Ta-dah! I have been teasing you for a while with sneak previews of my new range and here it is at last.
Daisy Lane is based on a batch of vintage greeting cards I found at the Daylesford Bazaar back in March - do you remember them?
I fell in love with the illustrations of girls tending their gardens, and I decided to try and track down the artist, who turned out to be a lady called Sue Adams. Sue was a greeting card artist for Phil Taylor Cards in Sydney for over 20 years, from the 1960s to the 1980s.
During this time, Sue created thousands of her very charming illustrations. They decorated greeting cards for every occasion, wedding invitations, gift wrap and gift tags (but never swap cards, at least not officially).
In the 1980s, changing fashions meant that demand for the 'cuties' (as they were known in the card company) declined, and Sue eventually moved to England, where she still lives and paints.
My detective work led me to Mark Taylor, the son of Phil and Mary Taylor, who started the company in 1960 on their kitchen table. These days Phil Taylor is Australia's largest family-owned greetings company, but it is still very much run as a family business, and Mark invited me to visit their offices in Botany, Sydney, to view the Sue Adams archive. As you can imagine, I couldn't get on a plane fast enough!
I had a lovely day taking tea with Mark (and eating sandwiches made by his dad!), and hearing about how Phil (an artist himself) met Mary and about what it was like to grow up in such a creative family. It reminded me a lot of Lark, our own family business.
Mark then disappeared and came back with a pile of small suitcases containing the original artworks that Sue created for the cards. I can't really put into words what a joy it was for me, being obsessed with vintage children's illustration, to get to rifle through thousands of wonderful artworks. I was amazed at how each one is different from the next, and the endless creativity that Sue poured into the works that she was creating day after day. I think it's pretty clear that she loved her job!
Mark and his family have been carefully storing the 'cuties' (and the many other illustrated ranges that they produced) for the past thirty years, hoping that one day people might like them again. Of course that time is now here, as I pointed out!
Fast forward a few months and several trips to Sydney. With the help of the Taylor family and Sue Adams, I have been VERY luckily allowed to design a children's gift range using the original archive. I have been wanting for some time to launch a collection for Lark that is inspired by the Holly Hobbie/Betsy Clarke character products that I collected as a girl - simple and sweet things that don't require batteries (or a knowledge of celebrities and dating).
So taking inspiration from Sue's illustrations I have created Daisy Lane. It will grow into a whole collection of sweet gifts from bubble bath to secret diaries. The kinds of things we all loved (and still secretly do) and that we want our children to love too.
Daisy Lane is launching at the Kids in Style show this week. We are starting with some very wonderful products...
Posters (for your bedroom), beautiful and a large 50x70 cms
Sweet accessories of all kinds, costing just a few dollars of your pocket money
Letter writing sets, for when SMS just won't do
Sweeties in pretty candy stripe bags, containing special treats like Lemon Bonbons, Juicy Lips and ABC Candy Letters
And swap cards! Yes, we have received so many requests from Lark customers to bring back swap cards that I couldn't resist. Now you can collect Daisy Lane cards along with your vintage swappie collection. There is a very cute old-style album, and 24 different cards (with many more to come over the next few months).
Daisy Lane is 100% Australian made. I have been working with some wonderful manufacturers, including a 150-year old printing company and Melbourne's oldest soap maker, on lots of exciting products that you will see over the next year. Phil Taylor are also going to be re-releasing some of the original greeting cards in 2011, yay!
This last week has seen various dramas and nail-biting moments as the first Daisy Lane products started arriving, just in time for the launch. It it always very emotional to see your ideas turning into reality, isn't it? The first products will be available in a week's time from our website and from some of our lovely stockists, this is just a special sneak preview. I'd love to know what you think.
I'm off to finish preparations for Kids in Style. If you're coming along please pop by and say Hi, we'll be at K109 in Hall 1.