About a month ago I spent a lovely morning with Helen Gillespie of Betsy & Els, so named (charmingly) after her two daughters. As it turns out we knew each other from about 15 years ago, small world syndrome, so it really was an OMG It’s you! moment when we meet face to face!! Helen lives in a lovely Victorian house in the heart of Lytham.
You can always know when you are in the house of a creative as there is that effortless and slightly quirky style, the one that would take a ‘normal’ person years (if at all) to achieve. Any way I digress, I just LOVE other people’s houses!!
Helen trained in Graphic Design and Fine Art, and has worked in Design for many years, but after pressure from her children and family, decided to leave the Corporate World, and make a go of her creative business.
We then had a conversation about how people are actively seeking out handmade, home-made unique items as a backlash to mass produced by High Street Chains and Supermarkets. There also runs in parallel a greater need to know where things are made, a provenance if you will, traceability, and a much greater support for locally made products But whereas most of the handmade crafts are very traditional, Helen’s are very high-tech and might I say ‘cutting edge’.
I asked Helen where she gets her inspiration from, and it’s basically from life and people and their suggestions, if it’s for a wedding theme she has regular meetings with the clients to ensure their ideas are the concept for the design. One of her recent commissions used the outline of the venue as a basis for the wedding stationery which started with Save the Date cards, through to Timeline of the Day, Place Settings, Guest Books, Table Decorations and Thank you cards. The couple are now planning their Wedding Wall where some of the items are being framed for posterity (What a great idea)!
This ultimately led to Helen pitching to ‘Not on the High Street’ and her Dragon’s Den style pitch was scary, but successful for the bespoke Wedding Stationery. notonthehighstreet.com/partners/betsyandels/products
Giving Betsy & Els a national platform, which is a phenomenal achievement in her first year.
How the magic happens
In her fabulous cluttered studio stands the very basis of her craft, a CNC laser cutting machine, her beautiful and intricate designs are sketched by hand or drawn from maps, then scanned into the computer where the design is translated onto paper, card or thin wood, or in some cases acrylics, fabrics and leather. But seemingly you can also engrave, toast, biscuits and chocolate!!
SO it was over to me, Helen had already drawn a map which I then placed in the laser cutting machine and the computer programme was set to cut …….(so I really didn’t do that much) and below is the fished result, that has since been beautifully framed!
These maps are brilliant and can be of where you live, where you met, married etc, or as a recent commision all three. Would also look good in your business too.
All morning I was surrounded by fabulous frames, signs, Lytham Windmill & St Annes Pier ‘sticks’, vases of the sweetest little snowdrops, bluebells & daffodils, and her new Great British Bake Off inspired gifts that can be completely personalised.
In the Future
Catch Helen at Lytham Market (3rd Thursday or the Month) and see Directory Listing for all contact details, website & social media links.