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How a textile enthusiast kicked off her business from a shed

TAKE NOTE: Carissa Abraham

LOVELY NOTEBOOKS founder Carissa Abraham recognised her creative flare and passion for design from an early age. Transforming her experience in textiles and screen printing and her love of African prints into a unique business, the mother-of-three launched Lovely Notebooks in 2010, with the aim of proving that stationary can be fashionable, as well as practical.

The 35-year-old businesswoman, who is of Ghanaian and Jamaican decent, is now looking to expand her business with a bigger team and a more diverse collection of products.

Here, Abraham tells The Voice why she started her business and what makes Lovely Notebooks so unique.

What attracted you to designs and printing?
I’m a real textile kind of person. I like to see texture and print and I like the whole process of creating a design and then turning it into a fabric.

Did you always want to have your own design business?
I decided to do a degree at London College of Printing in 2000. I left uni in 2003, but there were no jobs out there, so I decided to buy my own screen printing equipment and set up a printing workshop in my mother-in-law’s shed. I started covering notebooks with the materials I made, and everything kind of kicked off from there.

Lovely Notebooks is renowned for its eclectic handcrafted designs, which feature African-inspired prints. What do you think makes African prints so unique?
I think it’s the variety. If you buy a dress from Primark, there’s a chance you might walk down the street and see someone else wearing the same dress. With African print, there’s so much variety – you’ll hardly ever see the same print twice. It’s very rare and it’s unique. I’m proud that African prints have become more mainstream. But even though there a lot of dresses and fashion inspired by African print, mine is just on the stationery side, which you don’t see a lot.

You won the Best New Business prize at the Black British Institute Awards in 2011 – how did that feel?
I was overwhelmed with excitement. I didn’t think I’d ever win. I just went because I thought it would be a nice evening out with my family. When they called my name, I was truly gobsmacked because I had won an award for something that I had started off all by myself – in a shed!

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