, then as an account manager for SEA Design in London. ‘When we returned to Cape Town in 2003,
we started The Fire Room,’ says Ryan. ‘Leanne took seven years of maternity leave [they have three boys], and came back with a bang with the launch of aLoveSupreme in 2014.’
They create distinctive, striking designs. ‘Original hand-drawn illustrations with a hint of humour is the style of aLoveSupreme,’ says Leanne. ‘The designs are fresh, bold and stylised, with an appealing graphic simplicity.’
aLoveSupreme has created an extensive collection that includes wrapping paper, clipboards, cards, gift tags, notebooks and laptop sleeves. They’ve also branched into homeware, and their accessories (tote bags, slingbags and pouches) are available in vibrant prints.
All the products are printed and manufactured locally, and the couple have a team of 12 (10 women and two men) who help make sure everything comes together.
‘I find inspiration in people and humour,’ says Ryan. ‘We have great ideas, great products, and great people. You need to believe you can do it or you won’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.’ His advice for other creative entrepreneurs: ‘Don’t do it alone; you need someone to lean on.’
‘Building a new business is stretching us in ways we never imagined!’ Leanne says. ‘But we love it – the creative process as well as the multifaceted challenges it presents. We’ve had challenges on every front – HR, production, sales, operations and finance. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?’
They have three stores, and the products are also available online. Leanne and Ryan exhibited at Maison et Object in Paris last year and Top Drawer in London in January, building an international profile for their designs.