Graceful Avenue, founded and operated by the lovely Naira, is a fun, quirky online stationery store selling a gorgeous variety of greeting cards with other amazing gifts available in Graceful Avenue’s market stalls too!
Interview with Naira (Owner)
Tell us what Graceful Avenue is all about. What is the philosophy of your business?
Graceful Avenue is the creative outlet I use to express my passion for illustrating, making things, sewing, writing, photography and design. Whilst still at university working towards my Interior Design degree, I started reading other people’s blogs a lot and became really inspired by the style of the things I saw. This made me want to push my own artistic boundaries beyond what we were ‘expected’ to do in our course. I started to sew things, draw little cartoon characters, take photographs and fold things out of paper. The year after completing my course, Graceful Avenue originated and initially it was just a hobby while I waited for the right job to come along. Later that year, my search for work took me to London where I decided to open a small shop across the street from where I lived! This experience was truly valuable for me because I got to see first-hand how customers interacted with my products.
What types of products are available from Graceful Avenue?
The beauty of owning your own stationery label is the freedom to design your own range of products. So far I’ve enjoyed drawing cute panda bears that appear on my greeting card range and gift tags as the “Mishka Collection”, as well as creating flowers by folding paper, sewing my original sunglasses pouches, making framed cross-stitch art and creating two independent publications; a mini gift book about love and a travel magazine that details my journey through Paris in 2012. Currently our greeting cards are available for purchase in our Etsy shop and our other products can be found at our market stalls and other events.
Who are your favourite designers or artists? What inspires you to create?
My favourite artists are Salvador Dali, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Marc Chagall. The way they capture a certain mood in their artwork really appeals to me. Dali’s work is playful and imaginative, Renoir’s paintbrush strokes are full of so much movement and Chagall’s paintings are dramatic and bold, each evoking a particular emotion.
I love visiting art galleries and discovering new works by emerging artists. Various things inspire me. I love to read autobiographies, explore new cities, enter churches, write letters, read blogs and watch old movies. I’m happiest when I’m holding my fineliner or snapping photos with my DSLR lens.
Traveling really opens my eyes to other cultures, architecture and languages. I love Italy, France and Spain and dream to visit New York in the future. When I travelled to Barcelona last year I fell in love with the city because of how amazingly creative it is. You can’t go to Barcelona and not be enchanted by the work of architect Antoni Gaudi. I’d never been more speechless than when I stepped foot into the grand yet incomplete Sagrada Familia. There was such a stillness about it and I remember just sitting there in one of the aisles looking around in complete awe of what I was seeing. I’d love to return to Barcelona again in the near future because I felt very much at home there, even though I didn’t speak the language or know a single person there.
What’s one of your favourite items available in your shop?
There are 42 designs in my “Mishka Collection” greeting card range so it’s difficult to choose my ultimate favourite! I think the one that really stands out to me is the illustration of my first ever Mishka as featured in the Graduation card. As soon as I drew it, I knew I was onto something really special and something I’d really enjoy doing.
A range of your products is custom-made; what special requests have you received in the past that really stood out to you?
One request that I’d like to share is when a mother of the groom came to my shop and ordered a custom wedding card that was to be completed the next day! I worked on it after business hours and delivered it to her the following afternoon. She was really happy with it and I thrived on the challenge of meeting such a tight deadline! I love working on custom-made designs and I’m proud to say that through my Etsy shop you can place custom orders of this kind here.
Any exciting new products/sales/promotions/news going on with Graceful Avenue?
I’m extremely excited about participating in future markets, sourcing potential stockists for my greetings cards, gift tags and paper flowers, and growing my fan base. There is now a brand new wholesale section on our website where shopkeepers can view Graceful Avenue catalogues and place orders for their shops. We are on the lookout for local and international shops that are interested in selling our products.
You can stay up-to-date on all things Graceful Avenue by signing up to our Newsletter, which offers exclusive discounts for use in our online shop and showcases some behind-the-scenes footage from our studio. We also have a Blog and can be found on most social media sites.
Please visit our website.