As we learn today of the UK economy plunging into the deepest recession since records began (no surprises there), it's uplifting to hear of a London-based stationery brand that is surviving and thriving during these difficult times.
Run by husband-and-wife duo, Jana and Marko, The Completist has grown from a beloved hobby that started with 12 greeting card designs into a fully-fledged business with over 400 products including cards, stationery, gift wrap, and homeware. The pair have always focused on sustainable manufacturing, and work mainly with small British manufacturers.
Jana's background in fashion comes out in The Completist's colourful prints, while the couple's love of good design really shows in the little details in each product. Launched in 2018, the business has grown rapidly and now has an enviable list of stockists across the world, including Selfridges, Papersmiths and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
Plus they've been absolutely smashing it since lockdown. With most people working from home, they've had an amazing increase on orders for their planners and notebooks – adding a much-needed bit of inspiration to the home office.
Tell us about the brand and why it came about
Jana: I was freelancing in fashion and doing some illustration on the side. I thought the illustrations might look nice on some cards, though I quickly realised they were a very niche product! At the same time, I was making a few prints here and there and got a great response to them on cards, and it's just snowballed from there. I've always loved stationery, so it was a natural fit!
Do you have any favourite products, tell us why?
Jana: It's a bit like asking me to choose my favourite child (or cat, in our case)! I love all of it, but probably the daily planners are my favourite because it's the first "dream product" I designed.
Marko: Same. It's our statement product and what put us on the map. I think it's the first product we did that truly felt like "us" and where we got to put our vision into play.
What are your best-selling products?
Jana: Our planners! Especially at the moment, when lockdown and working from home means no one knows what day it is anymore, undated planners are doing really well.
How've you survived this year?
Jana: By just putting my head down and working. When I'm busy, I'm not worrying to the point of anxiety about what's going on in the outside world. That, and a nightly gin + tonic - it helps end the day right.
Marko: As I am used to working remotely, the lockdown didn't affect me too much. I have tiny-tales of woe to share from this period, and I fully recognise that we are fortunate to be in a position that it hasn't affected us too much. About the general state of 2020, the less said, the better. I'm still clinging to the hope that we will wake and this was all an episode of a bad US soap that we dreamt.
Are you seeing any trends emerging?
Jana: People are shopping more and more with local businesses, and spending money with companies that match their values. We've seen a significant uptick in customers who shop with us, specifically because we use FSC certified and recycled paper, and avoid single-use plastics. We've also seen more people treating themselves to nice stationery – they want their home office set up to be really nice.