It’s always a thrill for us to find new sources for beautiful, original, and affordable art that we can share with our friends and clients. If that source happens to be another female-owned company that is a joy to work with—even better!
Enter Banquet Workshop, a Vancouver-based design studio whose online shop is a virtual treasure trove of fun, colorful, and quirky home decor items, clothing and jewelry, gifts, and limited-edition screen prints custom framed by us. Everything has been designed and produced with a fine attention to affordability and environmental sustainability, as well as an obviously excellent eye for current styles and trends.
To learn more about Banquet Workshop’s design process, sources of inspiration, and tips for running a creative business, we reached out to co-founders Sarah Edmonds and Tammy Lawrence. Not surprisingly, they were generous with the information and words of wisdom—so you’ll definitely want to keep reading.
Simply Framed: Banquet Workshop makes so many incredible items now, from table linens to temporary tattoos. What were some of the first items you two designed together, and what inspired you to make them?
Banquet Workshop: The Sea Animals of the Pacific Northwest screen print was the one that started it all, and it remains one of our most iconic pieces. It was inspired by the marine biology and some of the stories that my grandmother Dodie had passed on to me, that were specific to a tiny isolated island my family holidays at near the very bottom of Desolation Sound and about seven hours north of Vancouver. I was a new mom and thinking about family narratives and the dove shaped bones in a sand dollar and other ways to share those tales with friends and family.
SF: How would you say your collection has grown or evolved since the beginning? Has your design process changed?
BW: The width and breadth of the collection has definitely evolved, from limited editions of screen prints to a variety of stationery, linens, dresses, jewelry, and whatever else we find ourselves drawn to. We try to be responsive to what we see happening in art and design, but we are always the most pleased when we put our blinders on and really indulge ourselves with old books and trips to libraries and museums and our own creative community. This original process hasn't changed much and there is always something new to obsess over, whether it's hologram foil and constellations, or slabs of marble and a red lip, or old quilts and carnations.
Ultimately, it's about always looking. Sometimes it’s as simple as a painted sign in our neighbourhood, or a guy we spot in a great colour combination. Visiting gardens is a big one, whether it’s an historical treasure like Huntington Gardens in California or dinner at dusk in a friend's backyard. Plus, we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, where you can find yourself in the thick of the forest just twenty minutes from home!
Mountains by Banquet Workshop in our Natural Gallery Frame (paired with a smaller piece by Wee Wild Ones, also custom framed by us) styled by Natalie Myers of Veneer Designs with architecture by Lewis Schoeplein. Photo by Marisa Vitale.
SF: We always love hearing from other female entrepreneurs, and learning their tips and tricks. What words of advice would you offer to someone looking to start a creative business?
BW: For us, the biggest thing has been to always support each other and our community. We have a great group of creatives and makers around us, who juggle kids and "real" jobs and their own practices—and gives us not only a wealth of information but a real support system. We've learned to ask a lot of questions, and respond with real generosity in return. The success of the people around us inspires us to keep moving forward!
The other side of that is not to be afraid of making mistakes and taking risks. It hurts sometimes but at the end of the days it's the only way to learn. We have stacks of items that just did not sell, but even that helps us hone our instinct for what will work next time.
SF: What prompted you to partner with Simply Framed to offer custom framing for your art prints, and how has that decision affected your business?
BW: We learned early on that framing can be really intimidating to people buying art and art prints. Simply Framed makes it easy for our customers, with modern and affordable options for every home, of excellent quality. We consistently sell our prints framed, often in multiples, and love that our customer can open a box and put our art right up on their wall instead of having it sitting in a tube waiting to be framed.
Shop Banquet Workshop’s entire collection of custom framed prints and other must-have items on their website—and if you’re looking to get a piece of art out of that tube and onto your wall, you know where to go.