Chase and Wonder - the global design company based in Cheshire
- Credit: Archant
At the heart of Chase and Wonder is a love story born in Great Budworth.
David Aspinall was four years old when he first laid eyes on his wife Faye. Note: they weren’t actually married at the time. They were, however, classmates at Cransley School in Great Budworth. And although we can presume it wasn’t exactly love at first sight, clearly the pair connected over the crayoning table.
Because fast-forward 32 years and not only are they married with two children, they also run the globally successful Chase and Wonder, illustrating everything from greetings cards and candles to china mugs and handkerchiefs and exporting as far as China and Japan - all from a cowshed in Cholmondeley.
Both talented artists, Chase and Wonder’s success is arguably down to their love for each other as much as their love for design. Both of which potenially grew from those first years at Cransley.
‘You were allowed to go to Cransley until you were seven at the time if you were a boy,’ explains Faye, originally from Little Budworth.
‘So David went off after a few years but afterwards we stayed friends.’
Eventually both Faye, and David, who used to live in Daresbury, followed thier design dreams, a journey which would, over the following years take them apart and bring them back together more than once. ‘I went off to London to study art at St Martin’s College and Faye was at Edinburgh before coming down to London too to do a Masters in Fashion at the Royal College of Art,’ explains David.
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‘She didn’t know anybody in London and she rang me up and said “Shall we meet?”. We shared a kiss at my 21st birthday party and 13 years on we are still together.’
Their relationship wasn’t easy as Faye had been lucky to get a job in Philadelphia in the USA and for two years the pair had to conduct a long distance relationship, writing letters and grabbing precious time together when they could.
Faye was as part of the US design team for up market fashion label Anthropologie at the time and David was working as a graphic designer in a London creative agency, so they had to work out how to be together. In 2010 they sacrificed their amazing jobs all in the name of love. They rented a cow shed in Worcestershire because it was the cheapest they could find and with just £1,000 set up their Chase and Wonder design studio, creating screen prints and greetings cards.
‘We just decided we couldn’t carry on having a long term relationship,’ says Faye.
‘So I came back and we moved to the countryside so we could be together.’
‘We moved into this cold, freezing cow shed in the middle of February with no phone line and the first products we did we did were illustrated screen prints,’ adds David.
‘We sent an email off to various retailers and our first reply and first customer was Liberty in London. From there we put our artwork onto different products and we started doing stationery and gifts and a couple of years ago we launched ceramics. Recently, we launched our home fragrance range which has been really popular and that is where we see the business going.’
Five years ago they got married, having moved back to Cheshire six months earlier and in another cow shed have been growing their business with the help of two members of staff and artisans from around the UK.
Explains David: ‘For our plates and china candles we have a father and daughter team in Stoke on Trent and making our wash bags is a social enterprise company that helps people with mental illness get back into work. They’ve been with us for seven or eight years,’
Faye and David live in a semi detached house just outside Tarporley, working on their designs 24/7.
‘We’ll be in a restaurant and get inspiration from a nice menu and we spend our time rummaging for prints in antique shops. We’ll go on trips because we need things to feed our imagination,’ says David.
‘It’s when we have to talk about the problems. That’s when I wish we’d kept it 9-5,’ laughs Faye.
Although they’ve been in Cholmondeley for the past five years, taking their dog Ruby for daily walks up Bickerton Hill and enjoying the countryside, the demands of eight month old Arthur and Finola, aged three, mean they are now moving the business closer to home in rural Tarporley.
‘It’s another cow shed. We seem to love cow sheds!’ says Faye.
‘We always wanted to live and work in the countryside.
‘We are where we want to be making a livelihood for ourselves with our childen and I don’t think that wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t in Cheshire.’