Old English Co. are a homewares and stationery brand, originally established in London, with studios now based in Stamford. The team create unique and stylish hand lettered products with uncomplicated designs and messages that resonate with people.
We have been stocking Old English Co. since the very begin of the shop 3 years ago....
Ben Treanor, built Old English Co. from the ground up, starting out by selling a few cards and prints on Etsy. Now with over 63,000 followers on Instagram alone, this is a shining example of a small business success story. We spoke to Ben to find out a bit more about his journey...
Can you summarise your journey to becoming a designer in five steps?
1. I studied design at Leeds Met Uni
2. After graduating I moved back to my hometown, Stamford, and started my first design job working for a big calendar company
3. I then moved to Australia for a year and a half and freelanced a bit as an illustrator whilst I lived the beach-life dream
4. I decided to return to reality and look for a design job in London. I moved to London in early 2012 to work as a designer and illustrator at Waterstone’s HQ in Piccadilly.
5. A few years later, I set up a small ‘side project/hobby’ to sell a few cards and prints on Etsy as a bit of extra pocket money really. From there it grew, Old English was born and I decided to go full-time with the business in 2014 after it took off.
What inspires your work?
As the saying goes, there is beauty in simplicity. I really enjoy creating designs, which not only encapsulates the latest trends, but that also have a clean finish. I think that’s why I’ve always been a big fan of the Scandinavian look.
With everything we create, my aim is to produce simple, uncomplicated hand-lettered designs with messages that resonate with people, making them laugh and smile. I have a big passion for typography, so that’s where most of my inspiration comes from.
I draw all the designs by hand, and so, the lettering style doesn't follow any particular calligraphy rules, and that's the type of lettering I love. Just going with it to see what I come up with. However, I use different styles to link each one with the message of the design, so the lettering compliments the slogan.
We often have brainstorming sessions with the team to think of new products and designs, but mostly the messages and topics all come from inspiration from around me and in daily life - whether that’s a love for coffee, travel or pizza.
What is a typical workday for you?
I’m an early bird as I find that I’m the most creative and productive in the morning. So, I tend to be at the studio at the crack of dawn. I arrive at 6am, as it’s a few hours before everyone else gets in, it’s the quietest time of day in the studio and typically when I’ll work on designs for a few hours. Once staff start arriving at 8- 9am, the proper working day starts - answering emails, fulfilling orders, typical business duties.
I tend to finish fairly early at around 4.30 – 5.00pm, depending on how busy things are. I do work on some weekends too, although I try to ensure that where possible I get a balance between driving the business forward and spending quality time with friends and family.
Who is your favourite designer/maker & why?
I’ve always loved and respected Rifle Paper Co. Although very different to my style of design, I just love the quality and range of their products. They are definitely up there with a top inspiration for me.
My wife Danielle also joined the business full-time recently after working the past 10 years in PR and Marketing. Now she’s on-board, we’re embarking on our journey of working and growing the business together, so I love that Rifle Paper Co. was founded and owned by husband and wife team, Anna and Nathan Bond. If we can do even half as a good job as they’ve done, I’ll be a very happy man.
What is your most treasured item of homeware?
Sounds silly, but a concrete gold spray painted bear! I bought it as a prop for the very first trade show we did. I think it might be a bookend or something, but I bought it as I thought it was pretty cool and I added a bit of bling to it by spray-painting it gold. We did really well at that trade show and it was the start of our wholesale journey, so now I very much see it as my lucky charm. He now sits in the studio on the windowsill next to my computer.
Which of your own designs are you most proud of, and why?
It’s hard to pick actually as there are a few big sellers which I’m so pleased I put that pencil to paper. Some of the best sellers are the products I didn’t expect to do so well. I’d say if I had to pick one it would be our ‘big spoon/little spoon’ pillowcases. They have done really well and still continue to be one of our best selling products.
Take a look at their pins, pillowcases, cards, notebooks, prints and more on our