We've decided to get to know some of our local business partners a bit better - and today we speak to Graeme from Pen to Paper...

Photos of Graeme and the team at Pen to Paper, Brighton

  • Tell us about yourself and how you started with Pen to Paper

My background is working at Board level mainly for engineering companies throughout my life. Having lived in Brighton for 10 years I wanted to settle more here and so started looking for a typical Brighton business to invest in. At the time, the ladies who started Pen to Paper were looking to retire and my early career history fitted perfectly with the opportunity, as I started in printing and then trained as a manager for the old Woolworths. I love the traditional feel that the shop has and how similar it is to the qualities the old Woolworths had. That was in 2019 and we have had quite the roller coaster experience since.

  • What do you love most about what you do?

I love being part of an artistic and artisan culture and providing much loved support to those creative people who live in Brighton. Although I don’t often get the chance to serve people directly, I love every minute of getting to know them and totally identify with them. Being able to spend every day in this lovely Bohemian city has been a great replacement for the rat race commuting I put up with for 30 years.

  • What’s the best thing about your work?

The amount of creativity that is associated with the people we serve and the wide range of products and services they need, provides a fantastic and interesting challenge. Seeing people thoroughly enjoying their visit gives me the greatest satisfaction.

  • What’s your average day like, or is it ever average?

There is definitely no such thing as an average day in this shop! Every day is different and every customer has their own very personal needs. We deal with people giggling helplessly at our fun cards as they walk past, then stop and read them. At the same time we can be helping someone pick the fountain pen that is just right for them. Then we have lots and lots of enquiries from people who either want to try Calligraphy or are great exponents themselves. Add to this the print and wax seal products that can help people create their own identity and the gorgeous range of wrapping paper we have, there is no chance that any day will be average.

  • What is the biggest challenge or opportunity currently for you at the moment?

Right now, surviving the catastrophic effects of Covid is our single biggest challenge. I know it's an obvious one, but business owners like myself have endured nearly 2 years with no time off and very little income. I can’t remember the last time I had a good night's sleep and I am sure a lot of my friends in the shops here are in the same position. After that, it is definitely Christmas, December is basically non stop from opening to close, people love our traditional approach to celebrating the holiday and thoroughly enjoy picking the fabulous cards and wrapping we have.

  • It’s exciting times for businesses being able to reopen now, what have you been doing to plan for this?

We have been working hard to align the business to the way the High Street is having to adapt to the mix of physical and online shopping. So, on top of keeping the business going, we have been creating a great online/shop experience that allows people to feel they are getting the same experience however they choose to visit us. So that means creating things on the website that allows people to do things like learn about different hobbies and understand what their choices are and what is best for them. I know for a fact that the big websites don’t provide this and I think us little guys can provide a whole new joint experience for our customers.

  • Have you got anything new planned for the coming year?

We have a host of events planned, subject to the pandemic of course. We are looking at holding product personalisation days, mentoring sessions with the great artists and artisans in Brighton. These are all subject to the pandemic, as I say, so the details are still a little fluid.

  • What do you love most about Brighton?

Oh, that’s very easy….. Bohemian Brighton is what attracted me here and it is what makes me feel alive. This is a city full of creativity and life, it oozes fabulousness!! Living here makes one feel alive!

Related

Pen to Paper
Specialist
Art Materials

Pen to Paper brings the world of art, artisans and quality together in our wide range of stationery products. The perfect place to get your gifts, wrapping and card in one place.

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