It’s nearly holiday time..

18 Jul


Well, it’s been a hot few weeks and it’s nearly holiday time – yippee!

School’s out soon and in a week or so we’ll be heading to France for some much needed R&R (that’s rummaging and relaxation for those of us who love flea markets and antique shops!)

We’re not going as far as Nice but will be driving to the Loire Valley with two young’s going to be interesting..

The plan is to buy lots of new stock for The Deco Press shop and I’ll post pictures of my lovely new finds as soon as I get them. Au revoir!




What’s in a name?…

28 Jun


Using good old fashioned pen and paper and a some brain cells..Thinking up my business name has been one of the most enjoyable tasks I’ve done since starting up my business!

Many of us have spent hours thinking about what we’d call our dream business if it ever came to fruition or come up with the ‘perfect’ business name but with no idea what the business would really do..

Well, I started out knowing I wanted to sell vintage advertising. It was probably going to be mostly French, initially at least, and I knew the era I loved most, and had most stock from, was the 1920s art deco period. I needed a name that captured the feel of my products, indicating what I would sell while also giving me scope for future expansion of my product line.

I did loads of brainstorming and doodling in the back of my colourful leather notepads (turquoise being the current favourite). I initally started off with the name ‘Vintage Prints’ because that’s what I sold. Not very imaginative but it was a starting point and enabled me to at least put an identifiable business name on the pictures I was selling.

Then a number of people suggested using my own name as my business name. I didn’t think this would work as I had a clear idea of the brand I was wanting to create and that wasn’t going to be based on me personally…plus my name is a bit too long!

I love typography, old letterpress letters, faded ink and antique paper and thought that the word ‘Press’ perfectly described the adverts from old press magazines I was selling.

The penultimate name I came up with was actually ‘The Vintage Press’ but, luckily I now think, there is already a swanky, art-nouveau style restaurant in California with this name who also owned the domain.

The next evening while writing new lists of all the key words which represented what I wanted to do, I replaced ‘Vintage’ with ‘Deco’ and realised I had found my name. 

Amazingly no-one else registered it and the domain for both and .com was available.  I snapped them up!

Overall it took me around 4 months to come up with ‘The Deco Press’. And I LOVE it!

I’d love to know the process you used to come up with your business name and if you are still happy with it later down the line…




Coming up: Registering and hosting a new business domain name


Edinburgh International Film Festival – You can watch films there..

20 Jun



The 67th Edinburgh International Film Festival opened yesterday and runs until 30th June. I’ve visited the Festival in a work capacity – it was particularly hard watching my 4th great film of the day knowing I then had to ‘network’ in the gorgeous bars and restaurants of this ‘dream in masonry and living rock’ (poetic observation from Robert Louis Stevenson..)

Anyway, I managed ok and am this year intrigued by two very different directors showing there.

With more of a high art vibe, there will be a retrospective of the work of French Director Jean Grémillon who made many well regarded films from the 1920s through to the 1960s and during the time when Europe was in turmoil and under German occupation. His work has strong links to the avant garde, art and music and should be interesting to watch knowing the historical context.

In a different vein, the new film “Frances Ha” by one of my favourite directors, Noah Baumbach will have its UK premiere tomorrow. Baumbach of The Squid and the Whale fame has again set this film in New York, and also Paris, and a film with these cities as a backdrop has got to be worth a watch.

To anyone currently smoozing up in Edinburgh and enjoying the films..I wish I was there!



Social Responsibility in small business…Who’s the winner?

14 Jun



I’ve always worked in the Private Sector – It just happened that way. I won’t lie – The work was pretty interesting, the people (mostly) friendly and the parties could be great. Really though, the work didn’t leave me with a sense of having done something worthwhile with my working day. 

When I set up my own business I wanted to directly help people in some way. Now, of course I know that selling vintage art isn’t going to save the world or save anyone from poverty, but I can use it to make a big difference in a little way… This is one of the principles underlying The Deco Press and I hope do this through my involvement with a company called Lend With Care. 

 Image are an online organisation and part of the charity Care International. Via the website you can choose to lend any amount of money to a small business owner in a number of different developing countries including Cambodia, Ecuador and Benin. They may need the money to expand their stock or take on seasonal help. Any number of people can contribute to the same person until they reach their requested loan amount. They then work to repay the loan back to you as they make money in their business. Once they have repaid the loan you can re-lend it to another entrepreneur and so the positive cycle continues.

I specifically look to lend money to businesses run by women and my aim is to loan out 10% of the profit generated from running The Deco Press to Lend With Care, enabling my small business to help other small businesses. Everyone’s a winner baby.

Is it really a good idea? Is it really enough? I don’t know, but at least it’s a start.


Coming up: What’s in a name?..


A chance to set up a ‘pop-up’ shop..

7 Jun


I’ve been really busy over the last few weeks preparing for the opening of my very first Deco Press ‘pop up’ shop inside the brand new Handpicked Hall in Leeds city centre! 

It’s set to be an eclectic mix of local retailers selling art, food, vintage and fashion inside the beautiful Victorian Grand Arcade, and I can’t wait to be part of a venture supporting and promoting small, local, creative businesses.

The newly refurbished space is light and bright and packed with original Victorian features alongside a brand new pitched glass roof. It has had many incarnations since the Arcade was first built in 1897. My favourite being when it was The Pleasure Rooms and host to seminal club nights such as Back to Basics!.. In fact I might have to do another post on a now ‘vintage’ form of advertising art – my collection of Back to Basics club flyers.. but that’s one for another day!

Handpicked Hall opens on Friday 14th June when I’ll have a space on the Art floor and I’ll also be there on Saturday 22nd June with further dates to follow, so come on down and say hello!



Why French Art Deco Advertising Art?

24 May


I originally started out selling vintage furniture and home wares, but this seriously cluttered up our house and seriously annoyed my other half who lived a simple life before he met me..!

I love the buzz of buying and selling. I think I’m really a market trader at heart! I’ve always enjoyed spotting the potential in the unloved and giving things new life. Haggling and bartering are my just my thing, and it’s amazing how far you can get with a smile and a bit of parlais Franglais!

I visit France a lot and my purchasing first started with a bargainous 6 euro ‘Atomic Era leatherette armchair’ which I pulled out of a skip in the backyard of a Brocante (antique / junk shop in varying degrees depending on the ambitions of the owner). I bought it back wedged in the back of the car only to be mocked for its missing foot and general garishness.

However, a few months living with the red and black plastic amongst my muted decor and my confidence in the chair wavered. It ended up back in a skip. Only later, once I’d discovered ebay did I realise I had briefly owned a classic piece of 60s french design. Potential Sale price £350. Damn.

(I’ve realised there are two lessons to learn here; 1. Only buy what you really love, not just what you think will sell well. 2. Don’t buy broken items when you know you’re the kind of person who won’t get round to fixing them.)

A few years and more than a few markets later, I happened to buy some old magazines as I had spotted lovely pictures in them. When I got them home and looked at them closely I actually preferred the adverts and decided to frame a few for my walls. I bought a few more and my collection grew. Friends asked me where I’d found the images and wanted to know if I had any more they could buy.

I sold a few this way and then at a Vintage Fair here in Leeds where they literally flew off the stall.

I realised that I potentially had a very sellable product and the possibility for a creative business. A business that could fit my 7 criteria. (See previous post!)

The pictures didn’t take up much storage space (crucial), they would be easy to post out to buyers in the UK and around the world and there was potential for creating ‘products’ from them.

More importantly I think they are gorgeous, quirky, help with my French vocab and perfectly chime with my love of a modern/vintage look. If I love them then others will too was my reasoning..


Next Post: Quick diversion into Social Responsibility – It’ll be short but sweet!


So why start my own business?

15 May


I’ve not had a conventional career path. Previous roles in my 20s included dabbling in editorial on women’s magazines, Secretary to Richard Branson (yes, really), Music Events PR, Publicist at Channel 4 Television and Film 4 and a brief stint as a Life Coach…well I always advocated a Portfolio work life long before it was a phrase coined by the media!

I’m now married with two little boys so it’s been a busy few years.

During my time as an employee I’d gradually worked out that I’m really best suited to running a business of my own, mainly so I don’t have to work achieving someone else’s goals (and can work in my slippers listening to Nina Simone)!

During the long hours pounding the streets with the boys in the Phil & Teds, I constantly asked myself “What is that business idea? Come on, think!”

I’d always had little projects going on on the side but, once I’d finished looking after the boys full time, I knew it was a good time to start the business I’d been thinking about for years.

My new business would have to encompass the following;

  1. Be something I could sell – a product, skill or service
  2. Enable me to work from my home office / studio
  3. Be flexible so I could fit hours around school time and other parts of my life
  4. Have potential for expansion, development and a long term income
  5. Allow me to be sociable with people face to face and online
  6. Be creative and something I was passionate about
  7. Be socially responsible and have an ethos I would be proud of

I finally hit upon the final idea last summer and it seemed as natural and obvious as these things should be (with the benefit of hindsight of course)..

Next Post: Why French Art Deco Advertising Art?

Pictures for a Paris apartment

5 May


I visited Paris just before Christmas 2012 and had a great time eating and browsing at Merci (see previous post!) and wandering the streets in the bright, cold sunshine. I also made sure I managed to fit in a quick trip to a gem of a market – the Puces de Vanves.

Here I found some lovely new stock which I packed up in my case ready for framing back at TDP headquarters.

I stayed in a cute little apartment in the 5th arrondissement near to the Sorbonne. It belongs to a friend’s dad and, as a thank you for letting me stay, I mounted and sent him one of the images I’d found – a Citroen car advert from 1927. I had noticed that there weren’t many pictures up on the flats’ walls and I hoped it might be something he’d appreciate, for the design as well as the French vocabulary!

With a little bit of serendipity, it seems that it was just what he’d been looking for and he and his partner recently came to my studio to see what other pictures they might want to buy. They ended up being the proud owners of 5 more gorgeous black and white, art deco adverts and intend to make a striking feature wall, or two, in the apartment!

Here are the pictures they chose – I think they’ll work really well together;


Changing the focus of a blog..

28 Apr


So, I started this blog when I started my vintage advertising art business, The Deco Press.  I’ve posted (fairly) regularly for a few months now. Had you noticed my posts have been pretty random in theme?

Well this is fine, but I’ve felt that I hadn’t quite found the purpose of my blog.

I knew I wanted to highlight the gorgeousness that is Art Deco and the beauty of vintage advertising but how to make this a long-running, interesting story I hadn’t quite worked out!

By just getting on and writing I felt that purpose would eventually come to me…and now it has..

I’m around 7 months in from launching The Deco Press and it’s been an exciting and challenging time. I started out with nothing more than the grain of an idea and have grown from there.

Partly for my benefit (as I’m not good at documenting milestones and achievements) and, I hope, for yours, I’m going to go back to the very start and show exactly what I’ve done and the steps I’ve taken to get this far…hopefully I won’t catch up with myself!

Next post: Why did I want to start up a business in the first place?

Flapper Hair..

17 Apr

I’ve just bought a whole batch of new stock and have unwittingly been attracted to 1920s images featuring women with sleek flapper crops. I have tried this style on my own hair before but it’s really hard to keep it slicked down. Perhaps I have an advert somewhere for the hair product they used to use…

The advert below is by G Bourdier for the Malaceine Brand;



Another really strong image of cropped hair profiles is this one for L’Oreal;



Will you ask to be “bobbed”, “shingled” or “Eton cropped” at your next hair appointment?!


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