#Ourownstories is back! This week we spoke with Amanthais Stationery about their love of stationery! The business, started in 2018, aims to provide customers with affordable, and eye catching stationery and office supplies. Learn more about Amanthis Stationery below!
How did Amanthis Stationery come to be? Amanthis Stationery is the culmination of many events that happened in my life when I was 17. I had this growing collection of notebooks, (and not much money to keep it up), a blog where I actively discussed literature, writing and academia, and an interest in design and creativity. I wanted to create pretty designs like those that I saw around me, but not have to pay £12-£15 for a notebook. So I started selling things from my own notebook collection at a discount price, and when that took off, Amanthis was born, I suppose.
The inspiration behind the name? "Amanthis" is derived from one of the Hebrew words for reliance, or belief. When I initially created the store, it was made by a student, for students, and I wanted something to represent the relationship that I wanted with my customers. Something built on reliance and support. At the time it definitely felt right, and I have plans to really expand on that meaning, creating products which support better time management and organisation. What makes your brand different from other businesses? I think that initially, it was the price point, but now it is the unique designs, the interest in productivity and supporting good organisation. Over time I have started designing my own products, embracing and considering my own interests and styles within them. I think that is noticeable in my latest designs and continues to show through in the products which I sell.
I am also really interested in making my products eco friendly, using almost exclusively reused or recycled packaging for my products. As I bring out more product lines, I also want those to be made from recycled materials as much as possible.
The store hasn't strayed too far from its roots working with students, either. I try to share study tips where possible and behind the scenes of the store, and inspirational content to really uplift those who may need a study boost or just a bit more encouragement to get through the day. Through the store, I have also been able to provide printable resources and do seminars and talks on organisation and exam prep. That has been an amazing opportunity, and hopefully shows that through my brand I am willing to go above and beyond.
One thing that I've also noticed is that people appreciate my story. I try to be honest and present my store not just as an establishment, but something which I own and take pride in. When people communicate with my store, there's a person behind it, who wants to support and help them. And people seem to enjoy that interaction (and I do too!)
What is the creative process for designing your stationery?
I do not design all of the stationery myself- for example, I have been unable to find a sustainable manufacturer to create pens for me, but more and more products on my store are designed and/or handmade by myself.
In the creative process, I usually take a look at my store and see what is missing. It might be something that sold out which was popular, or something which is quite on trend which I haven't tested yet but might be a nice addition to my store. From there, I brainstorm the kinds of colour schemes that I would want for the design, and how those colours would work with other products on my store. (For example, over time, I have noticed that there's a lot of pinks and pastel colours on my store, but I hope to introduce other colours in the future!)
I do a lot of digital designing, so next I will probably go to my computer or iPad and start sketching something out. This can span minutes or months (with a fair bit of variation in between). Like a lot of designers, I think that there's a moment where you love the design, or it is a permanent work in progress. For me, I have to compare different layouts and sizes and combinations to make sure that I have the perfect one.
Nowadays I also include my audience in the design process where possible, asking questions on Instagram and engaging with people to hear their thoughts. It's helped me make some really good decisions pertaining to the quality and style of some of the bestselling products on my store, and helps people feel like they are really involved in the process. What does it mean to you to be Black-owned business? That's an interesting question, for me in particular, because I don't consider my store an extension of my culture or identity as a black female. I feel like I represent a different part of the spectrum, where my products are not influenced extensively by my culture (that's something that I don't often see, but is still very important). Nonetheless, I do admire and appreciate the work of other illustrators and business owners, who actively put out products which represent their identity and blackness. Being a black-owned business is a position of responsibility for me. I am representative and most likely a minority in their sector- and although my store doesn't actively represent my black identity, it doesn't stop me from showing solidarity and sharing stores which do. I want to be the person who can uplift and support others, and being a black-owned business means that you support those from your community. Greatest accomplishments and challenges as a business so far?
My greatest accomplishment is probably about to drop soon! It's actually a diary which I have made for 2020-21, which has involved so much effort and designing. It feels like a baby, but one I have definitely been nurturing for over 9 months haha. It hasn't launched for preorder just yet, but it will do soon, and I am incredibly excited.
An accomplishment was has happened was probably completing my first craft fair. That was an amazing experience, and despite me being nervous and feeling unprepared, it went really smoothly. It was an amazing learning experience and opportunity to meet new people, test out new audiences and share the story behind the brand. One of my greatest challenges has probably been finding suppliers who fit my needs! As a business owner, you have a clear idea in your head of exactly how you want your products to look and feel, how you want them to make your product or the supplies that you need. I always seem to have ideas which are just out of the reach of the standard retailer or wholesaler, which is *very* frustrating at times.
How are you adapting your business to the COVID-19 environment? So for about six weeks, customers were able to get free shipping with their orders over the price of £15. This really helped people who wanted to support, as it provided a bit of further encouragement. I also interacted with more of my customers online, through Instagram and Twitter, even running a giveaway for a choice of any product from my store. Oh, and also lots of disinfectant! Any advice for Black creatives or entrepreneurs? Don't be disheartened if your target audience or your friends and family don't understand or don't support how you would expect them to. I have always found that tough, but at the end of the day, you might find other people who wholeheartedly support your brand. Especially if you are young when you are first starting out, it might be difficult to get people to take you seriously, but you will find someone who will.
Start small and don't rush too! Starting a business is a massive responsibility, so expand and progress when needed, and be sure to research and know exactly what you are walking into when taking a risk. Where would you like to see Amanthis Stationery is a years' time? This time next year, I would love to have released my new diary design for 2021-22, alongside a whole host of amazing accessories. In addition to that, my goal is to get some of my bookmarks into independent bookshops.