Who uses a flexible office? Graphic design teams do.

Independent graphic design studio Sheaf Design Works are on a roll with business birthdays this summer! As they enter their seventh year as a Sheffield independent business they also celebrate their third year with their, naturally beautifully designed, office in Desk Space, Kelham Island.

Leanne and Martin are partners in life as well as at work and form a great team with bundles of energy, talent, and clients queuing up to work with them. And now it’s not just professional branding, design and print for SMEs on offer. The pair also offer design-led wedding stationery under the brand name Sheaf Stationery and have recently won two awards. The only way is up for these two as Leanne explains.

I love design regardless, but the real reward is seeing others benefit from it. The feedback from customers is always great, it’s good to know we’re making a difference, it makes the graft and grind all worth it. (Leanne)

How did you get started?

We set the business up in 2018. Before that I was employed as a senior designer full time and had a little side hustle. Nothing serious, just logos and stationery design for friends etc. until the proposition of a large regular contract came along. It was one of those, now or never moments. Running my own design studio had always been a pipe dream, so I knew I had to go for it. The opportunity may never come knocking again.

What did you know about the industry before you started?

I’d worked my way up from a junior to a senior designer over 14 years, so I already knew the design and print industry ins and outs. It was a seamless transition really.

Who helped you?

It was the general running of the business side of things I wasn’t up to speed with. I attended a series of free workshops by Business Sheffield including marketing, book-keeping, and accounts – they were really helpful. Martin now oversees all the admin and accounting tasks, and we have a VA on hand setting up automated systems and work flows, leaving me to liaise with customers do all the creative stuff.

What does having an office do for you?

A lot of our work relies on consultations with customers. Driving around and holding meetings at cafes was taking too much time, and wasn’t very professional either. We ran the business from home for the first year before getting a space of our own.

Moving to our larger office in Hope Works Studios here at Desk Space really has been a game changer. With a large welcoming studio, we have loads of storage, plenty of desk space and separate sofa and table areas for chatting things over with customers. We often get passers-by popping in which is great. It’s appointment only as we are often busy on a project or meeting with customers, but they’re happy to meet us and book in to our diary for another time.

What do you love about Kelham Island?

It’s the ideal spot for us, we love working with independent businesses. We set up here in 2019 and it’s been amazing to see the area grow. It’s the creative hub of the city, buzzing with companies of all types and sizes round every corner. Having street food, craft gins and beers close by is also a bonus when downtime is required.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love using my skillset to help other businesses grow and flourish. I love design regardless, but the real reward is seeing others benefit from it. The feedback from customers is always great, it’s good to know we’re making a difference, it makes the graft and grind all worth it.

What’s the latest project?

We’re working on our own businesses to streamline our processes and introduce more automation. That doesn’t mean you won’t get to speak with us, the human element and personal service is one of the things our customers love the most. It just means the day-today stuff will be less time-consuming.

We’ve just launched a range of brand packages on our design site. We found that we were quoting for the same things over and over, so it made sense to package them up and it’s working well so far. We still offer consultations and bespoke quotes but the packages tailor for most businesses branding needs.

We’ve also launched an off-the-shelf stationery range on the wedding side of the business. We had only offered bespoke design up to now. But with requests for the same and similar designs coming in, again, it made sense to offer them as a range. We have 12 designs each named after an area of Sheffield. Our Kelham range has been the most popular so far.

What’s the grand plan?

We plan to have online shops on both sides of the business for popular and common items. That’s actually happening anytime now. We’ve seen great deal of growth over the last 12 months and have moved to only working on projects that we absolutely love. The plan is to enjoy more of that and hopefully grow our team. That may be introducing more freelance assistance or someone in the studio – we’ll see how these changes go.

How can people contact you?

Instagram: @sheafdesignworks @sheafstationery

Pinterest  @sheafdesignworks @sheafstationery

LinkedIn: @leannekeetley @sheafdesignworks



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