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Cards and Design at Spier Craft Market
By: Kit Heathcock   (2017-02-24)

Caroline and George Louw - Cards and Design

George and Caroline Louw design and print cards with a distinctly South African feel. This is their first season trading at Spier Craft Market. Caroline tells Kit Heathcock more about their business.

Tell us a little about what you do.

Our strength is paper, designs that are really South African. We look at South African icons that aren’t at all kitschy. So our cards and designs feature South African animals, people and iconic buildings such as the Voortrekker monument. The cards are blank, no poems or anything, so it’s really about the design. George is more the designer and my strength is the commercial aspects, putting a range together, so that we have a set of six, making sure the colours are in a theme and most important of all thinking what will people buy. A lot of George’s designs will tend towards art and you can’t sell art on a card, people want a picture. So that’s my strength, looking at what’s commercial.

Caroline and George Louw - Flamingos and Penguins

How did you and George get the idea for your card design business?

My background is in retail for companies such as Woolworths and Foschini, but I was looking for something new to do. Our daughter had grown up and left home and when I visited her in England and saw the cards they had there, I thought ‘We don’t have anything like that here in South Africa’.

How did you get started?

We both really have always loved art, attending exhibitions, collecting pieces, going to Grahamstown festival. We already had an appreciation of art and we could both draw well but had never really used it. So we started by teaching ourselves all we needed to know for the business. We had to learn photoshop etc and all about printing… that was a mind blast! George is a chemical engineer by profession and carried on consulting while we built up the business. What we both love now is working with something that really gives us pleasure, as well as earning us an income. We like what we do!

Caroline and George Louw - Elephant and Sunbird

It’s your first season trading at Spier, how are you finding it?

I wanted to come here to learn, we’ve never done things for tourists before. Our cards sell really well in local markets but we hadn’t yet entered the tourist market, and when you think about how many visitors we get in Cape Town it’s crazy not to!

It has been a huge learning curve being at Spier. Our cards aren’t specifically tourist cards and over the season we’ve been fine-tuning our range in response to demand, for example the elephants and proteas sell very well. For us to learn about the tourist market and how to get the right product, this has been the learning curve we needed.

It’s nothing like my retail experience. You’re dealing with customers who want something very personal to remind them of their trip to South Africa. So what they buy is very specific, it’s about their memories. They want something that will encapsulate a memory of their holiday, perhaps an elephant with just the look of one they saw on safari. It’s very personal, they really are buying a memory.

And Spier is a lovely place to be. The people are lovely, you sit here by the lake while you look after the stall, how hard is that?!

Caroline and George Louw - Stamps