An Expat Life | Emily Sell
For our newest Expat Life series we’d like to introduce you to the lovely Emily Sell, founder of Ever After Press. A British expat living in Paris, Emily took the leap of faith and started her own wedding stationery company, presenting her creativity and business savvy to the world, and we’re glad she did! Her gorgeous designs are sure to make you swoon, and her picture-perfect Parisian life sure to make you fall in love with her.
1. What brought to you to Paris?
Moving to Paris was actually not something I ever planned on! I moved to Paris the Summer before last after my husband was offered a job here. We met whilst both living in Dubai, so although moving here wasn’t a planned decision, having lived as an expat for seven years in the UAE, it seemed like a great idea to leave London and try out our rusty French in Paris for a while.
2. Where in Paris do you live and what are some of your favorite “hot-spots”?
We live in the 16th arrondissement, an area known for being pretty quiet yet well to do with beautiful Haussmann architecture. I really love living here as it has a bit of a village feel and we are right between the Eiffel Tower and the Arc De Triomphe. We can wander down to Ladurée on the Champs-Elysées for a weekend brunch in 20 minutes and our local art gallery, the Palais de Tokyo, is my favourite in Paris. This area doesn’t have the cool cafes and boutiques of the Marais, but Carette at Trocadero is a favourite as well as a little French resto called La Scossa in our local square and I love popping into Pâtisserie de Rêves when Im craving something sweet, which is a lot! Their montblanc is the best I’ve tasted! Elsewhere in Paris I love visiting Merci, Laduree and now that I am expecting out first baby I also love Smallable, WOMB and Bonpoint for the cutest French baby things!
3. Why did you decide to start your own business?
When planning my own wedding I fell in love a second time around, this time with wedding stationery. Being a wedding stationery designer is the perfect way for me to be able to work with the understated feminine aesthetic that I love every day, and help couples transform their ideas into reality.
In order to gain the creative suite skills I needed to move into working in design, I retrained in Graphic Design at the wonderful Shillington College in London. Shillington is a specialist graphic design school where all of the teachers are practising designers, and you work on live briefs in quite an intense environment with a lot of time pressure. I absolutely loved it and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to retrain in design. I think I always knew really that I would like to work for myself, as the kind of design that I like is quite niche. After graduating, I worked as a designer in some agencies in London for a couple of years, before going full time with Ever After Press. It basically reached the point where it was obvious to me that my interests lie within a specific aesthetic, and that I only really wanted to work for myself.
I started off working from home in London, setting up a very basic website with the designs that I had already done for friends and starting to figure out my prices. About a year later I totally redesigned my website, as by then I had a much clearer idea of what I wanted to offer. To me that’s a relatively natural part of the evolution of a young brand.
I spent a lot of time building up printing contacts, and also figuring out what the processes behind my business would be. It sounds boring, and when I first went into this I thought I would be able to spend most of my time designing, but I’ve found that I actually spend a huge amount of time on admin, accounts and that kind of thing. I’m trying to streamline my processes at the moment so that things are more structured.
4. What does the average day in the life of Emily Sell look like?
Every day is different, which I really love. I tend to start work slightly later than normal as I work from home, but I do often end up working late at night, and sometimes at weekends. I try to get up at the same time as my husband and usually grab a healthy breakfast of yoghurt, berries and chia seeds. If it’s the weekend, or we’re up early enough, we’ll head to our favourite local café for pain au chocolat and a crème.
I then start replying to emails in my little studio and getting down to the client work for the day. It could be anything from putting mood boards together for a wedding client, working on stationery designs, artworking files to be foiled or letterpressed, or preparing something special by hand for a styled shoot. I also sometimes work on branding and website design for small companies and start ups with a feminine or luxury aesthetic. I often chat with clients over Facetime, as they tend to be pretty global.
Around lunchtime, if I’m really busy I’ll make something quick at home, or alternatively meet a friend for coffee and cake. I try to get out for a walk in the afternoon now that the weather’s so great: I live right between Trocadero (which has a great view of the Eiffel Tower), and the Champs Élysées, but I also love popping into the Bois de Boulogne, a huge wood with beautiful boating lakes, which is also nearby (sometimes with a detour past my favourite local pet shop which has the cutest puppies)! Then it’s back to work for a few more hours, until meeting friends for rosé on a terrace (when not pregnant) or for a picnic, steak frites with my husband or a night in with Netflix.
5. What is your favorite part of running your own business? What does the future of Ever After Press look like?
My favourite part is definitely the flexibility and being able to manage my own day. It does mean that my hours can be a little unconventional, and you do still have to get the boring admin tasks done, but it’s definitely a huge bonus to be able to spend a day painting or working on something new whenever I want to! I also love the personal nature of my business. You get to meet people at a really special and inspiring time in their lives and it always makes my day when I receive a happy email from a satisfied client. As we are expecting our first baby in March I will be taking three months of maternity leave, but after that I’m hoping I will be back to business as normal. Another thing that I love about working for myself is the flexibility it offers when you are starting a family. I’m looking forward to being able to spend time with the new addition to our family as well as continuing to work with my super lovely clients within the career that I love.
6. What difficulties do you run into as an expat running a business in France?
That’s a really interesting question. As our move to Paris was completely unplanned working for myself means that I can continue with Ever After Press from Paris, as although my French is really shocking (rusty GCSE level-I really want to find time to learn properly), most of my clients are international, so language isn’t an issue. There is a lot of admin here in France and the taxes and social costs for a small business are high compared to the UK, which is difficult. However, I think it has been beneficial for my brand moving to Paris, people seem to like having their wedding stationer based here! On a day to day level, all of my printing is done in the UK, largely because of the language barrier and because I already had contacts there that I know and trust, which makes delivery timeframes a little bit longer, but on the whole it’s fine. I am a little removed from the UK wedding industry, but I’ve met some great wedding planners and photographers over here, as France is obviously a great place for a destination wedding.
7. Which of your designs is your favorite?
April 23, 2018
April 9, 2018
March 19, 2018