Meet Louise Burgoyne from Samfire Handmade
The shelves of Samfire Handmade are filled with eye-catching, cute and occasionally cheeky cards created by Louise Burgoyne. All the cards are designed, made, cut, folded and packaged by Louise in her studio in Stamford, Lincolnshire. Here Louise tells fellow Folksy seller and jeweller Irmela Werner from IRMY where her ideas come from and why she would rather do everything in house than outsource the making.
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I am proud that I can say all my cards are designed, made, printed, cut, folded and packaged by me.Louise Burgoyne, Samfire Handmade
Hi Louise! I’m excited to interview you today. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about what you do?
I’m the owner of Samfire Handmade. I design and make fun, punny and sometimes a little sarcastic unique greetings cards from my little studio office (which was formerly my dining room) in my home in the beautiful town of Stamford.
You used to be a ceramic artist. How and when did you start making greeting cards?
I have a degree in ceramics and after finishing university I worked in clay for a year. I then met my partner Steve and a few months later I moved to Nottingham. I couldn’t find studio space there, so I got a part-time job, which then turned into a full-time career in retail management – unplanned but that’s life!
Quite a few years later I was made redundant so I started making cards to make money in between jobs. After I was made redundant for a second time I decided I wanted to work for myself and do something creative… so making greeting cards become my full-time job!
I always try to design cards that are difficult to find in the shops. I recently designed a range of cards sent ‘from the pets’ and they have turned into some of my best sellers.Louise Burgoyne, Samfire Handmade
Your designs are really fun, original and eye catching. Where do you get your ideas from?
Thank you. I try not to force ideas. If I sit down and try to think of a card for a certain occasion my mind goes blank.
My designs normally come from a comment someone says or something I see or hear. Once I start designing the images it can often lead to other ideas or puns, which sometimes means I end up with lots of cards on the same theme. Sometimes I design a card for friends or family members and that leads to a design that I hope other people might like to send too. That’s why my cards vary so much in style, from cute to sarcastic.
Can you tell us a bit more about your process and different techniques?
I used to make all my cards by hand. When I started I didn’t have money to invest, so I used what I had. I started out with a box of card, coloured paper, glue, a pen and scissors. I used to hand draw every design, handwrite the greeting and cut the images out of the paper and glue it all together. Now I use a printer but still hand cut the designs out of the coloured paper and glue them on to the card.
This is very labour intensive, so a few years ago I started to draw my designs on a tablet and print the cards in my studio. This means they are still handmade by me, but by doing it this way I can design and produce more cards in a much shorter timeframe, while increasing the range of designs I offer.
I do still love the process of making the handmade cards and you can still find them in my shop, even if they don’t make me much money when I work it out per hour! I am proud that I can say all my cards are designed, made, printed, cut, folded and packaged by me.
What does a typical day in your studio look like?
The joy of being self employed means there is no such thing as a typical day, but I do love making lists, so normally I have some idea of what I’m doing in advance.
I try to mix my day up so I’m not doing the same things for long periods, but generally the first thing I do is get the orders made and packaged, ready for the post office drop. I then read and reply to any emails or take care of the exciting admin that needs my attention. Then, when the orders are done it’s a five-minute walk to the post office. My goal is to get the stuff I have to do done first to allow time for the unplanned events, issues, and scenarios that may crop up.
After lunch, I either work on my listings, photographs, or make and print cards that I need to restock. I also work on new designs and ideas in the late afternoon or sometimes in the evening in front of the TV. This is also where I cut out the designs elements for my handmade cards. I like to keep my hands busy.
I do love a punny card… especially the ones that are a little bit cheeky.Louise Burgoyne, Samfire Handmade
What would you say are your funniest or most unusual designs?
I do love a punny card but choosing the funniest is hard. If I had to choose, then probably the funniest are all the animal-themed puns, especially the ones that are a little bit cheeky. As for the most unusual, I always try to design cards that are difficult to find in the shops. I recently designed a range of cards sent ‘from the pets’ and they have turned into some of my best sellers. I have now started to design cards ‘for the pets’ – because why should they miss out!
Have you got any future plans, dreams or goals?
I consider myself to be so lucky to do a job I love. I have been amazed by the opportunities that have come my way. I’ve been featured in magazines, published in a book, supplied shops all over the UK and sell my work worldwide. If I can just keep supporting myself doing this I’ll be happy… but if there are any retail shop owners who would like to stock my cards please feel free to get in touch!
Don’t be afraid to get making and put it out into the world. You won’t sell anything unless people see what you have to offer.Louise Burgoyne, Samfire Handmade
And last but not least, what is your best advice for anyone wanting to start a create business?
Just do it, don’t wait until everything is perfect because you will never start. Don’t be afraid to get making and put it out into the world. You won’t sell anything unless people see what you have to offer. I’m still learning and improving. I look back at some of the things I was doing and designs I was producing when I first started and think ‘how did I sell anything?’ but we all have to start somewhere.
Get 15% off with code XMAS15 – valid until Sunday 20th November