Tell us about Season Paper Collection…
Mélissa: Season is a creative studio and a stationery/wallpaper brand we started in 2011. We create patterns for the fashion and home industries. We also design beautiful, authentic and functional objects for everyday life. All our prints are hand-drawn with pencil, felt pen or hand-painted in a feminine, soft and timeless spirit.
What inspired you to set up your business?
Julie: After graduating in textile design and gaining a few work experiences on both sides we decided to try drawing some prints for the fashion and home industries. It was very informal, we were just aiming to create one print a day and show it to each other (we had no clients at this stage, so we needed a bit of motivation). After a few months, as we really enjoyed it, we decided to take it to the next level and participate to our first fair (Première Vision Designs). We sold a few prints there, and that’s how the creative studio was born.
A year later we started to think about creating our own products. We love to work for other brands, but we also wanted to design things from A to Z. We both love stationery and, at the time, there wasn’t a great deal of notebooks, cards, etc made in France on the market. We started printing some with our designs on our own office printers (it was not top quality – but it was a start!). A few shops started being interested and, after a few orders, we had a bit of money to produce with a real printing company. That’s how we started Season Paper Collection.
What did you do before setting up Season Paper Collection?
Mélissa: We were both studying textile design at the same school. We learned all the weaving, knitting and printing processes there. After that, we worked for some fashion brands, sometimes together, before starting our own studio.
Where do find inspiration?
Julie: Everywhere! Inspiration is often found when you are not looking for it. We don’t have much time to daydream. but that’s often when it happens (or in the shower!). We find that the best inspiration comes when we are already drawing – you start making something and, very naturally, other ideas come along, it’s a great process.
How would you describe your style?
Julie: Colourful, feminine, sometimes a bit naïve and wild.
Are there themes that run through your work?
Mélissa: We are very inspired by nature and travels (real and imagined ones). All of our collections are inspired by and named after cities or countries that we have visited, or would love to visit one day.
How did you first realise the direction you wanted to take?
Mélissa: It was a long time ago, when I was a teenager. I realised at a fair advertising art schools that I was visiting with my class that it was possible to actually draw for a living. It was very clear to me that it was where I wanted to go. It made my parents laugh because they had the most difficult times trying to drag me to museums when I was a kid!Julie: I’ve loved to draw since I was a kid. When I was a little girl, I used to say that I would work as an illustrator one day, it was my childhood dream. And it became reality!
Describe a typical working day…
Julie: Every day is a bit different, that’s what we enjoy the most about having our own brand! Most of the time we respond to a lot of emails, talk and laugh a lot, and try to have a bit of time to draw and paint. Everyday life has changed since the Coronavirus confinement in France, but basically our working day is the same, but with the addition of kids (so slightly more rock’n’roll!).
What are the values behind your business?
Mélissa: We try to always be very honest and open with each other. We believe communication is very important, and, as we started as friends, we want to make our working life as light and fun as possible. We are also concerned about our planet and try to have the smallest impact possible on it. Most of our products are printed in France with vegetable inks on sustainable papers.
What’s your creative process at work?
Julie: Unfortunately we don’t have as much time as we would like to paint and draw – most of the time we do it in our leisure time. We just start off with a blank page, and not much idea of what’s going to happen next, but usually it works quite well!
What sort of space do you work in?
Mélissa: We have a studio on two levels shared with our team, but also with other self-employed creatives. It’s great because we can share a lot of ideas with people (now friends) that are not involved in the brand originally. Each season they are also a great test panel for our new designs.
Where is your studio located?
Julie: We are in Montreuil, in Paris, near the suburbs. It’s a great place with a very creative life (there are loads of artist’s studios all around), and also compared to Paris, it’s a bit more quiet and relaxed – we love it.
How has your work evolved since you began?
Mélissa: Hmmm, well I hope that we got a bit better at drawing in almost 10 years! Somehow, our drawings grew up a bit with us, became a bit more ‘adult’. But something that hasn’t changed is our love for prints made by hand – those where you can see the brush strokes or felt pen shades.
How valuable is the online community to your work?
Julie: Very valuable indeed! We have a great and very supportive community, they always keep us going and inspire us. For example, during the pandemic confinement we started offering some DIY’s through our newsletters and Instagram, and our followers kept sending really nice messages to tell us they loved it. It was a real motivation to continue.
What are the pros and cons working as an independent maker?
Mélissa: We love the freedom of it. But it is often very challenging, because every day you have new questions that need answering. We’re not always sure to have the correct answer but the real bonus is that you are never, ever bored!
How do you approach marketing and PR?
Mélissa: Neither Julie or I learned marketing or PR at art school, so we try to approach it like everything else: we learn from our experiences and try to do everything with common sense (and we try not to panic!).
What have been Season’s highlights so far?
Julie: The one we remember most is our first order by Le Bon Marché in Paris. We absolutely love this department store and it was one of our first clients – we were so proud. Also, our first Maison & Objet was a great success (and so much fun) and really launched the brand, they’re great memories.
Where do you sell your work?
Julie: All over the world – the great thing about stationery is that it fits pretty much everywhere. We work with a lot of department stores, book shops, florists, kid’s shops and lots more.
Do you have any creative pastimes?
Mélissa: We both love to weave and knit but often lack the time to do it. We also both like baking (we tend to drown our sorrows of not having enough time to craft in chocolate!).
Any tips for makers who are just starting out?
Julie: Don’t overthink. It’s very difficult to achieve, but creativity really comes when the mind is free from constraints. The more you push it, the less it comes naturally.
Projects in the pipeline?
Julie: There is a new book coming out, published by the great Japanese company, Pie Books, which features lots of our designs – we love it. Also, we will be launching new wallpapers soon, so stay tuned.
Describe your work in three words?
Free-spirited, feminine and sometimes naïve.
What are your making rituals?
Start in front of a blank page, panic a bit, start anyways – and then find you can’t stop!
Tea or coffee?
Mountains or sea?
Sea for Julie, and mountains for Mélissa.
Night owl or early bird?
We are naturally night owls but these days, we are early birds (tired ones) since having kids.
I wish someone had told me…
To sleep more before having kids!