'Clara and Macy'

Laura Clempson, creator of grumpy Clara and bookish Macy

‘Clara and Macy’ is one of Altrincham’s hidden gems. The business is located on a second floor far above street level on busy Ashley Road.  High amongst the pigeons and chimney pots, Laura Clempson has created a light filled work space where she designs her personalised gifts for all the family and despatches them across the world. Despite the quirky  location,  it would be a mistake to think of ‘Clara and Macy’ as a tiny cottage industry. With a turnover currently running at a 54% growth rate year on year, celebrity endorsement and some exciting collaborations, 2017 is proving to be a big year for Laura and her team!

Laura studied animation at University and originally worked for Manchester animators ‘McKinnon and Saunders’. With the wonderful job title of ‘Head of Fur’, Laura worked on the iconic animated film ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’. However, her creative urges were not entirely satisfied by her role and she began to sketch out the characters ‘Clara and Macy’ in her lunch hour, planning to use them to launch a range of accessories for children.

Clara and Macy now appear on a wide range of gifts and acccessories

Laura took the plunge to strike out on her own and set up the company in the dining room of her home. As her young family grew, space became an issue and a couple of years ago Laura discovered a rather neglected attic space in Altrincham. She has transformed it into a fresh and impeccably organised hive of activity and creativity. The business is still a home from home as Laura’s sister and sister-in-law are both among her team.

Ten years after she first conceived grumpy Clara and bookish Macy, Laura now designs and sells a wide range of cards for all occasions, wrapping paper, craft kits, prints and seasonal accessories including the brilliant – carrot, parsnip and sprout themed Christmas crackers.

Who can resist carrot, parnsip and sprout themed Christmas crackers?

The business received a great publicity boost last summer when Jools Oliver announced the name of her new baby River on Instagram using one of ‘Clara and Macy’s’ personalised 'dream big' framed prints. The power of social media meant that after the post appeared website sales on claraandmacy.com rose by 1,350 per cent! Phew that’s a lot of parcels going up and down that steep staircase! Fortunately, Laura and her team have a great postman!

Thanks Jools!!!

Laura was delighted with this endorsement from the Oliver family. She shares their family focussed ethos and this is obvious from the products that she designs herself which encourage parents and children to spend time together. Her website contains craft activities that are free to download and many of her gifts incorporate activity tokens suggesting things that parents and children can do together such as ‘put some music on and dance’ and ‘make a blanket den’. Laura is keen to encourage the creativity of her own children and says that her products are 'designed to inspire and nurture the limitless potential of children'.

Craft kits are a way for carers and children to spend time together

In fact, the company’s busiest ever day saw 450 orders in one day, Black Friday. With great understatement surely, Laura describes the experience of preparing them all as ‘intense’ – especially as Laura and the team were still working from the dining room at that point! Just before Christmas last year, ‘Clara and Macy’ took on a commission to make 440 craft kits in 24 hours for a big event. Laura says, ‘We had the whole team in and worked through the night, but we did it!’

The company’s products are sold via their website www.claraandmacy.com and  their Etsy shop. In May 2017 a significant milestone was reached when ‘Clara and Macy’ reached their 30,000th order on Not on the High Street.  International interest is growing and there is now a ‘Clara and Macy’ store on the Australian site hardtofind.com.

Laura is very excited about a current collaboration with Bookishly, the literary print and vintage bookseller, to produce a range of prints featuring book quotes for children ( See photo in slider above). Laura comments, ‘It's a great project for us, as Bookishly share a lot of our values - especially encouraging children to read!’

In another new development, the company will be launching a wholesale range this summer. Laura explains, ‘Our new wholesale website is being built, and we're finalising the packaging and catalogues before we launch. I think this will be a big change for the business, and will hopefully be successful.’ Based on the recent performance of the company, success seems pretty likely!

Laura's blog here describes the challenges and delights of combining motherhood and business. Laura will be talking about the development of her business and particularly about the different platforms that she uses to sell her creations at the next meeting of The Creative Network at 6.30 on the 20th July at altspace in Altrincham. Tickets are available from Eventbrite.

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