Small Brand Spotlight: Clementina Sketchbook

Every week, we shine a spotlight on the best small brands we think are worth shouting about. We love our great British high street, but there are so many fantastic independent brands out there making clothes, accessories, homeware and more from a place of passion and love and we need to support them – now more than ever.

From fashion and beauty to homeware, accessories and food, we bring you the best small businesses you need on your radar. This week, we chat with Clementina Zegna, founder and creative director of stationery brand, Clementina Sketchbook.

Clementina Sketchbook

How did Clementina Sketchbook come to life?

Clementina Sketchbook started through a beautiful concoction of chance, destiny and luck.

When I was completing my second degree as a fashion designer at Parsons in New York City, my studies inspired me to get back to my watercolours, a medium I used a lot when I was little, fortuitously, already painting invitations for my mothers’ friends’ events.

I received an overwhelming demand for my watercolours, after painting a personalised initial with baby African animals for my little niece’s christening gift back in 2017. And from there I got very lucky. Sheer word-of-mouth launched the business and I continued building it via Instagram. I took on all the beautiful projects I was getting enquiries for: personalised children’s names, wedding invitations, birth announcements, bespoke wallpapers, brand’s logo designs and table sets for their events.

During the initial phase I was a one-lady show, but within a few months I started growing my team and I launched my own collection of ready-to-buy and ready-to-personalise stationery filled with my watercolours, with a special focus on children products. 

What three words would describe Clementina Sketchbook?

Colourful, sophisticated, magical.

Who is Clementina Sketchbook for?

My products attract the eye of anyone who appreciates the extra touch in what they do, to make them standout, while remaining subtle and sophisticated. It complements all occasions, whether sending a thank you card, a gift for a friend’s child, decorating the Christmas table or designing the birth announcement for your baby.

What inspires your designs?

I should start by saying that I am crazy about animals and nature and it is definitely my biggest inspiration. I try to have at least one detail from nature to complete each design.

When working with a client, I brainstorm with them – depending on what the project is about, I ask them to share their stories, their symbolisms, dreams, memories, nicknames etc… Everything counts. Most people are initially afraid of pouring out ideas that might not go together. But I encourage them to let the creative consciousness flow, as somehow in the end it always looks beautiful in watercolour.

When working for my own collections, the themes spring from my most recent trips and moments of observation. A colour I may particularly enjoy in that moment, a new flower I discovered, an idea suggested by a client, and even the selection of dog breeds I am deciding between for my future puppy (which you’ll see in the new May collection).

What’s a typical day for you?

I won’t pretend that I am organised and diligent enough to stick to my good routine everyday. After all, I am a creative and that makes me crave variety. I have, however, set some rules for myself and my team to try to be as efficient as possible, especially as we all work from home.

The most important one is that mornings are for painting, and I won’t be answering emails or messages. This is a process that requires tranquility and no sense of pressure to have to get to the next task. My mornings most often consist of a light breakfast, brush in hand and lots of podcasts and audiobooks.

I try to have lunch out with a friend at least once or twice a week, so I’m not always at home. My afternoons are for calls, client and printer meetings, errands, distractions – to keep me inspired!

What’s the best thing about running your own business? And the most challenging?

The best is discovering how much passion I can pour into my work, since it is my baby.

The most challenging is that because of the above, it makes it very difficult to ever switch off and not think about how to refine my strategy or what to design next at all hours of the day.

The best moment so far?

So many, from the response to that first initial painting for my niece to each encouraging message we get from wholesalers, influencers and clients and launching our ready-to-buy collection to cater to more people.

Which design is your favourite?

From the newest collection I love all the Daisy products. From my carry-overs, it will always and forever be the Wild Bloom designs.

Anything exciting in the pipeline?

My vision for Clementina Sketchbook is to grow into a leading illustrations company with expertise particularly in children’s designs and bespoke creations. So expect cool collaborations, a back-to-the-roots African-inspired children’s collection including alphabet and personalised name prints coming out in May and, as I spilled before, a really cool collection of dog breeds stationery coming in May, too.

Shop Clementina Sketchbook at clementinasketchbook.com and follow @clementinasketchbook.

YOU’s 3 favourite things:

Wild Blooms Stationery Cards, £65, Clementina Sketchbook

Safari Place Cards, £35, Clementina Sketchbook

Daisies Notepad, £20, Clementina Sketchbook