Delightful Living - handmade signs and personalised gifts from the Peak District

Planting your own herb garden

Planting your own herb garden - Credit: Archant

Jane Travis meets the local couple whose inspiring idea 10 years ago resulted in a business that has grown from strength to strength.

Anne and Paul

Anne and Paul - Credit: Archant

The narrow lanes of one of the county’s tucked-away villages provide an idyllic rural setting for an online business which has grown from its kitchen-table origins to attracting international demand.

Delightful Living, which was co-founded ten years ago by Derbyshire couple Anne Hyde and Paul McGreevy, designs and produces handmade signs and personalised gifts. Starting from modest origins in 2008, today the business produces and delivers several thousand bespoke gifts each year from its studio in a converted cowshed in historic Mackworth Village.

Anne, formerly a graphic designer at Derby City Council, and Paul, who took a break from his acting career to develop Delightful Living with Anne, describe themselves as ‘partners in life and business’. Not every couple can found and co-manage an active, successful production business and cope with the stresses and demands thrown their way, but Anne and Paul do.

‘We share out the roles, which is why it works,’ explains Paul, who moved to Derby 25 years ago and developed an acting career in this region. ‘Anne is the creative side, she has the eye and skills to design the beautiful items that customers love. I am more of an ideas person, so will come up with the concept which Anne then turns into a reality through her designs.

A personalised doorstop

A personalised doorstop - Credit: Archant

‘I also concentrate on the production end, ensuring that the gifts are sent out to customers smoothly and on time.’

Delightful Living’s range includes personalised signs on reclaimed wood and enamel, prints on cotton, linen, wood and metal, personalised tins and a range of garden stakes and house signs. For a decade, these hand-crafted items have been delivered across the country as well as overseas. Several celebrities have even been spotted with one of Delightful Living’s personalised signs or keepsakes adorning their homes.

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‘It’s all so far from where we began – me in the bedroom of our house designing and painting signs through the night while I continued my day job, and Paul finishing the products in our cellar and garden shed,’ describes Anne, who left her job of 25 years in 2009 to focus solely on developing Delightful Living, and hasn’t looked back.

‘I couldn’t sustain managing the 2am alarm call for me to apply second coats of paint to signs, and then getting up for work the next day. We needed to decide which path to take.’

A swing to remember

A swing to remember - Credit: Archant

Business production soon outgrew their home and in 2011 the couple took the step to relocate.

They set up a dedicated production studio in a small rural business location in Mackworth Village on the outskirts of Derby, from where they now employ five regular members of staff and are kept company in the office by their two dogs, Riley and Lola.

‘Orders rocketed after our products were selected by Not On The High Street (a popular online marketplace for designers and crafts) and we knew we needed to take the plunge and go for it or we wouldn’t meet this demand,’ explains Paul. ‘The kudos of being selected by NOTHS really sealed the confidence we had in the quality and individuality of our products.’

Whilst demand went national, Delightful Living’s link with the local aspects of their business has remained strong and is at its heart.

Wooden sign

Wooden sign - Credit: Archant

Anne and Paul source reclaimed wood for signs from within the region, and choose local firms to prepare other materials they use in their product range.

A recent photo-shoot for the business featured local models and a Derbyshire location. Anne and Paul gathered a group of friends for a fun day of photos which were taken in the setting of their own beautiful cottage in Brassington. It proved the perfect backdrop to present the latest items in the Delightful Living range.

‘We’re really excited by our new products, they carry on with the original ethos of the company – personal, individual and delightful – and yet we have moved across to wider lifestyle genres,’ says Anne.

The new range includes: personalised herb garden window boxes made from locally sourced reclaimed wood; bespoke garden swings which are produced using salvaged scaffold boards and are tailored with customers’ own words; and a ‘legends’ sign – handmade to order on construction grade OSB wood for a more industrial look and then personalised with the names of four ‘legends’ of choice. A little piece of Anne and Paul goes into every order sent out from the charming Old Cow Shed in Mackworth Village.

Bespoke house sign

Bespoke house sign - Credit: Archant

Paul concludes: ‘People are able to commission a gift from us, which can’t be found anywhere else. Our design ideas combined with customers’ unique messages, means that our gifts can become the heirlooms of tomorrow.’

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