Meticulous Ink first caught my eye on… wait for it… a vlog I was watching by Tanya Burr! I know I’m not Tanya’s demographic (AT ALL!), but I like to watch vlogs to help improve my own skills, to see what works and what doesn’t… and Tanya’s definitely works! Anyway. On one of them Tanya had a letter from Meticulous Ink, who I think she said had done her wedding stationery. The envelope and the lettering honestly blew me away. It was SO beautiful and so different. A little Harry Potter-esq. It was gorgeous. As a stationery junkie I had to find out more. Hell, I became absorbed in the world of Meticulous Ink and followed all their social media channels and drooled over their website and gorgeous stationery products for longer than I’d like to admit. I started talking about them to friends and family… and then I emailed Athena, the lady behind this amazing brand, to see if she’d like to participate in this blog. And she said yes. And I did a happy dance. And that’s not even an exaggeration. So here’s a few minutes with Athena Cauley-Yu. You’ll see from the pictures below, her stunning products and her story why I’m now more than a little obsessed.
Tell us about you and your background
I grew up in North London and was raised by my mum, who would constantly leave subliminal encouragement in my vicinity as a child – things like self improvement books and fancy toy cars. My mum was very good in that way, and was always supportive in my desire to be creative. My first job was working on the phone in my father’s oriental take-away when I was 14 and I have worked ever since. At university I studied Arts & Media, as I was unsure exactly what I wanted to do, and it was a course full of variety. We got to choose classes from Fine Art, Digital Screen Arts, Photography, and Animation, then we’d whittle it down to just one subject to specialise in. I chose Fine Art Printing because nobody else used the enormous print studio at the university, so it was my own personal private studio! After university I worked at two private stationers in London before embarking on the great adventure of my own creative business.
What made you want to start a business?
The huge encouragement from my mum was definitely the basis for wanting to achieve and for believing in myself. My father also ran his own oriental restaurant and takeaway, which definitely added to my entrepreneurial side. I’ve always been extremely positive and optimistic, and when I was ready to leave London I knew it was the right moment to create something of my own. I know there are logical steps to completing and succeeding at anything in life, so I knew that I wanted to go all in and try to build something of my own.
How is your business different?
Meticulous Ink is an utterly bespoke printer and stationer. This means in each of our projects we aim to create something unique and fitting to the occasion. We understand the importance of first impressions as well as lasting impressions, be it an elaborate wedding invitation or a subtle business card. Our aim is to make beautiful things that will make the recipient proud. Alongside our bespoke work we have a small store full of paper related goods, we wholesale our own brand stationery, plus I run Hand Lettering Workshops to spread the joy of writing.
What makes your products special?
All of our own brand stationery is printed on-site at our store and printworks in Bath. We like to live up to our name, so each and every printed item is individually checked by our small team to ensure it’s perfect in every way. It’s this tactile, hands-on approach that helps to get that Meticulous Ink feel in everything we make.
If you had to sum up your business in five words, what would they be?
Meticulous, utterly bespoke fine stationery.
Do you have a motto or ethos?
Our ethos is to create beautiful things that we are proud to put our name to.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?
Persistence is key to everything you do. You have to hustle constantly in every aspect and every part of the business. If you can be persistent then you will be successful.
One thing that helps you run your business more effectively
We switched to Xero for our accounts last year. Although it is more work it gives me a much clearer idea of what the business looks like from the inside out on a daily basis.
Best thing about running a business?
Particularly having a creative business – being able to think of a product or design and then translating that into a physical reality. I get huge satisfaction from imagining a card design for example, and then being able to follow that from drawing it, to creating the plates, to the printing, up until it is on the shelf and a lovely customer purchases it.
Worst thing about running a business?
The constant stress. Being a business owner is the most stressful thing you will ever do; the hardest job you will ever have, but also the most satisfying and the most rewarding.
Top business blog you follow
I’ve recently begun following Fizzle which is really great. I like their tone of voice and the way they write. I’m also a big fan of watching the Ask Gary Vee show on YouTube – he’s really inspiring and so motivated! Plus I like Tim Ferris’s podcasts – he interviews incredible people, from athletes to huge business moguls.
Top business books you’ve read
One thing we might not know about you
I have a black belt in Shotokan karate, which I got when I was 17.
Top business achievement
Our Collaboration with Mulberry, where I taught a series of calligraphy workshops at their flagship store in London, then at their store in Paris. It was fantastic.
Where can people follow you or your business online
Visit us in person! 134 Walcot Street, Bath BA1 5BG