Bespoke typographer Lisa Long quite her city job seven months ago and set up her own company, More Than Words, which has met with overnight success. Chatting with her, you can see why: she is an inspiration to anyone who dreams of quitting their day job but can’t quite imagine how.
How did you get into typography?
I have always loved design, in all shapes and forms – interiors, graphics, illustration, but it wasn’t until I took time out of a busy corporate career to look after my children that I decided it was time to follow my passion and launch my own design business. I actually fell into the typographic design side as a result of creating a piece of art for our home, after struggling to find artwork that was affordable but premium quality, a great talking point, and something unique that we really loved.
I have a ‘thing’ for fonts…their simplicity has such impact, they surround us all day every day… so I created what is now the ‘original Memories Canvas’ to adorn our walls. A collection of our favourite memories as a piece of word art on a huge canvas in colours to match the room. I had so many requests for friends and family to create something for them…and from there More Than Words was born.
What’s the best part of your job?
I love that each new request is unique. I get the same ‘Christmas morning’ excitement each time an order comes through and I read down someone’s list of quirky words and requested fonts and colours. The best part of the job is also doing something that I have immense passion for.
I would work 24 hours a day if I had the energy because I absolutely love what I do. The other best part of my job is that I can fit it in around my children, aged 1 and 3. I tend to working late into the evenings once they have gone to bed, and use any free time I can get to design artwork and grow the business.
…And the worst?
There just aren’t enough hours in the day. I have so many new design ideas but just don’t have the time to create and market them at the moment. As a one man band I juggle the social media side of things, website updates, artwork photography and marketing…and full time mummy duties at the same time.
Who do you most admire?
I admire anyone who has the ambition and courage to take risks in life. How does the saying go? “Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise.”
What’s the best exhibition you’ve seen recently?
The best exhibition I’ve seen recently was ‘British Art Now’ at the Saatchi Gallery, on the Kings Road, showcasing emerging UK artists. So much amazing, inspiring young talent.
What was the greatest challenge involved in launching a design business?
Getting my designs and name recognised in such a vast market space. I find that when people come across my artwork they love it but I work tirelessly at showcasing it. In business these days, it’s definitely not a case of “if you build it they will come”! You have to have a unique selling point, offer something different.
I am now lucky to have four online retailers and an interiors stockist on the prestigious Eton High Street. I also collaborate with photographers and local interior designers.
One of the biggest challenges was our shop-front. We (my husband and I) spent months planning and building the website, to ensure it was a one-stop-shop where customers could input every bespoke detail before parting with their money. We had very little investment to put into the business so literally spent months setting everything up by ourselves before launching More Than Words. Now we need to evolve and are working on simplifying it, with a new version ready for a new launch before the end of the year.
Who is your most exciting client so far?
I recently commissioned a bespoke design as a keepsake for Dannii Minogue’s new baby after she came across More Than Words on Twitter. And my latest commission is to design typographic artwork for the new headquarters of one of the UK’s best selling national wedding magazines.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
Well, if I hadn’t given it all up then I would be most likely be back in the corporate world. I spent ten crazy years working across the IT, sales and process improvement functions of two global blue-chip companies. I learnt so much about business and had a blast but there is nothing quite like being your own boss.
If no that then I’d be in fashion, my other secret passion.