Fed up with searching for a stylish wallpaper suitable for her young boys’ bedroom, Victoria Cramsie decided that the only way to find what she wanted was to design it herself. There were lots of designs for girls (mostly around the pink/princess theme), but apparently a bit of a gap in the market for boys. She wanted it to look handmade without being twee; bright and lively without being garish – and there was nothing out there that fitted the brief. In 2009 her frustration grew into her own business: PaperBoy Wallpaper. Although originally aimed at boys, Victoria noticed that her designs were also finding a market with girls. Now, the range includes unisex designs, all illustrated with Victoria’s own drawings. Sara Walker talked to Victoria about the good bits and bad bits of running your own design company.
SW: Could you tell me a little more about your background before you set up the company? You’re obviously a talented artist – had you had any experience in design? What were you doing before?
VC: I had been working on buying up rather shabby houses and doing them up and selling them on in London. Then the 2007 financial crash happened, and I had to take stock and think of another way of making a living. I thought I’d just spend some time redecorating my twin boys’ bedroom whilst I though about what to do next. The lack of anything nice on offer for boys was rather annoying! And I thought, “how hard can it be to make lovely wallpaper for boys?” And it went from there! I’m not a trained designer but I can draw tolerably well and I work with great people to make my designs a reality.
SW: Although it sounds easy, I imagine the actual setting up of the business had some challenges! How did you go about making your designs a reality, and how does the process work for wallpaper – do you send off your hand-drawn designs to the paper company and they lay them out and do the pattern repeats, or do you design the whole thing? (Sorry, this isn’t really my area of expertise so I’d be really interested to find out how it all works.)
VC: I started the business in September 2009 but it took a year to find a printer for the wallpapers. It wasn’t until 2011 that it really got into full swing. Having drawn the designs they are scanned to become computer files and sent to an engraver to get them into a pattern repeat. Colours are then chosen and sampled. Once the colours have been chosen we go into production. Then the marketing begins!
SW: The thing I absolutely love about your designs is how they feed the imagination – I can see children spending hours re-creating those shadow puppets on the Hand Made design, for example. Is that at the forefront of your mind when you design?
VC: Yes. I’m nor designing for myself but for the children who’ll have it on their bedroom walls. I want to create something that amuses and engages them, and in colours that their parents will love.
SW: Have you been asked to expand into producing designs specifically for girls or even adults? Is it something you’d consider? As your own children grow, do you think you’ll expand into designs for teenagers?
VC: Yes we have and it’s something we’ve started in 2018 with our General Miss Chief design, and we are working on new wallpapers for 2019. The girl in our new designs is a feisty type. There are plenty of fairy and unicorn wallpapers around if that’s your thing. It’s not our thing though! I think teenagers are quite well catered for so we’ll be sticking with the younger demographic for now.
SW: What’s the hardest thing about running your own business? And what’s the best thing?
VC: The hardest thing is that we are always at the mercy of external events (recessions, terrorist attacks, Brexit) that all have an impact on how people feel about spending money. The best thing is working in an industry that I love. I adore wallpaper and fabric and get to spend my days looking at what’s new in the world of interiors. It’s also great to be able to work around family commitments. I work mainly with other mothers and they are free to set their hours of work according to their other commitments.
SW: You’ve got some high profile stockists, including Liberty’s and Highclere – how did it feel when they came on board?
VC: It’s always a thrill to know that anyone wants to stock our wallpapers. We are grateful for all our stockists but of course it’s nice to know that those at the top of their game like what we do.
SW: What’s in the pipeline for the future?
VC: We are working on new colours for some of our established popular wallpapers – that’s always fun – and of course we are working on whole new designs. We are also hoping to licence our designs for other products that we think children would love. Watch this space ….
PaperBoy wallpapers are priced at £60 a roll, available from www.paperboywallpaper.co.uk. Victoria also stocks a range of fabrics and home furnishings.
Main image shows Animal wallpaper.
All images (C) PaperBoy Wallpaper 2018-19