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Meet Local Maker Blooming Heck
Emma Stokes is the founder of Blooming Heck - a zero-waste card business born right here in Birmingham. Having worked in the digital marketing industry since leaving university in 2013, Emma wanted to create a new business dedicated to eco-friendly, sustainable and greener living. Out of the pandemic this business was born...
What first fuelled your passion to make / create your designs / product?Blooming Heck is an eco-friendly and zero waste concept that bloomed out of the Covid-19 lockdown period. Most of my time in 2020 was either spent in the garden or inside the house with my new born baby. We were extremely grateful to have a beautiful space that we could just step into when the world seemed to be falling apart around us. I wanted to send my parents something to let them know I missed them and online greeting cards just weren't cutting it. The idea of Blooming Heck developed that allows people to plant a message and watch it bloom - even through hard times. It’s really taken off and I'm very grateful to every single customer who has taken the time to leave feedback and send lovely messages.
Tell us about the origins of your business.
Blooming Heck is a Bournville-based business that is run out of the office space in our house. The focus is to continue growing the brand, products and range. At some point in the near future, I am hoping the business can move into a bigger space to accommodate larger stock orders.
What’s your motto?
I’m a Derren Brown fanatic and he once said during his live stage show that nothing is ever a coincidence. This kind of resonated with me on many levels. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason. For example, a lot of things in my life have happened in a certain order to get me where I am today. That’s not just a fluke.
How would you describe your designs / products?
Blooming Heck thrives to be a green and sustainable brand that helps nature and pollinators. The planet needs our help more than ever right now, so why not support by planting a card, rather than throwing a used one into the recycling
What was the first success / landmark moment for your designs / product range?
Considering Blooming Heck only launched in March 2021, the business has already had an incredible amount of sales. Ranging from people wanting to stock the cards in garden centres to promoting them at craft fairs - there’s no feeling quite like it. More recently, Blooming Heck was featured in the IChooseBirmingham online newsletter. I’m very grateful as it has supercharged the way my little business has been shown to new people across the Midlands.
Tell us about your materials - where do you source your materials from?
I really want to promote the idea of clean gift-giving without added waste. I'm still working on more processes to make this business an even more sustainable version of itself. I really like the concept of planting a tree with every purchase, so this is definitely something I’m looking forward to doing next year.
Blooming Heck is a plastic-free company and uses recycled envelopes and compostable vegetable starch cellophane bags to protect products in transit. The paper is personally sourced and handmade with 100% recycled paper. Each piece is embedded with hundreds of botanical seeds, with a high germination rate! Every card can be planted and the recipient can watch the message inside turn into beautiful flowers. We’re helping to support bees, pollinators and surrounding nature - one greeting card at a time. Follow the Blooming Heck motto: Don’t throw it - grow it!
Tell us about your making process?
Every single card is developed and printed right here in the office. There is no external supplier, so every card is dependent on me doing it right. The design process takes up a substantial amount of time, especially when printing on paper that isn’t completely flat. The overall process of design to print is weeks of prep. It’s logistics. It’s designing. It’s planning. It’s sitting at your desk for six hours to “just print something”. It’s correcting imagery. It’s starting all over again. It’s patience. It’s dedication. The entire process of printing a single card can take days. Sometimes, it comes down to the very millimetre of the art work and font being perfect. I work with an illustrator friend from Lincolnshire (Kim Newman) who has supplied Blooming Heck with some gorgeous illustrations from the very start. From bees to birds, robins to hedgehogs, there are so many designs that people love to buy. Kim uses mixed media, watercolour, and has discovered a passion for using artist's coloured pencils on pastelmat. With more of my recent designs, I’ve been trying my hand at digital illustration and have been developing new ideas that are modern and quirky.
Have you ever had any interesting commissions?
This year especially has been dedicated to creating custom wedding cards, wedding confetti and thank you cards. It’s heart-warming to hear that people are beyond happy with their seeded card designs and it’s always lovely to hear feedback on what their guests think of them too.
Do you have a favourite of the Birmingham museums? If so, why?
I’m proud to have worked with the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on a social media project over the summer, so this place is definitely the winner for me. It’s a beautiful location to explore. There is always something new and wonderful to look at each time I visit. As a plus, The Edwardian Tearooms serve great cake and is the ideal place to sit down with a book and relax for an hour or two.
And finally, a tourist arrives in Birmingham for the first time ever, where do you take them?There are some amazing things to see and do in Birmingham. I’d take them to The Grand Hotel for a luxury cocktail or two, a bite to eat at the award-winning organic café and bakery - Hive JQ and then a wander around Digbeth. Birmingham is a thriving hub of restaurants, cafes and new openings - and visiting some of the city’s independents should also be on the list. They wouldn’t leave disappointed!