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Meet the Maker

Why You Shouldn't Wait Until You're Ready, and Other Words of Wisdom from Tied Fates

Lockdown hobby turned thriving business; Tied Fates' story begins like many other emerging handmade brands, and two and a half years later, it's going from strength to strength.

We caught up with founder Blue to discuss her creative process, how to keep organised, making TikToks while her tea brews, and learning how best to work with her disabilities. Thank you, Blue! 



Hi Blue, please introduce yourself! Could you give us some background on how you got into developing your stationery business? What drew you to bookbinding as a hobby, and how did you find it?

Hi! My name is Blue, a 23 year old based in Essex, UK, and I am the founder and artisan behind Tied Fates. I studied fine art at Manchester School of Art for four years and my final year was consumed by the COVID pandemic. I picked up a bunch of different lockdown hobbies like everybody else, but bookbinding was the one that stuck. I started by making hand-painted Harry Potter themed notebooks as a fun side hustle to help get me through my final year of university, and once I graduated, the world was still in between lockdowns, so I decided to commit to it and start creating original designs. My bookbinding journey started with YouTube videos, and I was motivated to try it myself.


What does a typical day look like running Tied Fates?

A typical day of Tied Fates normally begins with a steaming cup of tea and convincing my cat to get off of my office chair. I start every morning with some order packing while trying to film as much of it for TikToks as possible! I spend the remainder of my day bookbinding notebooks, chopping and gluing notepads, embellishing bookmarks, and every other handmade component I need to finish. I edit TikToks while waiting for the kettle to boil, and do the dreaded admin work while waiting for my printing to finish. My office is always full of the sounds of my printer running, so I have my trusty headphones on listening to my favourite albums and podcasts. I love to spend my evenings curled up with my iPad watching Dungeons & Dragons shows and designing new products.




Could you describe your creative process? From inception to creation, how long does it take, and what are your inspirations?

I often lose track of time when designing products, but the inspiration comes from a variety of different places. I love to look around vintage bookstores and get inspiration from the old designs, as well as from artists like William Morris, and often a lot of inspiration comes from what my garden looks like at that moment.

In terms of making the products, I’m quite a speedy bookbinder now after 2.5 years of doing it pretty much non-stop. My notebooks take me from five minutes with the smaller ones up to 40 minutes with the hardbacks.

What has been your biggest challenge so far with running Tied Fates?

As a creative, a lot of the practical sides of running a business have been unexpectedly difficult, as well as having to learn to talk positively about my creations! Luckily both my parents are accountants which has been an amazing help. 

One of the hardest challenges has been to learn to work with my disabilities. Being a disabled entrepreneur is not the easiest, and I have had to get creative with how to work through my bad days and make the most of my good ones.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

My favourite part of my job will always be the design process. I love creating the art, coming up with new product ideas, and getting to do all of the creative problem-solving. I’m a very left brain person so I thrive in all the creative situations I get to be in! 

What aspects of stationery design would surprise someone outside of the industry?

For a paper based industry, you would be incredibly surprised at how much plastic is the norm to use. When I started the business, I decided it was going to be plastic-free, which I had never considered was going to be a struggle with stationery, but as I have learnt more about what the standard processes are, I’ve discovered all of the sneaky little bits of plastic that normally work their way in. Things like polyester bookmark ribbons and cover lamination. Tied Fates has never added plastic which has made developing products so much harder, but is definitely worth it.



What are your preferred methods of organization when it comes to running your business, and in your personal life?

I love a ‘to do’ list and I often use my own products for organization! I also use the website Notion to keep track of all of the different information I need to run the business. In the office I always organise stock alphabetically, which is the librarian in me coming out.

When did you decide to sell your products wholesale, and how has selling wholesale with CREOATE helped grow your business? What advice would you give to artists and makers looking to take the leap?

Taking the leap into wholesale was very scary as a handmade business, as it’s not something that I see a lot of. I was about a year and a half into the business when I opened my CREOATE account and I expected it to fail, but it didn’t! CREOATE has given me a lot of confidence, and hope, that there is interest in handmade businesses and an alternative eco-friendly way to stock stores. My advice to any other artists and makers would be to just trust yourself, and take the leap. Be open to seeing what works and see what doesn’t!

What has been Tied Fates’ proudest achievement?

I’ve had some really amazing moments in these 2.5 years; from getting a huge wholesale order from a shop that helps women trying to rebuild their life after experiencing domestic violence, to people recognising my shop and coming back, but I think my proudest achievement is that my shop is still going after all this time. I have had a lot of struggles learning everything about running a business alone, but I’ve made it this far and I’m really proud of myself. Hopefully better achievements are yet to come.




What would you recommend to artists looking to take the leap into commercialising their designs?

My advice would be to not wait until you’re ready! I spent a lot of time worried that people wouldn’t like what I made and that I wasn’t good enough, but if you sit and wait until you’re ready, you’ll never do it. I’m still getting better with my digital art and my bookbinding skills, even 2.5 years into it, and so my advice would be to just take the leap! Look at alternative ways to sell artwork, such as stationery for example, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

For the future of Tied Fates, I’m very excited about all the new ideas and products I can develop, and I hope to one day be able to hire staff, and create a workplace for disabled and neurodivergent people like myself! 

A big thank you again to Blue for taking the time to tell us more about Tied Fates! You can shop Tied Fates wholesale on CREOATE, or follow along on Instagram

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