Issue no. 52 – April 2014.
by Paul Chapman.
Little Fish Events is Hannah Leaning’s independent business selling event stationery and styling and planing weddings. Typical of many small enterprises Hannah has built up a business based on a great idea, good demand for the product and a lot of hard work. Little Fish runs from a small office above Moo Fashions on Chatsworth Road and also displays her work next door, in the Gallery at Pooky.
From the studio in Chesterfield they hand make personalised party invites, party bags and tags and fingerprint kits alongside a vast range of wedding stationery which they design, print, glitter… there is a lot of hand glittering going on… pack and send from Chatsworth Road.
“We have around 80 designs which can be supplied across a wide range of products, from save the date cards, event stationery, such as orders of service and wine glass tokens, as well as decorative items like paper chains and bunting, all fully personalised.” The products are available via the website, but one of her most successful ventures was in applying to sell products via Not on The High Street.com “and the response has been great” Hannah enthuses.
“I love design” says Hannah, “but my degree is in Creative Writing and Public Relations (PR), I never intended to be doing what I’m doing today but it was a route that evolved and I now enjoy it hugely.”
Hannah started out in PR, working in driver training which lead to a job with Ford UK. She was heavily involved in the marketing and launch of the Ford Focus and it was during this time that she met some key sports personalities. “I really enjoyed the sports side, so much so that I moved to work with the British Triathlon team as soon as I saw an opportunity. Again one thing lead to another and I ended up working at the Arena in Nottingham, organising some amazing events, the Ice Hockey Superleague games, working with media teams across various TV networks and the event I’m most proud of was the Royal Jubilee visit by the Queen, the problem was, after being involved with this, other events just couldn’t match up. I was ready for a new challenge, and running my own business was something I had always wanted to do.”
As an event organiser Hannah always got involved in helping with weddings and events for family and friends. Her mum was in catering and with her professional background, it was only a matter of time before she decided to change career direction and become a full time wedding planner.
Once I began organising larger weddings, I found that people often struggled to find quirky stationery they liked, they wanted little finishing touches that just didn’t seem to exist, such as tiny tags to add to sparklers, or gifts to leave on the guests’ pillows at the hotel. They would ask me to help and when I couldn’t source what I wanted for them, I rolled up my sleeves and started making it.” says Hannah.
So why the name Little Fish Events? “I was styling a Piscean’s 21st birthday where I needed to add interest to huge round tables. I used vases of tropical flowers, with real fish swimming around the stems. From this the name stuck” explains Hannah.
Next on Hannah’s timeline came a husband and shortly after the first of three children. ‘Now how do I work a busy summer wedding season, with pre-school closed for the six week break?’ I thought, I decided to concentrate on expanding my stationery range to include children’s party invitations, as I could make them when the children were tucked up in bed, and I wasn’t inundated with orders in July and August, when Zac, Daisy and Noah needed me. My office was firstly under the stairs and then a walk in wardrobe.”
As the children got older and started to exercise a little independence Hannah devoted more time to the business and quickly out-grew the cupboard. “The point I had to move out of the cupboard and into premises being when I secured the ‘Not on The High Street.com’ contract, Julia Radford works for me part time now, and there was definitely no room in the wardrobe for both of us with thousands of diamantes to attach to cards!”
“As my young family grow up I find designs emerging due to my children’s influence.”
“I love what I do, I still get a kick out of the 5am start for the odd wedding here and there, but the focus now is very much on the stationery products, it fits with my lifesyle; the kids, the school runs, my husband. It’s great to get the feedback we get, people are always happy with what we do and I like to think it puts a smile on their face when they open up their the packages.”
If you want to see what Hannah does, take a look at the website, check her out on Facebook, visit the Gallery at Pooky, purchase her products on Not on The High Street.com or give her a call to arrange to pop into the office… but do expect to leave a little more glittery than when you arrived!