Leona Janson Smith - Postmark Q & A

9 October 2017

Today, the chaps at the wonderful Postmark have taken over our Instagram account, to give you a special insight into the day in the life of a high flying London based retailer!
Postmark have been stocking Art File’s cards for a number of years now in their unique stores located in Dulwich, Chiswick, Greenwich and Balham. More information on Postmark can be found on their website: https://postmarkonline.co.uk/ .

1.Leona, what were the main factors that bought yourself and Mark into retail?

God they're so different! I'm a bit of a retail novice, having only really been in the industry proper for the last two and half years. Before that I'd worked in PR, my last stint a seven year stretch with the Mayor of London's press office. By the end of my time there Mark and I had managed to create two little humans and open three shops so life was pretty insane and quiet honestly not a huge amount of fun. One Christmas we took a hard look at our lives and decided we needed to make some big changes so I left my job and jumped on board the good ship Postmark. At the beginning we had no idea how it was all going to work out but it all seems to be going pretty Ok.
Mark on the other hand is a like a retail lifer! He's been in the industry since he was about 16, first with a Saturday job and then after his dreams of making millions in the City didn't pan out, as a junior partner in a gift shop in Clapham. 

 When we meet he was 25 and just starting to develop the idea that would one day become Postmark. He's pretty much always worked for himself which I think is great. It also means he's the funniest person to pretend to interview,  he hasn't a clue what he's supposed to say!

 2. What are your three favourite aspects of your job?

 I love the flexibility of working for myself and the freedom that gives you to decide how things are done.  I also really enjoy working with all our staff, getting to know them, finding out their talents and helping them to grow as part of our team and third, and by no means last, I absolutely love our product. We're so lucky to work with so many talented designers and great publishers. I love nothing more than walking into one of our shops and just looking around. There are so many great cards, designs and ideas - it's hard not to feel inspired. 

 3. Which is your favourite trade show to visit and why? 

 PG Live has got to be top of the list. We always head straight to the Springboard section where all the new and upcoming designers are to see if we can spot the next big thing.  I think the fact that it's totally dedicated to greeting cards is what makes it so good. 

 4. What's your favourite part of working with The Art File? 

 The amount of great cards you've got!! Seriously if you don't stop Postmark is going to have to start dedicating entire bays to Art File cards. Every year it just gets better and better.

5. Which is your favourite Art File collection you stock at the moment? 

That's an impossible question to answer! I can't possibly pick one so I've picked three..
Sara Miller London - From the moment I saw Sara's cards I was just totally sold. Vibrant, bright and gold embossed, they look fantastic in the shops. They've been one of our bestsellers since they first arrived
Ben Rothery - I love these cards, they are so striking in their simplicity yet so detailed. Ben has an incredible talent.
Rock On - My absolute go to birthday humour card. 'Cardigan' is still one of all time favourites and the occasion range is also hard to beat. Top class 

6. Other than Greeting Cards, what's your personal favourite brand you stock in your stores? 

 It would have to be our Leuchtrum journals. They come in some lovely bright colours and the paper is great quality. I don't go anywhere without mine.

 7. Food and water are provided, Mark's looking after the kid's at home... you have three things to take with you to a desert island. Where you have to stay for a month.  What would they be

 A month?! Wow, I'm not sure I could last longer than a week before I'd be bored and wondering what was going on at home (most likely a huge amount of take away ordering..) but for that week I'd take a load of  my girlfriends, a huge vat of prosecco and my Sonos to get the party started....actually now I write that down why am I rushing back...a month sounds great! 

8. You have two free first class return plane tickets to anywhere in the world, where would you go? And why?

 Japan during the Cherry Blossom season. I love cherry blossoms and to get to see the season in Japan would be dream come true.  

9. You have a voucher to an all expenses paid free three course meal at any London restaurant of your choice, which would it be and why? 

 We don't get much time to go into London eating out but if we did we'd head to Barrafina. Mark and I have quite different food tastes so this would tick all the boxes, amazing food, great atmosphere and great wine. More locally I'd opted for The Diary in Clapham Common as I really want to eat there. 

 10. Finally- What would your advise be to anyone who's thinking of starting in Retail? 

 I think if you're looking to start your own retail business sit down and map out what you want your business to look like, have a really clear idea of what makes your business different from and better than your competitors and stick to it.  The first few years can be tough but hugely rewarding. There's nothing like the buzz of helping a customer find exactly what they were looking for or hearing people say how happy they've been shopping with you.