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Little Square Gallery Q&A - Best independent lifestyle boutique 2014 - HIGHLY COMMENDED

We meet the founder behind the 2014 Junior Design Award-winning entry

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What is your name and job title?

Natalie Hammett, Founder and Creative Director of The Little Square Gallery.

Can you tell us a little about your boutique, and why you think it is award winning?

All parents will have two picture collections – their special family photographs and wonderful child’s artwork. Few will have done little more than store these hidden away in a cupboard, or as is so often the case these days with photographs - left filed away on a desktop or mobile device.

There are many companies that offer simple mass-produced personalised picture products.  The Little Square Gallery offers something very different. We create beautifully styled, contemporary art pieces from your treasured pictures. Our bespoke pieces will appeal to all discerning and style-conscious parents, and we offer a personal service to ensure our customers always love their finished commission. 

Our signature 'Little Squares' pieces allow a fabulous way of displaying, enjoying and archiving a collection of your photographs or child’s artwork, these are presented as a series of giclée prints which are individually mounted against art board to create a subtle floating contemporary grid design. The 'Single Square' pieces from the Photography Collection are created using the same artistic method, and allow a fabulous way of displaying select photographs as a larger single image. And finally, our most recent addition to the Children's Art Collection - The 'Styled Gallery Print', which was inspired by iconic gallery exhibition posters and offers a stylish way of showcasing a single piece of a child's artwork. 

What distinguishes it from the plethora of independent boutiques?

Two things. Firstly, the bespoke nature of our products – each commission is unique – from the story behind each little picture, to the way each piece is styled and presented.  Secondly, our genuine passion to create beautiful products that bring joy to each customer.

Why do you think it is important to support and grown independent boutiques?

Although small businesses are the life-blood of any economy, they are extremely difficult to get off the ground and to keep afloat – therefore it’s critical to support these businesses and help raise their profile so that they can attract new customers.

In terms of independent boutique vs large corporate, boutiques don’t have to conform to the “norm” and, while they will obviously want to be financially successful, large profits may not be the primary motivator of the owners.  My boutique is driven by my passion to offer something different and do it well.  Each commission is created with meticulous care and attention to detail. There is nothing better than receiving consistently positive feedback from our happy customers.

How can you help parents achieve a balance between practicality and beautiful design?

For me, these two things should go hand-in-hand – there’s no reason why practical products shouldn’t be beautifully designed.  The Little Square Gallery offers parents both the service of archiving and creating the most beautiful reproductions of their treasured pictures, and a product which stylishly showcases them. Whilst setting up The Little Square Gallery, an enormous amount of time was spent sourcing the finest materials and creating the best designs for each of our bespoke products. From the archival fine art prints used to present each picture to our perfectly handcrafted frames…our gallery-worthy products not only look fabulous but are designed and made to last. 

How do you select and make an edit of the products you sell?

We only sell beautifully styled pieces created from the best archival materials. We do not, and never will, offer cheaper standard alternatives. I only design and include products in our collections that I would be proud of showing off in my own home.

Why did you enter your product into the Junior Design Awards?

I’ve been a regular reader of Junior since my children were little and I love getting inspiration from the various features and contributors – especially those featured in the previous Junior Design Awards.  Since establishing The Little Square Gallery in May 2013, the majority of our customers have been parents. I entered our boutique into the awards because I was curious and excited to see how it would fare against other parent-driven companies that I’ve come to know and respect.

What is the parenting product you wish you had designed?

As a mother of two, I found my Baby Bjorn carrier invaluable. I think there are a number of fabulous brands on the market now that create stylish and practically designed baby sling/carriers. It always makes me smile when I see a baby looking so cosy next to their parent in this wonderful mini mode of transport!


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